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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

November 2012

The Road to Frogmore Is Here!


I am pleased to report that my new book, "The Road to Frogmore: Turning Slaves into Citizens," is now widely available.  On Amazon, you can find the paper version at

The Kindle edition is online at

For those of you who use other online stores or ebook sellers, the copies have been shipped and will appear as soon as the venders update their catalogs.  In the meantime, you can find almost every ebook format at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/250732.

You may also want to go to the book's dedicated website, where you can see actual photographs of many of the main characters, as well as the locations in which the story is set. You'll find the supplementary material at http://www.theroadtofrogmore.co/


I hope you'll give it a try and then leave a short, honest opinion on whichever site you use.  I can't stress enough the importance of reviews for keeping a book in front of prospective readers.

More Travels in South Carolina

Spent yesterday distributing books to outlets in Beaufort. (Note to the locals: "The Road to Frogmore is available at the MacIntosh Book Store on Bay Street or in the Visitor Information Center in the Arsenal.  Other distributors will have their supplies shortly.) We also did some preliminary research on the Leverett family for next book.  The 300-year-old Episcopal Church was great fun as we hunted for family gravesites.


























We also discovered that Mrs. Leverett's family home, pictured below, is now known as "Secession House" because it was in a meeting held there that the Beaufort delegates voted to support secession and immediately departed for Charleston to join the cause. 




Note: Even more interesting to me, I learned that this is the house that General Rufus Saxton used as his headquarters in Beaufort.  Saxton, of course, played a fairly large role in "The Road to Frogmore," and there are two scenes that are specifically set in his house, although I did not know exactly which house was his at the time I wrote the book.  Makes for a nice tie-in between the books, however.















Now I'm on my way out to Middleton Place, just outside Charleston, to do a two-hour book signing in the Museum Shop.  Stop by if you are in the area.  You don't have to pay general admission to get to the shop.  We'll be there from 2 to 4.

Tomorrow we head back to Memphis, so there will be a slight blogging break! See you on the far side!

Old Sheldon Church--Haunted by Memories of What Once Was

Today we drove from Charleston to Beaufort, so that I could deliver book samples of "The Road to Frogmore" to potential outlets in the town where Laura Towne spent the last 40 years of her life working with the newly freed slaves.  Stops included The Penn Center, where preparations were underway for their annual Heritage Days--then a wonderful sundries store that has set up shop in the very building where Mr. Hunn and daughter Lizzie opened their store in 1863 -- and then to the Boulder County Library.  Successful ventures all, but the highlight of the day had more to do with a stop we made along the way.

I'm starting to work on a new historical novel -- this one based on the lives of the family who owned the house where the Roundheads made their headquarters during the Civil War.  Mr. Leverett was an Episcopal minister, assigned to a church about 15 miles inland from Beaufort.  The church already had a history of surviving wars.  It was built in 1745 but burned by the British in 1779.  It was rebuilt in 1826 and then burned again by the Yankees in 1865.

Its ruins still stand there in the well-kept churchyard -- silent sentinel to the destructive nature of men's  disputes with one another.  It's loss in 1865 may, in fact, hastened Rev. Leverett's death.  Here's a circular look at the grounds and charred remains.

You need Flash Player in order to view this.
Old Sheldon Church
Built 1745; burned 1779; rebuilt 1826; re-burned 1865. Episcopal Parish Church, Prince William's Parish, Beaufort Co., SC


Reenactors in Town?

Charleston is about to be overrun by Civil War reeenactors getting ready for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Secessionville.  I checked the schedule to see if there was a way I could manage to crash the party and pick up a bit of atmosphere, but my schedule will not allow it.  The only free day I have is Friday, when they are putting on a program for schoolchildren. (don't think I can pass!)

However, it may be for the best.  I just looked at some of the pictures from previous years and decided that the historian in me would best be served by staying away.

First of all, the battle was waged on June 16th, 1862 -- not early November.  Oh, I understand.  There are no mosquitoes now, but if the soldiers of 1862 had to deal with them, why not make it more realistic.  

Then there's the terrain. The reenactment is out in a large flat pasture on Boone Plantation, while the real battle took place over cotton stubble, overgrown forest areas, and swamp. Here's what the battlefield really looks like:


You need Flash Player in order to view this.
Secessionville 1.mov
a look at the inside of Fort Lamar


I took that bit of video with my iPhone on Monday, when we went out to the actual battle site and walked the ground once again.  My Uncle James is buried in a mass grave near the spot where the video ends, so it has special significance for me.

And here's the reenactment.




I could go on about the ladies' tea (really?), the sutler's tents (not in that swamp!), the officers on horses (uh-uh!), and the uniformed nurses out in the grassy battlefield. 





But what I really don't understand is why these guys do this if the reenactment bears no resemblance to what actually happened. I'm sure they have fun, but as in all cases like this, I worry that too many people see the play-acting and accept it as gospel truth.  I know, I know! I'm a kill-joy!

Hen's Teeth and Spies, All in Plentiful Supply

In recognition of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, "Civil War-Era Memories" features excerpts from The Memphis Daily Appeal of 150 years ago. The Appeal is publishing from Grenada, Miss.

Oct. 29, 1862

Hen Teeth — A correspondent, who is a lawyer in this city, informs us that there can be seen in Stillman's Block, corner of Second and Jefferson streets, a chicken that has a head which resembles that of a snake. The upper and lower jaws are furnished with teeth ... It has been purchased by a gentleman in New York for three hundred dollars. (From the Memphis Bulletin)

Nov. 1, 1862

Kind Sympathy — Yesterday the remains of a young man named William Nelson of Arkansas, a Confederate soldier, who was taken at the battle of Perryville, and died on reaching this city on Monday, was buried in Elmwood cemetery ... His remains were put off on the levee in a box, and would have been left there probably to decay, had it not been for the kind sympathy of Mrs. Susan Henderson, Mrs. Porter and Mrs. Curtis, who had the corpse taken to Mrs. Henderson's and gave it a decent burial. It will be some consolation to the friends and relatives of the deceased, to know that young Nelson was buried by kind friends in Elmwood cemetery. (Memphis Argus, 29th)

Nov. 2, 1862

Memphis Correspondence from "A Secesh Girl" — Tell the boys, in behalf of the secession ladies of Memphis, that we are waiting anxiously for their return. We are stowing away delicacies of all descriptions which will be spread before them, in ample profusion, upon their arrival; we have also laid aside several boxes of candles, with which we intend to illuminate our house when the Confederate flag again floats over the "Bluff City."

Nov. 4, 1862

Memphis Intelligence — The seizure of property by the Federals has gone much farther than has been generally exposed. Hundreds of individuals and families are compelled to pay rent for their own properties, and it is announced that none will be exempt such as will "take the oath." Many men are paying rent for the use of their own business houses ... Of the old police force, one hundred in number, fifty-six refused to take the oath, and have been dismissed.

Look out for spies. The Federals at Memphis are constantly advised of the position of things in North Mississippi through the instrumentality of spies that daily pass our lines. By this means, not only the positions and numbers of our armies are known to the enemy, but also our plans.