Friday, July 30, 2021

Book News!

I am excited to share this series refresh for Plantagenet Embers! This cover art is even more special to me because it is the work of my son, Tyler Wilcoxson. I love the new look and hope you do too!

I have also taken this opportunity to list the Plantagenet Embers series in the order in which I would suggest reading it, rather than the order of publication. Each of these is available on Kindle and paperback. Soon, they will also be available in hardcover editions! Please, visit my Amazon author page for different format options. Thank you, dear readers, for your ongoing support and encouragement!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Civil War: A Native American Perspective


The Civil War is one of the most popularly studied and written about eras of American history. However, we often still miss out on the full picture, as my guest today points out. Dane Pizzuti Krogman has written about an aspect of the Civil War that you may not have considered before.

Welcome, Dane!

~ Samantha


The Civil War: A Native American Perspective

Guest Post by Dane Pizzuti Krogman

Most historical novels or textbooks about the American Civil war are told from the perspective of the so-called great leaders. Seldom do we find books that give us a perspective from the common man’s point of view.

My fiction novel is based on the participant's point of view. For this, I had to study the diaries, newspapers, and letters written at the time to get to the truth that would draw in reluctant readers who are usually put off by the tales recorded years later by the generals and the leaders who rallied the common folk on.

I have focused on the rivers in my story because these were the highways that fed the troops to their locations and were typically the boundaries over which the war was fought.

The Restive rivers of Mendota

Minnesota becomes the central location for my characters because it was here in this small village of Mendota that the great Sioux uprising took place at the same time the Civil War was being fought in the East and South. Most people have never heard of the uprising nor have they ever heard of the mass execution carried out by general Sibley which was ultimately approved by President Lincoln.

Chief Little Crow Of the Santee Sioux

We were never taught this in school. It was a thing to be swept under the rug and forgotten. But in recent times with more awareness of the critical part Native Americans played in the development of the nation these things have come to light. The high school which I attended which was named after General Sibley just this past week had voted to change its name as people have become aware of the shameful role Sibley played during the war. The new name is now Two Rivers High School. So once again the mighty rivers of the land are brought into perspective in their importance during the conflict.

The world’s largest mass hanging. 38 Sioux warriors, 1862

The war became an international focus as Europe looked on to see the outcome and the economic effect it would play in the future. Outdated Napoleonic tactics were still being used against new weapons such as the rifled cannon and rifled musket. Up until the American Civil War, the smoothbore musket was the weapon of use for the infantry, hence marching into battle in a regulated line where men faced each other less than 50 yards apart was the only way to break through an enemy line. With the new British Enfield and US Springfield which had machined interchangeable parts and a rifled barrel one shot could take out not only the first row of soldiers, but it could pass through into the 2nd and 3rd row. This along with the introduction of repeating rifles set up the battlefield for horrific slaughter and contributed to the need for trenches and trench fighting. The war became a prelude as to what the first world would be.

Supplies and soldiers were transported by rail and boat. The US navy grew from 3 battleships in 1861 to over 1000 ships in its fleet by 1865. The first ironclad ships were introduced and changed the course of naval warfare. Riverine warfare was first introduced in 1863 and the tactics learned then were repeated in the Philippines and Vietnam years later. Not only were the rivers important for the military but they were also the lifeblood of the native Americans. Without an interstate highway system or a fully developed rail system, the waterways became omnipresent.

The war was fought to end slavery. Although it did put an end to slavery it also brought the beginning of the enslavement of the Natives. The reservations that the natives were confined to were and to this day are still classified as internment camps. This is confusing and shameful. If one looks at a map of the United States one sees that most of the names of places- lakes rivers, trees, plants, and animals all have Native American names. Mendota itself means the meeting of two rivers. Minnehaha, the small creek that empties into the Mississippi from Minneapolis means “laughing water.” And the list goes on and on.

Mendota and the Restive Rivers of the Indian and Civil Wars 1861-65

The Simmons Family Saga

This is the fictional story set in Mendota, Minnesota of the Simmons family who are faced with the consequences of the Dakota Sioux Uprising of 1862 that swept across the state as well as the Civil War.

