Civil War – Enlisting


President Abraham Lincoln saw early in the war that the three months originally asked of Union soldiers wasn’t long enough and put out a call for three-year volunteers on May 3, 1861. Thousands responded.

The War Department assigned a quota for additional troops to each state in 1862. The states then informed cities and towns how many men each must furnish to meet the quota.

Towns held outdoor war meetings where orators encouraged men to enlist. Musicians performed. Choirs sang “Red, White, and Blue” and “Rallied ’Round the Flag.” Veteran soldiers who fought in 1812 fired up the crowds by saying they’d enlist again if not so old. A woman, waving a handkerchief, said she’d fight if she was a man.

Some man usually offered to enlist if a certain (higher than expected) number of others signed up. John Billings, Union soldier, witnessed one man issuing such a challenge who, when the number was met, crept away without signing as townspeople jeered.

american-flag-1911633_960_720Flags waved. Choirs continued to sing. The patriotic fever-pitch prompted many to sign. Once the first hero signed his name and was led to a platform in front of a cheering crowd, a second man stepped forward. Soon there was a line in front of the enlistment roll.

After signing the roll, recruits submitted to a medical examination to determine fitness to serve. The men, naked, were examined with thumps to the chest and back. They jumped, bent over, and kicked to determine soundness. Teeth and eyesight were checked. A certificate was given when passing the test.

Then he went to the recruiting station to sign the company or regimental roll that he was entering. With his signature, the recruit included his height, complexion, and occupation.

After this, a guard accompanied him to an examining surgeon to determine his soundness to serve.

These soldiers trained in camps for several weeks for new regiments. If they joined an existing regiment, they were usually fighting much sooner.

Before leaving the state, soldiers were mustered into service. Here is the oath of muster:

“I, (name), do solemnly swear that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies and opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me according to the rules and articles for the government of the armies of the United States.”

-Sandra Merville Hart


Billings, John D. Hardtack & Coffee, University of Nebraska Press, 1993.


Dead Calm, Bone Dry by Eddie Jones

* * *   N  E  W   R  E  L  E  A  S  E ! ! !   * * *


This pirate novel is jam-packed with adventure!

Ricky, a teenager caught between two very different times, begins in jail with a fellow named William Shakespeare. Both face a none-too-fair trial that day and possible hanging.

From there, he goes from one dangerous adventure to the next. He wants to save his friend—the pretty governor’s daughter—and the orphans who depend on him, but things go from bad to worse.

Just when readers start to think they know what’s coming next, another twist happens. Through it all, Ricky learns a deeper spiritual truth, integral to the story.

The author snagged my attention early and held on.

This novel is geared to teen boys and middle grade boys, but adults will enjoy the story as well. Strap yourself in for an adventure filled with surprises at every turn!

-Sandra Merville Hart


LPCBooks   Use coupon code SandraMHart for a 20% discount on Lighthouse Publishing books!


Preparing Shuck Beans or “Leather Britches”

shuckbeansToday’s guest post is written by fellow author and friend, Rebecca Waters. Preparing and eating shuck beans is a childhood memory with her grandmother.

Our ancestors have found many ways to preserve food. It was a necessity. You may be familiar with processing vegetables by canning them or freezing them, but long before modern methods of preservation were available, many vegetables were stored in root cellars or dried and hung in on strings. Dried vegetables were then tied up in cloth sacks to keep through the cold winter months. Today, I offer the recipe for shuck beans, sometimes called “leather britches” because of their brown leathery appearance.

Preserving beans through drying:

Wash, dry, and remove the strings of freshly picked green beans. White Half Runners are best for this recipe.

You can dry the beans either by breaking them up and spreading them out in the sun on a sheet to dry (bring them in every night before dew falls) or by stringing them whole on a thread and hanging them up to dry in the sun or in a dry attic.

Once they are dry they will rattle when shaken. The dried beans can be put in a pillowcase or tied up in a clean piece of cloth and stored until you are ready to cook them.

To prepare beans for cooking, put them in warm water and soak them overnight.

Wash them several times until the water runs clear.

