Posted in History

Celebrating History: The 152nd Anniversary of Lee’s Surrender to Grant

247This is probably my favorite moment in American history. I never cease to be fascinated by the men involved and their attitudes and actions. Some were expected, but many surprised me.

Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9th, 1865, bringing the beginning of the end of the Civil War a reality. The surrender was more than a single moment but was an event that lasted for four days as parole papers were printed, signed, and ex-Rebels turned in their weapons.

In the past, I had done up the occasion rather nicely. I’ll be celebrating the moment a little quieter this year, but I want to point you toward a few links for anyone who is interested in taking a closer look.

Experiencing History Blog series: I had written a blog series during the 150th anniversary of the surrender, paying close attention to the historical timeline of events as they played out. The series starts days before the surrender, allowing you to see what was happening, as well as read the letters exchanged between generals. The series continues through Lincoln’s assassination which took place just days later. And the series wraps up with 5 collections of pictures that I took in Appomattox that year during the 150th celebration.

Celebrating History Facebook party: I reloaded the fascinating facts and hosted a grand party on Facebook last year. The link is still available so you can browse and comment to your heart’s content.

*Both the blog series and the facebook party were originally associated with a giveaway. Both giveaways are closed. You’re welcome to comment, and I’ll respond. But I’m no longer collecting entries or hosting a giveaway this year.

Current celebration on Facebook: I’m pulling up a few of my favorite party posts and sharing them anew this year. You can visit my page to take part in the discussion. We’ve kicked things off with my favorite, “Generals’ Ball” where we select a dress to wear and decide who we would dance with first–General Grant or General Lee.

I hope to see you around this week! You can chat with me below: Do you have a favorite moment in American History?

Posted in History

Experiencing History Blog Series: Reliving the End of the Civil War, Moment by Moment

I had written a blog series during the 150th anniversary of the surrender, paying close attention to the historical timeline of events as they played out. The series starts days before the surrender, allowing you to see what was happening, as well as the letters exchanged between generals, as Lee and Grant were moving in position to collide in a most memorable way. The series continues through Lincoln’s assassination which took place just days later. And the series wraps up with 5 collections of pictures that I had taken in Appomattox that year during the 150th celebration.

To make things easier for you, I’ve pulled all the links together in order. I hope you enjoy!

*Originally I had hosted a giveaway along with this series. The giveaway is over. Feel free to comment on any of the posts, but I’m no longer collecting entries.

Experiencing History: Reliving the End of the Civil War, Moment by Moment:

4/7 Part 1: Let’s jump start this series with some basic feelings from both armies.

4/7 Part 2: Grant sends a message to Lee asking him to surrender

4/8 Part 1: Lee responds and Grant sends a second note

4/8 Part 2: A quote from a Union soldier and a new message from Lee

4/9 Part 1: The armies on the move again and Grant sends another message.

4/9 Part 2: Hours before their meeting, the generals exchange 2 more letters.

4/9 Part 3: The hour has come! Read the terms of surrender and Grant’s version of the events of that hour.

4/9 Part 4: Two eye witness accounts

4/10: Read what was happening the day after the surrender by a man who was there.

4/11: Read the accounts of both Union and Confederate supporters as they hear the news of Lee’s surrender

4/12: Stacking of Arms Ceremony. Read two eye witness accounts of this solemn moment

4/13: Read Lee’s Farewell Address to his army

4/14 Part 1: Hours before Lincoln enters Ford’s Theatre

4/14 Part 2: A fictionalized account of the moment Lincoln was shot

4/15: The country is thrown into mourning. Details of the day as well as the account of a Union soldier the moment he was told.

Pictures from Appomattox:

Part 1: Reenactors

Part 2: Personal Collection

Part 3: Soldier Life

Part 4: Museums

Part 5: Stacking of Arms Ceremony


Posted in History

Historical Book Review: The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette by Florence Hartley

52This is a special book review especially for history fans or historical authors. And the best part is, this book is a freebie on Amazon!!

