New Friends and Kindred Spirits

Yesterday I had the privilege of presenting Volunteer for Glory to a wonderful group of people at Tanner Springs Assisted Living. Admittedly, I was nervous as I’d only given readings, and being without a script was a challenge. Once there, however, I felt an amazing warmth and kinship with these remarkable individuals.

How do you describe such an atmosphere without resorting to clichés? You can mention the smiles and gentle responses from each person you greeted. You can refer to their polite attention. And you can report their participation, especially when I asked them to share thoughts, opinions, or memories.

One lady had spent time in the South where the Civil War still lives in a collective memory of carpetbaggers and hard times. That brought on a discussion of the bitter aftermath of Reconstruction following Lincoln’s assassination. The South had lost their greatest friend, for Lincoln’s desire had been to “bind up the nation’s wounds.” Then she told us that only about 5 percent of Confederate soldiers were slave owners. The majority of Rebel soldiers were poor farmers without an economic stake in the fortunes of the big plantations. Another resident remarked that some wives followed their men to wash, sew, and cook.

When I mentioned how different life was in the days before computers, cell phones and iPods, a woman seated in the back row shared a childhood memory from the Depression.  “My father farmed using horses,” she said,  “as we couldn’t afford a tractor. But when he’d come in after a day of plowing, I’d run to meet him.  We had two mares, and he would pick me up and set me on the back of the gentlest, the one named Ruth. I was so proud to ride into the barn on that big horse.” I could see her in my mind’s eye; a sweet mite of a girl running to greet her daddy at day’s end. I could also imagine the man in his cotton shirt and overalls, setting his little girl on the massive draft horse to ride like a queen across the barnyard.

A dress and sunbonnet, part of the Civil War era fashions kindly lent by Roxie Matthews, sparked another story. A wonderful lady told of wearing a sunbonnet to work in the fields, day after day, enduring hot sun and backbreaking labor. Scratching out a living in the ’30s required that everyone pull his or her weight.

Several hands rose when I asked if any had seen husbands or brothers go off to World War II. They nodded, knowing what it was like to be left behind while loved ones marched into danger with no assurance of return.

As a bonus, I’ve been invited back to present Wrenn, Egypt House, and the soon-to-be published, Scattered Pieces. One lady has already spoken for a copy of Scattered Pieces as she can relate to the 1940s. But the sweetness of this afternoon was not in the selling and signing of books. It was in meeting extraordinary people and discovering the riches of friendship and wisdom they offer.  I can’t wait to go back!

Visiting the Civil War

The day I drove to Mission State Park in Salem, Oregon my head was bursting with anxiety and anticipation. To view a Civil War reenactment seemed like stepping back a century and a half to the world of Volunteer for Glory. To distract myself, I thought about my teen-age persona, The Rio Kid. My horseback riding pals and I had assumed various sobriquets as a way of reliving eras when horses were the main source of transportation, and gunslingers dominated small towns. (At least according to movies and television.) Drawing upon Rio to coolly approach the unknown with aplomb, I transformed my automobile into my horse, Stormy. So my fantasies were embellished over the long miles to Salem. Nothing would stop the daring Rio and her invincible mount as they wound through Rebel cavalry to the scene of battle. A messenger sent on a top-secret mission, her job was to deliver maps and information to General Grant.

But as I approached Mission Park, Rio galloped away, leaving plain little old me to make the final approach. After paying both Park and Civil War fees, I hopped a shuttle to the encampment, sparing me a two-mile hike. The weather was unexpectedly warm, so I was grateful.

When the shuttle unloaded its passengers, I entered a world of hoop-skirted ladies and uniformed men. The blue and the gray mingled companionably as this was a re-enactment, rather than real thing. Soldiers carried muskets, some had sheathed swords, and many escorted elegantly dressed ladies.

Noting that the battle was about to begin, I followed a crowd to the action. The battle was staged some little distance away from me, except for three Confederates manning midget mortars. The dramatic explosions kicked up a flurry of grass and dust. Several Union soldiers fell beside their cannons. Troops advanced. Horses and riders appeared. Two large, black horses pulled artillery caissons to fortify rebel lines.

Whipping out my digital camera, I prepared to take photos. My husband had instructed me, saying all I had to do was aim, check the picture in the viewfinder, and press a button. This ought to have been sufficient except for the fact I couldn’t see a darned thing. The viewfinder was completely dark except for a few vague shadows. Maybe it was because I was standing in direct sunlight. Still I needed to soldier on! Just as I positioned myself for another shot, a little message flashed, saying the memory had expired!

