Archive for the ‘American Civil War’ Category

Since I’ve been posting excerpts from my short paranormal romance, Dreaming Josie, where the modern day hero is having vivid dreams of being a soldier in a Civil War field hospital, I’d thought I’d post information from my research for the story.

Civil War field surgeons were often called butchers, but it was the weaponry of the day, the slow-moving minie bullet that was responsible for the catastrophic injuries and amputations that were so common in Civil War field hospitals. At the Battle of Chickamauga, John Bell Hood’s leg was struck by two minie bullets, shattering five inches of his upper thigh bone. Surgeons had no choice other than amputation with the state of nineteenth century medicine. Men who lost arms, such as Stonewall Jackson and Oliver O. Howard, had high morality rates. Amputees were a very visible reminder of the brutality of this war. At the time, weaponry had far surpassed the medical techniques needed to aid such injuries.

Soldiers wounded in battle might wait at least a day, maybe two before treatment could be administered. And antiseptics weren’t used in surgery until 1865, the final year of the war. Even a simple precaution like hand washing wasn’t routinely done before a surgeon operated. Clothes of doctors were blood splattered while going from patient to patient. If something was dropped during the surgery, it would be rinsed in cool, bloodied water. Sponges were dipped in cool water and used over again on different patients.

One surgeon recalled: “We operated in old blood-stained and often pus-stained coats, we used undisinfected instruments from undisinfected plush lined cases. If a sponge (if they had sponges) or instrument fell on the floor it was washed and squeezed in a basin of water and used as if it was clean.”

The term “Sawbones” was used to describe a doctor because the bonesaw was a common instrument used to amputate a shattered limb. The surgeon would saw through the bone until it was severed. The limb was then tossed into a pile of limbs from other unfortunate patients. “A good surgeon could amputate a limb in under 10 minutes.”

Only if a soldier was lucky would he escape what were known as “Surgical Fevers”. Gangrene, Pyemia, a form of blood poisoning; as well as other infections developed from the lack of cleanliness and antibiotics, which didn’t exist at the time, and the fact that surgeons were required to work with speed. Once an infection entered the body, it was difficult to treat with the medicines available.

For more information on Civil War surgery:




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Today is Memorial Day in the U.S.—the official start of summer—so I thought I’d repost the blog I wrote last year on how this holiday originally came to be.

decoration-day-190x300At the start it was called Decoration Day, “a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service”. But how did it start?

Stories claim women’s groups in the South started decorating graves even before the Civil War ended. A hymn was published in 1867, called “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet. The song’s dedication read, “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead”.
The official start of Memorial Day was declared by President Lyndon Johnson in May of 1966, but it’s hard to find conclusive origins of the day of remembrance.

It’s likely it had many separate starts. Many towns planned spontaneous gatherings to honor their war dead in the 1860’s. General Logan officially proclaimed the day in 1868. It was a “coming together to honor those who gave their all”.
General Logan was national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. He proclaimed the day would be observed on May 30, 1868. Flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

New York was the first state to recognize the holiday in 1873 and by 1890 it was observed by all of the northern states.
The South honored their war dead on separate days until after World War I. At that time the holiday not only covered Civil War dead, but those who died in all our country’s wars.

Today, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May. Though several Southern states still have a separate day to honor Confederate war dead.

In 1915, a poem by Moina Michael called “In Flanders Fields”, was inspired by this American holiday.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

This Memorial Day, be sure to take time out to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Source: http://usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html

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For about ten years, my husband and I and two of our boys camped out and reenacted the American Civil War on many weekends from spring till fall.

cwphoto-360x405Setting up the tent in camp, wearing the clothing, cooking over an open fire and mending torn clothing by hand (my guys were notorious for loosing buttons off their uniforms), gave me a feel for at least some of what living in the nineteenth century must have been like.

And for sure, in my imaginative writer’s mind, it was the setting for time travel adventures, including my first romance novel where a modern day woman meets her soulmate, a man from the past when she finds herself thrown back in time to land in a Confederate camp at the height of the war.

Although Erin’s Rebel was partially inspired by my time as a reenactor, it’s also due to my fascination with time travel tales, romance or not, that I grew up watching on television. And later, as a young stay-at-home mom, I discovered time travel romance. Not matter the setting or time period, I loved reading stories of people of our time, meeting up with men or women from the past.

I’ve recently been watching Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series. I read the first two books years ago and recently read the third. It reminded me of how much I love the genre and someday soon, I plan to delve into a new novel that spans time periods. They’re just so much fun.

Below is one of my favorite excerpts from my own time travel romance, Erin’s Rebel.

As he moved closer, her knees turned to jelly. Strong, hard-muscled arms embraced her, offering support. Her head spun. She lifted a hand to stop the motion and encountered wool, a double row of metal buttons and a rock-hard chest. The enticing aroma of sandalwood mixed with a musky, masculine scent, plus a tinge of wood smoke invaded her senses. Had she hit her head harder than she’d thought?