The full title is, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness A Complete Hand Book for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society.
Now if that isn’t a mouth full, I’m not sure what is! Lol

I picked up this book with the intentions of getting a better understanding of the customs and social manners of the 1800s. And, boy, was it a gold mine!! Along with the do’s and don’t’s, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette also gave me a lesson on the common, day to day things like paying and accepting house calls. You can’t get a better source on Victorian customs than a book written in 1860.
I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to study more about the time period. I had picked up another freebie but I enjoyed the flow of thought and the overall writing style better in Florence’s version. I’ll share both links at the bottom of this page and you can give both books a try if you wish.

Here’s a list of categories found in the book:
Dress (A MAJOR bonus in this book! She offers a fantastic breakdown on the type of dresses and when/why they were worn as well as what style was acceptable for each.)
How to behave in a hotel
Evening Parties as the hostess
Evening parties as the guest
Visiting as the hostess
Visiting as the guest
Morning receptions or calls as the hostess
Morning receptions or calls as the guest
Dinner company as the hostess
Dinner company as the guest
Table etiquette
Conduct in the street
Letter writing
Polite deportment and good habits
Conduct in church
Ballroom etiquette for the hostess
Ballroom etiquette for the guest
Places of amusement
On a young lady’s conduct when contemplating marriage
Bridal etiquette
Hints on health
For the complexion

I haven’t finished reading this gem yet, but I’ve seen more than enough to pass it along to my fellow historian junkies.
You’ll find a free ebook version on Amazon here:
The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness A Complete Hand Book for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society

As mentioned, there is another book similar to this one. I didn’t read very far into it before switching books. But feel free to check them both out. This one is also free on Amazon.
Martine’s Hand-book of Etiquette, and Guide to True Politeness

And lastly, I ran across a gentleman’s book and thought to pick up a copy for myself as well as passing it along to you. I haven’t opened this one yet so it’ll be a surprise to us all. 😉
The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness Being a Complete Guide for a Gentleman’s Conduct in all his Relations Towards Society

Posted in History

The Wise Words of Mark Twain

5In celebration of Mark Twain’s birthday (November 30, 1835), we’re going to take a look at some of my favorite Twain quotes. Whether you love his work or hate it you’d have to admit, the man had some wise and witty things to say. 

“Comparison is the death of joy.”

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

“When you find yourself on the side of the majority, you should pause and reflect.”

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

“Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

“If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.”

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.”

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” *Personal note: This quote sits on my desk. 🙂

“Never try to teach a pig to sing. You waste your time and you annoy the pig.”

“Temper is what gets most of us into trouble. Pride is what keeps us there.”

“Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”

“Sucess is going from failure to failure with enthusiasm.”

“In the long run always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

“The only place where ‘success’ comes before ‘work’ is in the dictionary.”

“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t.”

“It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”

I’d love to hear back from you. Did you find a new favorite quote?

Posted in History

Welcome to 1885


From the Civil War to the present day to 1885. We’re on quite a journey together! 🙂

Those that follow my blog are already familiar with my debut Civil War series and are already anticipating my next project. If you’re new to the blog, you might have missed some of the great Civil War history that I’ve shared with my readers over the last 22 months. If history is your thing, and Civil War history in particular, then I know you would enjoy the various Civil War letters and other tidbits that I’ve posted. Feel free to indulge yourself.

The 4th Monday of every month is history week here and now we have a new era to explore! I’ll continue to bring you Civil War facts and letters but I’ll also start sharing some of the interesting points of my research as I delve into 1885. This is a new setting for me and I don’t know very much at the start so we’ll learn as we go. But here are a couple of points that I do know!


By British standards, we’re still in the Victorian Era, which is good news for me since I’ve grown rather comfortable here. 😉 But here in America, we also like to call this era the Gilded Age. You can read about how each of these eras break down in my previous post, A Quick Guide to Common Eras in Historical Fiction.

And another major note is the style of dresses. I’ll be switching from the full belled skirts to the infamous bustle. I’ve forever been smitten with the full skirts, but what about you? Which is your favorite look between these two styles?

