"Roundheads and Ramblings"
Welcome to Katzenhaus Books, where we tell - the stories behind the history.
RSS Follow Become a Fan

Delivered by FeedBurner


Recent Posts

Harbingers of Things To Come
Yankee Daughters -- Recipes
Yankee Daughters--An Excerpt
Yankee Daughters: Some Images
Yankee Daughters--Inspiration

Categories

A new contest
Abolition
absurdity
academic myopia
Almost Free
Amazon
ancestors
Announcement
apocalypse
Applications and software
Appomattox
Arnulf of Lisieux
art of speaking
attracting readers
audience
audio books
Author Central
Author Gifts
author's Plea
awards
baseball
basketball
Battle of Port Royal
Battles
biographical
blind artists
blockade
blog chain
Book Club Guides
Book Design
Book Launch
book stores
book trailer
bookstores
Boxed Set
bright ideas
Building a platform
business
Business plan
Busy-ness
butterflies
Career choices
cats
cemetery research
Census
challenges
characterization
Characters
Charleston
children
children's books
choosing a publisher
Choosing a Title
Christmas Past
Civil War
commercials
Computer Hacks
Confederates
Conferences
Connections
constitutional amendments
construction
Contract labor
cotton
Countdown Sale
Countdown to Launch
Cover Designs
Cover images
cutting and pasting
Cyber Monday
daily drama
daily events
Dead Mules
depression
diversions
dogs
Do-Overs
DRM
earthquake
e-book pricing
e-books
editing
elevator speech
elmore leonard
Elves and Holidays
Emancipation
England
English class
evidence
Excerpt
exclusivity
Exercise
Expertise
Facebook
fact and fiction
failures
fame and fortune
family affairs
Favorites
Fear of Failure
Fish
flood waters
flowers
food delights
Formatting
Fort Pulaski
free chapter
Free Days
freebies
Friendship
Frogmore
garden
gardens
genealogy
Getting organized
ghost stories
Giveaway
Goals
good business
good news
grammar cops
gratitude
gray horses
gripes
grocery shopping
guest blogs
Gullah
handicaps
Harriet Tubman
Hiatus
Historical background
Historical Fiction
historical puzzlers
historical thinking
history lessons
Holidays
home office
hope and kindness
horse races
horses
hurricanes
identifying your audience
illustrations
imagination
indie authors
Inspiration
inspirations
internet
internet history
intruders
ISBN
Kalamazoo
karma
Kindle
Kindle links
Kindle rankings
Kindle Serials
kings
Klout
Ku Klux Klan
Lack of co-ordination
landmarks
language
Laughs
launch dates
Laura Towne
Layouts
legal matters
lending library
Lessons learned
lessons unlearned
libraries
literary genres
local news
love story
making choices
Marketing
Matchbooks
medicine
medieval-isms
Meet the Characters
Memorial Day
memories
Milestones
military matters
mind-mapping
Misfis
Monthly Musings
name recognition
NaNoWriMo
Nellie Chase
New Blog
New Book
New England
New Research
New Year
newsletters
nonfiction
non-profits
nostalgia
Nurses
oddities
odds and ends
olympics
opening lines
outrage
Papacy
parties
Penn Center
photographs
picture book
Pinterest
Pinterest and copyrights
Pirates
planning ahead
plot
point of view
polite society
politics
portraits
powerful women
Predictions
pre-orders
press release
previews
pricing
Principles
procrastination
productivity
Profiles
Progress Report
Promotions
proofs
pros and cons
publishing
publishing companies
publishing ploys
publishing rights
pure sentimentality
puzzlements
quiz
rain
random thoughts
RBOC
read an ebook
readership
recipes
Reconstruction
Relaxation
research
Resolutions
reviews
road trip
rough draft
Roundhead Reports
royalties
rules
SALE
Sales
scams
schedules
Scoop It
ScoopIt
seasons
Secessionville
second edition
Second Mouse
self-publishing
settings
Shiloh
Short Stories
Silliness
slander
Slavery
small world
Smile of the Day
snow, living in the south
social media
software
software disasters
South Carolina
Speechless!
sports
Spring
story arc
Substitutes
Success
summer
Synopsis
Taking a Break
Taxes
Thank You
the difficulties of blogging
The Gideonites
Theme
Tongue-in-cheek
Traditions
trailer
Travelog
trilogies
trolls
Tweet
Twitter
Upcoming Events
using commas
Vacation
vacation photos
Valentine
video
Visitor
vocabulary
Volunteering
voting
warnings
weather
weather trauma
website
word counts
Word-of-Mouth
Words
Words of Warning
Writer Beware!
Writer's Block
Writing Advice
Writing as Career
writing process

Archives

July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010

powered by

"Roundheads and Ramblings"

February 2014

Meet the Character: Sibling Rivalries and a Grieving Mother

One of the most painful aspects of America's Civil War was the way families could find themselves with conflicting loyalties.  All started out as Americans, but brothers sometimes chose different sides when Confederates faced Yankees.  In the story of the events leading up to the Battle of Secessionville, two such sets of brothers make an appearance.