The spectacle was satisfying, however, and the smoke from muskets, cannons, and mortars clouded the atmosphere, much as described from contemporary Civil War accounts. Far fewer bodies littered this field than in battles like Donelson, Shiloh or Gettysburg where the casualties created a patchwork quilt of blue, gray, and butternut.

As the soldiers, marvelously resurrected, marched away, I returned to the sutlers that offered everything from “weapons” to decks of cards featuring various generals. Books and toys abounded. Of course, there were gorgeous dresses, hoop skirts, shawls, and hats. In fact, I fell prey to a particularly winsome bonnet and bought it on the spot. Remember to look at the bonnet and forget the face.

Relying on advice given by the announcer of the battle, I spoke to Doris, the sutler coordinator, and her daughter Cindy, about Volunteer for Glory. After looking over a copy, they offered to take all I’d brought on consignment. According to them, books sell well at re-enactments, and if any are left over, they take them to the next event. After this euphoric experience, I treated myself at the food and drinks concessions.

My next stop was the field hospital where Civil War medical procedures were demonstrated. Fortunately, there were no amputations as that might have strained the nerves of spectators as well as actors. To think that these were forerunners of the MASH units we learned about in the TV series.

Driving home, I forgot the Rio Kid and relived the experiences of the day. I’m totally primed to attend the reenactment planned at McIver Park in September. See you there?

Volunteer for Glory—Part 3

Here’s another excerpt of Volunteer for Glory, so that you can see whether or not it’s a book you might like to purchase.

Rachel, muffled in a heavy winter shawl, pail in hand, met them in the yard.  The afternoon had grown late, and, as twilight approached, she had prepared to milk the bawling cow.  Now she was embarrassed, for Stuart had not come alone.  Her dress was limp and bedraggled after a day spent over the laundry tub. Angry with her husband, she would have liked nothing better than to withdraw to the house in silent dignity.

“Hello, sweetheart.”  Stuart swung off his horse, well aware of her displeasure, but willing to risk a kiss anyway.  “I wasn’t going to leave you with the chores.”  He smiled as he took the empty pail from her unresisting hand.  “I’ve brought company.  Mrs. Westbrook’s nursing at the Dudleys so I thought Ferris and Jared could use some home cooking.”

By the time the men came in from the barn, stamping snow from their boots and unwinding their mufflers, Rachel had regained her composure, though her cheeks were hot with hurry.  While they unhitched, and Stuart did chores, Rachel had been tidying, smoothing her hair, and tying on a fresh apron.

Jared, who had only seen her once before at a distance, was taken aback at her nearness, and the sound of her pretty voice. Her blue dress made her eyes seem all the bluer.  At twenty-four, he was inexperienced with women, school studies, and work on his father’s farm, conspiring to keep him solitary.  His only near romance had ended prematurely when the young lady he had been attracted to had grown tired of his procrastination and married another.  A fleeting picture of the girl passed through his mind but without regret.

He hung his hat and coat on the pegs by the door, and, feeling too tall and clumsy, sat down by the fire.  Looking around, his attention focused on a nearby bookshelf. Books, he knew.  He was comfortable with them, the way he was comfortable with the changing seasons that dictated the work of the land.  He couldn’t help trying to guess which books she had chosen. Whittier, Longfellow, Keats, and the several anthologies were most likely hers, for he couldn’t imagine Stuart musing over an Ode to a Grecian Urn.  The books on agriculture and animal husbandry were likely his, he conceded, but not the rest.  While his father and Stuart debated secession, he glanced at an open book lying on the footstool beside him.

The table had been set, and he caught Rachel’s inquiring glance as she passed him.  “Yours?”  He lifted the volume of Emerson’s Essays to show her.  A shy nod acknowledged his gesture.

Catching the by-play, Stuart quipped, “Rachel fancies herself a scholar, but I tell her blue stockings are out of fashion for pretty young ladies.”

Laughing, they took their places around the table for a meal of smoked ham and delicately seasoned root vegetables. Rachel’s experience as a minister’s daughter had taught her be both quick and inventive when dealing with unexpected guests.

When Stuart mentioned the shots fired in Charleston Bay, her dark brows drew together.  Divining that a change of subject would be welcome, Jared urged his father to tell them stories of the early days.