And lastly, as I study into the social issues of this time in history, I would love to take in as much as I can by reading fiction novels that also deal the era that I’m studying. Can you recommend any non fiction or Christian fiction novels that focus on the social issues of the 1880s?


Posted in About the Book, History

When Fiction Meets Reality: The Battle of Chickamauga


When I sat down to begin writing/researching for the Ancient Words Series, one of the first questions I had asked was, “If a man joined the Confederacy from Bedford Co. TN, which regiment would he join?” There were two infantry regiments. I chose the 17th and drowned myself in its history. I read everything I could get my hands on. I took notes. I followed their trail like a dedicated fan…because, let’s face it, that’s what I was at this point.


While my characters were fictional, their experiences were based on reality. One of my favorite moments to research was the Battle of Chickamauga. The anniversary of this extremely bloody battle is today and tomorrow. While there are so many factors to cover, I only want to focus on the experience of the 17th. You can read about Frank Harper’s version of events in my 2nd book, In the Shadow of Thy Wings. I had the pleasure of weaving in several real details into the story.

I also had the pleasure of touring the battlefield for the first time this summer. Here are some of my favorite photos…most of them featuring the 17th! The flag pictured above is a replica of the regimental flag. This is the first time I’ve ever seen it in person. What a TREAT!!
Perryville and Murfreesboro were two significant battles for the 17th. And both are featured in Where Can I Flee.



After touring the museum inside, we set out in search of monuments featuring the 17th. This was one of my favorite family moments of the entire weekend. We had turned it into a contest to see who could find the monuments first and all of a sudden children and adults that might not have cared in the beginning was invested and enjoying themselves. It does my heart good to see people enjoying history.
*Family Fun Tip: When visiting historical sites with children or history-hating adults, create a scavenger hunt. It worked on my family and maybe it’ll work on yours. 😉



At long last, we were rewarded with two monuments. There was something so special about standing before a monument honoring the regiment that I’ve spent so much time with.




We found smaller monuments dedicated to individual regiments around this larger one. But sadly, we couldn’t find one for the 17th. We hiked all over the area, searching for it but came up empty. I’m not sure if there ever was one for the 17th or not. I’d love to check into the situation and see what can be done, but for today, Where Can I Flee and In the Shadow of Thy Wings act as monuments to a now beloved regiment.





Words can hardly explain and these pictures will hardly do it justice when describing the hilly terrain. I’m convinced any semi-flat area that we stood on was man-made. I stepped off to the side and snapped a few pictures of the area. You can only imagine the additional hardships the armies faced on account of the landscape.



And here are some cannon shots.



A trip to Chickamauga isn’t complete without visiting the impressive Wilder Brigade Monument.



Visitors can climb to the top of the tower. I’d advise you to bring a water bottle and inhaler with you, both of which, I had left outside with my parents. Lol


But thankfully, I had brought my camera. 😉





Posted in History

A Quick Guide to Common Eras in Historical Fiction

If you’ve been around Historical Fiction for any amount of time, you would have picked up on keywords such as Edwardian, Regency, Antebellum, and Victorian to name a few. But what are these eras? How can you tell them apart? Is it possible to get a fairly accurate guess of the era just by the cover?
After spending years in a state of confusion, I set out to discover the difference between one era from another. And I’m ready to help you!
For my post, I decided not to focus on eras such as Biblical and Medieval. Biblical is easy to spot and, well, I don’t know anything about Medieval. Lol
I chose to focus on the eras most common in (English) Christian Historic Fiction.

So basically, what I found is that there are two different timelines: British and American. We find both commonly used in Christian Fiction.
While learning about both timelines was confusing at first, I managed to get the hang of things. I put together something simple for you to look at. You’re welcome. 😉

British Eras are determined by who is on the throne. It’s that simple.
American Eras…not so much. Our eras are based on wars and other political events.


Now that’s the quick of it. Are you ready to dig a little deeper? Buckle up! Here we go!!!

Colonial, American Revolution, and Post-Colonialism:
Colonial technically only applies to that time in our nation’s history BEFORE the Revolutionary War. This is a time where the COLONIES was the main focus. There are a variety of Indian Wars that fall into this category.
Revolutionary War is the period of time when America was at war with England. That’s it. That’s all. In America eras, the wars always stand out as an era of their own.
Post-Colonialism refers to the years following the Revolutionary War up until the War of 1812. I’ve also found other names for this time period such as New Nation.