Place the beans in a large kettle and cover with water. Add fatback or salt bacon to the beans. Add salt if needed. Cook two to three hours on low heat until tender.

Because the dried beans are light to carry, both Union and Confederate soldiers could, once camp was established, prepare the beans and indulge in a taste of home. Since shuck beans take a while to cook, this wasn’t a meal for soldiers on the march.

-Rebecca Waters

breathing-on-her-own-cover-copyBreathing On Her Own

Molly Tipton and her husband are looking forward to retirement but Molly’s life suddenly spirals out of control when her oldest daughter is involved in a terrible accident. An icy road and a sharp turn leave one woman dead, another clinging to life.

While two families grieve, details emerge that reveal Molly’s daughter was driving under the influence. As she prepares her daughter for the prospect of a vehicular homicide lawsuit, Molly discovers her oldest child is not the only one injured and under attack for past mistakes. If it is true time heals all wounds, what are we to do with our scars?

beckyAbout Rebecca:

Rebecca Waters’ freelance work has published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Standard Publishing’s Lookout Magazine, The Christian Communicator, Church Libraries, and Home Health Aide Digest. Breathing on Her Own is Rebecca’s first novel. As a published author, she shares her writing journey in her weekly blog, A Novel Creation. To learn more about Rebecca or to read A Novel Creation, visit her website.

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas   – Use coupon code SandraMHart for a 20% discount on Lighthouse Publishing books!



Mail-order Brides


Today’s guest post is written by fellow author, Cindy Ervin Huff. I think you will enjoy learning a bit about mail-order brides.


Mail-order brides were a booming business in the 1800s. The Matrimonial News, a San Francisco paper, was sold throughout America during the mid to late 19th century. The paper was chock full of ads from lonely men or hopeful women looking for a chance at love, financial security, or a step-parent. Many a single woman and widow traveled west to marry strangers.

Some advertisers misrepresented themselves, causing lawsuits and broken promises. There were rocky relationships and joyously happy ones. It was common for the prospective groom to write the bride for a few months before paying for her passage. A few women came with dark secrets, fears or—surprise—children not mentioned in her correspondence.

One woman, a con artist, was quite surprised when her intended mark had misrepresented himself and was poor as a church mouse. The ads were often filled with exaggerations regarding wealth and physical appearance.

Many young men had gone west in pursuit of gold, land, and other opportunities. Missing the comforts of home, they were anxious to find wives. The Matrimonial News presented many willing men to the single female population back east.

After the Civil War, many newspapers carried columns dedicated to these paid announcements. The shrinking pool of eligible men in the east was the number one reason why women were so willing to immigrate west. Even the homely woman had no problem finding a husband.

Most women placed ads focusing on their finer qualities. Some included pictures. One woman, however, advertised herself as fat and 45. This successful businesswoman wanted a man over forty.


Cindy Ervin Huff is a multi-published writer and winner of the Editor’s Choice Award from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas at the 2014 Write-To-Publish Conference. Secrets and Charades released March 15, 2017.She has been featured in numerous periodicals over the last thirty years. Cindy is a past member of the Christian Writer’s Guild and President of the Aurora, Illinois, chapter of Word Weavers. Visit Cindy on Facebook at, follow her on twitter @CindyErvinHuff, or check out her blog at

Her Brand New Release!!!

secret-charades-front-coverSecrets and Charades : Dr. Evangeline Olson is desperate to put her past behind her. Civil War veteran and rancher, Jake Marcum gets more than he expects in his mail-order bride. Will the secrets in their hearts get in the way of a happily-ever-after?


The Bonfires of Beltane by Mark E. Fisher

9781938499524This historical romance reads more like historical fantasy!

I really enjoyed this novel that allows readers to travel the same roads in ancient, Celtic Ireland, as the foreigner, St. Patrick. What an amazing man.

Taran, who had been trained as a druid, turns his back on them and their tradition of sacrificing children to their sun god. He is banished from the island even as his father lays dying. He cannot marry Laurna before he goes. She promises to await his return.

A dream leads Taran to Patrick, who teaches him about the one true God. After Patrick baptizes him, Taran faces many dangers with Patrick as they spread the Gospel across the kingdoms of Ireland.

