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    Mark Twain

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Victorian Slang of the Week

chicken–I’ve talked about “chick” used to refer to people, including oneself. There is another meaning, however, that we are more closely associated with: coward. Interestingly, chicken wasn’t used that way in the 19th century.  The first reference in terms of cowardly is 1933.  I would not have thought that.   Nor did one “chicken out” until 1934.

However,  one could be 1) chicken-livered, which did mean cowardly.  The first reference on this was 1871, by Mark Twain.  There weren’t a lot of other references, however one could also be a 2) chicken-gizzard–a coward.  There’s only one reference to this, in 1851.

The only other reference I could find that came even close to cowardly was “gone chicken” or “dead chicken” (1863) but that seems to be mostly about someone being in a dismal, probably unrecoverable, situation, often in reference to oneself.  “Once Harold found out that she’d been unfaithful, she was a dead chicken.”

So. . . I could very well have incorrectly used chicken in one of my books.  Too late now, but I’ll be watching for this in the future!

Red River Campaign Continues – This Day in the Civil War

red-river-campaign150 years ago today on Monday, April 11, 1864, the Red River Campaign continued on. This campaign began on March 10 and lasted through the 22nd of May in 1864.

This day involved the combined efforts of the Army and Navy. General Banks withdrew his troops to Grand Encore, Louisiana. He’d earlier suffered a failure at Pleasant Hill and Mansfield, although his men were actually the victors at Pleasant Hill. Banks turned his troops away, however, because he’d believed they’d been defeated.

At the same time, on the river, Admiral Porter’s gunboats were subjected to small arms battery fire from the river banks. The river was low, so they had difficulty maneuvering to escape damage.


For detailed info on the entire campaign, visit this site: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/mansfield/mansfield-history-articles/redriverjoiner.html

For info on my romance novels and novelettes set during and after the American Civil War, visit my website: http://susanmacatee.com

Railroads in the U.S.

So I was googling around yesterday, trying to find information about railroads in the 1880′s for the book I’m working on.  I’ve googled this many times, and didn’t think I’d come up with any better information than I have before, namely exactly what lines were operating at what times.  But I was wrong.  I found this wonderful website, chock full of all kinds of information, which I really need to share.


For anyone in need, it has lots and lots of maps.

Also, I realized that I never shared some other information, or at least pictures, of a museum I traveled to last year with my (ever patient with my history addiction) family.  It’s the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Co.   It’s wonderful in that you get to tour trains from by-gone days.  They also have an extensive library, with a very nice and helpful librarian.  I was sad because I only had a couple of hours and there was so much I wanted to look at and read!  Actually, everybody was very nice.  When my husband mentioned that I’m a historical romance writer and I really wanted to get into private train car they had, but wasn’t part of the tour, they got a key and let me in.  They were, I expect, in the middle of renovating it, thus it not being open, so these pictures may not reflect how it looks now.  But I was so very grateful to them.  Enjoy, and please forgive me for being a terrible picture taker.

IMG_3603  These are regular seats, not part of the private car.

IMG_3633  Part of the parlor.

IMG_3640 More of the parlor

IMG_3642Kitchen.  It was actually quite large, and the pictures don’t do it justice.

IMG_3645Another view of the kitchen.  You’ll see electric outlets, added later I expect but am not sure.  I believe the original dating on this car was about 1880

IMG_3651Bathroom.  Yes, that is my reflection in the mirror.  The bathroom had a shower.  Whether or not this was part of the car in this period, or added later, I don’t know.

IMG_3636A bedroom.  Notice the wood paneling and storage area.

IMG_3635Another bathroom


And I expect most people don’t need to see this, but I did! The toilet:


And here’s a picture I got off a plaque–don’t know why I didn’t get a regular picture.  The observation room.


Another bedroom taken off a plaque before they let me into the car.  Yes, those are raindrops mess up the picture.  It always rains on us when we tour anything.


And finally, the back the car:


These photos don’t really represent the car as much as I would like.  I was taking them for my own use in writing my novel, but if you notice the gleaming woodwork, you’ll get a better idea of the luxurious traveling in this car.  Here’s the information on the car, per the website.

Chicago Burlington & Quincy Business Car No. 96 (S)

No. 96 was built by CB&Q as a traveling office with overnight accommodations and kitchen facilities. Up to twelve officers, board members or friends of the railroad could travel in quiet comfort to cities and towns served by the railroad.

Oh and finally–I mean really finally this time, a picture of the telegraph office:



Victorian Slang of the Week

chicken-fixings–1847. Little, unimportant things, often referred to belongings. “After being fired, the cow hand gathered up his chicken-fixin’s and went to town looking for the saloon.” There are three references up through 1873, so I suppose it was used occasionally. Nothing for it after the 19th century, however.

Victorian Slang of the Week–chick

chick: formerly chicken. A man. 1853, with lots of references. “This chick, here, can shoot straighter than any soldier I know.” Interestingly, the way it’s used today, in reference to a woman, didn’t come into use until the 20th century, when this manner went out of use.

The Charleston Riot – This Day in the Civil War

250px-Ctownchouse150 years ago today, March 28, 1864, Union soldiers and local Republicans had a run in with the insurgent group, the Copperheads, in Charleston, Illinois. A riot ensued leaving nine dead and twelve men wounded.

The event that many believed triggered this riot was the Union soldiers humiliation of Judge Charles H. Constable. They forced him to swear allegiance to the federal government. The reason–he’d allowed four Union deserters to go free in Marshall, Illinois.

At the time of the riot, the judge was holding court in Charleston.

That day Charleston square was alive with activity as residents of Coles and the surrounding counties were celebrating the spring session of the 4th Circuit Court. The Copperheads, as well as about 40 to 50 Union soldiers, filled local saloons. The Copperheads were drawn by a Democratic rally and the soldiers were relaxing prior to reporting for duty in Mattoon.

The Copperheads and soldiers erupted into yelling and shoving matches. The Democratic leaders were forced to cancel the rally and urged everyone to return home, fearing the situation would worsen.

But at 3 p.m. violence ensued.

“In view of the conflicting evidence, it is impossible to say positively who fired the first shot,” wrote Charles Coleman and Paul Spence in the “Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.”

But most who witnessed the riot agreed the soldiers approached Copperhead Nelson Wells and harassed him first. Then a pistol was fired.

The shot caused the entire square to erupt into a sea of madness.

The Copperheads had the advantage. They’d stored weapons under hay and blankets in their wagons in expectation of a confrontation. Most of the soldiers were unarmed.

The shooting and fighting not only engulfed the entire square, but broke into the interior of the courthouse.

After a matter of just a few minutes, nearly 100 shots had been fired. The nine dead included six soldiers, two Copperheads and one innocent bystander. The 12 wounded were four soldiers, five Copperheads and three  residents.

To read more about the riots, visit this site: http://www.dennews.com/news/the-charleston-riot-of/article_3f60a0ea-749b-11e1-9661-001a4bcf6878.html

To see the mural, and a YouTube video about the riots, visit these links:



For info on my romance books set during and after the American Civil War, visit my website: http://susanmacatee.com 


Victorian Slang of the Week–cheesy

cheesy:1863–This is a term used to this day–it’s in one of my favorite country songs, although used in a different way than it was in the 19th century. 1)cheap shoddy second-rate, of inferior quality. Most of the references are from the 20th century, but there are 3 from the latter half of the 19th.


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