Warming to this, Ferris related that he had come west, and fallen in love with a pretty Norwegian girl. Once married, he and Elsa began farming in 1830.  Wolves had roamed the prairies, and he made a good story detailing how they had huddled together on winter nights, listening to howls rising from the creek bed that now ran through the Norcross acres.  But wolves no longer roamed the prairie, Ferris assured Rachel.  The farmers and the railroads had driven them out.

*          *          *

            After their guests had gone, Stuart helped Rachel carry the damp laundry out of their bedroom.  “You didn’t mind me bringing company, did you?” he asked, haphazardly draping a garment across the wooden drying rack.  He glanced sideways at her.

“No.”  Rachel shook the wrinkles from an apron and rearranged his part of the work.  “But I was mad about the milking!”  They laughed and Stuart caught her to him.  He pulled the pins out of her hair, fixing her with an intense look.  Seeing her with the Westbrooks, watching their gallant attention, her desirability was enhanced.  He had forgotten her pregnancy.  Her dark lashes and full pink mouth intoxicated him.  He unbuttoned her dress.

Published in: on July 11, 2011 at 4:00 am  Comments (6)  

Volunteer for Glory—Part 2

Here’s another excerpt of Volunteer for Glory, so that you can see whether it’s a book you might like to purchase.

Rupert’s Prairie, like most farming communities on a railroad line, had expanded from a single mercantile store, one saloon, and a church into a respectably sized town.  Two churches served the spiritual needs of the community.  In addition to the depot and telegraph office, were Puckett’s General Store, a smithy, a harness and carriage repair shop, two saloons, a doctor’s office, and Gallatin’s dressmaking establishment.  The sheriff’s office had three jail cells that were seldom occupied, for Rupert’s Prairie, despite its saloons, was rarely disturbed by anything more serious than a fistfight or an occasional dispute over land boundaries.

Further away, and opposite the schoolhouse, a grain elevator loomed against the sky.  Children looking out classroom windows could sometimes see sacks of pale wheat and golden corn being loaded into railroad cars.  Nearby stockyards held cattle and hogs awaiting shipment to big city slaughterhouses.

Jared Westbrook, his height and blond good looks betraying a Scandinavian heritage, was tying his team to the hitching post in front of Puckett’s Store when his attention was distracted by a rider whose mount threw up bits of snow.  Stuart Norcross was making his predictably flashy entrance.

Stuart dismounted, so near to Jared that the other man had to move aside to avoid being jostled.  “Papers in?”

“Expect so.”  Jared tossed a blanket over his team before joining Stuart who was already crossing the wooden porch that ran the length of the store.

Ian McGruder greeted them with unconcealed excitement” They’ve fired on our ship in Charleston Harbor. And more succession.  Mississippi, Florida, Alabama.” He ticked them off, one by one.

“Dang  ’em anyway,” observed one shabby fellow, aiming a stream of tobacco juice into a nearby spittoon.  “We ain’t gonna let ‘em bust the Union.”

Murmured assents arose from the men who sat, stood, or leaned on counters.  Stuart, adopting a careless pose, pulled his hat off, revealing thick dark hair. Isaiah Puckett, a mere raisin of a man, paused in his wrapping of a parcel to listen.

“Once we retaliate, there’ll be no going back,” Jared said slowly.

This comment roused both agreement and disapproval.  Though Jared was respected as an educated man for having graduated from the Bloomington Normal School, several men frowned and muttered among themselves.

“You can’t just let armed rebellion go by.  You have to admit that, Jared.”  Stuart leaned forward slightly, as though daring him to disagree.

But it was the elder Westbrook who spoke, shifting his weight on the wooden packing case where he sat.  As he placed his reading glasses into his jacket pocket, Ferris’s blunt kindly features creased with thought.

“Any of you been to war? It’s a bloody business, and it doesn’t take long to get a bellyful of dust and dysentery.  Keeping the Union’s a better cause than fighting the Spanish over Texas, but war doesn’t prove who’s right.  Only who’s strongest.”  His voice held authority for he had fought in ’47

“ They’ve dishonored the flag, and I say we give them a licking.” Stuart argued. “The way I see it, it’s a question of whether you believe in the Union or not.”

Ferris shook his graying head. “The Union must stand,” he admitted.  “And if it comes to a fight, I’ll defend her.”

