Posts Tagged ‘Monday Inspiration’

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:




Read Full Post »

19thcenturytrainIf you wanted to get somewhere fast in 1870, rail travel was the way to go. As new tracks were laid and accommodations grew more comfortable, long distance travel by rail grew popular. Trains contained sleeping cars, dining cars, even parlor and smoking cars.

In my American Victorian romance novella, The Physician’s Irish Lady, set in 1870, the heroine is on the run from a man pursuing her from New York City. She flees to Philadelphia, then hops a train headed to York, Pennsylvania. She doesn’t have much money, but cringes at the sight of the men seated in the open aired third-class car. She buys a second-class seat to avoid being seated among them.

The third-class car on a train was also known as an immigrant car, since most immigrants would only be able to afford this lower fare.

When the heroine faints from lack of nourishment, the hero, a physician traveling home after a conference in Philadelphia, takes her under his care and offers to buy her a meal in the dining car.

main-dining-sandwichAccording to “The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s”, the dining car was first introduced in the year 1863 on the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore lines. The car was a restaurant with an eating bar and simple steambox to keep precooked foods warm. But by 1868, the lavish Pullman Dining Car employed cooks, busboys and even waiters to serve food to passengers seated at tables. These cars only accommodated wealthier passengers, as no third-class and very few second-class passengers could afford the cost of a meal.

Food options for the lower classes included butcher boys who sold sandwiches and other snacks or bringing your own food with you. Most third-class passengers brought picnic baskets to eat on the ride and stoves were provided for those who wished to cook their meals.

For more information: The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s

Also visit these sites:

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

The book I’ve been featuring on ‘Sneak Peek Sunday’, The Physician’s Irish Lady, features an Irish immigrant heroine as well as a villain who preys on new immigrants coming into port in New York City. Also, two other of my full-length published romances, Erin’s Rebel and Confederate Rose, the book The Physician’s Irish Lady is based on, feature Irish immigrants at the time of the Civil War. Many Irish fought on both sides of this conflict, during a time period when so many left Ireland to escape starvation and oppression.

irishimmigrantsBoth England and America experienced a large influx of Irish immigrants during the Victorian era. While some of this was due to the potato famine, a great deal of the problem began back in the mid-17th century, when Oliver Cromwell invaded Ireland. Landowners who refused to give up Catholicism had their property confiscated and given to members of the English Army.

“Between 1841 and 1851, Ireland’s population of 8 million had dwindled down to 6 million. An estimated half of these people left the country while the other million died.”

One million emigrated to England and America, overwhelming both countries. American saw this surge of immigration between 1815 and 1845. The Irish had few technical skills, but were healthy and strong. They became a much needed source of cheap labor.

In England “. . . The Irish lived on the absolute fringes of Victorian society . . .”  They became unskilled day laborers and street peddlers.

” . . . Thomas Malthus, noted English economist explained the earlier famines and starvation in Ireland as God’s answer to overpopulation of those who refuse to show constraint . . .”

” . . . emigrating to America was not a joyful event . . . They left in droves on ships that were crowded, with conditions so terrible, that they were referred to as Coffin Ships.” http://www.kinsella.org/history/histira.htm

English oppression had made their country unlivable for them. Their only hope was to escape. Poor immigrants were forced to settle in their port of arrival, having no means of moving on.

The offers of free land out west during this time period meant little to the Irish. The land back in Ireland had failed them, so they looked to other means of making a living in their new country.Although the Irish immigrants arriving in America had come to escape hunger and oppression, they found that life for them didn’t change all that much.

By the height of the potato famine, an Irish immigrant wrote home saying that, “My master is a great tyrant, he treats me as badly as if I was a common Irishman. Our position is one of shame and poverty.” http://kinsella.org/history/histira.htm

Signs for employment were often followed by: “NO IRISH NEED APPLY”. The new immigrants had to live in cellars and shanties. Their brogue and dress were ridiculed. They were also held up to scorn for their poverty and illiteracy.

The Irish held together and met intimidation with violence. Prayer and drink solidified them, helping them to survive life in the city. One newspaper was led to say about them, “The Irish have become more Americanized than the Americans.” http://www.kinsella.org/history/histira.htm

“The Church played an integral part in their lives. It was a militant Church who fought not only for their souls but also for their human rights.” http://kinsella.org/history/histira.htm

America needed the Irish. Men were needed for the heavy work of building bridges, canals and railroads. Women worked as maids, cooks and child caretakers. Irish immigrants needed these jobs to survive and they proved to be hard workers.

