Hello everyone! A few months ago, I did a post called Fact or Fiction//Which is More Important? Today, I want to turn this into an official Writing Series called Fact or Fiction? It will cover writing myths and history myths. Today, I’m going to tackle five common misconceptions about The War Between the States that I see popping up in most fiction books on the topic. Hope you enjoy!
Myth #1: All Southerners owned slaves/supported slavery.
This is not true and it makes me want to laugh every time I see this pop up. While a book may not come right out and say this, it’s insinuated in popular fiction that all Southerners own slavery. My ancestors are proof this is untrue. In fact, studies show that only about 25% of the Southern population in 1860 owned slaves. (For more statistics on this study, read The South Was Right! and Lincoln Unmasked)
And all southerners did not support slavery, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are prime examples of Southerners who hated the institution. And I’d also like to point out that the Underground Railroad couldn’t have existed without Southern abolitionists. Let’s say you are helping a slave form Florida escape to Canada. You cannot magically jump over the slave holding states (which included Maryland, Delaware, Missouri and Ohio, to name a few). You must come through several of these states to get to Canada. You must have food and shelter to make a trip (on foot or hiding in a wagon), and it’s dangerous. There is no way they could have gotten to Canada without help. North Carolina was one of the most active states in the Underground Railroad. So it is ludicrous to assume all southerners were at least supportive of slavery.
Myth #2: Southern soldiers, on average, could not read.
While both the Union and Confederate States had a large population of illiterate people, it’s silly to write a story where none of the Confederates know how to read. It’s insulting. If I’m not mistaken, The South Was Right! covers this claim as well. I read one study that showed that most Southern soldiers could read to some extent. Christ in the Camp makes this fact clear in the large amounts of tracts, pamphlets, books and Bibles they gave to eager southern soldiers. So, while it’s fine to have a grown soldier here and there who can’t read, or one who can’t read well, it’s way over used. Drummers are another matter, as there were a lot of street kids or orphans who had never been to school filling those spots.
Myth #3: The South fought to preserve slavery.
I am fighting not to roll my eyes at this one. It is in almost every book you read about the War Between the States and it is the biggest fallacy of them all. I’ll give you the nut shell of why the South fought, but if you want to read more on this topic, see these posts (Here, here, here and here.) The south would not have fought to preserve slavery. That would have been ridiculous. No woman in her right mind would send her man to war just so she could force another person to work for her. (Okay, so the women didn't literally send their men off to war, but you know what I mean, lol!) That’s insane. The reason the South fought the War Between the States is because their states’ rights were being taken away from them. The government passed taxes that hurt the south to aide the north. I’m not being biased, I’m stating facts. The government had enlarged it’s self past it’s Constitutional boundaries and had made it quite clear that it didn’t care who they had to step on to grab more power…sound familiar? Seems like there was a man named Kind George III who had that same ambition. I don’t care what side you take on the war in your novel. But I do care if it’s historically inaccurate. Even if you choose to ignore these facts, don’t have your southern antagonist citing slavery as his reason to fight. Read what the southern soldiers said they were fighting for. Slavery will not be one of their reasons.
Myth #4: The Emancipation Proclamation freed the Slaves.
Another common misconception, and it mostly stems from the fact that most people have never actually read the proclamation. I strongly encourage you to read it and not just take someone else’s word for it, no matter what angle they take on it, myself included. But basically, the EP was written to keep England and France, who had already outlawed slavery in their countries, from aiding the Confederacy and recognizing us as a nation. In the latter end, they succeeded, but the British and French did help us monetarily and materially, though not to the capacity they would have if not for the EP. The EP states that all slaves held in the seceded states are free, except those who lived in Union held territory. The hypocrisy here is that those are the only slaves he had the power to free, since they were in territory he had conquered. So where is their right to freedom from the “Champion of Abolition?” The shocking truth is that he didn’t care about the ones he could actually help; he just wanted to look good to Europe. He had no jurisdiction over the seceded states as a whole, since they were a separate country, so his proclamation did absolutely nothing. Also, he said, if the states would rejoin the Union by January 1st of 1863, they could keep their slaves. If the war was over slavery, every single state would have jumped at the chance to be back in their beloved former country. But not one took him up on the offer, proving not only that the South was not fighting to keep their slaves, but also that the Union was not fighting to free them.