“To the Union.”  Stuart raised his hand as though proposing a toast.  Then suiting his action to his words, he swept up his hat, and opened the door, inviting the assembly to join him. “Let’s wet our whistles at the Red Dog.  Arguing politics is mighty dry work.”

Published in: on July 4, 2011 at 4:00 am  Comments (2)  

Free sample: Volunteer for Glory

As promised, here is the first excerpt of Volunteer for Glory.

The Paths of Glory lead but to the grave.

—Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyard


The Illinois snow all but covered the cabin; it mounded on the roof, bulked over eaves and formed icicles that glinted gold, blue, and pink.  Smoke from the fieldstone chimney rose into the cloudless sky, and wind-sculpted drifts swirled around fence posts and barn walls.  In an unusual quirk of benevolence, the previous night’s storm had scoured most of the snow from the road leading out of the farm, a fact Stuart noted as he looked out the small frosted kitchen window.  Scraping a circle on the glass with his hand, he squinted against the blinding sunlight that danced over the white fields.

Rachel stirred in their bed, and he heard her sleepy voice.  She had been dreaming when he’d gotten up, her eyes moving behind her closed lids, one arm out-flung, pink lips parted.  He had lingered, tempted to indulge in lovemaking, but he had more important plans for the morning.  He pulled on warm trousers and a thick flannel shirt and added wood to the fireplace.  Felt-lined boots in hand, he sat on the bed.

Rachel drew her nighttime braid from behind her shoulder, and when her husband leaned down for a quick kiss, she took his face in her hands, rubbing her thumbs over the dark sandpaper of his jaw.   “Hurry back,” she whispered.

“I’ll be ready for breakfast after chores.  I’m going to town, so if you need anything at the store, write it down.”  He shrugged into his coat and stepped out into the cold.

He hadn’t closed the bed curtains, and a gust of ice crystals and sharp air blew in, making Rachel gasp.  She dressed by the fireplace, now crackling with flame, and stepped into flannel bloomers, petticoats, and skirt.  Dropping her shawl, she hurried into her camisole and linsey-woolsey blouse.  A splash of cold water to wash, and, thank goodness, the builders of this cabin had situated it directly over the well.  A water pump came right up through the floor into the kitchen.

Rinsing her mouth, she reached for the little elm twig with its frayed end and rubbed it vigorously over her teeth.  She had learned to do this from one of her father’s old parishioners and employed it twice a day.  A tiny mirror over the washbasin enabled her to admire the results.

Touching the circle Stuart had made in the frost, she looked out at the snow.  She couldn’t see the barn, but easily imagined him gently haranguing the cow before milking, throwing grain to the chickens, corn and slops to the pigs, and hay for the horses.  She knew he would slip his riding mare, Flossy, an extra helping of oats.  But the two draft horses would stomp and snort until they too were favored.   When she told him he should treat them the same, Stuart had only laughed, saying it was a game between him and Flossy.  “She’s like you.  Wanting to be noticed and made over.”

Removing a stove lid, she put bits of wood shavings and twigs over the coals that smoldered under last night’s ashes.  The hinged stove door was left open to encourage a draft.

Winter had begun early that November, and now, in January of 1861, spring seemed far away.  Before moving to Illinois, all of Rachel’s nineteen years had been spent in Massachusetts, so she had experienced cold weather.  But winter in the city was a far cry from the isolation of a farmstead.  In Boston, streetcars provided transportation, and houses were cozily situated side-by-side, making visitors and shopping only steps away.  In that old life, she had been kept busy with church and household duties.

Her father, a widowed Presbyterian minister, had not remarried after his wife’s death.  By the time Rachel was fifteen, the parishoners considered her a permanent fixture, prevailing upon her for everything from visiting the sick to baking and selling cakes at fundraisers.  Now her own mistress, she was expected to obey her husband rather than her father.

Taking the mixing bowl from its shelf behind the calico curtain, she dipped two cups of flour from the storage bin.  Salt, baking soda, and two brown eggs to break into the cup of milk came next.  A bit of lard set to melt on the stove, and she was well on her way to making pancakes. But her thoughts wandered from pancakes to late summer when she could wear cotton dresses with big skirts and ruffled aprons.

She and Stuart would walk through the tall prairie grasses, surveying their hundred and twenty acres.  It was a vast amount of land to a city-reared girl, and this would complete their first year of residence.  Although the deed was in Stuart’s name, the land had been purchased with an inheritance from her mother—money her father felt should have been his by rights.  And, hadn’t she had to work to screw that out of her father’s tight fist?  Arthur Comstock hadn’t known what to make of his meek little daughter flying at him with fire in her eyes.

