Due to unforseen circumstances, Jennifer Ross's Blog Stop will be here.
Not your mother’s Civil War Romance…
Originally, I didn't think the anthology was for me. After all, it is the American Civil War we're talking about, and as a Canadian I know virtually nothing about it. Also, since my writer’s theme is all about stories set in Canada, I did not see a way to work that into a story about the American Civil War!
But then Isabel, one of my Scandalous Victorian sisters, steered me to the St. Albans Raid, and didn't that have something to do with Canada? The story wrote itself while I learned about the St. Albans Raid and the other Canadian connections, so that by the time I'd finished learning this fascinating part of our shared history, I couldn't NOT be in the anthology.
Did captured soldiers escape from prison?
Jennifer Ross: According to the wonderful book “Dixie and the Dominion,” many captured southern soldiers escaped their POW camp and found refuge in Canada. Referring to the St. Albans raiders, the author Adam Mayers says, “None of the team had reached the age of twenty-five, yet all were veterans who had escaped from Yankee prisons and made their way north.”
Apparently, as on Johnson’s Island, Ohio, a successful tactic for southern soldiers escaping from northern POW camps was to simply wait for winter, then walk across the frozen lake to Canada. During the summer months, access to the island was prohibited, so the fencing around the POW camps was perhaps not up to snuff. After all, it was an ISLAND, where could they go? Of course, in winter once the ice was thick enough, the answer was pretty much anywhere.
But let’s face it. POW camps are expensive to run, take much-needed soldiers away from the field of battle to serve as guards, and it’s not as if your ‘guests’ thank you for it.
I found it hilarious that during the War of 1812, both sides couldn’t be bothered with constructing POW camps. The deal then was; you were captured. You pledged not to do it again, and were sent home. Both sides “exchanged” prisoners this way (although they weren’t necessarily exchanged one-for-one, or even at the same time). Naturally, everyone crossed their toes when making the pledge, and some people were captured numerous times! Ahh, back when wars were ‘civilized’.
But what other ways did Civil War soldiers find to escape? What about Northern soldiers held in Southern camps?
Excerpt The Colonial and the Cottontail:
“I’ve come to help. What shall I do?”
“Help me make a big ball for our snowman. I want it to be real tall. As tall as Uncle C!”
As Becca rolled the ball of snow, a light thud hit the back of her head. She turned to look and received a second thwack on her shoulder. Cole had come to join the fun, and he’d brought snowballs.
“Attack my mother, will you?” Thomas shouted. The glee in his voice, combined with the excited smile on his face, made Becca’s chest swell with pride and love. She watched her young man come to her defense, although the snowballs weren’t packed tight enough and his throws landed well short of the mark. Cole rectified the problem by moving closer.
Becca saw no reason not to defend herself along with Thomas, and after one, wild throw she landed a good one in the middle of Cole’s chest. Miss Sims offered to prepare the weaponry for Thomas so he might concentrate on the delivery.
Although outnumbered three to one, Cole was winning. Perhaps it was the amount of time Becca’s team spent doubled over in laughter or Cole’s superior aim, but he weaved and dodged and came ever closer. Then he was upon them.
He grasped Becca’s snowy, mittened hands. “Do you forfeit?”
“Never!” shouted Thomas, and threw a pile of snow in Cole’s direction.
Of course he missed, but the snow that rained down on their clasped hands must have been what caused the warm, electrifying sensation. Surely Becca couldn’t feel the heat of Cole’s hands through two layers of mittens?
Jennifer Ross remembers her mother saying, "Jennifer, put down that book! It's a beautiful day, go outside." Obedient girl that she was, she went outside--and found a nice shady tree to read under. She’s loved reading for as long as she can remember. And is now trying her hand at writing. Her main love is historical fiction, romantic fiction especially. “Our country has so many stories to be told. We are full of courageous heroines and dashing heroes!” She can be found here.
Isabel Roman: I’ve read many Civil War stories where this happened. I always assumed it was true, but based on my education thanks to this anthology, I might be wrong. But no, in this I think I’m right. I can’t imagine a war where prisoners didn’t excape. I think it’s in the handbook: If taken prisoner, it is your honorbound duty to escape. (Unless you were an officer who gave his parole to his captors, and couldn’t honorably escape, but then I watched/read too many Sharpe movies/books.)
Jeanmarie Hamilton: I based the characters in "Are You Going to the Dance?" on the very independent ancestors of my Texas family. The character of my heroine, Lexie, was inspired by a family story my grandmother told me about my great great grandmother saving the life of a wounded Indian brave. The character for the hero, Clayton, was inspired by the Texas local militia units formed during the Civil War.
Susan Macatee: I would imagine with all the overcrowding toward the end of the war, soldiers would have found ways to escape prison. The trick would be traveling for long distances through hostile territory to get home.
Caroline Clemmons: There were some prisons, like the Union one near Chicago, where no known escapees survived. In my story, LONG ROAD HOME, the heroine’s brother escapes, but that’s taking fictional license. The guards there used dogs to hunt escaped prisoners and the most terrifying guards were the ones who went after the escaped man. All prisoners died “resisting recapture.” Other prisons on both sides were horrific. Supposedly Cole Younger had ten Union soldiers tied to one another against a tree in order to see how many men he could kill with a single bullet. Although our anthology deals with romanticized anecdotes of the War, it was not a pleasant time to live through. I have the autograph book one of my ancestors kept, something proper young ladies did in the mid 1800’s. In it, several young men wrote her notes while on visits home asking her to pray for their safety. One of those young men became her husband after the war.
Mary Ann Webber: Yes. However, most of them didn’t get very far. At Camp Ford, the huge Confederate prison near Tyler, Texas, where Yankees were sent if they were captured west of the Mississippi, guards set half-starved, vicious dogs loose to track and kill escapees. After that happened several times, few men attempted to escape.
Jennifer will give away to 1 lucky commenter: $10(USD) The Wild Rose Press gift certificate. Remember, everyone who leaves a comment on the day of the post for each of the six days will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Northern Roses and Southern Belles signed by all six authors.
The Civil War as you've never read it! Northern Roses and Southern Belles now available from The Wild Rose Press!
This wraps up the Scandalous Victorians Civil War Anthology Blog Tour. I hope you all enjoyed blogging with us, I know we enjoyed it! The winner of the grand prize (I feel like that should be capitalized Grand Prize and said in a deep announcer’s voice) will be drawn and contacted no later than August 8. I hope everyone left their email!