So, you’ve probably heard me talk about my friend Emily Ann before. If you have, you already know what an awesome friend and talented photographer she is! But did you also know that she wrote a book?!
1861 – Sixteen year old Joe Roberts leads a mundane life as far as he’s concerned. His world spins in the same circle each day: working at his family’s store, taking his sisters on boyish escapades and bickering with his rogue of a cousin, Lucas. Joe can’t understand why his mother allows Lucas to live and work with them after all the pain he caused their family. When war is declared, Joe is quick to join up and become a soldier with the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteers, but war is nothing like he imagined. To make matters worse, he must endure having Lucas in the same regiment. Can Joe put the pain of the past behind him? Forgiveness is easier said than done.
Look for It Took a War in both print and e-book this December! Also check out Emily’s blog here for writing updates, character sketches, and more!
“I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.”
-General Ulysses S. Grant
The Army of the Potomac was once again making its annual push “on to Richmond”. The same ground of Chancellorsville stood to drink the fallen heroes’ blood. Robert E. Lee still waited, determined to beat back the Federal foes. What would make this time any different than the previous attempts?
Two months earlier Lincoln promoted a man to lieutenant general, a rank not held since George Washington. This man had been unsuccessful in almost everything he tried; farmer, clerk, bill collector, real estate, selling wood, all were failures. It was only until he tried his hand at modern war did Ulysses S. Grant succeed. Now in May 1864 Grant would accompany the Army of the Potomac on a mission to finally end the bloody conflict that had started three years before. For the first time the Union army would march south, fight, and instead of retreating, continue onward. Finally the North had an opponent worthy of General Lee.
Last weekend Addie, Mason, and I went to a reenactment commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of the Wilderness. This was the first time General Grant and Lee faced each other in battle. For three days 101,895 Union and 61,025 Confederates engaged in intense combat in a tangled, thick, brush-choked area of land fittingly known as “the Wilderness”.
The reenactment was held in the same place as Chancellorsville was last year. On Friday we were able to visit the Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania battlefields again. We also met up with our friends from the Mumford reenactment and Addie and Mason had a great time playing with the kids. I was worried that we might get cold, but Virginia is much warmer than New York! All-in-all it was the perfect start to the reenacting season!
To help improve your public speaking skills our county 4-H requires you to give a “public presentation” each year. A public presentation is a demonstration, speech, illustrated talk, recitation, or dramatic interpretation that is from 5 to 15 minutes long. Two judges evaluate your talk, give you pointers on areas you could improve, and score your presentation. If you score well enough (within the top 15%) you can advance to district level presentations.
This year I chose to do an illustrated talk about “Getting Dressed in the 1860s”. My goal was to instruct about mid 19th century women’s clothing, dispel some myths about corsets and cage crinolines (“hoop skirts”), and have an excuse to dress up in my Civil War garb 🙂 . I told about the “ideal silhouette” of the 1860s, explained how the underclothing helped build the proper foundation, and talked about my dress. I actually started out my presentation in my base layers of undergarments and added the other pieces as I explained their purpose.
Today Addie, Marcus, and I participated in the district level presentations. Since this is my last year in 4-H (next year I’ll be too old) I was really excited to do well enough to go on to state! Marcus impressed everyone with his computer savvy (his presentation was “Computer Parts”) and Addie is also going to state with her recitation of The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke!
Here are some pictures from county presentations. I have to send a *big* thank you to my friend Allison for helping me to finish my new corset in time.
I didn’t get any photos at district, but afterwards Addie kindly snapped a few quick pics of the new Civil War coat I sewed called a “paletot”. It’s actually Addie’s but she let me borrow it for today since mine’s not done yet. Mine will be the same pattern and fabric, I’m just going to make the sleeves longer. We also have to decide what color we want to trim them in. Any suggestions? As you can tell from the pictures it was quite windy out!
Well, winter has come with a vengeance here on the farm! We’ve had several feet of snow dumped on us and the National Weather Service has been issuing snow warnings. Today the power kept winking out so frequently that Marcus and I took to wearing our headlamps around the house! The good news is we’re used to this type of weather in New York and know how to prepare for it. The cows are all snug in the barn, the young calves all have their calf coats on (you can see one of our babies with a coat on here), and we have a generator in case the power stays off for more than a minute. Of course it’s still a frigid job working outside, but our cows come first!
Three weeks ago, before we got all the snow, I was able to go see Emily and visit with Uncle Pooge who was here from California! While I was there we braved the cold and rainy weather (albeit it wasn’t a snowstorm) and did a Civil War photo shoot in her backyard. Her awesome little sister Haley joined us and we had a great time. Em even trusted me with the camera for some of them!