I have no pictures of the Campbell brothers, but their story contains a heart-stopping moment. Alexander Campbell was a recent immigrant from Scotland.  He found work in New York City as a stone cutter, while his brother James went on to Charleston and became a drayman (a driver of a heavy-duty wagon).  Alexander had tried his luck in Charleston for a few months, but the attraction of a certain lovely young lady drew him back to New York.  When the war broke out, he joined the 79th New York Regiment and accompanied it when the regiment was sent to South Carolina as part of the force to take control of Port Royal Sound. His brother James joined a local Charleston militia, which was called to active duty in March 1862 in the 1st SC Infantry, Charleston Battalion. The two brothers were both involved at Secessionville in June 1862. Private Alexander was a flag bearer, who planted the regimental flag near the Confederate fort. Lt. James Campbell was one of the gunners behind that fort. When the Rebels ran out of ammunition, James helped to roll logs down the breastwork aiming to take out the flagbearing Yankees.  Neither brother was wounded in that battle, but they corresponded with each other afterward, both hoping they would never again be forced to fight against one another.

The Drayton brothers were better-known.  Their family owned a huge rice plantation outside of Charleston along the Ashley River.  The plantation house and gardens are still there and are popular tourist destinations.  But in 1861, the two brothers chose different paths. Captain Percival Drayton was a commander in the U. S. Navy and remained loyal to the USA.  In the South Carolina Expeditionary Force, he was the captain of the gunboat Pocahontas. As such. he was one of those firing on Fort Walker during the Battle of Port Royal.  Later, at Secessionville, he sailed into the Stono River and led the small group of gunboats in the bombardment of the Confederate fort.


His brother, General Thomas Fenwick Drayton, was a classmate and lifelong friend of Jefferson Davis. He was the commander at Fort Walker who surrendered to the Union attack.  During the Battle of Secessionville, Thomas was in command of a large army stationed just north of Savannah and was awaiting orders to march to the defense of Charleston, should the Yankee attack on Secessionville succeed.

It was widely recorded that Ann Drayton, the mother of these two opposing commanders lay mortally ill during the Port Royal battle.  Her dying words were quoted as mourning the tragedy in which "Percy fired at Tom. Tom fired at Percy."

Her sons both survived the war, although Mrs. Drayton did not live to see it. Percy had a distinguished naval career, but he died in late 1865 of an obstructed bowel -- not a war-related injury.  Thomas was less distinguished.  After several other lost battles, he was removed from command and assigned administrative duties.  After the war, he was unable to regain his South Carolina property.  He moved to North Carolina and became an insurance salesman until his death at the age of 81.


Meet the Characters: A Couple of Lovely Ladies

We're back now, after a weekend break, and it's time for some more characters from A Scratch with the Rebels. I'm combining two of the women in Gus Smythe's life because I don't have a great deal of information about either one of them.  However, it is high time the grumpy male faces that dominate the book give way for a moment to more feminine charms.

Margaret Adger Smyth was Gus's mother.  (Note that the difference in the spelling of their names is not a typo.) The story goes like this.  Gus's father, Rev. Thomas Smyth, started out as plain old Tom Smith, but the name was a common one, so he changed the spelling to distinguish himself from the others.  And what's fair for the father is also fair for the son, or so it seems.  Gus argued that there was another Augustine Smyth at college, so he added an extra "e" to make his own mark, and the family has kept the spelling ever since.  Margaret was the daughter of James Adger, a shipping magnate and one of South Carolina's wealthiest men before the war.

As the wife of a Presbyterian minister with strong views on every subject, Margaret comes across at first as a meek and wifely lady.  She stewed over her sons when they joined the army.  Her letters to Gus are full of fussing about keeping his clothes sweet-smelling and storing his possessions carefully. By the middle of the war, however, Rev. Smyth had suffered a stroke, and Margaret had become a strong, determined woman.  She turned her living room into a hospital for wounded Confederates and stood up to all arguments that tried to force her to leave her beloved Charleston. 


The other young lady is Louisa Rebecca McCord. She was a resident of Columbia, SC, and a year younger than Gus when he arrived at college.  The two met early on, but Louisa was not too impressed a first.  She described Gus as being short and stout, but having beautiful hair.  The next year, after he had been away for a while, she noted that he had grown taller and thinner. Presumably he still had the beautiful hair.  Gus courted "Miss Lou" with every ploy he could think of -- flowers, love notes, kittens, puppies, and pet squirrels. She was evidently won over.  Louisa's mother was another strong character, who personally financed a group of soldiers in her son's regiment and followed them when they were stationed in Charleston. 

When the war ended, Gus immediately sought out Miss Lou, and the two were married shortly thereafter. Louisa later claimed a bit of fame on her own by becoming an early president of the Daughters of the Confederacy.

