Not your mother’s Civil War Romance…
Thanks Slip into Something Victorian for having me…I say tongue firmly planted in cheek. Yes, I’m a member of this group and blog, but my mother raised me to always be polite and thank my hostesses. J When our group of Victorian writers started talking about doing an anthology, I chimed in. I had done one novella before and enjoyed it. Besides, I love anthologies and have found new authors I enjoy through reading anthologies.
But, I wasn’t crazy about the Civil War era. Although it’s one of my favorite non-fiction subjects, I don’t like glamorizing a terrible time in our history as some works have done. Fortunately, none of the novellas in Northern Roses and Southern Belles sugarcoats a horrific subject, yet the individual stories that emerged are fun, adventurous, romantic, and remained true to history. After wasting time toying with several ideas, I decided to fictionalize events from my own family’s history and wrote Long Road Home for Northern Roses and Southern Belles.
We narrowed from twelve to six novellas as people dropped out for various reasons, but the anthology came together beautifully. The cover couldn’t be lovelier and Allison Byers was a super editor. These are great stories, so I think the book should be of interest to all historical fans.
Even though I’ve read a lot of nonfiction about that war, I learned several things through our anthology. I can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands! I already have requests from friends for their copy.
Were Southerners who wanted to stay out of the War allowed to do so?
Caroline Clemmons: Many who had no sympathy for either side were pressed into service. My ancestors wanted to stay home and tend their crops and families. They were told by the local bully and his henchman [portrayed in my story Long Road Home that they would enlist in the Confederacy or their crops and homes would be burned and their women raped then killed. Needless to say, they enlisted. But one patriarchal ancestor was wounded and put in a hospital. One day, he walked out and went to Atlanta to get his parents and sister before Sherman arrived. He took them to his home in Northwest GA where they were safe. It was not that my ancestors had no opinion in the conflict. They believed in states’ rights, but they did not believe in a divided country.
The ancestor of a friend was from Norway and lived in Central TX. He wanted only to take care of his farm and his family, so refused to enlist. He was mysteriously slain months later.
Many on each side of the conflict felt that if you didn’t enlist, you were a traitor. To their way of thinking I’m sure, they were confident that if you weren’t a part of their solution, you were a part of the problem. If you didn’t fight with them, would you shoot them in the back? It was a terrible war pitting brother against brother. I’ve heard that more men died in one day during the Civil War than all those who died in Vietnam.
Excerpt from Long Way Home:
Witherspoon, Georgia, December 1864
Parmelia Bailey crept closer to the Union Army’s makeshift corral. She shivered, but not from the cold air. At best, a prison cell awaited her if she was caught. What would soldiers do to a woman of twenty caught stealing back her own horses?
Suddenly, she stopped. Good heavens, was that Darrick McDonald in a Yankee uniform? When had he shown up? Four years had passed since he left Georgia, but there was no mistaking the man she’d once loved. Memory’s pain almost felled her, and tears welled. She’d waited for him, dreamed of his return. The love she’d thought they shared still haunted her. He’d returned to Witherspoon and hadn’t even contacted her. Had he forgotten her so easily?
Across the way, he talked to half a dozen soldiers near a campfire. All seven men walked away, but there had been no mistaking Darrick McDonald as one of them. How could the man she’d loved turn traitor? Looked as if he’d joined the low down, cheating Yankees who had taken her horses and held the town captive. Worse, although she couldn’t calculate his rank, obviously he was an officer.
Her ten-year-old brother, Rob, duck-walked to a nearby holly bush. “How much longer we have to be here?” he whispered. “I been tired of this for a long time. I’m freezing my ass—,”
“Robert Gibson Bailey,” she whispered back fiercely, and her breath clouded in frost.
“Um, I’m freezing my arms off. I can hardly move.”
“Won’t be long now. Not another word.” Bad enough they had to steal their own horses, but Rob’s complaining and her reaction risked giving away their location.
Her nerves couldn’t be more frazzled if a gun were pointed at her head. She tried not to think of the consequences of her daring. What would happen to Rob if they were caught? Surely even Yankees didn’t jail boys.