Here are two examples of dresses that we might find on the cover during either of these eras (Late Post-Colonialism styles will be shifting and not follow this style).
The most iconic things I’ve noticed during this era is the elbow or 3/4 sleeves on the dresses. I did see some examples where a full sleeve was worn but the 3/4 sleeve was very popular.

Regency and War of 1812:
Regency is probably one of the most well-known British eras and yet few people know what it actually stands for or how restricted the technical period is. Regency refers to the 9 years when George III was seriously ill and his son, George Prince Regent was in charge.
Regency is an interesting era in that it has adopted many works simply because it feels like it belongs rather than it was written, or set, during the restricted time period. The Regency era has such a style to it that it’s iconic all of its own and gathers other works under its heading.
War of 1812 is one of the lesser known wars in American history. The war takes place during the Regency era which is probably why it’s often overshadowed.
As for style, both of these eras are easy to spot by their high waisted gowns and thin skirts.

The Georgian period overlaps the Regency style and the style of 1830s. Those who write in this era WANT you to learn about this special time in history. For the rest of us, we’ve been known for mistaking it as either Regency or Victorian pending on the style. The early years of the Georgian period still have the look and feel of the Regency while the later part begins to look more Victorian.
Here are some examples from the 1830s. The skirts are beginning to swell back out, but most notably are the sleeves. WOW. Just wow.
*Notice the sleeves have dropped off the shoulder. This is a style that would carry on for decades to come.

Victorian, Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction:
The Victorian period is a very broad era and covers a great deal of change. This era refers to the years that Queen Victoria was on the throne. The Antebellum period begins before the Victorian but it’s common to see it listed under Victorian. Victorian is a great search term when studying life during the 1800s.
Antebellum is an American era following the War of 1812 and leads up to the Civil War. We normally think Southern Plantation when we hear the word Antebellum.
Civil War is strictly the years of the American Civil War.
The Reconstruction period is a time in our nation’s history following the Civil War where the south is being rebuilt and Freedmen are finding their footing. This is a very rocky time in our history, and books set during this era are normally full of strife.
The most iconic thing about fashion during the bulk of these eras are the belled skirts. The style of the skirt first begins to swell in the 1830s and reaches it fullest during the Civil War before shifting toward the back with the style of the bustle.

The Gilded Era was a time of mass immigration and industry in America. While not all novels are set in the north, it is a focal point of the era.
As for style, the belled skirt of the Civil War has changed into a slimmer skirt with a bustle on the back. This style takes on so many forms over the years but here are two examples of what to look for.

Progressive, Edwardian, and WWI:
Progressive is what it sounds, an era known for its progress and covers 30 years of American history. 🙂
Edwardian ushers in a new ruler in England.
WWI takes place between 1914-1918
Now for the style, there are several changes taking place. We’ll look at them one decade at a time.
1890 and the bustle is almost completely gone. Some women still wore them but they were fading out. Sleeves become the new focus. One year they are comically large and the next, they are slim and trim.

1900 and we’ll find that sleeves are being controlled once more and the skirts have remained slim.

WWI or 1910 and the skirts are shorter than ever before. You’ll notice a pre-flapper quality to these dresses in the samples below.

Prohibition and the Great Depression:
The Prohibition is a time in American history when alcohol was outlawed. You’ll also find terms such as The Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age.
The Great Depression is the era during the 1930s when the American economy had hit rock bottom.
As for style, the flapper dresses are well known and easy to spot and they represent the 1920s.

The 1930s finds women wearing short dresses on a regular basis. Unless the novel features a starlight, you’ll likely be looking at a homemade-styled dress in a pretty printed fabric like in the examples below.

WWII covers the years of the second world war between 1939-1945.
The styles are beautifully feminine. It’s common to find the hair fashionably curled and the skirts knee length.