She gazed at his lightly tanned face. Firm lips tilted upward slightly at the corners surrounded by a thin chocolate-colored mustache curving into a neatly-trimmed beard covering only his chin. Thick, dark hair brushed his collar and curled from beneath a broad-brimmed black hat. Her pulse raced as she leaned against his long, solid frame. Night after night in her dreams she’d run her hands through those curls.

“How can you be here?” she murmured.

“Pardon me, ma’am?”

“I don’t understand.” She tried to wrench from his grasp, but he gathered her close, lifting her into his arms. “What are you doing?”

“Taking you back where you belong.” He carried her to the tent entrance where Doc peered out.

“Will, what the devil is going on?”

“I assume you didn’t give Mrs. O’Connell permission to leave.”

“I did not.” He scowled. “I told you to rest.”

The dark-haired man carried her inside and laid her on the cot. She propped herself on an elbow to get a better view of the man Doc called Will. Broad shoulders tapered into a narrow waist accentuated by the cut of his gray frock coat trimmed in gold braid.

“Who the hell are you?” she asked.

“Pardon me, ma’am?”

His gaze chilled her blood. He looked exactly like the man in the antique photo she’d found between the pages of her grandmother’s Bible. If he were the man in the photo, where was she? Maybe the crash had killed her, and she was now in the afterlife. And like the man who called himself Doc, this man had also called her Mrs. O’Connell. Grandma Rose’s great-aunt. Something wasn’t right.

Unable to voice her fears, she stared open-mouthed at the man.

Civil War time travel romance, Erin’s Rebel, was a finalist in the Ancient City Romance Authors 2010 Reader’s Choice Award, paranormal category.

Read opening chapters: https://susanmacatee.wordpress.com/my-books/erins-rebel-chapter-one/?preview=true&preview_id=4473&preview_nonce=a36fb7ec64

Erin’s Rebel, available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Erins-Rebel-Susan-Macatee/dp/1601545207/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318084452&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/erins-rebel-susan-macatee/1100248217

The Wild Rose Press http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=89_117&products_id=3554

and All Romance Ebooks http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-erin039srebel-80339-141.html

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Another excerpt from my short paranormal romance story.

dreamingjosiecoverKyle scanned the field, hoping he’d see her again. A green gown caught his gaze. A dark-haired woman knelt on the ground bent over a reclining soldier. This had to be her.

He raced over to them and stared into those dark brown eyes. The eyes he’d dreamed about.

“Hello,” he said.

She glanced up and frowned. “Good day, soldier.”

The reclining reenactor took a swig from his canteen and waved her off. “I’m fine. Thanks.” He rose and dusted himself off.

She stood and faced Kyle. “Is there something I can do for you, sir?”

“You don’t remember me.” Apparently, he hadn’t made as much of an impression on her as she had on him.

She pursed her lips.

“The reenactment outside Philly two weeks ago. I twisted my ankle, and you helped me. I never got your name, though.”

She frowned. “Outside where?”

“Philadelphia. A park in the suburbs…”

She shook her head.

Dreaming Josie available for only 99 cents at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-Josie-ebook/dp/B008FZSPLS/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341001818&sr=1-7

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dreaming-josie-susan-macatee/1112136131?ean=2940044700420

and Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/177360

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The inspiration for my Civil War holiday romance novella, The Christmas Ball, came from stories I’d read of women who disguised themselves as men during the American Civil War. Most wanted to serve their respective side in the conflict, even though women weren’t allowed to serve in the army in any capacity at the start of the war.

Sarah Emma Edmonds was one of these women. Born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1841, she grew up on a farm. Along with her sisters, she participated alongside her one brother to perform the hard physical work of farming. She tended to the animals, chopped wood, milked cows, planted and harvested. She also learned to ride horses, hunted and fished.

Her upbringing caused her to develop a lean, masculine-looking physique.
In 1860, she was nineteen. She moved south into the United States dressed in men’s garb. Pretending to be a man, she called herself “Franklin Thompson.” She worked in Hartford, Connecticut as a publishing agent, selling Bibles in Canada and Michigan.

In 1861 the Civil War began. She enlisted in Company F of the 2nd Michigan Infantry Volunteers, signing up for three years.

As Franklin Thompson, Sarah spent her first months of military service at the regimental hospital, serving as a “male” nurse. She then became postmaster and then a mail carrier.

One of her superior officers, General O. M. Poe, recalled that “Frank Thompson was effeminate looking, and for that reason was detailed as a mail carrier, to avoid taking an efficient soldier from the ranks.” All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies

As a mail carrier, Edmonds carried two or three bushels of mail over a distance of 50 or 60 miles.

In her own words: “I was often compelled to spend the nights alone by the roadside. It was reported that the bushwackers had murdered a mail carrier on that road and robbed the mail, and there seemed to be evidence of the fact, for, in the most lonely of spots of all the road the ground was still strewn with fragments of letters and papers, over which I often passed when it was so dark that I only knew it by the rustle of the letters under my horse’s feet.” All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies

She was also engaged in combat starting with the battle of First Bull Run in July 1861.