Rachel loved their cabin with its round logs, beautifully hewn, and tightly chinked. On the plank floors were the bright rag rugs she’d made when she was still in her father’s home.  They weren’t large, but added color and warmth to the furnishings.  The bedroom was a curtained alcove, and the lean-to kitchen narrow..

She thought of Stuart.  He wasn’t fooling her with talk of groceries.  The papers would be in from Chicago, and the local men would be waiting to receive them.  Following Lincoln’s election only months ago, South Carolina has openly rebelled against the Union. Talk of war dominated every gathering from Atlanta to Massachusetts.

But war wasn’t in her plans. She and Stuart were starting out, their whole lives ahead of them. Whisking the eggs into the milk, she tried to think of something else.

The fragrance of boiling coffee filled the room, making Stuart sniff appreciatively when he returned from the barn.  Ruddy with cold, he set the milk pail on the sideboard.  Tossing jacket and hat onto a chair, he caught Rachel about the waist, and held her against his slim, horseman’s body.  He nibbled her neck, just under the ear, where she was ticklish.  Giggling, she fended him off, and when he had taken his seat at the table, she set his plate before him piled high with hot cakes.  A jug of maple syrup and a pat of butter completed their breakfast.

“Anything special in town today?” she asked, pretending she had no idea why he intended to travel miles through the snow.

“Papers’ll be in.  If more states follow Carolina’s lead, there’ll be a showdown. Buchanan might play safe, but once Lincoln’s inaugurated, things’ll change.  He won’t take secession laying down.”

“I don’t see how threats will change anything,” Rachel objected.  She salted the smoking griddle, and set it on the stove shelf to cool.

“Not threats.  A good fight.”  Wiping his mustache, Stuart abandoned breakfast.  “Pat and Carter say there’ll be a military call-up come spring.”

Rachel flushed with more than the heat of the cook stove.  “You’d like that, I suppose?” she asked with sarcasm.

“For Christ’s sake!”  Stuart threw his napkin down where it stuck to his pancakes.  “What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing. But I know what’s in your mind.  And I won’t be left to milk cows and slop pigs while you play soldier.”

“Oh, you won’t, will you?”

Stuart’s expression was alarming and suddenly hateful.  Unthinkingly, Rachel raised her hand, but before she could slap him, he seized her wrist.   They glared at each other fiercely.

“Goddamn you, Rache!” He shook her hard enough to make her head wobble before he released her. When he did, she was sent staggering into the doorway.

As Stuart moved toward her, Rachel ran behind the unmade bed, posture defiant, eyes brilliant.

“Rache.”  He extended a hand as though she were a skittish animal.  “ I’m sorry.”  Tense seconds passed before she came into his arms, barely suppressing a sob.

“I’m going to have a baby,” she blurted.  “You can’t go to war.”

He sat on the bed, pulling her down beside him. Sunlight had begun to melt the frost on the window, and thin beams of light crossed the quilt.  “You couldn’t be mistaken, could you?”

“No. It’s been over two months since­­—”

They heard the fire shift in the stove, the wood settling. She pressed his reluctant hand against her still flat belly.  “You wouldn’t leave before the baby’s born, would you?”

“I guess not,” he said grimly.  “But there’s no reason why I shouldn’t go to town now, is there?”

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 8:47 am  Comments (6)  
Tags: ,

Music of the Civil War

The ethos and emotions of a society are often best expressed through their music. In that spirit, I invite you to travel (enter the time machine, step this way) to the 1860’s when our nation was divided. Stepping off the train, we see horse-drawn carts and buggies, women in bonnets and full skirts. Men wearing uniforms of blue, gray, or butternut fill the streets. Some hobble on crutches.  Others have an empty sleeve pinned to their jackets. The tunes that fill the air seem almost identical, whether we disembark at Richmond or Washington D.C.

The prevailing mood is one of sentimentality and patriotism. Opposing views of the war seem epitomized by the north’s Battle Hymn of the Republic, and the south’s Bonnie Blue Flag. Their messages may be different, but the melodies are rooted in 19th Century culture. Dixie, identified with the Confederacy, was as popular in the north as in the south. Federal troops, sent to reinforce Grant’s army at Shiloh, marched off their transports at Pittsburgh Landing to the music of none other than Dixie.