Allow Your Readers to Pre-Order Your Next Book? Here's How.

There are all sorts of benefits to be had from allowing your readers to pre-order your next book.  Mark Coker of Smashwords explains the "WHY" and the "HOW" of this great marketing ploy.

Click the "Full Screen" icon at the bottom of the image below to start the slice presentation.




Meet the Character: Gus Smythe

I write Civil War history and fiction, but I have always tried to take a balanced and non-partisan view of events.  When I started to write about the Pennsylvania Roundheads, I wanted to capture the nature of their experiences, but I also realized that I needed some way to present both sides of the story of what happened in South Carolina in 1862. I visited the South Carolina Historical Society's archives, looking for a Southern voice.  To my delight I found Gus Smythe. 

It has always seemed to me to be slightly ironic that I know more about Gus than I do about my own Uncle James, but that is the natural result of the differences between a backwoods Pennsylvania farmer and a wealthy Southern aristocrat. Gus and his family were inveterate letter-writers, so I had an abundance of material from which to draw. James was functionally illiterate; Gus was a college student. James's family had arrived in America in steerage, so anonymous that the ship's manifest did not even list their names.  Gus was  the grandson of one of the wealthiest men in South Carolina.

Here's a picture of Gus at the age of eighteen. How young he looks! How pampered and sophisticated, seated on an elegant  chair, his bow tie and vest displaying his social class.  He has a kind and intelligent face, but it is hard to imagine him slogging through a battlefield. 

His letters home convey the same general impression.  He traveled to war with a personal slave to do his cooking and take care of his things.  He wanted a tablecloth to cover the table in his tent. He longed for fresh fruit and clean clothes, and above all else, he wanted his parents to send him candy. He found the realities of the battlefield too much to absorb and soon found a way to transfer himself from the infantry to the signal corps.  He spent much of the rest of the war living at home in the family house and doing guard duty several nights a week from the steeple of St. Michael's Church in Charleston.

Why, then, did I choose him as a foil for Uncle James? Despite their differences, the two young men were very similar --in age,  in their Presbyterian upbringing, in their conviction that they were doing the will of God, and in their first battle experience.  I even found it possible that the two of them had crossed paths in one crucial moment on that battlefield at Secessionville. In A Scratch with the Rebels, we see the war from the viewpoint of a northern backwoodsman--a young man who believed himself to be a descendant of Cromwell's Puritan Roundheads. And then we see it through the eyes of a n aristocrat, descended, perhaps, from the king's own Cavaliers.They reminded me of a much earlier Civil War in 17th-century England, and in that way I found their differences and similarities important for our understanding of the whole conflict.

Meet the Character: James McCaskey



Several of my books would not exist if it were not for Sergeant James McCaskey , Company C, 100th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment.  He was my great-uncle, the oldest brother of my maternal grandfather, Joseph McCaskey.  James was born and raised on a hardscrabble farm in western Pennsylvania.  The closest settlement was North Sewickley, and the closest town was Ellwood City. He and his five siblings were first-generation Americans; their father had come to America from Ireland in 1801. They were independent, tough and resourceful, hard working, devout Presbyterians, and staunch believers in liberty and equality for all.

James joined the new 100th Pennsylvania Regiment in August1861 and was made a sergeant because at age 22 he was slightly older than many of his comrades. During his enlistment, he wrote only six letters to his parents, but those six ragged pieces of paper came down to me as an unexpected inheritance.  I found them in my mother's attic, tied with a dirty and worn piece of ribbon, in a small box of other unidentifiable keepsakes from the 1860s.  With them were two other letters, one from his lieutenant describing his final battle, and one from another soldier describing James's death. 

The ink on the letter from the lieutenant was blotched.  I first thought of raindrops and then realized I was looking at the marks of my great-grandmother's tears.  From that moment on I was hooked by the need to learn more about James and his Civil War experiences. The result of that need was my first book, A Scratch with the Rebels--the title taken from one of James's letters. James also made a couple of appearances in Beyond All Price, and Left by the Side of the Road.


What did I learn of him?  Not very much.  He was largely illiterate, as the spelling of his letters reveals, and he had little understanding of what the war was all about.  He was just an anonymous soldier caught up in a huge fight.  There are no known identifiable pictures of him, although there are any number of unidentified photos of men from this "Roundhead" Regiment.  Is this what he looked like? Probably not.  The soldier here is older than James would have been at his death, but the uniform, and perhaps his expression, are accurate.

Family members had identified his tombstone in the North Sewickley Cemetery. That's its picture at the head of this article, but I learned that it was only a memorial headstone.  His body was buried in an unmarked mass grave with the other casualties of the Battle of Secessionville, outside of Charleston, SC. I have stood on the site of that burial, but there is nothing to identify it as anything more than a small grove of scrub trees. He was just an anonymous soldier, as this spot is anonymous, but perhaps the books he inspired can act as his real monument.