10 Things You Should Know About The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

“Father, what was the battle? And who won it?” I asked as stood inside, looking out at the sea.

“Which battle? And are you talking about the recent war or a different one?”

“I can’t say it, but I can spell it. The battle at S-p-o-t-s-y-l-v-a-n-i-a Court House. It was in 1864.”

“That must’ve been one of Grant’s battles. I think it was a Union victory. What has you so interested in the war, daughter?” (Excerpt from Lighthouse Loyalty, Chapter 3)

This historical novel is set in 1867 and has ties to the Civil War throughout important points in the plot. In Chapter 3, young Susan Rose Arnold has been reading articles in old newspapers and sees an account of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House; realizing that she knows little about the recent war, she decides to ask her Father about it, opening the discussion by mentioning the reported battle.

If you’ve been curious for details, here are 10 things you should know about about the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House: Continue reading

What In The World Happened In 1867?

1867. It’s the historical year of the historical fiction book Lighthouse Loyalty. In chapter eleven, after Uncle Richard’s trip to town, the family reads the news from a newspaper.

Father read about debates on a newly purchased territory of the United States in the far northwest; the paper called it Alaska and said it was just a frozen wasteland. He started to read aloud about Indian fighting on the western plains but then changed to a different column which discussed President Andrew Johnson’s arguments with Congress over Reconstruction – how to rebuild the South after the war. I thought the Indians would’ve been more frightfully exciting than the release of the former Confederate president and increasing tension between the President Johnson and Congress.

Today’s post covers some of the topics they read about and a few other interesting happenings in history during that year. Continue reading

Children’s Games: Mid-19th Century Style

In my opinion, one of the joys of writing historical fiction is putting in the little tiny historical details and knowing they’re accurate. For example, what games did children play in the mid-19th Century?

We can learn about games and amusements of the era by reading primary sources, taking hints from even earlier eras, looking at preserved toys, and trying to play/create the games or toys the children had to learn hands-on about the nuances and fun of these pastimes.

In Lighthouse Loyalty, the Arnold children have a few toys and play a variety of games. In this blog post, we’ll highlight some of these activities and a little history around them… Continue reading

Notes On 19th Century Newspapers

Throughout Lighthouse Loyalty, newspapers, journalism, and writing feed into the plot of the story. Is it accurate? What papers could the Arnold Family have read? And how did newspapers help American’s form opinions about the Civil War?

I thought I’d share some of my notes on newspapers and delve into the historical backing for some of the journalistic details in my newest historical novel. Happy reading… Continue reading

19th Century Music in “Lighthouse Loyalty”

“Do you know any new songs to teach us, Uncle Richard?” I asked, after we had resettled in the main room and sung several of our favorites, entertaining Mama and Marian.

“Oh, I don’t know that it’s new, but there is a song I could sing for you. Someone taught it to me a few years ago,” he replied quietly, shifting in his chair.

“Sing it, sing it,” Paul chanted. Uncle Richard cleared his throat, and we waited, expecting a lively tune. Instead, he sang simple words and a pleasing melody… (Lighthouse Loyalty, excerpt from Chapter 6)

Throughout Lighthouse Loyalty music is used for symbolism and and unifying effect, reflecting the importance of music in 19th Century society. The songs mentioned by name are accurate to the era, and for today’s blog post, I thought it would be fun to share a little about the history behind the song choice and some links to the songs. Continue reading

Women and 19th Century Literature

If a person knows how to write, they will write something. A shopping list, letter, journal, recipe, book, novel, thesis paper. Through the centuries, women had written, but they didn’t always receive much attention or much help from publishers. In mid-19th Century America, a change started to occur in attitudes toward women, writing, and publishing. Against this backdrop, fictional character Susan Rose Arnold scribbles poetry, wonders if someday it could be published, and meets a woman who regularly writes for publications.

“Miss Shermann,” I said as I guided her up to her room after the evening meal, “what do you write? If you don’t mind my question.” She had perfect manners and the most fascinating way of controlling the conversation at the table, without seeming to be in charge.

“It depends,” she replied, smiling. “Sometimes short stories. Sometimes information about travel or the impracticality of these beautiful ladies’ fashions. Anything I can sell to a newspaper or magazine.” (Lighthouse Loyalty, Chapter 18)

Today, we’ll highlight some mid-19th Century female authors and the changing world of publishing.  Continue reading