Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ceremonial sword

Tonight's picture is EE's presentation sword from the US Cadets. It was up for auction and went for over $3,000.00. Nope--not to me! I just finished reading "Ellsworth Triumphant" aloud to my cat, looking for errors of syntax and spelling, as well as typos. It may have to have some more polishing, as Carrie is in it, and I am not sure if there is enough information about her in the chapter just before it. I may go ahead and work on that one next, and see how it works tying the chapters together. At this point they all sort of "stand alone."

If any of you (all of you--all hundreds of fans!! LOL!) would like to read one of the chapters, just ask. Nothing is final yet, and I will say exactly where the chapter is in the editing process, but they are available. I can send them MAC or PC. Just saying . . .

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ellsworth Triumphant

This is a photo of General R. K. Swift. He was an early supporter of EE, and was probably responsible for getting him the job drilling the Rockford City Greys. EE met Carrie Spafford at Rockford. This interesting man went on to command the Illinois militia troops and get them ready for Federal service after Lincoln's call for 70,000 men.

I am working on the chapter where EE goes from starvation & despair to forming the U.S. Zouave Cadets, so it is a pivotal chapter for EE. He tried to live on crackers and water--too bad there was no Ramen back then.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

long short weekend

I had to go to a workshop for most of Saturday this weekend, and some later on as well. Algebra! I would have preferred History, so go figure. I did an extensive rewrite on "Another Point of View," the chapter about James Jackson, who shot EE. I really am trying to get any anti-South bias out of it, so this is probably not the last time I work on that chapter. I am now working on "Ellsworth Triumphant," which is about his organization of the U.S. Zouave Cadets into the crack drill team they became.

I have spent hours looking up a quote, unsuccessfully. Finally I just typed EE's name into the search engine, along with the part of the quote I remembered, and-POOF!--there it was. I felt so stupid. Oh well. Perhaps it is just that school began. I am tired, that's all.

I hope I haven't shown this pic before. I have been assiduously collecting images, then trying to put them in order according to the chapters in the book. I hope it gets published. I'm not going to think about that part--too depressing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Avenge Ellsworth

I just have no idea how to "grow" a blog. It is hard enough for me to do this blogging in the first place, and apparently no one looks at it. I guess I ought to just get over it--at least it is literate. OK, there is the occasional typo, I admit. Still . . .

The weather news is fearful. I worry about Williamsburg and Plimoth Plantation. Both are such great places. There is another great historical town in northern Mass--I can't remember the name of it now. What a shame to think that after all this time--hundreds of years in the case of Plimoth--the storm could take things out for good.

I am hopeful that, waking up tomorrow, all will have turned to the East and out into the Atlantic.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

no bobblehead dolls, though

Apparently there were a lot of souvenirs available after EE died. I am always suspicious of things like this--too much like relics of saints or pieces of the True Cross. Anyone up for a vial of Carrie Spafford's tears?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

so far--one down--

I think I am happy with the rewrite of "Interregnum," so anyone who wants to read it, just let me know. It's good enough for an editor, except for a couple of references, and I have just been lazy about finding those.

The next chapter I redo is "Another Point of View." I got so far into the book, and I realized that EE's death affected the South as well. So did the death of James Jackson, the man who shot him and was, in turn, shot by Francis Brownell. I have read a lot of diaries now, and the small booklet about Jackson, author unknown. The reactions of the 2 parts of the U.S. were very different. It was stronger in the North--more outrage. For the South, it was just one more tally mark against the Yankees.

Anyway, I think it only fair to look at "another point of view," about EE's death. Hence this chapter. I will be trying very hard to be fair to Jackson, and have already stricken the occasional snarky comment. Any suggestions??

Monday, August 22, 2011

Marching thru' Gilroy

First day of school, and I am looking for a particular Civil War event to compare--maybe just the average Billy Yank's first day as a soldier, since it was all good. So--as Milly Yank--I gotta admit that I got home, lay down for a moment, and woke up again at 8 PM. I got up, put in some corrections I had for "Interregnum,"and am going to bed.

Carrie! I will leave work tomorrow & call as soon as I get home--I promise! I am anxious to see what you have discovered. I have now learned never to promise anyone anything the first week of school--my bad all the way around.

Picture is AL with John Hay (standing) and George Nicolay--these guys were his personal secretaries and EE's boon companions. I love these guys!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


This is about the post on July 23. I have erred! This is from 1861, from the Brady studio in DC. The floor is the same as the one in the Brownell photo. I keep learning! Sorry about that. I think it is that he is not in a uniform that got me initially. Oh well--if this is the only error in this blog (other than typos, etc.) then I am very lucky! Mea culpa!

the first

I have finished the first revision of "Interregnum," the chapter where Lincoln travels from Springfield to Washington for the Inauguration. I think it is much better, and the mental images are much more clear. I used the picture in the last post--from this morning--to describe Hay and Nicolay, and I put EE in uniform. That may change, as I have no real idea what he wore. so--I will reread it tomorrow, and see if I did OK. Good night, all. (Like there is an "all.")