A sentry walked within ten feet of her, and she shrank back from view. Her loss of focus had almost caused her capture. And after she’d been freezing here for two hours, timing the patrols.
The guard glanced around. “What’s got you critters stirred up? You done been fed all you’re going to get, so quiet down.” Warily, he peered around again, then moved on.
In the shadows of an ancient oak tree, she stood hidden from his view. Parmelia thanked her luck she’d worn men’s clothing so no skirt billowed to catch the sentry’s attention.
She had ten minutes before he came by again.
Caroline Clemmons is a city girl turned country girl. After moves from Southern California to a series of small towns across West Texas, her family settled in Lubbock, Texas. A fourth grade teacher opened her world to the joy of reading. An eighth grade journalism teacher encouraged her to transfer her dreams and ideas onto paper. In addition to being mom to two delightful daughters, Caroline has experience that includes working as a newspaper reporter and columnist, an assistant to the managing editor of a professional psychology journal, and as bookkeeper for the local tax assessor-collector. Caroline and her husband are living happily ever after on five acres in Parker County, Texas, where she is now able to write full time. You can find her at: http://www.carolineclemmons.com/
Mary Ann Webber: Southerners who owned a large number of slaves were told to stay at home to control them and to ensure that some farming occurred. This was very galling to farmers without slaves. There was a lot of quiet grumbling among men who had to leave their families and their livelihood to fight the “Rich Man’s War.”
The book and the movie, Cold Mountain, shows the viciousness of the men who patrolled the South looking for deserters. They were glad when the men resisted or tried to run away. They could shoot them in the back, load the carcasses on their horses, and still collect the bounty.
One of my ancestors, a young man, who lived near Memphis with his family, deserted the Confederate army and went home to take care of his wife and children. He was repairing his roof when the “bounty hunters” came by and captured him. His family watched him being shackled and taken away. They never saw him again, and decades passed before they learned he died in a Confederate prison.
Jennifer Ross: I have no idea, really. Even if they were allowed, by law, I think it would have been hard to do in practice. I mean, if you were young and able—even if you weren’t young and able, I expect doing something concrete to support the war effort, at least, would have been required, socially-speaking. But could you move into a state in the middle, neither completely North or completely South?
I understand Kentucky was one where the State government chose to side with the Union, but large numbers of people chose to fight for the South. Now, THAT would have been socially interesting. Would it come down to which street you lived on as to what side you supported, and how that support was shown? Could you (young and able) choose to deprive both sides of your fighting skills, thereby showing support to both sides?
Isabel Roman: Again, it goes back to the whole schooling thing. Really, American scholars don’t allow for independent thought on this until a bunch of romance writers get together to do a Civil War anthology and new and exciting avenues of thought open up. My first reactions was: Really? There were Southerners who didn’t fight? REALLY?! Man, Gone with the Wind had it so wrong!
Jeanmarie Hamilton: I don’t know about other southern states, but Texans were allowed to vote by towns if their men didn’t choose to join the Confederate army. Instead they could join a local militia which would be used to protect the town and local farms.
Susan Macatee: I really don’t know the answer to this one, but I suspect that intimidation or shaming someone into joining would have happened on both sides. But I don’t know firsthand if a man in the South would’ve been forced to fight.
The Civil War as you’ve never read it!
Caroline will give away to 1 lucky commenter: a $10(USD) TWRP gift certificate. Remember, everyone who leaves a comment on the day of the post for each of the six days will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Northern Roses and Southern Belles signed by all six authors.
Saturday August 1: Isabel Roman is at Night Owl Romance
Sunday August 2: Jeanmarie Hamilton is at Petticoats & Pistols
Monday August 3: Susan Macatee is at Love Romance Passion
Tuesday August 4: Caroline Clemmons is at Slip into Something Victorian
Wednesday August 5: Mary Ann Webber is at Arkansas Diamonds
Thursday August 6: Jennifer Ross is at Romantic Crush Junkies