This well-researched and informative novel is very well done. The dangers faced by Patrick and the early Christians may surprise you.

Great story!

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas  Use coupon code SandraMHart for a 20% discount on Lighthouse Publishing books!

Sagamite – Confederate Soldier Recipe


Recipes used to be called ‘receipts.’ Confederate soldiers published a fun book of recipes in 1863 called Confederate Receipt Book. I tried their recipe for Sagamite.

Actually, the recipe is called Indian Sagamite because it uses Indian meal. I was unable to find that type of meal at the grocery store.

blog-132Thinking that self-rising meals weren’t something the soldiers had on hand, I chose whole grain corn meal. This meal is a little coarse and grainy—possibly closer to what the Confederates used.

Combine 1 ½ cups of meal and ½ cup of brown sugar.

Those were the only ingredients listed. Since the recipe called for browning it over the fire, I knew something else had to be added to make this into a cake. (Or perhaps they ate it as crumbs, but that seems unlikely.)

I considered adding milk, water, or butter to the mixture. I decided on water because soldiers didn’t often have milk or butter.

I added ½ cup of water. This made it a bit runny, so next time I will add ¼ cup of water to make thicker cakes.

blog-139Add about a tablespoon of shortening to a skillet. Can use more if needed. When shortening melts, fry the cakes for 2 to 3 minutes on both sides over medium heat.

I enjoyed the flavor. It tastes like sweet, fried cornbread.

Soldiers ate small quantities of this while scouting—and probably on long marches. It didn’t require much to appease hunger and had the added benefit of satisfying thirst. I ate half of one of these cakes for lunch and noticed that it satisfied both my hunger and thirst. I ate a few bites of soup only because it was already cooked and didn’t need anything else. I was amazed that such a small amount of food made a meal.

If you try this, I’d love to hear if you had the same experience.

I imagined these cornbread cakes were handy on days of battle and added a scene with Sagamite in my upcoming Civil War novel, A Rebel in My House, that releases in July.

-Sandra Merville Hart


A Compilation of Over One Hundred Receipts, Adapted to the Times. Confederate Receipt Book, Applewood Books, 1863.

Soldier’s Letter – Civil War


Civil War soldiers loved to receive letters from home. Wives, mothers, and sweethearts also sent care packages to their soldiers. Even if a pie didn’t survive postal delivery intact, men still devoured every edible crumb with a thankful heart.

Soldiers purchased envelopes to send their replies back home. One of the fun traditions of the time was that these envelopes were decorated by those who manufactured them.

Flags, patriotic scenes, portraits of Union generals, and army camp scenes were printed on the envelopes, or “covers” as they were also called.

John D. Billings, Union soldier and author of Hardtack and Coffee, wrote of a young man who collected over 7,000 decorated envelopes from the war—each with a unique design.

Some featured specific regiments, listing battles where they fought.

Billings kept a few envelopes from his days in the war. One contained a 34-star border, a star for every state in the Union at the time. An eagle held a shield and a streamer which read, “Love one another.”

Another from his collection showed a drawing of the earth with “United States” printed on it and an American eagle above it. The inscription was “What God has joined, let no man put asunder.”

A third was a sketch of a man with moneybags riding horseback at breakneck speed. The inscription: “Floyd off for the South. All the Seceding States ask is to be let alone.”

One showed President Washington’s portrait with the inscription of “A Southern Man with Union Principles.”

images-1194186_960_720Billings wrote that the designs expressed the feelings of Northerners.

Union soldiers received envelopes from the U.S. Christian Commission with their organization’s stamp and the words “Soldier’s Letter.”

The Postmaster General allowed soldiers to send letters without stamps, representing prepayment, beginning in 1864. They had to write “Soldier’s Letter” on the envelope.

One soldier wrote the following verse for the Postmaster General:

Soldier’s letter, nary red,

       Hardtack and no soft bread,

       Postmaster, please put it through,

       I’ve nary cent, but six months due.”

-Sandra Merville Hart


“American Civil War Soldier Letters Home,”, 2017/02/08

Billings, John D. Hardtack & Coffee, University of Nebraska Press, 1993.