Here are a couple of my favorite pics from the shoot; you can see the rest (including bloopers) on Emily’s blog.
Which ones are your favorites? I hope you are all staying warm and enjoying this advent season!
Well, the official first day of fall is only 5 days away… I hope you all have had a great summer so far! I’ve been a pretty negligent blogger (nothing since Mother’s Day, yikes!). Instead of just giving you a list of what I’ve done in my absence, I decided to tell you about what I’ve learned through the experiences. So without further ado:
WHAT I LEARNED THIS SUMMER
Airports aren’t as scary as I first imagined.
Aside from a flight when I was only 3 months old and a ride in our neighbor’s small 2 seater, I’ve never been on an airplane. Since plane tickets for our family would cost a small mint, the chances of me flying were almost nil. It was actually such a remote idea that I had “fly on a commercial airplane” on my bucket list! 🙂 Well, in May I finally got the chance. Emily invited me to accompany her on a visit to her great aunt and uncle who live in California!
To tell you the truth, I was a little apprehensive of navigating an airport “alone” as it was. Thankfully it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I didn’t get detained at security for accidentally bringing nail clippers, my bags weren’t overweight, and we even managed to make our connecting flight. A bird’s eye view of the wind-turbines near Chicago was awesome, the Sierra Nevada Mountains were breathtaking and the center pivot irrigation systems were really neat!
While in California I learned:
To try new things.
Emily’s Aunt Carole and Uncle Pooge were two of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. They took us everywhere from Muir Woods Giant Redwoods Forest to downtown San Francisco to ride a cable car! Aunt Carole, especially, encouraged me to be adventurous and try new things, which I did attempt to do. I even ate rattlesnake! (Not that bad actually, kind of tastes like fish) You can see more about our trip on our blog From New York to Cali.
We spent a wonderful 2 weeks in California before coming home again. I had a few weeks respite, during which time we had two wonderful visits from relatives. At the end of June Addison and I had the opportunity to attend the 150th Anniversary Gettysburg Reenactment. During which I learned:
Don’t allow the weather or circumstances out of your control to prevent you from having a good time.
Of course it was very hot and muggy, but we still had a wonderful time. And although we weren’t able to connect with Emily we did meet up with several other friends that we only get to see at reenactments. I also discovered that the inside of your tent stays drier if you tie the flaps closed, don’t ask me how I know!
In July Addie and I went on another trip together called Love Buffalo. Several hundred teens and adults from different denominational churches across the country teamed up for a week of service in inner-city Buffalo. It was such a great opportunity to
Put my faith in action
James 2:15-17 says that “If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to him, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you don’t give them what the body needs , what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.”
Climbing ladders, scraping siding, and brushing on paint may seem like small enough tasks, but I believe that when done in the name of Jesus Christ He multiplies our poor offerings a hundred times over and uses them to bless people and show them His love.
I also learned about overcoming/not being held back by my fear of heights as I climbed ladders 2 1/2 stories up!
Each night we ate a different authentic ethnic meal. Aunt Carole would be proud to know that I boldly tried all of it and enjoyed it! 😉
Along with Addie, my little brother Mason came with us! His 10th birthday was only 2 weeks before the event so for his present we got him a set of authentic clothes! It was so much fun having my own little family there with me. We were able to camp with some friends we met there last year and it was such a blessing! Mason hit it off with their boys and was soon playing mock battles with them. Our tent was even converted into a hospital where Addie and Kezia performed “amputations” on their brothers!
I hope you all had a wonderful summer as well! Did you go on any exciting adventures or learn something new? Enjoy the last five days until Autumn!
The A-frame tent drying on the lawn. The fluffy white piles of petticoats and chemises waiting to be washed. The soft scent of wood smoke that still faintly lingers in my room. All are reminders of another great reenactment that has come and gone. I had such an awesome time that in a way it’s almost sad to come back, but it is also wonderful to be home again.
This event was for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville held in Spotsylvania, Virginia. I had a great time visiting the original battlefields, hanging out at camp, and meeting new people. The awesome part was, I was able to do it all with my little sister Addison and my Civil War sister, Emily!
Contrary to popular belief it is possible to fit three girls and all their accouterments in one tent 🙂 .
One of my favorite parts of the trip was definitely visiting the original battlegrounds with our personal tour guide, Mr. John (one of our guys). I learned so much about the Battle of Chancellorsville (which has been called Lee’s most brilliant victory) and was able to see the actual places where it happened at the same time! If you want to learn more about the battle yourself I highly recommend this website here. Since we were so close we were also fortunate enough to visit Spotsylvania Court House and the Wilderness as well.