Myth #5: All the Southern women wore hoop skirts.
I had to slip a fun one in here! 😉 So, yeah, this one’s not true either! Hoop skirts were very impractical for daily life in the south. They are bulky and let’s be honest, you can’t tend your garden like that, lol! The majority of southern woman were middle class and did the cooking, cleaning, gardening and often times helped in the fields as well. If she owned a hoop skirt, she would have worn it to church, weddings and socials. If I had lived during this time, I probably wouldn’t have even owned one. In my books, my main girl character Dixie is from a middle-class cotton plantation family. And she doesn’t own a hoop skirt. Why? Because she lives in the country. There is no where for her to wear one too. In fact, when up in Philadelphia for Christmas, she must borrow one from her cousins for a social. This wasn’t uncommon. Not everyone lived in Raleigh, Richmond and Atlanta. That’s what most people think of when they imagine life in the Antebellum South. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one, lol!
So that’s it for this first post on Fact or Fiction! I hope you enjoyed it!
Have a blessed day!
10 Totally Random Facts About...// Chancellorsville! // Plus, An Excerpt from The Rivers of Sorrow!
Hello friends! Welcome back to another 10 Totally Random Facts post! In Honor of My dear Stonewall Jackson’s final victory, this month we are looking at 10 Totally Random Facts about the Battle of Chancellorsville. *sobs* Let’s see if I can get through this…
And now…an excerpt from “The Rivers of Sorrow”!!!
From Chapter 8: A Place Called Chancellorsville
“No talking whatsoever, don’t load your rifles and if you straggle, you’re getting a bayonet prod! Got it?”
“Yes, sir.” Richard was convinced his soldiers weren’t going to give him any problems. Seth glanced over his squad and was pleased to see them moving briskly, preparing to march.
The gray mist of dawn hung in the air. Seth shivered, partly from the cool morning, partly from anticipation of battle. Maybe they would whip the Yankees for good this time!
Richard trotted past his brother. “32:7-8!” he called to Seth. Seth saluted and grinned at his older brother. The camp verse flashed through his mind. ‘Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles…’
The 2nd Corps was soon on the march. Jackson’s men filed by in silence. No one was talking; all that could be heard was a muffled tramp, tramp, tramp of soldiers’ feet and the gentle clank of their gear.
Jackson allowed a smile to take to the corners of his lips. These were soldiers; real men. Veterans. Fearless. Hard-core men of war. They would take on anybody. They would follow only those whom they trusted and believed in. They were an Army. They were the best army the world had ever seen. They were men fighting for a cause with all their heart.
Lord, please give Thy divine guidance in this attack. It is only by Thy ever kind Providence that we can even hope to be successful...
Later that evening, the long column halted. They were tired, having just made a 12-mile trek, with only one water stop and no food stops. Part of the column had skirmished with Hooker’s men. Now the Yankees thought the Southerners were withdrawing from the area.
At 5:15 p.m., the attack began. There was only two hours of day light left, when C.S. Brig. Gen. Rodes was ordered to deploy his brigade. Raleigh Colston, Brigadier General, was right behind him.
Richard fell in step with Gen. Jackson and his aides. Champion tensed underneath Richard. He wanted to run; he always wanted to run. Richard patted him on the shoulder. It wouldn’t be long and he would be doing just that.
Excitement mounted inside Richard. Yes, they at last would push Hooker all the way across the river and personally escort them to Washington!
Meanwhile in the Yankee camp, the inexperienced German soldiers of the 11th Corps were talking and laughing while preparing their supper. They listened to music being played in a nearby pine grove.