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Woke up this AM with a migraine, so lost good writing time, alas. Everything OK now--I reread all the Pinkerton stuff, and sent out some feelers concerning what EE might have been wearing at the First Inaugural ball, to which he SHOULD have invited Miss Carrie!! and maybe her dad--just for good measure. The sad thing is, he probably thought there would be a lot of other opportunities to attend such events. And there would not be. I am thinking he wore his dress uniform, Cadet. He wasn't Regular Army yet, and there is only the one photo of him in anything except a uniform, so I am thinking "uniform." Hay and Nicolay were probably elegant in 1860s dress clothing--Nicolay always looked elegant anyway--this picture, altho' a year after EE's death, shows Hay & Nicolay behind Lincoln, on the far left. They are speaking with a young woman--as usual!! Nicolay has the beard & the frock coat, Hat wears the cutaway. I love these guys--maybe I should write about them some time. Anyway, off to lunch, then back to writing.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Well, at school from 8 to about 8, so no writing--I am going to reread all the Pinkerton stuff and keep working on the "Interregnum" chapter, but tonight, not so much! Here's a picture of EE on a horse. This is the only one I have seen of min on a horse, but apparently he had one, as his father came to DC to get it after EE's death. Cost his dad $150.00, and that was in 1861!! If anyone knows what his horse's name was, that would be great--tell me!! The horse from his childhood was called Mink. Hope I have time to write tomorrow--we will see!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

and back at it!

This is James Jackson, the man who shot EE. It is hard to hate him, as he was really just defending his property--even if his property was a huge Secesh flag!

19th Century men are attractive, IMHO.

I worked today on the Interregnum chapter--the trip from Springfield to DC, and the Baltimore Plot. I got this little book--copies of original docs about the work the Pinkerton Agency to foil the plot to kill Lincoln--and the darn thing is in the smallest font size ever seen--or UNseen. I have to use a magnifying glass to read it. The chapter is cleaned up--now to embellish--heh heh heh.

Monday, August 15, 2011

just hangin' out

With everything roughed in, I have decided to take a day or so off and get my head ready for school. I shall pretend that I am at Camp Lincoln, just hanging around, drilling a bit, drinking coffee, being a zoo-zoo. I can't believe I am at this point. Huzzah!

Here is EE as a kid. Since school is starting, I thought this appropriate. I am guessing maybe 2nd grade.

I wish someone would respond . . .

Sunday, August 14, 2011

we need new recruits--

Here is a new recruit for the 11th New York--I am not sure if he is a monkey or a squirrel, but thanks, Steve, for the support!

After fighting my own Battle of Bull Run, I have finished the chapter. In essence, the entire first draft is done. The last chapter, the Lincoln chapter, will have to wait until the first chapter is perfect. They are mirrors, so it is the right thing to do.

I now know what writer's block is, at least for non-fiction, and I know what it is to really, seriously, think about giving up. Do I really have anything to say?

Now I have to write it all over again and make sure I am true to my original ideas. Plus I have to check resources and keep researching. I found a picture in my quest to find out about writing history. It showed a large circle with a smaller circle within. The large circle was labelled "What You Need To Know" and the small circle was labelled "What You Use." Brilliant. I am going to print it out and hang it in front of the computer!

I feel drained and empty now. So--good night, all! Remember Ellsworth!

Saturday, August 13, 2011



Writing Military History


This is the site I found--somehow it disappeared in the last post, but maybe I noted it incorrectly. Hope this one works.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Interesting day! I am feeling much better about this chapter--I think my focus was completely wrong. I read so much military history that sometimes I think everything is just some type of military history, so I got all caught up in First Bull Run. That is not what the book is about. It is about a man who died for his country, and almost as soon as he died, the country completely changed. That is my focus. I do have to recommend an excellent little place on the web--I googled something like "writing military history" and got linked to this: , which are lecture notes on writing history. They have been wonderful.

I just added the Brownell section. That's him in the photo. He's 20!!! The black material on his left arm is a mourning band. Men wore those when someone they loved died. When I look at his face, it makes me so sad--all those young men going to almost certain death, and killing along the way. Their eyes are older than the rest of their bodies. Brownell eventually got the medal of honor for killing Jackson.

I may not get everything finished by the 18th, but just about. There is really no deadline--after all, it's been 150 years . . .