I hope that helps!! But why don’t we try putting this knowledge to the test? 🙂 Based on the covers below, can you tell which eras each of these novels are set in?



Posted in Book Reviews, History

Civil War Research Book Review: Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

38The book is both the most wonderful thing and the most dreadful all at once. First, let’s talk about what’s so great about it.

What I Loved: There’s nothing like reading original letters from people in the past. They shine so much light on the culture of the time. This recollection and letters by the famous general is made better because it was compiled together by one of his sons. If you’re interested in reading Lee’s letters, then you’re going to love reading his son’s commentary along the way!
The one thing I really wish he’d done differently was to leave the letters whole. I understand wanting to cut off the more mundane portions but 150 years later, the mundane sections can carry the best information. As it is, this collection is mostly snippets of letters. Some longer than others.

What I Didn’t Love: The formatting might have been acceptable when it was originally published, but it isn’t anymore. It would have been nice if someone would have made the effort to bring the format up to date. You can hardly read the book at all. The font is extremely small. There are NO breaks ANYWHERE on the page. Not between letters or commentary. If it wasn’t for the timeless information offered here, I would say it was a complete waste.

Buying Options: I bought a used paperback copy from Amazon but also found a FREE Kindle edition. Follow the link to find your favorite buying option.

Posted in History

The Wise Words of Lincoln

253In honor of the 151st anniversary of Lincoln’s death earlier this month, I’ve pulled together a list of wise and witty sayings from our former president. Which is your favorite?

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

“There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.”

“My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.”

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”

“Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.”

If I am killed, I can die but once; but to live in constant dread of it, is to die over and over again.

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”

“My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

“No man is poor who has a Godly mother.”

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

“I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.”

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”


Posted in Book Reviews, History

Civil War Research Book Review: The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s by Marc McCutcheon

28The wonderful and fascinating details of the 1800s have been gathered into one interesting volume, in which McCutcheon has included quotes from 19th-century citizens concerning or describing hairstyles and fashion, favorite swear words and slang, jokes of the period, courtship and marriage rituals, and more. A must for both fiction and nonfiction historical writers.

Oh how I wish I had found this book sooner!!! The book is exactly as it claims to be. A guide for writers (or history enthusiasts) for all things in the 1800s. You’ll find another version by the same title but a different cover. Rest assured, you’re looking at the same book. However, there is another version specifically on the Civil War. That is different. 

The Everyday Life collection is pretty extensive. You’ll find others on Regency and Victorian England, Prohibition through WWII, Colonial American, Indian, Wild West, etc. If you write historical fiction and haven’t heard of this collection, it’s time to do a quick search on Amazon to see what you can uncover to assist you in your work. 

What I Loved: I love how easy it is to gather the information offered. For me, being a busy mom of four and trying to keep up with the demands of writing full time, I don’t always have the time to research. I MAKE the time, but I don’t always have the time. I appreciate sources that lay things out in an easy to read format that doesn’t involve long-winded paragraphs.
The book actually looks like a dictionary with one word in bold on the left and a brief explanation. Some words are simply definitions and others have a more detailed explanation and even a short quote from a source during that time. Marc shares the dates of his sources so it’s helpful to understand whether it directly applies to your particular decade or not.
I also really appreciate how many categories were compiled together in this one book. Here’s a look at the table of contents:
Slang and Everyday Speech
Getting Around (This was my favorite section! Marc breaks down the various types of carriages, coaches, and wagons and also the details of a Stage Line. Then explains the various details and companies of the Railroad, Water travel, and even the mail carrier.)
Around the House
Clothing and Fashion
Money and Coinage
Health, Medicine, and Hygiene
Food, Drink, and Tobacco
Courtship and Marriage
Slavery and Black Plantation Culture
The Civil War
Out on the Range

Clearly, this is a goldmine. It’s a handy overview of the time and a great asset to your library. I encourage you to slip on over to Amazon and take a look inside this book for yourself.

Rating and Buying Options: I’m giving it 5 stars.
As previously noted, I like to buy my used books from Amazon or At the time of writing this post, I didn’t find any copies on but found plenty on Amazon. Used copies start at $3.