A young drummer returned to the circle, carrying a bucket of water for a stew that was being made. The soldiers patted him on the back, thanking him for running the errand and promising him the first bowl of stew.
The boy turned to jot a letter to his mother while waiting on his food. He frowned; the ground under him vibrated. He gasped as a deer plowed through the camp, nearly tramping over him in the process.
“Hey, someone shoot some more meat for supper!”
“I’ve never seen so many rabbits or foxes in my life!”
“What I wouldn’t give for that deer there!”
The men laughed at the spectacle, casually wondering what had caused the animals to flee right through their camp.
The soldiers jumped and glanced at the knoll beyond them. There, cresting the hill above them was a line a mile long of Confederate soldiers!
“Get your guns!”
Orders were screamed to each other in a crazy mix of English and German. Everyone ran. Behind them, Confederates advanced.
Richard trotted along next to his commander’s column, waiting for orders and watching for any possible threat on Gen. Jackson’s life. Wounded soldiers still posed a threat and he constantly scanned the camp for such perils.
The Yankees gave up ground rapidly. Oh, they stopped and tried to hold the Confederates back, but their efforts were futile.
 He will finish as a Major General.
 Confederate Brigadier General, known for his hand in the Battle of Chancellorsville.
Until Next Time,
My Favorite Research Books! // Part 3
I can hardly believe it’s time for Part 3 of this series! (Click here for part 1 and part 2!) I’m so excited to share the books that helped me so much with my Battle for Heritage Series! If I can help even one author or History Buff in their search for answers, it will be worth it! So, without further ado, let’s jump in!
1.Will at the Battle of Gettysburg by Laurie Calkhoven ©2011 by the author, Dutton Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.
Okay, so this isn’t a history. In fact, it is a children’s middle-grade fiction novel. But, hear me out 😉 This story is told in the perspective of Will, a 12-year-old Gettysburg native. Though this book is strongly biased and claims the South fought to keep their slaves, which is false, this book is eye-opening as to what civilians went through during the fighting, what it was like for a little boy to see war, and the confusing feeling of pity for the enemy. And of course Abel is my favorite character, a young Confederate, who, surprisingly given the stance of the author, educates Will on why the South is actually fighting. This is well worth reading. I made minor edits to my copy for historical inaccuracies (regarding the cause of the war) and a few minor swear words. Please proof it before handing it to a child under 10.
2.Gettysburg: The Confederate High Tide by Time Life Books ©1985 (again, my copy isn’t down, so I’m not sure of the specifics.)
This book for the most part focuses on the facts of the battle rather than the cause of the war, so it’s a pretty safe read. Very informative and a recommended read. There are a few words to mark out, due to historical quotes. In general, this is a good book on the history of the Battle of Gettysburg. Recommended for ages 16+ for understanding.
3.To Die in Chicago by George Levy ©1999 by the author. Pelican Publishing Company, Inc., 1999, Second Printing
This is not a book for Children. I highly recommend an adult read this book first if you plan to hand it over to someone younger than 16. Ever wondered what it could be like if America had concentration camps? Welcome to Camp Douglas. If anyone ever tries to tell you how terrible Andersonville in Georgia was (which was caused by tight spaces and national food shortages, not to mention the Union’s halt of prisoner exchange), remind them of Camp Douglas. Some of the worst War Crimes committed by the Union happened here in the systematic starvation, torture and degradation of Southern POWs. Recently, people have been talking about the confinement of Japanese Americans during WWII, referring to the camps as concentration camps. While there is no question that everything wasn’t up to scratch, it is disrespectful to Holocaust survivors and Confederate POWs to compare their comparative paradise with the genocide committed by the Nazis and Union soldiers. I’m sure either group would have gladly switched places. I am by no means trying to down play any wrong that may have been committed against our country’s citizens. I’m just saying that there are some unfair historical cover ups going on. I personally think this book should be read by 18+, given the sensitive subject matter.