Thursday, August 11, 2011

oh dear--

Well, everything has been super so far, but I have been writing biography, not military history. MH is very different. I am going to start all over with the chapter on the 11th at Bull Run. The part about the 44th was OK, and the Brownell stuff is fine, but to tell just what happens to a particular unit during one battle--that is massive! I am going to start tomorrow afternoon--all over again. Oh well--

The picture is of Lieutenant Knox, an original Cadet who followed EE to the Fire Zouaves. I think he is handsome--

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

uncharted territory

Working on the First Bull Run chapter this week. I have never written military history before, and it is frantic. As much of it as I have read, there is no substitute for writing it. Who were the commanders, what was their command structure? How do I get my reader to understand the relationship of General Heintzelman to Private Alcock? So many layers to explain, and not bore a reader to tears. Can I just concentrate on my lost lambs (the rest of Ellsworth's regiment) and ignore the rest of the battle? I wish someone would tell me--where is that advisor?? I need an advisor!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Daughter of the Regiment

This is Lora Hudson Bissell. She was a teacher in upstate NY and wrote a poem, later made into a song, about EE's death and how it needed to be avenged. Many of the officers of the Fire Zouaves had been with Ellsworth in Chicago Cadet days. These men left the 11th NY about July 4, 1861 to take commissions in the 44th New York, "Ellsworth's Avengers." Her poem was chosen as the song of the 44th, and she asked if there was any other way to serve her country. She was named "Daughter of the Regiment" and travelled with the 44th as a nurse. She served out the rest of the war! Where is that kind of valor now? If there's no money or fame in it, it isn't worth the effort seems to be the sentiment in this century. Researching like this--not that people were any better, or even different--but the ideals of the time sure were.

Anyone else think maybe they fit better in a different time?

Monday, August 8, 2011

44 vs. 11

Now I have to dig into what happened to Ellsworth's men. Initially I thought I would be just doing Bull Run, but not so. I have to research the 44th NY also. They were called Ellsworth's Avengers, and did not participate in Bull Run. The men from the U.S. Zouave Cadets who joined the Fire Zouaves left that regiment and started their own regiment. Stryker, et al were responsible for it, and it did very well. They were able to refill their diminished ranks in 1862 when many other regiments (including the 11th) were unable to do so. I found a wonderful primary source--a regimental history written by the men who served. The Introduction is written by Joshua Chamberlain, fergawdssake! (FGS?) So I will do that part tomorrow.

School starts the 18th, and I will have to tear myself away from all this. The picture in the corner is of a t-shirt by Zazzle. It is really nice! Go buy one!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

rounding the turn

This is hair art--it was popular during Victorian times.  The hair is EE's, and I really want to see it in person--it is at Fort Ward.  I am tired tonight, but have finished all of the rough draft except the Bull Run stuff and the Lincoln chapter.  I am actually having panic attacks about it all.  I am working on the Kickstarter stuff as well, and hope to talk to Greg Camacho-Light about doing the video.  I am using a different formatting tool now, and I haven't figured out how to place the images where I want them.  Yet.  I just reread this, and I agree with my initial statement--I am tired!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

rough draft

Now that I have stuff (lots!) to read to people, I have begun to do so.  If I call you or ask you to listen to a chapter, be polite, grab a soda, and just listen.  It is amazing what I find, and even more amazing the comments--so far each one has been spot on, and something I suspected myself.  The next draft will be much better, I can already tell.  I am guessing 4 drafts in all--or more.

there's that . . .

My eyes ache . . .

Friday, August 5, 2011

dead and buried

This chapter is very difficult to write. There are two parts--the continuation of the story from the time EE gets shot to his burial, and the admittedly superficial analysis of nineteenth century death and dying attitudes. I gotta get them to be less superficial, and then get to the point--that 620,000 deaths later, no one had the energy to give everyone a grand funeral any more, and hasn't ever since. There is a lot of information here. If I get the rough done by the end of the weekend, then there will still be a boatload of work to do on the chapter. It is always the ones I initially saw as straightforward that turn out to be the most complex.

After that one, there is the penultimate one--what happened to the 11th NY Zouaves after EE died. This will go up past Bull Run. I have read a couple of books so far, and a lot of soldier letters. I need to do some serious mapwork to better understand the battle. The interactive maps on line are great for this!

So--a lot of work ahead, but maybe the rough will be done by the time school starts on the 18th. Then the REAL work starts!! EEEK! Today's picture is an example of memento mori, something to keep the memory of the deceased in one's mind. It is homemade, and I love it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

back home--

Well--I am back home. The retreat was super, and I feel like I will bee a good AVID teacher, and when I am not, there will be plenty of help. Every spare moment was spent reading about death in the nineteenth century and First Bull Run. LOL!

The books I have are pretty good--I now know about a "Good Death" and a lot more about how many folks viewed death and the afterlife 150 years ago. I think I sort of have a nineteenth century view of death. I have to think about this a LOT more.

I am tired, so am going to take a nap, then right back to writing. No pictures this time, but soon--well--maybe I can find one--OK--this is part of the death deal--it was glorious to die for a cause, and a guarantee of getting into Heaven. So--even if this man doesn't return, his wife will reap reflected honor, and of course, they will be reunited in Heaven.

Monday, August 1, 2011

off for a day or so

I will be out and about for a bit, so no writing--here or on the book. I finished the chapter where EE dies. I just stopped it with EE and JJ lying on the floor, bleeding out. I will pick up the thread again in the chapter on dying in the 19th century, which was a MUCH bigger deal than it is now. There were "funeral planners" back then, not wedding planners. In the part of society where there was a lot of money, there were sort of "celebrity funerals" and everyone tried to outdo each other. Geez!