Another highlight was hanging out with our group, known as “the Bucktails”, at camp and just listening to the guys’ stories.
And of course the ball was lovely! I’ve never been to one with such a large band, you could almost call it an orchestra! It was held outdoors, which was also unique. I danced until me feet ached with a very nice partner that I met there, so I was very happy!
Now, none of the pictures in this post are mine. Like the goose I am, I plugged our camera in to charge so it would be ready for the trip and promptly forgot about it. Thankfully Emilynever forgets her camera and graciously allowed me to use some of her great shots. The condition was, that you all promise to go see the rest of the awesome pictures she took at Chancellorsville on her blog 🙂 .
Ok, so I did take at least one picture that has to do with this post… After the event I had to set the tent up on the lawn to dry at home, so we decided to have a picnic!
With more than 22,000 casulties the Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest day in American history. Fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, this battle was part of General Robert E. Lee’s plan to bring the war to the North. Lee thought that invading the Union state of Maryland would give war torn Virginia a reprieve from the fighting and perhaps even make slave-owning Maryland part of the Confederacy.
In September I was able to attend the reenactment that took place during the 150th anniversary of the battle. A small bunch from our reenacting group headed down to Maryland and met up with some more Bucktails there. This was the biggest reenactment I had ever been to, so it was pretty exciting! Since I was only one of two ladies from our group that were going I had a great time hanging with our guys and learning from them about the battle.
The reenactment was held on a farm close to where the battle took place, but not on the original field since that is preserved by the National Park Service. On the second day we were there we did have a chance to go visit the actual site. This was only the second time I had been to a real Civil War battlefield. I think the part that amazed me the most was being able to see some of the landmarks and features that had been there since the battle. Reading about a battle is one thing, but actually seeing the rifle pits that were dug by Confederate soldiers or the Sunken Road that Union soldiers attacked makes it much more real and impactful.
Some of the things we were able to see were….
Antietam Creek, the (Union) namesake of the battle. The Confederates called the battle Sharpsburg, after the town near where the battle took place.
Burnside’s Bridge, where Union Major General Ambrose Burnside and the Ninth Corp attempted to cross Antietam Creek and attack the Confederates on the heights above. Even though there were only a small number of Confederates, they were able fire down on the Federals from the heights above the bridge and hold them off.
Along with the Confederate rifle pits (that unfortunately I couldn’t get a good picture of) and the bridge itself, there was also a tree they think has been growing there since the Civil War! It’s called a witness tree.
Another thing I saw was the Dunker Church, where fighting took place as the Federals attacked the Confederate left flank. The ironic thing is that the Dunkers themselves were pacifists. The original church blew down in a storm in 1921. The church that stands there now was actrually reconstructed using as many pieces as possible from the original.
The Sunken Road was one of the three main areas of fighting during the battle. The Confederates were stationed in a road that had been wore away into a trench from use. The Union forces tried to overcome the Confederates, but it took over four hours until they were sucessful. Casulties were so high the road was nicknamed “Bloody Lane”.
This is what it would look like if you were a Confederate in the Sunken Road:
It would be really hard to see the Union attackers until they were practically on top of you. Conversely, if you were a Union soldier you wouldn’t know where the Confederates were until you almost fell into the trench.
After visiting the battlefield we went and saw Antietam National Cemetery where 4,776 Union remains are buried from the Battle of Antietam and other battles from the Maryland campaign (including South Mountain and Monocacy).
If you would like to learn more about the Battle of Antietam check out these links:
July 13th-15th was a very special weekend for Addison and I! One of my absolute favorite places in the world, Genesee Country Village and Museum, hosts a civil war reenactment every year. Normally we just go watch, but this time I was able to go as a reenactor!
Although I had already been to several reenactments this one made me feel like I a real reenactor, mainly because Addie and I bought our own tent and my Civil War mom wasn’t there until Saturday.
We had to be at the reenactment on Friday evening, so the main part of the day was spent packing and frantically doubling checking my list to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Our tent barely arrived in time for the event and Dad had to build the poles and stakes before we could use it. Once he got them done Dad helped me practice setting the tent up in the yard.
That evening we loaded up the van and Mom drove us girls to the event. On the way there it started to pour rain! I was so worried we wouldn’t get to stay because Mom said she wasn’t leaving us at the event in a downpour. Thankfully by the time we got there the rain had pretty much stopped. It took a while to find our camp spot since the civilian camp where we were staying was at the farthest end of the village. Mom helped us put up the tent and I was so relieved I remembered how to do it!