Other selections may not be as recognizable to the modern ear as Dixie, but there are a few.  For instance, Home Sweet Home was sung the night before the Battle of Stone’s River. Opposing regimental bands serenaded each other across the water, and soldiers of both armies wept.

If you listen carefully, you might catch part of a familiar melody. But the words are different. “Aura Lee, Aura Lee, maid of golden hair, sunshine came along with you and swallows in the air.” Oh yes! You’re remembering Elvis Presley singing Love Me Tender. The same tune. Different words.

Most popular songs of the Civil War betray the heartache of soldiers and those left behind. You don’t have to sing the lyrics to feel their sentiments. The titles are enough.  The Vacant Chair. Just Before the Battle, Mother. Praying When This Cruel War is Over. The Dying Volunteer. The Faded Coat of Blue. Brother, Tell Me of the Battle. 

As we bring our trip to a close, let us re-board the train and listen to a song written in 1868 after the war’s end. The lyrics embody the memory and heartbreak of those terrible years. “I cannot sing the old songs, or dream those dreams again, for heart and voice would fail me, and foolish tears would flow—”

Even as I settle into the present, I hear the echoes of another song, one that has played Civil War veterans as well as those of subsequent conflicts into a real or fancied glory.  “When Johnny comes marching home again, Hurrah, hurrah.”


Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (11)  

Countdown to the Civil War: April 15, 1861

President Lincoln declares a state of insurrection and calls for 75,000 volunteers. Patriotic speeches and music are heard in public gatherings, and newspaper editors dip their pens in flaming prose.

Rachel Norcross’s Diary, April 15, 1861:

I do not know what to do with myself now that war has been declared.  Stuart is sure to leave in the very near future, and the matter of spring plowing now seems of little moment. Every thought is subject to comparison against the fact of his leaving. I am ashamed to only consider my own situation when so many others will suffer the same fate, with possibly much worse to come.

Published in: on April 15, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , ,

Countdown to the Civil War: April 14, 1861

Fort Sumter officially surrenders in a ceremony accompanied by Confederate flags and drums. Unfortunately one Union soldier is killed due to an accidental explosion and five others are wounded, one fatally. As the news of the evacuation spreads, a kind of relief floods the country. The south is jubilant, and the north, with war now a certainty, prepares for action.

Rachel Norcross’s Diary,  April 14, 1861:

When Stuart came home yesterday, he was full of elation while I was equally downcast.  It appears Fort Sumter has all but surrendered, and if so, war is upon us.  Adding to my fears, the hot heads in town have prevailed upon Stuart to become the captain of a cavalry troop, and he is full of pride and excitement.

Today we will likely hear the very latest news.  Stuart says the church will be used as a public forum to galvanize the war effort. Afterward he plans to attend an impromptu drill at Jansen’s.

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 11:15 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , ,

Countdown to the Civil War: April 13, 1861

After 34 hours of Confederate bombardment, Fort Sumter surrenders. The faint hope exists that federal ships will complete their rescue mission is dashed when the heat of the continuing battle prevents them from entering the harbor. Washington receives no conformation of shots fired, leaving Lincoln uninformed of the true situation.

Rachel Norcross’s Diary,  April 13, 1861:

Stuart has abandoned his attempt at plowing.  Horse and plow are in the barn, and he is on his way to town.  And yet, I can’t blame him too much, for the ground is heavy and wet.  I must occupy myself with mending until he returns.

Published in: on April 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , ,

Countdown to the Civil War: April 12, 1861

Again the Confederates demand surrender of the Fort and again Anderson refuses.  However, should supplies or further orders not be received, Anderson said he would stand down on the 15th.. Opposing forces, however, are cognizant that waiting only increases the probability that reinforcing federal ships will intervene.  At 4:30 a.m. the first Confederate battery at Fort Johnson opens fire, bringing Charleston residents from their beds as noise of the assault rings through the city.

Rachel Norcross’s Diary, April 12, 1861 :

I am still not through with the wretched business of cleaning the chicken coop.  Who would have thought a dozen hens and one, no two, roosters, could make such a mess!  Of course, it is months’ worth.  My back aches from lifting that bucket and staggering to the garden spot.  My little mounds of fertilizer look very poor indeed.  Stuart tries to placate me now, saying he will begin plowing tomorrow.  This despite the fact that close examination shows the ground really is too wet to turn easily.

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,