4.Reccolections and Letters of Robert E. Lee compiled by Capt. Robert E. Lee Jr., C.S.A. (public domain) First published 1904. Mine is a Dover 2007 edition.
I’ve mentioned this book in a previous post, so I won’t spend too much time on it here, but this book is so good! Who better to write a book about the South’s beloved Marse Robert than himself and his son? A mixture of commentary from Rob and letters, journals and orders from Gen. Lee make this a must for every student of War Between the States History! Recommended for 14+ for understanding.
5.Civil War Period Cookery compiled by Robert W. Pelton ©2003 by the author. Infinity publishing, 2012 edition
This book is chock full of fun information about the food and drinks of days gone by. (Warning: some recipes call for alcoholic beverages, which I DO NOT condone. These are removed from my recipes.) Ever wondered what the bread of choice was from Stonewall’s army? How about the chicken and gravy Gen. Mosby grew up on? How about Clara Barton’s Mint Lemonade? Southerners and Northerners will be delighted by the storehouse of insider information about these famous family recipes and biographical sketches about the cooks and the eaters! I love this book and hope to cook from it soon. Though I probably will steer clear of U.S. Grant’s family recipe for laxative bread…
Well, that’s all for now! Thank you so much for stopping by today!
Book Review! // Sophia's War by Avi
Hello everyone! For some reason, it feels like it’s been forever since I did a Book Review! And I’m so excited to share this one with you! I recently borrowed this book from the library and let me tell you, it was a bumpy ride!
Image via Amazon
Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution
(From the Back Cover)
Lives hang in the balance in this gripping Revolutionary War adventure from a beloved Newbery Medalist.
In 1776, young Sophia Calderwood witnesses the execution of Nathan Hale in New York City, which is newly occupied by the British army. Sophia is horrified by the event and resolves to do all she can to help the American cause. Recruited as a spy, she becomes a maid in the home of General Clinton, the supreme commander of the British forces in America. Through her work she becomes aware that someone in the American army might be switching sides, and she uncovers a plot that will grievously damage the Americans if it succeeds. But the identity of the would-be traitor is so shocking that no one believes her, and so Sophia decides to stop the treacherous plot herself, at great personal peril: She’s young, she’s a girl, and she’s running out of time. And if she fails, she’s facing an execution of her own.
Master storyteller Avi shows exactly how personal politics can be in this “nail-biting thriller” (Publishers Weekly) that is rich in historical detail and rife with action.
In case you haven’t figured it out, I am intrigued by war time espionage, especially if it’s from the War Between the States, the Revolution or World War Two. Would I want to be a spy? Absolutely not! 😉 now if I had been a man, definitely! (Thank God He created me to be a woman!) This story covers the tale of Sophia Calderwood a young lady growing up in Colonial New York. It was an enthralling read! Seeing her be instrumental in capturing one of my least favorite villains in history was satisfying and while she is the heroine, I didn’t feel that this story undermined men like most female protagonists do. I didn’t like the way she thought of one of the final proponents of the historic event, but even so, she handled herself as a lady and didn’t sass him, even though she was concerned.
Things to keep in mind:
Sophia is 12 at the beginning of the story and 15 at it’s end. Today, her actions are unthinkable for a child of that age, but at this time, she is considered nearly an adult and as an adult, respectively.
There is a mention of her liking Major John Andre. What I liked about this is how her mother wisely warns her about him and how she herself asserts that she was too young and extremely foolish to let her head run away with her. And while she has to live with the mistake of giving away a peace of her heart, this book is not a romance in the least! I was pleasantly surprised at how the story was handled.
My main problem with this story is deception. I understand that she is a spy, and some deem it necessary to lie. I personally felt much of it wasn’t and do not condone lying under any circumstances. It is still a sin.