Saturday morning Addison and I got dressed, ate some breakfast, and the set off for a ride in the museum’s new reproduction of the Civil War hot air balloon, The Intrepid. The view was absolutely gorgeous, and it was clear enough out that we could even see Rochester. Our balloon operator was able to tell us about the balloon’s orignal operator, Thaddeus Lowe, the history of the Union Army’s Balloon Corps and how balloon’s were used during the Civil War. The original Intrepid was smaller than the museum’s reproduction, but went up much higher (up to 1,000 feet!).
After our early morning adventure we went back to camp to help my Civil War mom set up. The rest of the day we tried to stay in the shade as much as possible since it was very hot! We met some new lovely little friends and had a great time playing school with them. When we got bored of that we played some Civil War games and practiced our steps for the ball that night.
The ball was held in the carriage barn and looked very pretty with strings of (non-period correct 🙂 ) lights hanging from the rafters. One of my partners was a verrrry cute boy named Josiah (he was 6 🙂 ) Dancing is definitelty one of my favorite reenacting things to do! I was also able to meet a wonderful new friend, Allison there!
By the time we left the ball it we had to find our way through the village in the dark. Thankfully Addison is very good with directions, otherwise I might still be wandering around there trying to find our camp! Here’s a map of the village. The red arrow is where the ball was and the blue arrow is where our camp was.
As you can see it wasn’t a good recipe for a girl who can’t find her way out of a paper bag!
Sunday just happened to be my 17th birthday! Mom, Dad and the boys came and surprised me with a delicious, period correct 1-2-3-4 cake (1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 eggs, 4 cups of flour) that she spiced up with lemon juice and dusted with powdered sugar! I got even bigger suprise when I found that Addison and our little friends had set the table and then decorated it with fresh flowers, a table cloth and homemade cards! (Thanks girls that was SO sweet! Thanks for helping them Miss Kathy and Mrs. Woolley!)
I recieved some lovely gifts (including a much needed fan and a beautiful flower hair comb) but my favorite was definitely getting introduced to my new best friend Emily!
Have you ever imagined what it would be like for a painting to come to life? Perhaps you would enjoy talking with the Mona Lisa or watching a Degas ballerina dance gracefully on stage. This year Addison and I participated in Art Alive for the second time and helped transform oil and canvas into real people.Hosted by the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, Art Alive is an event where you become the painting. School groups, art classes, or even individuals (like me) can choose a painting to recreate using costumes, backdrops, and props. The tableaus are set up on the gallery’s lawn for the public and judges to view and vote on. Many different awards and cash prizes are given at the ceremony at the end of the event. However, it takes months of preparation to be ready for the big day.
Addie and I started working on our Art Alive tableaus in January. Our art teacher, Mrs. Bossert, was the one who introduced us to Art Alive and helped prepare for the event. Addison teamed up with her friend Katie again. Together they chose to do Harmony in Green which is one of Claude Monet’s famous water-lily paintings.
Last year I did a painting by Charles Sprague Pearce that I really connected with. Unfortunately, I never really used the costume that I worked so hard on again.
This year I decided to do a Civil War painting because, A: I love the Civil War era, and B: I wanted to be able to reuse the dress in reenacting. The painting I picked was called TheInitials and was created by 19th century artist Winslow Homer who was famous for his Civil War illustrations and battlefield paintings. The Initials shows the civilian side of war by depicting a lone girl leaning against a tree carved with (presumably) a loved one’s initials.
This year Mrs. Bossert helped us brainstorm what painting we wanted to use and how to execute it. Then she guided us in how to paint our backdrops. My dad built my backdrop frame (thanks Dad!) and I sewed the dress.
After months of working hard on our tableaus we arrived at the Albright Knox only to be told the event was cancelled becuase it was raining and windy. We came back the next weekend on a day that was still soggy and wet, but less windy and began setting up our tableaus.
At noon the audience began braving the weather to come see the tableaus.
To make my tableau interactive, I asked the audience to write their initials on my tree with a piece of chalk.
Mrs. Bossert asked me to show off all my undergarments that I made myself.
At 2 o’clock the anticipated moment finally arrived, the awards ceremony! We nervously awaited while different awards were announced. Addie, Katie, and I didn’t have to wait long! The girls recieved the award for Best Craftsmanship and I earned the most votes for the People’s Choice Award in the highschool category!
You can see pictures of the other tableaus here, on the Albright Knox Website.