1863: “Oh, If I Could Just Come Out Of This Charge Safely”

(Spelling and emphasis is original)

July 3, 1863

Our artillery has now ceased to roar and the enemy have checked their fury, too. The time appointed for our charge has come.

I tell you, there is no romance in making one of these charges. You might think so from reading “Charlie O’Mallery,” that prodigy of valour, or in reading of any other gallant knight who would as little think of riding over gunners and sich like as they would of eating a dozen oysters. But when you rise to your feet as we did today, I tell you the enthusiasm of ardent breasts in many cases ain’t there, and instead of burning to avenge the insults of our country, families and altars and firesides, the thought is most frequently, Oh, if I could just come out of this charge safely how thankful would I be! Continue reading

Tea With Sarah: What If?, 1893, & Historical Cookies

Good afternoon, it’s time for tea!

It might be cliched to say but these last couple weeks have been a whirlwind. Two speaking engagements, one book festival, work, research, all the rest of life, and gearing up for our Reconstruction Era theme of the month for March and an upcoming short sale over St. Patrick’s Day.

If I was hosting a REAL tea this afternoon, fresh fruit would be the treat and probably Chamomile Tea to drink. I’ve had a little cold this week, so luckily it’s just a tea on the blog this week. No germ sharing here…

But it’s always a good day to talk history and we have some fun questions this week. We’ll start with a “what if” topic… Continue reading

Gettysburg’s Relic Hunters & Tour Guides

When my family went to Gettysburg, we had an awesome tour guide who took us all over the battlefield, told us history stories, and pointed out important landmarks and monuments. After the tour, it was time to hunt through the gift-shop for a new book! (I got my copy of Bayonet Forward by Joshua L. Chamberlain there.)

Sarah Kay Bierle at Gettysburg National Battlefield (2008)

Sarah Kay Bierle at Gettysburg National Battlefield (2008)

I suppose our experience at Gettysburg was similar to what many families and tourists do, but imagine my surprise to learn that people were doing this just days after the battle ended. Today, I’d like to introduce you to the Relic Hunters and Tour Guides of 1863. Continue reading

By The Banks Of Rock Creek

Rock Creek is a stream to the east of the town of Gettysburg. Reading historical accounts sometimes leaves a researcher with the impression that Rock Creek was omnipresent. (It’s not, it just happens to meander all over the east part of the battlefield zone.)

A tributary to the larger Monocacy River, Rock Creek became a semi-important landmark and high-dangerous enemy during July 1863. From peaceful stream to battlefield landmark to dangerous floodwaters, let’s explore some historical details of Rock Creek and how it was incorporated into my recent historical novel. Continue reading

Cloudy With A Chance Of Battle

sun and cloudsWhat was the weather like in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during July 1863? Good question. And I found that – much like time – there are different reports in primary sources.

A good rule to keep in mind is that it can be dark and stormy in one place and just a few miles away the sun may be shining. (Also, a person’s written thoughts on the weather may be effected by their positive or negative feelings.)

So how did I interpret a variety of recorded weather conditions when I was writing my historical novel? Continue reading