According to a Congressional report: “Franklin Thompson, gave his heart and soul to the regiment, sharing in all its toil and privations, marching and fighting in the various engagements in which it participated… (He was) never absent from duty, obeying all orders with intelligence and alacrity, his whole aim and desire to render zealous and efficient aid to the Union cause.” All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies

While serving, Sarah became good friends with a young medical steward and assistant surgeon for the 2nd Michigan. She fell in love with the man, confessing that she was female. She felt rebuffed when he told her he was betrothed.

Besides soldiering, Sarah also served the Union as a spy. She disguised herself as a male fugitive slave wearing a wig and coloring her skin with silver nitrate. At other times she portrayed a female Irish peddler by the name of Bridget O’Shea.

In Kentucky in the spring of 1863, Sarah fell ill with chills and fever. She feared a hospital stay would expose her sex, so, after a request for a leave of absence was denied, she deserted the army. She checked herself into a civilian hospital, planning to return to the army once she’d recovered.

On learning that Franklin Thompson was wanted for desertion, she donned women’s clothes, resumed using her real name and returned to the army to serve as a female nurse for the remainder of the war.

After the war ended, she published her autobiography, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army under the pen name of S. E. Edmonds. “In 1887, she married L. H. Seelye, a Canadian carpenter with whom she had three children.” All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies

For more on Sarah Edmonds and other women soldiers of the American Civil War…

Sources: All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies by Elizabeth D. Leonard

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Take a peek at the ending of the first chapter of my Civil War holiday romance novella.

thechristmasball_7289_7501She glanced at the corporal and nodded. “I’ll be all right,” she gasped. “Take him.” She inclined her head toward the man on the litter.

The corporal rose gingerly to a crouch, then nodded to the private and they lifted the litter, moving toward the ambulance on the far side of the trees.

Grasping her thigh, she felt a sticky substance. Blood! The other private knelt and looked at her thigh. He pulled out a neckerchief and tied it to stop the bloody flow.

“Hold on, Brewster. We’ll get you back to the doc.”

Sara gritted her teeth. Thoughts of Doc Ellison caused her pulse to race. While she longed to see him again, the thought of him examining her wound sent a jolt of fear through her.

What if he discovers my secret?

The Christmas Ball available from The Wild Rose Press http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=176_135&products_id=5026

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Christmas-Ball-ebook/dp/B00A5CF3SM/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1352744944&sr=1-3&keywords=the+christmas+ball

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-christmas-ball-susan-macatee/1113749511?ean=2940015922417

and All Romance Ebooks https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thechristmasball-995347-158.html


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During the four years of the American Civil War, soldiers by the thousands died. But not all were killed in battle or even died of battle inflicted wounds. Disease ran rampant with the lack of sanitation and so many bodies crowded together in camps. In this time period, there also was little understanding of how germs spread disease. This was the environment that spawned the sanitary commission.

In this Victorian age, women were looked on as weak and delicate creatures, who would shudder and faint at the mere exposure to the horrors of war. But in reality, women balked at the idea of sitting home and pining for their loved ones off fighting for the cause. They needed to do something constructive and many spent hours supplying food, clean clothing and providing nursing services hoping to decrease the fatality rate from diseases that spread throughout army camps.

At the start of the war, no unified services existed to aid soldiers. Women provided relief to relatives on an individual basis. But as the war intensified ladies’ aid and soldiers’ aid societies sprang up, followed in the North, by the establishment of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, providing organized aid for the first time.

In both the North and the South about two thousand women worked as volunteers in military hospitals. A few of those women, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Stuart Woolsey and Katherine Prescott Wormeley, recorded their experiences working as nurses. But most of the women who served remained virtually anonymous with no record, other than a list of their names on hospital muster rolls to show they’d ever served.

Although not much has been written in historical records about the role women served as war volunteers, the women’s wartime contributions were significant “…these women had notable impact upon the men they tended and served under; …the introduction of female personnel into responsible roles in a traditionally male military environment was one significant step in the progress of women toward a fuller involvement in American society.”

Prior to the Civil War, the ideals of American women were shaped by a call of “the Cult of True Womanhood”. Men’s work moved away from a rural enterprises into shops, offices and factories. So, women inherited the running of the household, a sheltered place where they created warmth and cleanliness for their husbands and children in order to nurture them.

But the Civil War changed all that. With the men engaged in warfare far from home, as in World War II, women turned their attention to work outside the home. In both the North and South, women joined volunteer brigades to work as nurses. For the first time in American history, “women played a significant role in a war effort. By the end of the war, these experiences had expanded many Americans’ definition of ‘true womanhood’.” http://www.history.com/topics/women-in-the-civil-war

For more on the Civil War’s impact on women’s roles, visit these sites:


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