Counterfeiting was a serious issue at the end of the Civil War. Nearly one-third of all currency in circulation was fake. In 1865 the Secret Service was established to deal with this issue, acting as a bureau in the Treasury Department to stabilize America’s financial system. They were the first domestic intelligence and counterintelligence agency in the United States.
During this time, America’s monetary system was very disorganized. Individual banks could legally generate their own currency, but with so much variation in circulation it was easy to counterfeit money.
The first agency chief was William Wood, who was widely known for his heroism in the Civil War. During his first year in charge, he was successful in closing more than 200 counterfeiting plants.
In addition to investigating paper money forgeries, the agency also monitored groups committing fraud, which included the Ku Klux Klan, mail robbers, smugglers, and bootleggers. The United States Marshals Service didn’t have the manpower to investigate all crimes under federal jurisdiction, so the Secret Service also handled bank robberies, illegal gambling, and murders.
President Abraham Lincoln established the Secret Service on April 14, 1865, the same day he was assassinated, after which Congress considered adding presidential protection to the duties of the Secret Service. But it would be another 36 years before the Secret Service was officially put in charge of protecting the president. In 1894, they began informally protecting President Grover Cleveland. In 1901, the agency took over full-time protection of the president after the assassination of President William McKinley. In 1908, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was created and took over intelligence responsibilities from the Secret Service.
In my new release, THE STARLING, Pinkerton Detective Henry Maguire is investigating a possible counterfeiting scheme in the household of wealthy entrepreneur Arthur Wingate. Partnering with new agent Kate Ryan and posing as a married couple, they uncover more than Henry planned when information regarding his deceased father, Hugh Maguire, a Secret Service agent, comes to light.
Kate Ryan has always had a streak of justice in her. When she decides to apply to the Pinkerton Detective Agency, nothing will stand in her way. Initially hired in a clerical position, she quickly works her way up to field agent with the help of her mentor, Louise Foster. When Louise is injured, Kate gets her first assignment and the opportunity of a lifetime.
Henry Maguire has been undercover in the household of wealthy entrepreneur Arthur Wingate. Employed as a ghostwriter to pen the man’s memoir, Henry is also searching for clues to a lucrative counterfeiting scheme. When Henry’s “wife” shows up, he’s taken aback by the attractive woman who isn’t Louise. Now he must work with a female agent he doesn’t know and doesn’t necessarily trust. And because he has another reason for coming into Wingate’s world, Kate Ryan is unavoidably in his way.
Kate Ryan is the daughter of Matt and Molly from THE WREN, and THE STARLING is the first of five novels featuring the second generation of Ryans in the Wings of the West series.
I’m giving away an eBook from my backlist—winner’s choice. To be entered, leave a comment and let me know what great show(s) you’ve been watching lately (any good western series?). I’m always looking for new stuff to view.
Kristy McCaffrey writes contemporary adventure stories packed with smoldering romance and spine-tingling suspense, as well as award-winning historical western romances brimming with grit and emotion. Her work is filled with compelling heroes, determined heroines, and her trademark mysticism. She likes sleeping-in, eating Mexican food, and doing yoga at home in her pajamas. An Arizona native, she resides in the desert north of Phoenix with her husband and their rescue Bulldog, Jeb. Sign up for Kristy’s newsletter athttp://kmccaffrey.com/subscribe/
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It’s funny how one thing leads to another and the next thing you know, you’re writing a book you hadn’t planned on writing.
My dad’s cousin, JJ, often sends him funny quotes or memes, or things to make him smile. He also shares interesting tidbits of information. Dad chooses the things he likes best and sends them on to me.
One of his “chosen favorites” from JJ was a lovely post written about the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. I’d heard of the cemetery, had never visited it, and knew there were guards, but that was about the extent of my knowledge when I opened that email from dad.
After reading what was shared, I had to know more. I needed to know more about the soldiers who guard the Tomb and the cemetery. And that knowledge led to me writing a sweet contemporary romance about a Tomb Guard, a nurse, and an array of wacky wildlife.
In 1857, George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson of George Washington, willed an 1,100 acre property to his daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who was married to Robert E. Lee. The Lee family vacated the estate in 1861 at the onset of the Civil War, and federal troops soon occupied the property as a camp and headquarters.
In 1863, the government established Freedman’s Village, on the estate as a way to assist slaves transitioning to freedom. The village provided housing, education, training, and medical care. As the number of Civil War casualties grew faster than other local cemeteries could handle them, the property became a burial location. The first military burial took place on May 13, 1864, when Private William Christman was laid to rest there.
That June, the War Department officially set aside 200 acres of the property to use as a cemetery. By the end of the war, thousands of service members and former slaves were buried there. Eventually, the Lee family received compensation for the property although the land remained with the War Department. Today, the cemetery has since grown to exceed 600 acres and is one of the oldest national cemeteries in America.
Evolving from a place of necessity to a national shrine to those who have served honorably in our Nation, the rolling hills have become the final resting place to more than 400,00 active duty service members, veterans, and their families. An average of 27-30 services are held each week day and more than 3,000 ceremonies and memorial services take place each year. Among the notable graves include presidents (President Kennedy and President Taft), astronauts (including John Glenn and Christa McAuliffe), and celebrities (such as Maureen O’Hara, Lee Marvin, and Audie Murphy).
At first, being buried at Arlington was not considered an honor, but it did ensure service members whose families couldn’t afford to bring them home for a funeral were given a proper burial. The first official Decoration Day (later renamed Memorial Day) was held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868. The event was so popular, an amphitheater was constructed in 1873 to hold the official ceremonies. By the late 1870s, high-ranking veterans began requesting burial in the Officers’ Sections.
In 1899, the U.S. Government began, at its own expense, repatriating service members who died overseas during the Spanish-American War. The cemetery expanded to include Sections 21, 22, and 24. Congress authorized, in 1900, a designated section for Confederate soldiers. After World War I, more than 2,000 service members were repatriated and interred in Sections 18 and 19.
In October 1921, four bodies of unidentified U.S. military personnel were exhumed from various American military cemeteries in France. The four caskets were taken to the city hall of Châlons-sur-Marne (now called Châlons-en-Champagne), France. Town officials and members of the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps had prepared the city hall for the selection ceremony. Early on the morning of October 24, 1921, Maj. Robert P. Harbold of the Quartermaster Corps oversaw the arrangement of the caskets so that each rested on a shipping case other than the one in which it had arrived. Major Harbold then chose Sgt. Edward F. Younger of Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 50th Infantry, American Forces in Germany, to select the Unknown Soldier. Sgt. Younger selected the Unknown by placing a spray of white roses on one of the caskets. From Châlons-sur-Marne, the Unknown journeyed by caisson and rail to the port town of Le Havre, France. From Le Havre, the Unknown Soldier’s casket was transported to Washington, D.C. on the USS Olympia. The Unknown Soldier arrived at the Washington Navy Yard on November 9, 1921, and was taken to the Capitol Rotund. The Unknown lay in state in there on November 10 with around 90,000 visitors paying their respects that day.
On November 11, 1921, the Unknown was placed on a horse-drawn caisson and carried in a procession through Washington, D.C. and across the Potomac River. A state funeral ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery’s amphitheater, and the Unknown was interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Nationwide, Americans observed two minutes of silence at the beginning of the ceremony. President Warren G. Harding officiated the ceremony and placed the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, on the casket. Additionally, numerous foreign dignitaries presented their nations’ highest awards.
Originally, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier consisted of a simple marble slab. Thousands of visitors came to Arlington National Cemetery to mourn at the Tomb and to pay their respects to the Unknown Soldier and the military personnel he represented. The tomb was unguarded, since most people were respectfully. But it became more popular with people to treat the tomb as a tourist attraction. It’s said some even picnicked on the tomb because of the grand view it provided.
In 1926, the Army assigned soldiers as guards. A sarcophagus was installed in 1932. The Tomb sarcophagus is decorated with three wreaths on each side panel (north and south). On the front (east), three figures represent Peace, Victory and Valor. The back (west) features the inscription: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” (This inscription gets to me every time I read it.)
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill to select and pay tribute to the Unknowns of World War II and the Korean War in 1956. The selection ceremonies and the interment of these Unknowns took place in 1958. The caskets of the World War II and Korean Unknowns arrived in Washington on May 28, 1958, where they lay in the Capitol Rotunda until the morning of May 30. They were then carried on caissons to Arlington National Cemetery. President Eisenhower awarded each the Medal of Honor, and the Unknowns of World War II and the Korean War were interred in the plaza beside their World War I comrade. A Vietnam Unknown was added in 1984. An Army caisson carried the Vietnam Unknown from the Capitol to the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided over the funeral, and presented the Medal of Honor to the Vietnam Unknown, and also acted as next of kin by accepting the interment flag at the end of the ceremony. With modern technology, the Vietnam Unknown was exhumed in 1998 and identified. His remains were transported to his family in St. Louis, where he was reinterred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The slab over the empty crypt was since been replaced. The inscription of “Vietnam” has been changed to “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen 1958 – 1975” as a reminder of the commitment of the Armed Forces to the fullest possible accounting of missing service members.
Beginning in 1937, guards were stationed 24-hours a day to keep watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1948, the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), took over the prestigious duty and continue to guard the Tomb today. Known as sentinels, the soldiers provide security for the Tomb, lead ceremonies, and maintain the sanctity of the space. To them, they honor the Unknowns through the precision of their rituals.
The sentinels are amazing.
After digging into the research of this unique soldier, they have my highest respect and admiration for their service and dedication.
Soldiers who volunteer to become Tomb guards must go through a strict selection process and intensive training. Each element of their routine has meaning. The guard marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns and faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, and then takes 21 steps down the mat. Next, the Guard executes a sharp “shoulder-arms” movement to place his/her weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors, signifying that he or she stands between the Tomb and any possible threat. The number 21 symbolizes the highest symbolic military honor that can be bestowed: the 21-gun salute.
Now imagine doing that in searing summer heat (in a wool uniform), in pouring rain, or freezing snow. It’s what they do. Every single day.
The Sentinels have a creed they live by. One of my favorite lines is this one: And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection.
In my sweet romance Lake Bride (releasing June 23), the hero has spent the past two years of his life as a Sentinel. He’s at a crossroads in his life, trying to find himself and direction for his future. When his favorite relative, Uncle Wally, passes away and leaves him a cabin on a lake in Eastern Oregon, Bridger sees the perfect opportunity to get away and figure out what to do with the rest of his life.
If you read my book Henley that was part of the Love Train series, Bridger is a great-great-great-grandson to Evan and Henley Holt!
A solemn soldier.
A woman full of sunshine.
And the lake where they fall in love.
Twenty-one steps. The past two years of Bridger Holt’s life have centered on the twenty-one steps he repeatedly walks back and forth as one of the sentinels guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Now that his duty is coming to an end, Bridger has no idea what to do with the rest of his life. Guilt from his past and trepidation about his unknown future drive him to the mountain cabin he inherited from his beloved uncle to gain clarity and direction. The quirky residents in the nearby town of Holiday, the assortment of wildlife that adopts him, and the woman who shines a light into his tattered soul might be what Bridger needs to find the redemption he seeks.
Outgoing, upbeat Shayla Reeves spreads sunshine wherever she goes. Holiday has become her home, and she enjoys spending time in the mountains around town. She adores the patients in the dementia facility where she works as a nurse. But something is missing from her mostly joyful world. When she mistakenly camps on private land owned by the mysterious and brooding Bridger Holt, she realizes what her life is lacking isn’t adventure but love.
Will two opposite personalities overcome their challenges and figure out a way to build a future together?
Find out in this sweet love story full of hope, small-town humor, and the wonder of falling in love.
The heroes in my two-book connected series, THE MERCENARY’S KISS and HER LONE PROTECTOR, are soldiers. Mercenaries, specifically. They were soldiers for hire who commanded a handsome price from the War Department to fight for America’s freedoms in their own way. Undercover, nonconforming, but no less effective.
Both educated in West Point Military Academy, their dreams to be a soldier in the traditional sense fall apart, but they remain fierce patriots. They travel throughout the world to fight with skills and daring few soldiers could imagine. Their life isn’t easy–or safe. They battle betrayal, harsh environments, malaria . . . and emerge victorious.
Soldiers throughout the nineteenth century didn’t have it any easier. Worse, most likely. Oh, my, many of these soldiers were young. Late teens, fresh-faced, and eager to serve. It wasn’t long before their determination is tested, for sure.
A typical routine for a calvary on the march would be like this:
4:45 am – First Call. No hitting the snooze button. Soldiers had to get up and moving NOW.
4:55 am – Reveille and Stable Call. They came to order, saddled the horses, and harnessed the mules.
5:00 am – Mess Call. Breakfast, both prepared and eaten.
5:30 am – Strike Camp – meaning take down tents and store equipment.
5:45 am – Boots & Saddles – the soldiers mount up.
5:55 am – Fall In – Calvary is assembled and ready to march.
6:00 am – Forward March!
An hour and fifteen minutes to accomplish all this! No dawdling allowed.
Some days, they traveled thirty, maybe sixty miles. Imagine sitting in the saddle that long! The men rode in columns of four when the terrain allowed. Single file, if it didn’t. If the wind and snow blew hard, they rode hunched in the saddle, their eyes slitted against the stinging wind, their hats pulled low over their eyes.
At night, they might have to sleep on snow. If they didn’t die of pneumonia, frostbite and gangrene often set in, and Army surgeons chopped off blackened fingers and toes. In the South, the heat was brutal, water scarce, and the flying insects merciless. The feared threat of an Indian attack was constant.
Fresh meat was in short supply. Soldiers reported the meat putrid and “sticky”. Yuck! Clean water was a precious commodity, too. Soldiers suffering extreme thirst desperately drank water wherever they could find it, even if it was green with slime, which only brought on instantaneous vomiting when they were already weak and dehydrated.
Even if decent water could be found, their canteens were lacking.
Wooden canteens tended to leak and/or dry out.
The water in India rubber canteens tasted terrible.
Tin canteens were probably best, but in extreme heat, the water got hot.
If a soldier was pulled out of the field and ordered to a post, amenities were minimal. Barracks at a fort were small, overcrowded, poorly constructed, poorly ventilated, cold in winter and hot in summer. Privacy was non-existent for most. Privies were outside and bathhouses rare. In fact, despite the War Department’s stipulation that the men should bathe at least once a week, one officer reported that after 30 years in the Army, not once had he seen a bathhouse at a fort.
Still, not every soldier thought his time in service to his country was endlessly miserable. One young lieutenant wrote his mother, “I could live such a life for years and years without becoming tired of it. There is a great deal of hardship, but we have our own fun. If we have to get up and start long before daybreak, we make up for it when we gather around campfires at night. You never saw such a merry set as we are–we criticize the Generals, laugh and swear at the mustangs and volunteers, smoke our cigars and drink our brandy, when we have any.”
I like his attitude, don’t you?
What is the farthest you’ve ever traveled? Have you ever had a miserable trip?
A number of years ago, to celebrate our anniversary, my husband and I traveled to Cape Cod in the fall, hopeful to see the beautiful colors. Alas, it had been too warm and rainy that year, and we didn’t see a SINGLE leaf that had turned color. Worse, on the way home, more stormy weather cancelled flights, and we were forced to spend the night at the Boston airport. I can still remember those creaky cots they gave us to sleep on. Although my husband slept, I couldn’t relax out of fear someone would steal our luggage. I was in tears checking my watch constantly. I can’t remember being more miserable, and that night is still vivid in my memory.
Let’s chat, and I’ll give away an ebook copy of THE MERCENARY’S KISS to a winning commenter.
The book I’ve spent most of the summer working on takes place during World War I. Before I decided to write this story, what I knew about “the Great War” could have fit in one short sentence.
I spent three weeks immersed in research and, as tends to happen when I’m writing something historical, I fell down the research rabbit hole and Captain Cavedweller wasn’t sure I’d ever resurface.
Reading about the people who sacrificed so much (soldiers, those who served in any capacity, and those at home), just leaves me heartsore, yet so incredibly grateful they were willing to do what they did. Not only were these people in the midst of a world war, but also a worldwide pandemic with the Spanish flu.
As I waded through the research, I discovered something interesting about the doctors from America who served in World War I overseas. Eleven of them were women.
During World War I, the U.S. military would not accept women physicians into the Army Medical Corps, but they would allow them to serve as contracted personnel. This meant they were considered civilians who worked for the Army medical department and were paid a lower salary without military rank or benefits. In total, 56 women physicians became contract surgeons during the war, but only 11 went overseas where they mostly worked as anesthetists.
One of those women was Dr. Anne Tjomsland, who inspired much of the medical part of my story. Born in Norway in 1880, Dr. Tjomsland earned her bachelor’s and medical degrees from Cornell. She became an American citizen in 1917. She interned, and then worked at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Hospitals around America began forming base hospitals and training prior to the United States officially entering the war in the spring of 1917. The first fifty base hospitals were organized by civilian institutions (medical schools, hospitals) and funded significantly by donations.
The very first base hospital was founded at Bellevue in 1916 and became known as Base Unit #1. They began training that year, anticipating the United States entering the war. When the unit was mobilized in November 1917, Dr. Tjomsland was initially barred from joining as a physician because she was a woman. Since the base commander considered her essential, he fought for her to be appointed as a contract surgeon and won.
Dr. Tjomsland wrote a book in 1941, Bellevue in France, of her experiences that provided so much rich detail, I could easily picture her journey from American doctor to wartime physician.
The ship she traveled on to cross the Atlantic was the RMS Olympic, a White Star luxury ship and sister ship to the RMS Titanic. The ship that had once been known for such luxury was converted to a transport ship during the war. The grand old dame was given a dazzle, or razzle dazzle, paint job that supposedly made it harder for German submarines to lock in on a target. The paint design consisted of complex patterns of geometric shapes using contrasting colors, interrupting and intersecting each other. If nothing else, some of the patterns painted on ships looked as though they may have made the enemy dizzy.
Base Unit #1 traveled to Liverpool, England, then traveled by train to Southampton, where they boarded another boat to cross the English Channel, landing at Le Havre, France. From there, they rode a train to Paris, but found the tracks had been bombed, so they had to backtrack and found an alternate route to their destination of Vichy, a spa town known for its healing waters as far back as the time of Roman emperors. A railroad ran through Vichy, making it easy to get to, and it was far enough away from the front to make it relatively safe.
Once in Vichy, Base Unit #1 took over several hotels. Their first patients were recovering French soldiers who were quickly moved elsewhere to make room for wounded American soldiers. The hospital would treat anyone, civilians included, who needed assistance.
By reading Dr. Tjomsland’s book, and the stories of women who served as doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, and other positions in war-torn France, I did my best to convey not only the historical details but also the heart-wrenching emotions they experienced in my story.
I often get requests from readers to tell the story of a secondary character. One that has received requests too many to count has been Sadie from my Pendleton Petticoats series. She first makes an appearance as a tough eight-year-old in the book Marnie. Readers get to watch her grow and mature (and torment a boy named Harley John) throughout the rest of the series.
Now it’s time for Sadie and Harley John to get their own story. Sadie releases August 26, but you can pre-order your copy now for just $2.99!
She yearns for far-flung adventures. He longs for the home he’s found in her heart. Will a world at war tear them apart, or draw them closer together?
For most of her life, Doctor Sadie Thorsen has imagined seeing the world on grand adventures. When America joins the war raging across the world in 1917, it seems her dreams are about to come true. She travels overseas as a contracted physician, eager to do her part to help the war effort. Endless streams of wounded push her to the limits of endurance, then she receives word Harley John Hobbs, the man she’s loved for years, is missing in action. Unable to bear the thought of life without him in it, she refuses to let go of her hope that he’s alive.
The day Sadie Thorsen shoved Harley John Hobbs down on the playground was the day she marched off with his heart. He spent years doing everything in his power to become successful, determined to have more than himself to offer Sadie if she ever returns to their eastern Oregon town. Conscripted to join the American Expeditionary Forces, Harley John answers the call and heads to France. Wounded and alone, he clings to the promise of seeing Sadie one last time.
Can deep, abiding love withstand the tragedies and trials of a world at war?
I thought you might enjoy a little excerpt from Sadie today. In this scene, she’s infuriated with the men who refuse to let her go to France.
The temper Sadie had, to this point, kept in check reached full boiling force. She knew she should leave before it erupted, but instead, walked over to the table and slapped both hands on the surface, causing all four of the men to jump.
“Lieutenant Colonel Grimes, if you could please, for a moment, come down off that high horse you’re riding and forget the fact I’m a woman, you will see I have been working alongside doctors since I was thirteen. I’ve patched up men who’ve been in knife fights, gun fights, dog fights, fist fights, and even a few who were impaled with arrows. I’ve worked on every kind of wound you could imagine, treated burn victims, even assisted with amputations. Because of my varied and vast experience, and the fact I am willing to stubbornly forge onward when others surrender is exactly the reason I should be among those who are with this base hospital in France. I can and will help the soldiers there. If you won’t accept my skill and talents, I’ll find someone who will. I don’t care if I have to row my own boat across the Atlantic, I will get there!”
“Doctor Thorsen, you’re temper fit is exactly the reason why women are not fit to serve in military conditions and times of war.”
“Not fit to serve? Not fit to serve!” Her raised voice bounced off the walls. “Sir, you have enlisted any number of nurses for this venture. Won’t they work alongside the doctors to do whatever they can to help the wounded? Are they not females being thrust into the midst of military conditions in a time of war? Are they not fit to serve? Of course, they are! They are fit to serve, and so am I.” She wanted to reach across the table and shake some sense into the man staring down his long, thin nose at her.
As she did when she was truly angry, she lost the cultured speech she’d worked so hard to acquire and resorted to the language she’d used when Marnie and Lars had first adopted her. “If you’re just too dad-blamed bullheaded and addlepated to see it, then I’m questioning why the Army has declared you fit to serve. I’ve encountered more mulish, malefic, muddleheaded men in the past four years than any woman would ever want to think about meeting, but I do believe, sir, you ought to be crowned King Uppity over them all.”
If you were in Sadie’s shoes, what would you do?
Also, if you haven’t read any of my Pendleton Petticoats books yet, get this boxed set with the first three stories while it’s on sale for 99 cents!
AND WHEREVER EBOOKS ARE SOLD, THIS ONE IS SOLD FOR
FREE FREE FREE.
Just so you all know there are always new generations coming up that like all things western!
Case in point, my granddaughter. This is cut from a video–which I could NOT get to load on here, and in it she says, among other things YEEHAW.
I’ve watched it about fifty times already. She’s 19 months old and talking up a storm.
Now that I’ve given you all a free books.
And let you see my beautiful granddaughter (as if that isn’t enough!!!)
I had an outing this week, not so usual anymore. I went to Fort Randall in Pickstown, South Dakota.
Some of these old forts are preserved, some are all new and reconstructed.
This one is largely gone.
Almost all that’s there are these sign posts telling about what was located at each spot.
The signs covered all the main points about the fort. What women’s roles were.
Some were officer’s wifes. Some were employed there. The picture within my picture shows a snapshot of life for women at the fort.
How they got supplies…which, being right along the Missouri River, well duh, send supplies up the river. Except the Missouri River, that far north, was unnavigate-able during parts of the years. And the river was very broad and shallow, often with sandbars just barely under the surface, easy for ships to run aground.
We walked a half mile circuit around the edge of the parade grounds and saw signs like this. And there was foundation stone left here and there, or depressions in the earth.
Funny to think how close the soldiers lived to the commanders and yet they lived very differently. The commander, and the lower ranked officers, in much nicer digs than the rank and file.
They needed medical care and not just for injuries in battle. The lost a large group of soldiers the first year to scurvy. Meanwhile the native people around them, mainly the Sioux Indians, found, with no scientific or medical help, a well rounded diet on land the soldiers were surrounded by.
I hope you can enlarge these pictures to see them well. Read them. When I go to a museum, I want to READ. I want to see what it’s all about, set it in history. That’s what I love. So signs about the bakery, the doctor, what the soldiers did for fun, how they lived, are perfect for me. Maybe better than the buildings. I found it solemn and fascinating and a little big spooky.
Being blessed with a vivid imagination, I can see the soldiers marching around. Feel them overheated in the summer and freezing in the winter. Wonder how women coped with all the hard work they had to do…and do it all wearing a skirt.
It was a wonderful, if madly hot, day.
The only building still standing was a church
My day at Fort Randall. Do you go to museums? I actually love them, though it seems like I do most of my research online these days.
I came away with story ideas, but also I felt like everything I learned and saw and imagined helps ground my stories in how things really were back then. And hopefully that brings my work authenticity rooted in solid research.
Tell me about your favorite museum. And go grab a free book!
I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual person. I need to see it to retain it. I see better than I hear. When I see a list, I get tasks done. And organizing with colored notecards or Post-Its?
Be still my heart.
Just the way my brain works.
So it’s no wonder that I need images when I write. The words form much easier, flow much faster. And like any visual writer who is neck-deep in a manuscript and needing some help, I head straight for my friend, Pinterest.
Writing my contemporary western, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, by Tule Publishing, was no different. If you’ve had a chance to read the book, you might enjoy seeing some of the images that inspired me.
When I saw this image for Beau Paxton, my hero, I thought “This is IT!” Beau to a T. Love, love.
While writing A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, my husband and I were totally binge-watching the thriller series, Homeland, and I was completely captivated by the lead character, played by Claire Danes. Hence, Ava Howell was born.
When Ava first arrives to the Blackstone Ranch and enters the little cabin where she’ll be staying while working, one of the first things she sees is a bouquet of Indian blanket that Beau’s mother thoughtfully picked for her in welcome. The wildflower is common in the Texas Hill Country. Beautiful, aren’t they?
This is a diagram of a Shotgun House, which I mention in the renovation of the Paxton family’s ghost town resort on the Blackstone Ranch. They say that a shotgun blast from the front door will go straight through the house and out the back door. I guess it’s true, eh?
Beau buys Ava her first cowboy hat, something she resists, but this is the one she picked out. On clearance, of course!
Another gift from Beau that Ava absolutely loves. Can you blame her?
Something really scary happens to Beau on the ranch, and that’s all I’ll say! But this hole was my inspiration!
And now I’m going to stop! I can’t give everything away, can I?
But you can see how much I depend on Pinterest. I took a Pinterest class recently, and my teacher said Pinterest is another Google. She’s right. It truly is!
Did you know Petticoats & Pistols has its own Pinterest account? Our sister filly, Julie Benson, keeps it up and running for us, and it’s hugely popular with almost 64,000 views per month! Come follow us and check out our boards. http://www.pinterest.com/thefillies/
How about you? Do you use the site to find recipes? Get help with ideas on re-decorating? Find gifts? Learn how to plant a garden? The list is endless, and I’d love to hear if you enjoy it as much as I do!
who starts off our Friday Guest Posts for the New Year!
Regina is a wife, a homeschooling mother of four,
a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, and a voracious reader.
She is also the author of award-winning humorous,
inspirational, historical romantic fiction.
Miss Regina is giving away a print copy of her newest release ~ The Lieutenant’s Bargain
to one lucky person who comments!
By Regina Jennings
When I first heard about the competition, I couldn’t believe my luck. You mean there will be cavalry re-enactors showing off their cavalry skills at Fort Reno, the setting of my current series? Yeah, sign me up!
In late September, the U.S. Cavalry Association held their Bivouac and National Cavalry Competition at Fort Reno, Oklahoma—the setting of my current series. Once again, the fort sounded with pounding hooves, stirring bugles and that bluster and swagger that occurs before any contest. Now, I’m always supportive of events that honor our past, but this was at the fort…my fort! It was like I was standing beside Louisa and Major Adams watching the goings-on at the parade grounds.
In the first book of the series, Holding the Fort, most of the story takes place in the General’s House, which was the residence of the highest-ranking officer on the post. The General’s House had a central view of the parade grounds where the men drilled.
Here, in front of the General’s House, a participant competes in the Mounted Saber competition. The obstacle course includes spearing rings on the blade, slicing through apples, popping balloons and stabbing targets on the ground.
Another competition was Military Field Jumping. Behind this soldier you can see the long barracks that the troopers like Bradley Willis stayed in.
Besides combat horsemanship, mounted sabers, and military field jumping, they were also judged on the authenticity of the era they were portraying. Participants had several different categories that they could choose from. Naturally, I was drawn to those portraying soldiers from the Plains Indian Campaigns, since that’s the time I’m writing about.
These two soldiers are currently stationed at Fort Carson, but they were representing troopers from Fort Concho, Texas, during the Plains Indian Conflicts.
They are judged on the historical detail of their uniforms, weapons, gear and tack. Finding these guys is a researcher’s dream! I learned that they would’ve carried more ammo than food, because if you have ammo, usually you can get food. There’s not much room in those bags for fluff, but they liked having both a canteen and a tin cup.
And even though it was a toasty day, they favor the caped overcoat when they want to make an impression. I have to agree with them.
See the heart on the breast collar of the horse –
According to these presenters, the heart meant that the horse had already seen combat. Is that true? I haven’t found that referenced anywhere else, but I’m open to the possibility.
One of the funniest moments of the competition was when this guy was doing his historical authenticity interview. He rode up to the judges in a full Lawrence of Arabia get-up. He did his presentation to the cavalry judges, explaining that he’d been stationed in the Middle East and had put together his gear and clothing while there.
The two judges just listened in wonderment. Finally one of them said, “You’re giving me a lot of information, but I don’t have the foggiest idea of how to judge an Arab outfit. All I know is that horse is not an Arabian.”
Being at the Cavalry Competition set up the moment that will always be one of my favorite writer memories– the time my book cover came to life. One of the contestants was competing in the Mounted Saber course, when I realized that it was a scene straight out of The Lieutenant’s Bargain.
See that house behind him?
See the house on my book cover?
It’s the same! And while Lieutenant Jack isn’t wearing his caped coat on the cover, you’d better believe it’s a big part of the story!
I’m so grateful that our military encourages their young members to keep the legacy of their units alive through events like this, and I’m doubly grateful that they choose to hold the contests at historical sites. I’d imagine if walls could talk, the buildings at Fort Reno would say that they miss the rowdy cavalrymen and the spirited horses that used to populate their grounds.
If you’re free next September, get yourself to Oklahoma to support these brave men as they honor the heroes that came before them. And not to be pushy, but you might enjoy your visit even more if you’ve read a few fun books set there. Then you too can feel like you’re walking into history.
There’s just something right about bringing the cavalry back to Fort Reno.
Remember to comment to have your name entered into a drawing for a copy of The Lieutenant’s Bargain!
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This year, Veterans Day fell on Sunday. The 11th of November is the actual day of the holiday. But did you know that if it falls on a Sunday, it’s celebrated on Monday, and if it falls on a Saturday, it’s celebrated on Friday? So, that being said, since we are “in the ballpark”, I couldn’t let this day go by without talking about the meaning of Veterans Day and how it came to be in our country. When I was a young child, I remember asking my parents about Veterans Day–but my mom always called it “Armistice Day”. When she told me the story about “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”, it always seemed like a magical spell–and maybe that’s what the world hoped it would be–the war to end all wars had already been fought, and so there wouldn’t be anymore. But there were.
World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect. It’s called “THE LAST TWO MINUTES OF FIGHTING”.
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
(WWI SCOTTISH PIPER IN TRADITIONAL KILTS, STANDING TALL ON THE BATTLEFIELD–OVER 1000 PIPERS WERE KILLED IN WWI)
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
From 1971-1978, Veterans Day was celebrated on October 25. In 1975, then-President Gerald Ford signed a bill that would return it to November 11 again starting in 1978.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Do you remember the poem by Canadian John McCrae “In Flanders Fields”? Many of us had to memorize this in elementary school. McCrae was a physician/surgeon during WWI–he died of pneumonia not long before the war ended. Take a minute to listen to this recitation of “In Flanders Fields” by the late Leonard Cohen. It is haunting.
A Story of the West during The War of the Rebellion
The West – conjures up pictures of Cowboys and Indians, covered wagons, Wild Bill Hitchcock, saloons, gunslingers and Wyoming or Colorado, etc. But did you know that leading up to and including the Civil War, the ‘west’ was what we call today the Midwest – like Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Ohio. Huh? The original 13 colonies/states (New York to Maine, to Pennsylvania, Carolinas, etc) was considered the civilized society and anything past the Appalachian Mountains is the West.
When the Civil War is discussed even today, it is a story of the North and the South but what about the West? The Midwest was the food-producing states. Both sides counted it as theirs. Missouri, for instance, was the ‘west’, with no status as North or South until “Bloody Kansas” occurred. Newspapers in the North wrote their stories, painting the slave-holding Missouri as Southern. Missouri had a lot of ties to the north from an economic standard, being a bread-winning state and St. Louis was one of the nation’s highest importing towns, that you could by any import there, verses New York or New Orleans or Charleston (the other big ports).
Many businesses in St. Louis were tied to the North but this slanderous news stories propagated at this time during the crisis pushed Missouri in a corner, so to speak, and therefore, they did throw their hat in with the South. Many southerners did settle in the state and it was a slave state but that didn’t make them southerner. Even today, northerners referred to Missouri as southern and vice versa.
When the war comes, it concentrates on the east and the prime objective by the north was ‘take Richmond!’ – the old concept of take the capital (yet at first, the capital for the Confederacy was in Alabama). The push was take the Army of Northern Virginia, led by the mastermind Robert E. Lee, out, take over Richmond and the North wins! But what of the west? The West does include more than the battles at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Franklin. The west was also the breadbasket of the South (& North) but the key to conquering the rebels was the Mississippi River. Take it and cut the Confederacy in half (plus cutting them from their main food source –Texas).
The western theater also became the dumping ground by both sides for officers that lost favor in the east. General Halleck (US), Rosecrans (US), Braxton Bragg (CS), Joseph E. Johnston (CS) are good examples, like Johnston and President Jefferson Davis didn’t get along, but the South needed men, so Johnston was kept, just reassigned to the west. Sounds pretty awful, right?
My latest release, Rags & Hope, deals with this issue.Here is the blurb:
There was one thing about the War of Rebellion they could both understand: At least on the battlefield, the enemy is clear.
Thanks to his father’s political machinations, grieving widower Colonel Pierce Duval wants nothing more than to leave his family home in New York and return to his Union command in Tennessee. A chance and harrowing encounter with a true-blue Southern belle stirs emotions in him he thought long buried. When her safety is at stake, how can he not help her?
Cerisa Fontaine ran away from her wealthy Louisiana home, hoping to form a new life where no one would know her family’s awful secret. But her controversial marriage and southern drawl make her a pariah in New York. Her situation becomes downright perilous when her husband is killed in battle and Cerisa is left alone and penniless, forced to seek employment at the only establishment that will accept her: a brothel. When the handsome colonel offers her a way out, she’s compelled to accept despite his Yankee roots.
Each for self-serving reasons of their own, Pierce and Cerisa embark on a journey south to Tennessee, posing as a married couple. But even as their secrets stand between them, their passion wages its own war against their better judgment. All too soon, they must make a life altering choice: remain loyal to their cause, or give in to their heart’s desire.
Ready for a trip to northwestern Nebraska’s beautiful Pine Ridge area? I hope so, because today we’re going to visit Fort Robinson, a former army post that’s the poster child for reinvention.
It all started with the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 in which the government agreed to provide food and supplies, what some called annuities, to the Native American tribes who agreed to live on reservations. In 1873 the government established the Red Cloud Indian Agency at what is now Fort Robinson to distribute those annuities to Red Cloud’s Ogalala Sioux. Unfortunately, not everything went as smoothly as some might have expected. When nontreaty bands of Indians threatened the agency, demanding supplies, shots broke out, resulting in several deaths, including that of the acting agent. But it was the death of Lt. Levi Robinson near Fort Laramie on February 9, 1874 that had the greatest impact on the area, since when troops were sent to establish a tent camp to protect the agency, they honored the lieutenant by naming it Camp Robinson.
Two months later, the camp was moved a mile and a half away from the original site, and tents were replaced by the permanent log and adobe buildings of what is now called the “old post.”
Primary responsibilities of the soldiers stationed at Camp Robinson were protecting the Red Cloud Agency and keeping the peace during the Indian wars. As you might guess, that proved difficult, and the camp’s history includes the death of Crazy Horse, who was mortally wounded in a scuffle when resisting imprisonment in 1877, and the Cheyenne Breakout of 1879, which resulted in the deaths of 64 Cheyenne and eleven soldiers.
Though the Red Cloud Agency was relocated to a Missouri River site in 1877, Camp Robinson remained an important part of the western military, and in 1878, its permanence was recognized by renaming it Fort Robinson.
More changes were coming. When the railroad reached the fort in 1887, the army expanded the post, creating what was in essence a new post, complete with a much larger parade ground and additional housing, all needed because it had become the regimental headquarters for the Ninth Cavalry, a unit of African American soldiers.
Within a short time, Fort Robinson had surpassed Fort Laramie as the most important military post in the area.
Times changed, and by WWI the fort was all but abandoned. Abandoned, but not forgotten, because in 1919, it became the quartermaster remount depot, providing horses and mules to the army. When the army replaced horses and mules with motorized vehicles, Fort Robinson was once again in limbo.
Time for more reinvention. From 1933 through 1935, it became a regional headquarters for the Civilian Conservation Corps, and during WWII it was not only a site for K-9 training but – more importantly – a camp for 3,000 German POWs. After WWII, the USDA turned it into a beef research station, and then in the 1950s it had its final reinvention, emerging as Fort Robinson State Park, a place where you can not only learn about history but where you can also spend a night or two in the same buildings where the army once lived.
What does all this have to do with my new release? Very little. A Borrowed Dream takes place in the Texas Hill Country, not Nebraska’s Pine Ridge. Its characters have no connection to the military. But like the fort itself, they’ve had to reinvent themselves. Catherine’s life has been shattered by her mother’s death and the realization that the man she had hoped to marry was fickle, while Austin has had to flee Philadelphia, abandoning his life as a successful surgeon to protect his daughter. What choice do they have but to create new lives?
I hope you enjoyed reading about Fort Robinson and hope it’s piqued your interest. And, of course, I hope you’re intrigued by the premise of
There is no such thing as an impossible dream . . .
Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the local doctor’s treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life where dreams rarely come true.
Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.
With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.
I’m offering a signed copy of it to one commenter.
US addresses only.
Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroads trilogy, A Stolen Heart, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.