The historical detail was amazing! And the historical note in the back proved the perfect ending to this story told in first person Point of View (POV). And just warning you, for the first part of the story, if you are easily touched by the plights of POWs…you will need tissues. It is heart-wrenching, but brings to life the often forgotten victims of the Revolution, the POW and the citizen living in an occupied city. Life has to go on, but how does a Patriot pick up the pieces when their home is in the hands of the enemy? Read this book to find out.
This was a library book and if it were mine, I believe there were 2 or 3 words I would have marked. I would recommend this story for ages 14+.
Have a Blessed Day!
Hey there and welcome back to another Writer post! This time it’s all about Chapter Names. I may have mentioned this before, but one of my pet peeves is a book without Chapter titles! Don’t get me wrong, I still read books without them, but if you want to make me super happy 😉, TITLE YOUR CHAPTERS! But, I understand, this isn’t always easy. So today, I’m taking my book, The Land of Cotton and explaining how I came up with the titles for the chapters. (Ones marked Original are the titles I came up with in my first draft!) I hope this is helpful!
1.) “How’d This All Get Started?”- Michael asks this question, and it is the focus of the chapter, explaining the Southern Cause in simple terms. This is the very first title I ever came up with for this book. Old Faithful!
2.) The Move- Again, this is what the chapter focused around, a family moving to a new location.
3.) Agree to Disagree- This is a common enough phrase and fits perfectly with the story of this chapter. Sometimes, you’re just not going to agree with people, but try to do it peacefully. An Original Title.
4.) God Has a Plan- This was taken from a conversation in the chapter. Even when it doesn’t make sense, God has a plan for your life!
5.) Lighting the Fire- Before the War Between the States, people that were in agreement with secession and spoke out in its favor were labeled “Fire Eaters.” This fact and the fact that the desire to serve one's country is referred to as the Fire of Patriotism provided the perfect title.
6.) Confederate and Lady- Read the book, and you’ll understand 😉
7.) Something Worth Fighting For- Sometimes it takes time for a Cause’s righteousness to be realized by those it affects. That’s what this chapter explains.
8.) A Righteous Cause- Ditto 😉
9.) The First Good-Bye- That one is always the hardest ☹ I think the title is self-explanatory.
10.) The Awakening- This one was a revised title, originally called “The Bull Runners.” Without spoiling it for those who haven’t read that far, in every soldier’s life there is a time when he realizes War isn’t all glory…it isn’t a game; it’s for real.
11.) Reality of War- Ditto!
12.) “It Never Gets Easier”- Phrase taken from the story.
13.) Eternity- Serious topic common to war. Original Title!
14.) Surprised- Sometimes stating a simple fact is the best way to title a chapter…😉 or maybe that’s laziness…you decide.
15.) More Than One Way To Serve- Without giving you a spoiler, there were many ways to serve your country during war, not just fighting. This chapter covers that.
16.) Wrapping Up- A wound, a part of the story or both? This title came to me while trying to revamp some lousy titles, including “Moving On.”
17.) Home At Last- Self-explanatory.
18.) Prayer Works- This is an original. I liked the simplicity of this very true statement.
19.) Hide ‘n Seek and Nicodemus- This mixes two events in the story, with both a fun and serious edge.
20.) A Land of Cotton…and More Cotton- A spin off the title, theme song and the truth of the harvest season. We’re in the South, Y’all! Original title.
21.) Letters- Sometimes I’m too tired to think of something fresh. Old faithful’s are fine 😉
22.) Sharp Encounter- Read the Chapter, and it’ll make sense 😉 I drew the title from the story.
23.) Race Against Time- Another Original. Sometimes you are literally racing against the clock. It fit so well with the story, I couldn’t pass it up!
24.) That Time of Year- Christmas…This title just came to me one day after thinking of the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
25.) Christmas Apart- No one likes being away from loved ones at Christmas. This title expresses the mood for this chapter, a mix of hope and despair.
If this isn’t enough inspiration…refer back to my post on Book Titles…the concept is the same 😉
Have a blessed week!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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