1864: “Exaggerated Harshness”

August 7, 1864

The war is taking on features of exaggerated harshness. Hunter when he re-entered the Valley caused a number of private residences of the finest character to be burned… Early burned Chambersburg to enforce a refractory town into paying a requisition. The Yankees have had the unutterable meanness to make an expedition up the Rappahannock for the purpose of burning the house of Mrs. May Seddon, the widow of Major John Seddon, the brother of the Secretary. Her condition was perfectly well known to them, and the fact of her connection with the Secretary of War was avowed as the reason!! Somebody over the border will smoke for this outrage. I am satisfied that this thing which they have been doing now for three years in Florida (Jacksonville), Mississippi (Jackson), South Carolina on the Combahee, and all through Virginia on the Northern border can be stopped by deliberate and stern retaliation. They are in more of our territory but their people live so much more in towns that one expedition can burn more houses than they can destroy in a campaign. That they are amendable to the influences of retaliation is plain for the well known fact that when they have to deal with a man who they know will be as good as his word they are awed.

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1863: “The Leaves Are Falling In Showers”

Friday, November 6th 1863: Clear and warm. The wind blew this morning and the leaves are falling in showers. Thus far there has not been a killing frost here: a thing somewhat rare. My Puppy “Wheeler” sleepth under the steps. Father returned from Houston. Mr. Kemp is home on a short furlough.

Saturday, November 7th 1863: There is no news. The firing on Sumter has slackened. The Legislature met Thursday and elected A.R. Wright President of the Senate and Hardeman Speaker of the House. Mrs. Huguenin is better. Mrs. Whittle sent me two oranges…. Continue reading

Richmond 1863: Bread Riots

Richmond. Capital of the Confederacy for the majority of the American Civil War. A town at war with itself, even as the nation fought to redefine the meanings of union, constitution, and freedom.

This month’s blog series will take a closer look at some important events in Richmond’s 1863 saga. As the middle year of the war, 1863 had its share of dramatic moments that filled this Virginia city’s streets with riots, tears, blood, chains, and questions. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the riot which rocked Richmond society and revealed some of the Confederacy’s greatest challenges away from the battlefields. Continue reading

1863: “Shall I Send Him Home?”

Jan. 25, 1863

Attended morning service in the lecture room. Mr. Morse read; as usual. Mary and I sat with Mrs. Peter Pierce. She is quite a hopeful in regard to Thomas. They received a letter from him a few days since in which he says he is getting along nicely and will come home as soon as he can get a furlough as the surgeons says he may not be able to be on duty for three months, and may perhaps have a stiff knee. The poor fellow must have suffered much though he does not complain, simply gives a statement of facts. He was wounded at the battle of Murfreesboro on the 31st of December and crawled off the field unassisted. _____ shortly after found him and carried him to a hospital tent but it was so crowded that he could not gain admission, so Tom had to lie on a little straw outside for 24 hours. His regiment was ordered away and he was left among entire strangers. The next day he was taken inside the tent, and on the third day the surgeon dressed his wound. Yesterday Mr. Pierce received a telegram from George saying, Tom at the Hurricane Hospital, shall I send him home? Mr. Pierce replied in the affirmative, so they think he may be here this week. Continue reading

With Gladness: World War II Christmases

with-gladness-coverChristmas and other holidays in the 1940’s seem not as “far distant” as other historical eras. I think this is because I’ve heard so many stories from my grandparents and great-aunt about their war time holiday celebrations.

When I originally planned the World War II era story for With Gladness, I intended to base it off a Christmas play we had done years before and the setting would’ve been Battle of the Bulge. However, there were flaws in that story plot, and I eventually decided to scrap the idea. Having experienced moments of waiting for news from family and acquaintances in the military, I decided the home front setting might be better and more familiar for writing. If the theory is true that writing is good if it makes the author cry, then “Stars In The Window” should be one of the best the collection.

Now, without further jabbering, here are a few historical background facts or highlights from the tale. Continue reading

If Only In My Dreams…


It is a truth universally acknowledged that most people want to be home or with loved ones for the December holidays. Historically (and in the modern era), that isn’t always possible.

One Christmas song recorded in 1943 addressed that reality with touching nostalgia. It’s a sympathetic song without getting depressing or too melancholy. It comes from the World War II era (joining another hit song – “White Christmas”) in a treasury of historical songs from the mid-20th Century that are still played and enjoyed.

Today – as the second song in the 2016 series You’re Singing History – we present “I’ll Be Home For Christmas (If Only In My Dreams).” Continue reading