Monday, April 11, 2011

150 Years Ago

Quote of the Week:  Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. Dr. Seuss.

On April 12, 1861, one of the saddest events in our history (in my opinion) took place. At 4:30 A M Fort Sumter, SC. was fired upon, beginning the American Civil War. Brother fought against brother, father against son. Lives were torn apart. Lives were lost. When the war ended in 1865, about 620,000 soldiers had been lost.

When I was a kid, history was one of my least favorite subjects. It was just a bunch of dates and names that meant nothing to me. As an adult I was too busy with my family to think about the past. But all that changed when I started doing my family genealogy with a dear second cousin who was in her 90s. The stories she had to tell were fascinating. The people who lived so long ago came alive for me. They were flesh and blood. They hurt, they cried, they laughed. Like I do today. So began my love of history.

The Civil War became a fascinating time period for me, one that made no sense. But then few wars do, I suppose. As Lizzie says in my CW novel, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, "The war confuses gentle Nat. He does not comprehend why men kill each other. Neither do I."

Anyway, to remember the brave souls on both sides who fought for their beliefs, I'm dedicating today to them. Right or wrong, they are our history. I have a whole library of books, both fiction and nonfiction, about the Civil War. Some of my favorites and my sources of research for my novel are the diaries of women who lived during the times. I was interested in how the families of the soldiers survived when their lives were torn apart. In her own words I met Sarah Morgan who lived in Baton Rouge, LA, during the war. Mary Chesnut's diary, The Private Mary Chesnut, gives great insight into the life of a Southern belle. Other journals and diaries showed me the fears, the joys, and the hope of the families left behind.

Fiction titles:

Michael Shaara's novel, The Killer Angels, gives a close look at the war on both sides.
The Tamarack Tree, YA by Patricia Clapp, tells the story of Vicksburg.
Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, YA by Beverly Stowe McClure (of course I have to add my book. It is being carried by a couple of the Civil War parks bookstores.) shows what life was life when Vicksburg was under seige for 47 days.

Some nonfiction books that give good accounts of the war and were very helpful in my research are:

Grant Wins the War, Decision at Vicksburg, by James R. Arnold.
The Boys' War, Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk About the Civil War, YA by Jim Murphy.
Vicksburg, the Battle that Won the Civil War, Children's nonfiction by Mary Ann Fraser.
Gettysburg, by Stephen W. Sears

There are so many more books that I used for reference, but no time to list them all. Do you have any favorites that you've read? Most of us, if we check our ancestors, will find someone involved in the war.

Next time we'll look at movies about the CW and places to visit to learn more.

Until then, happy reading and writing.


  1. My favorite Civil War books are Gone with the Wind, Caves, Cannons and Crinolines, and Killer Angels.

    All awesome!!

  2. I enjoyed reading Caves, Cannons and Crinolines. I haven't read Gone With The Wind, I will one day, but I did see the movie.

  3. Oh, yes, Gone with the Wind is my favorite book and movie. There will never be another like it or a character like Scarlett. Or Rhett.

    Killer Angels I haven't read but gave it to the granddaughter when she was studying CW in high school.

    And thanks for your kind words about CCAC, Darby. You're such great support.

  4. Thank you, Susanne. I've seen the movie GWTW and read the book, both several times, and I have the DVD.

  5. I'd never given much thought past my high school history course to the Civil War until I was in Charleston, SC last August. I took a walking tour that made me see that for southerners living at the time, the war had little to do with slavery, and everything to do with their way of life. It's interesting how history gets distilled to a major sticking point (as slavery obviously was & I'm in no way condoning it!), when in truth there were many causes, reasons, and passions at play.

  6. You're so right, Jessie. Slavery was only part of it. Our oldest son lives in Charleston and I love to visit that place. We've taken the ghost walking tour and several others. The stories about the families that lived in the old houses fascinate me. My YA paranormal is set in Charleston.

  7. EnJOYed learning how you came to love history, Beverly. And yes, right or wrong, it is our history and a part of us and those who made the journey before us.

  8. And I'm so thankful for our ancestors, Ruthi. Their lives were tough. I'd make a horrible pioneer. Like my modern conveniences too much. :)

  9. I've always been interested in history, although until I married my good hubby-buddy, I found that retaining the information in my brain was almost impossible. He has opened a whole new world for me cause he knows how to paint pictures with words an' his paintings have brought so many of those historical visions to life.

    If you ever get a chance to go to St. Simons an' Jekyll Islands in Georgia, that is also a wunnerful place for bringing the Civil War experience alive.

    ~ Yaya

  10. How nice that your husband can paint visuals pictures for you, Yaya. He sounds like a great writer himself.

    I'll have to check into the Georgia area. There is so much history around us, it's fascinating.