Although they never forgot their homeland, the Irish loved America. But they never lost their hatred of the English. This led them to rebel against anything they saw as oppression on the part of their new country. “In New York City during the Civil War, they rioted against the draft lottery after the first drawing showed most of the names were Irish.” http://www.kinsella.org/history/histira.htm http://www.civilwarhome.com/draftriots.htm

The Irish, who’d suffered brutality back in Ireland at English hands were fierce warriors. They used brutal methods to fight back against the oppression of mine owners in Pennsylvania, forming a secret organization called the Molly Maguires. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molly_Maguires They also formed their own Irish Brigade during the Civil War. http://www.civilwarhome.com/irishbri.htm http://irishvolunteers.tripod.com/irish_brigade_history.htm

200px-2nd_Irish_Color%2C_69th_NYSVAs new immigrants of other nationalities later came to American shores, the Irish were finally hailed as an asset. They were fully Americanized. Hostility shifted to these new immigrants. The Irish finally found power and acceptance.

“In 1850 at the height of the Potato Famine, Orestes Brownson, a celebrated convert to Catholicism, stated, ‘Out of these narrow lanes, dirty streets, damp cellars, and suffocating garrets, will come forth some of the noblest sons of our country, whom she will delight to own and honor.’ ” http://www.kinsella.org/history/histira.htm

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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:


Read Full Post »

Since reincarnatin plays a big part in Erin’s Rebel, my Civil War time travel romance, and short paranormal romance, Dreaming Josie, I thought it would be fun to do a post on the theory of reincarnation. In Erin’s Rebel, the heroine travels back in time only to find she’d lived in that time period, but had no memory of her past life.

Do you believe in reincarnation? I can’t say for sure that I do, but it’s a fun idea for fiction. I especially love stories connecting those with a passion to reenact the American Civil War to those who’d actually lived through it in a past life.

Besides, Erin’s Rebel, reincarnation plays a very big part in my short romance novella, Dreaming Josie.  The hero is a reenactor who discovers through hynopsis that he was a soldier in a past life.
I found an online account of a child who remembers being a soldier. Tell me what you think.
“Sit on your mom’s lap, close your eyes, and tell me what you see when you hear the loud noises that scare you,” Norman gently instructed Chase. I looked down at Chase’s freckled face. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to hear.
Young Chase immediately began describing himself as a soldier–an adult soldier–carrying a gun. “I’m standing behind a rock. I’m carrying a long gun with a kind of sword at the end.” My heart was pounding in my ears, and the hair on my arms stood up as I listened. His 9-year-old sister Sarah and I glanced at each other in wide-eyed amazement.
“What are you wearing?” Norman questioned.
“I have ripped clothes, brown boots, a belt. I’m hiding behind a rock, crouching on my knees and shooting at the enemy. I’m at the edge of a valley. The battle is going on all around me.”

To read more, click the link.


I also found a book listed on Amazon that recounts stories of reenactor’s past lives. It’s called, Echoes from the Battlefield: First-Person Accounts of Civil War Past Lives by Barbara Lear.

Here’s the link to that http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0876043554/yonassangershoms

Dreaming Josie

Civil War reenactor, Kyle Dalton, keeps seeing a beautiful woman on the battlefield tending to soldiers, he thinks she’s another reenactor. But when she disappears into thin air, he starts to believe he’s seen a ghost. Did he have a past life with this woman?


“Where am I?”

“Shh.” She placed a finger on his lips. The scent of lavender invaded his senses.

He frowned when he realized he was lying on a cot wearing his reenactor clothing. Had he dreamed he’d come home?

“The doctor says you’ll be fine. He dug out the bullet and stitched up your leg.”

“My leg?” Kyle reached down. His pant’s leg had been cut apart at the seam. Heavy bandages wrapped around his thigh.

“This doesn’t make any sense. I twisted my ankle. It’s fine now.”

She took his hand and stroked his forehead. Her touch sent warmth and desire through his body.

“I have to know…” He swallowed. “…your name.”

She smiled. “You haven’t forgotten me already?”

“I…you never told me.”

“Of course I did.”

She leaned away.

He held tightly to her hand, fearing she’d leave again.

“Don’t go.” Her hand dissolved. He couldn’t hold her.

My reincarnation story, Dreaming Josie, was originally part of the EPIC finalist Civil War romance anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES, under the title ‘Angel of My Dreams’ in 2009.

Dreaming Josie is available 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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: