I have a Civil War novel – Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep – debuting on October 1. I’ve decided to make it a series and am now about to start writing chapter 12 of Deepening Homefront Shadows.
I find myself enmeshed in the Civil War as Americans of 2017 get ready to celebrate our 241st Independence Day Celebration.
I plotted one chapter of Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep around an actual historical event. In early July 1863 Union Cavalry raided Kenansville, North Carolina, and burned down a sword factory on the town’s outskirts. After withdrawing to neighboring Warsaw, the troopers wrecked railroad track on the way back to New Bern, under Union control. That was the Fourth of July for the folks of Kenansville whose sons and husbands were away fighting the Yankees. Their fireworks were bitter with flames engulfing the sword factory.
Twenty-one months later the Confederacy surrendered. The North enforced a reconstruction policy on the former states of the Confederacy that lasted 12 years, and might have lasted longer had the Republican Party not had to strike a deal with those unreconstructed Southern States to get a former Union general, Rutherford B. Hayes, elected President of the United States. The election was mired in the Electoral College, and Hayes and his people got the necessary delegate votes from the South by promising to end Reconstruction.
Needless to say, white Southerners were in no mood to celebrate the Fourth of July through rest of the 19th Century. They enacted separate but equal laws, kept blacks from voting, and erected monuments to the Lost Cause in city parks, capitol grounds, and on battlefields. A Southern folk ballad, “I’m a Good Old Rebel,” sums up the feelings of many of the Confederate veterans and their families throughout the decades that followed the end of the Civil War.
I followed old Mars’ Robert For four year, near about,
Got wounded in three places,
And starved at Pint Lookout.
I cotch the roomatism A-campin’ in the snow,
But I killed a chance of Yankees —
And I’d like to kill some mo’.
Three hundred thousand Yankees Is stiff in Southern dust;
We got three hundred thousand Befo’ they conquered us.
They died of Southern fever And Southern steel and shot;
And I wish it was three millions Instead of what we got.
I can’t take up my musket And fight ’em now no mo’.
But I ain’t a-goin’ to love ’em,
Now this is sartin sho’;
And I don’t want no pardon For what I was and am,
And I won’t be reconstructed,
And I don’t care a damn.
For anyone who wants to actually hear this unreconstructed ballad, here is the Second South Carolina String Band playing the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKih6b7IssA
Back about 2011 when I worked for a North Carolina weekly newspaper, I went to a library in Pender County and looked for any books covering Fourth of July celebrations in the late 19th Century. I couldn’t find any.
From what I can determine, it was with the Spanish-American War in 1898 that Southerners began to think of the Fourth of July as their holiday too. That’s because some Confederate veterans joined up and fought the Spanish in Cuba.
I think the true reunion occurred after World War I when North and South together fought the German Kaiser and his troops.
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I’m an author with three fantasy novels to my credit – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The books make up a trilogy titled Larenia’s Shadow. A fourth novel, this one a historical romance set during the Civil War, is scheduled for publication in October. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.