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Friday, July 3, 2009

July 4th, a Day to Reminisce


I'm proud of my country, and I always spend the 4th of July enjoying my country and the people. On July 4, I like to dwell on the good points.

As a historical romance writer I enjoy researching for my stories. While researching Texas history around the time of the Civil War in preparation to write my novella, "Are You Going to the Dance?" I found some interesting tidbits.

To begin with, two-thirds of the Texans in the Confederate army were enlisted in the cavalry. In an article, "Civil War," by Ralph A. Wooster, published in The Handbook of Texas Online, he quotes Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle of the British Coldstream Guards who said of the Texans' fondness for the cavalry, "It was found very difficult to raise infantry in Texas, as no Texan walks a yard if he can help it." And Governor Clark is quoted as saying that "the predilection of Texans for cavalry service, founded as it is upon their peerless horsemanship, is so powerful that they are unwilling in many instances to engage in service of any other description unless required by actual necessity."

In "Are You Going to the Dance?" the hero of the story is the leader of a mounted militia unit in charge of protecting the people of the town where he lives. This brings up another point. Not all men in Texas were required to join the Confederate army.

My great great grandfather and many people in the German communities of the Texas Hill Country believed in preserving the Union. My great great grandfather came to Texas from Holland to make a home in a land where he believed he could have a better life. He raised mules and took them north to the Union Army. If he had been caught by the Confederate army, he could have been shot. In his article Wooster relates instances in which Union sympathizers were shot or hanged in Texas. One such incident is referred to as the Great Hanging at Gainesville. My great great grandfather's town voted to form local militia units rather than send men to the Confederate army. His son joined the local militia unit and took part in protecting their own town.

There are many battles both on land and sea mentioned in Wooster's article. The Battle of Galveston in 1862 is one. For writers, most of the battles provide amazing conflict and background for fictional characters of those times.

He also mentions how people lived during the blockade imposed by the Union Navy: the shortage of material and paper, coffee, medicine, daily provisions, and the need to grow more corn. With most of the Texas men in the Confederate army spread out across the country, from the Rio Grande to Kentucky and North Carolina, their wives and mothers struggled to take care of their homes, farms and businesses.

The officers, who led those men during the Civil War, continued to be leaders in Texas, New Mexico, and other states at the end of the war and in years following. Some of their descendants are people I know or have known in my town.

In the anthology, NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES, the stories take place during and after the Civil War in many different places.

As described on The Wild Rose Press web site, "In a country torn asunder--from the Canadian border to Texas, from Maryland to Arkansas, from the battlefield of Antietam to the Red River Campaign--brave men and loyal women see their lives turned upside down. Peril lurks behind every tree and near every homestead, but the hard-fought love of a man and a woman surpasses all. Six talented writers provide stories of romance and danger centering on Union and Confederate soldiers, spies, blockade runners, renegades, and battlefield nurses during a period of corsets, hoop skirts, and gentlemen callers."

Offered by The Wild Rose Press, the anthology will be available soon on July 31! Please visit my web site at www.JeanmarieHamilton.com for an excerpt of "Are You Going to the Dance?"

Have a safe and Happy 4th of July. :-)
Jeanmarie Hamilton

20 comments:

Diana Cosby said...

Jeanmarie, I really enjoyed your blog. Your passion for researching your family heritage and history pours through. I had to smile a the Texans joining the calvery. Your explanation made sense. I hope you have a fabulous 4th!

Diana Cosby, AGC(AW) Ret., USN
www.dianacosby.com
Romance Edged With Danger

Susan Macatee said...

Great history lesson, Jeanmarie! Being from the north myself, I think a lot of people just assume all Southerners willingly fought for and were for the Confederacy. I love to dig through the real facts, though, and put aside all the historical inaccuracies. It's great being able to do that in a fictional story.

Happy Fourth!!

Jennifer Ross said...

While I've read your story, Jeanmarie, I did not connect the mounted militia with the actual history and personalities of Texans!

Thanks for opening my eyes to that aspect of life in the Civil War. Great blog!

Isabel Roman said...

I suppose if I lived in Texas where everything was so far from wach other, I wouldn't walk, either if I could help it! What's the saying? Everything's bigger in Texas? Your family history is always interesitng to read about!

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Hi Diana!
It's great to see you here. Yes, I can totally understand those Texas men insisting on joining the cavalry. Thanks for coming by and have a happy 4th!
Jeanmarie

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Hi Susan, Jennifer and Isabel!
Thanks fellow anthology authors for taking time from your busy day to say hi. You never know what interesting bits of history will be revealed while researching. Our anthology, Northern Roses and Southern Belles, uncovers so many amazing incidents.
Have a happy 4th and a great day!

Jeanmarie

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

Hi Jeanmarie, congratulations on your upcoming release. I love how you know so much about your ancestors and use parts of their stories in YOUR stories. Can't wait to read the new book. :-)

jane

Michal Scott said...

Jeanmarie,

How fascinating. I hope one day you'll write a book on your family.

Anna T.S.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Hi Jane!
Thanks for coming by and for the congrats!
Yes, I find the best ideas for my historicals from my family. My grandmother was a great family storyteller and a wonderful inspiration. :-)
Happy 4th!
Jeanmarie

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Hi Anna!
Thanks for coming by!
One of these days I plan to write a book about my Texas family, but I'm waiting until I feel confident enough to take it on. ;-)
My great grandmother's name was Anna too. :-)

Jeanmarie

Gwynlyn MacKenzie said...

Nice blog, Jeanmarie. Very informative. And two thumbs up for your great-great-grandfather for standing by his convictions. That took courage the size of Texas!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Jeanmarie,great blog. I share your passion for history in general, and especially for Texas history. My novella LONG ROAD HOME in the anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES is set in Georgia, but some of my family came to Texas a decade or more later. Until we did this anthology, I had no idea the conflict went up into Canada. The anthology was a great writing experience.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Hi Gwynlyn!
Thanks for coming by!
Yes, I've always wondered exactly how he managed to take his mules to the army of the north without being caught. He had a lot of gumption. :-)

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Hey Carolyn!
Thanks for coming by today! And thank you so much for your kind remarks about my blog. I sort of had an idea of what I wanted it to be about, and it just came together with some research. Yes, the anthology has been a wonderful learning experience. We covered a lot of ground with our stories. :-)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Great post, Jeanmarie. I love that you have our ancestors to pull from for plotting ideas. I do a little bit of that myself. Very interesting hearing about the early militaries and their options.

Paty Jager said...

Fun and interesting post, Jeanmarie. A person can tell you love the research and that's what makes a great historical.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Hi Paisley!
Thanks so much for coming by my blog!
I know you have some famous family history to pull from. The old wild west is definitely full of story inspiration.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Hi Paty!
Thanks so much! Although I read all time periods of romance, I love to write about the cowboys and ranchers of the old west.

Mary Ann Webber said...

Jeanmarie,
As a newcomer to Texas, I'm always fascinated by all that you know about its history. I also enjoy reading about your family ancestral connections.
Please keep writing about the REAL Texas, and keep educating "foreigners" like me.
This is one of the best blogs I've read in a while.
Mary Ann

Laurel Bradley said...

Jeanmarie,
Great blog. I love how you blend history into your books.
Laurel Bradley
A Wish in Time
Creme Brulee Upset
www.laurelbradley.com