Civil War – Union Shelters


Barracks were often built to house Union soldiers in training camps, such as the one at Camp Cameron. These were long buildings similar to bowling alleys of the day. Barracks held a double row of stacked bunk beds separated by a center aisle. They were designed to hold a company, which was one hundred soldiers.

Most camps, though, sheltered their soldiers in tents. One of the popular designs was the Sibley tent, also known as the Bell Tent due to its resemblance to a bell. Supported by a single pole, these tents were twelve feet high and eighteen feet in diameter.

Sibley tents were large enough to house a dozen men. A cone-shaped stove warmed them in cold weather from the center. A small circular opening allowed for the stove pipe and for ventilation. This type of tent became too cumbersome for field camps and was used mainly in instruction camps.

camp-1786750_960_720The A tent (also called Wedge tent) was a canvas tent stretched over a six-foot horizontal bar, supported by two upright posts. This tent resembles the letter “A.” The area inside is about 7 square feet. It was intended to sleep four. The number sometimes grew to five or six men, which made for tight sleeping quarters.

Another type was the Hospital or Wall tent. These had four upright sides and came in different sizes. Those used in field hospitals held 6 to 20 patients. These tents were often joined together to increase space by ripping the center seams.

All of these shelters were widely used by troops in training before they left their state.

Shelter tents were invented early in the war for the rank and file (privates) who carried half the tent on the march. These halves were about five feet by four and a half feet with a single row of buttons and buttonholes. These were made into a whole tent by buttoning the half shelter to a comrade’s half shelter to make a roof.

Armies on marches didn’t take the trouble to put up tents in good weather. If cold or rainy, comrades placed two muskets with bayonets in an upright position the distance of the half shelter apart. They stretched a rope between the trigger guards to make a tent ridge pole.

The infantry got so much practice that it didn’t take long to put up the tent—even after a long day of marching.

-Sandra Merville Hart


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



When the Smoke Cleared at Gettysburg by George Sheldon

51abhd0rdlSo many of us are fascinated by the Battle of Gettysburg. The author shows the history from the average citizen’s viewpoint. Townspeople experienced the battle in a unique way. Unless they chose to leave when Confederate soldiers were first sighted—as many men did—those living in Gettysburg could not escape many harsh realities of war.

Sheldon includes details of when Confederate troops came to Gettysburg on June 26th—a few days before the battle.

The author quotes newspapers from Gettysburg and other local cities. Reactions from townspeople add depth and understanding for lovers of history. Three days of battle terrorized the townspeople; the aftermath continued the nightmare.

Great book for anyone interested in the Battle of Gettysburg, Civil War research, and history lovers.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Civil War: Confederate Remedy for Chills

As a writer of historical novels, I love to run across remedies used in past centuries. A wonderful book, Confederate Receipt Book, contains a few cures from the Civil War era.

A common cure for chills was horehound, spelled hoarhound in the book. The soldiers believed that horehound, boiled in water and drunk as tea, was a “certain cure.”

People are usually running a fever when chilling. This leads me to believe that Confederate soldiers used the tea to reduce fever.

Is the herb still used medicinally today? Did the soldiers boil the leaves to make tea? The roots? The recipe does not say so I began researching.

Horehound is a bitter herb from the mint family. According to Mountain Rose Herbs, the part of the plant that is above the ground is dried and cut for use in teas and tinctures.

An article from supports this. Home remedies use the flower tops and leaves in bitter tonics to relieve the common cold.

The FDA ruled in 1989 that it didn’t find horehound, among others, to be useful in cough and cold medicines so products containing these ingredients had to be removed from the market.

Ricola, a cough suppressant made outside the United States, contains the herb and is sold in the US.

In modern times, horehound may be found in candies, liqueurs, and cough drops.

The articles I read suggest that more research is required to evaluate the safety of horehound and is not recommended for pregnant and nursing women. Physicians should be consulted before using this medicinally.

I love to find these old cures so that I can use them in my writing. Those who volunteer as Civil War reenactors may also enjoy this information. I have not tried this tea as a cure for cold or fever and I’m not recommending it. This is merely meant to be fun and educational.

-Sandra Merville Hart



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

“Horehound,”, 2017/03/11

“Horehound,” Mountain Rose Herbs, 2017/03/11

“Horehound Herb,”, 2017/03/11




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?