The father, Dan enlists in the 1st regiment of Minnesota volunteers as a teamster. His two sons, who are both underage join the 2nd Regiment. John, aged 16 becomes a bugler and William, aged 15 becomes a drummer. Their sister, Sara is left behind with their mother, Louise to fend for themselves. Dan is sent east to fight with the Army of the Potomac while his sons are sent to the western theater to serve in the army of the Cumberland. Back in Mendota, their neighbor and close friend, Colonel Henry Sibley is ordered to stay in the state to control the Indian uprising.

Dan will see action up through the battle of Antietam. He will later find himself in the hospital in Washington DC where he befriends a comrade also from the 1st Regiment. His sons barely miss the action at Shiloh but after, are engaged in all the major battles in the West. While they are passing through Louisville, William falls for a young woman, Mary who works as a hospital nurse. Back in Mendota, Sara befriends a young Chippewa native boy while her mother struggles with the breakup of her family. After Colonel Sibley defeats the Sioux, he is promoted to General and ordered to round up all the Dakota and push resettle them in the Dakotas.

This leads to the punitive expeditions that he and General Sully will command up until 1864. William is captured at the battle up Missionary Ridge and then sent to the prison camp at Belle Isle, VA. and then onto Andersonville. GA. John receives a 30 day furlough and returns to Mendota before he re-enlists. Louise and Sara wait for the war’s end so the family can be reunited, but events may not turn out as anticipated.

Available on Amazon or the Indie Book Store.

Connect with Dane

Dane Pizzuti Krogman was educated in the fine arts at the University of Minnesota, receiving BFA and MFA degrees. He also specialized in Asian art history, with a concentration in textile and surface design. After graduation, he worked as a freelance designer creating fashion samples for women’s athletic wear. He eventually relocated to California and taught at Cal-Poly Pomona in the Environmental Design program then moved on to work as a pictorial artist for outdoor advertising.

Moving back to the Twin Cities in 1981 he formed a scenic design company call Artdemo which in 10 years did over 1000 designs and productions for sets, props, and special effects for television commercials and feature films. In the early 90’s he relocated to Charleston, SC to work as a spec writer for feature film scripts. Six of his screenplays have won major writing awards and two of these have been optioned for production.

During this time he also taught scene design at the College of Charleston. This position led to an adjunct teaching position at Virginia Commonwealth University where he taught art direction for filmmakers. In 1998 he took a full time teaching position at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he taught art direction, life drawing, set construction, and Asian film studies, eventually becoming chairman of the department.

The common thread through all of this has been his passion for Japanese design, art, and fashion. He has lived in Kyoto, Japan for the past 20 summers studying Japanese kimono and obi design of the Heian and Edo periods. In 2002 he won the Grand Prize for the best graphic novel at the Hiroshima manga competition. His graphic novel Skeleton Boy was selected for inclusion into the Hiroshima peace memorial library in 2007.

He was most recently an adjunct faculty member in the Graduate Program in Digital Filmmaking at Stony Brook Southampton. He is also an award-winning screenwriter. His screenplay, The Schooner was produced as the Australian film, AUSTRALIA in 2008. He has other award-winning films that have been optioned for production or are in production.

As a Civil War historian he has worked as a technical advisor for the films, Dances with Wolves, Gettysburg, and Glory. He currently has one Civil War novel in pre-publication; MENDOTA, AND THE RESTIVE RIVERS OF THE CIVIL AND INDIAN WARS 1861- 65.

He also works part-time as a crew member on a Grand-Am Rolex series race team. The team won the national championship in 2008.

Friday, July 2, 2021

The Most Memorable Epocha in the History of America


Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, 1776

On July 3rd, John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, as he would hundreds of times over the decades of his service to America. This day, he shared historic news:

"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not.—I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.—Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not." 

John Adams

I find it touching to read the words of one who had been, and would continue to be, so intimately involved in the forming of our nation. His joy and enthusiasm for the potential of this country is an inspiration. He knew that the fight was only beginning and that it might not end with victory. If America lost its war for independence, Adams might forfeit his very life to a charge of treason alongside many of his friends. However, no whisper of the fears that he must have had is contained in the letter to his beloved wife, even as he recognizes that 'it will cost Us.'

John may have been wrong about July 2nd, but he was correct about the birth of the United States being 'the most memorable Epocha in the History of America' and on the 4th 'it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.' Do we sometimes forget what it cost and just how much we have been blessed to inherit? We do, as do most generations who were not the ones to struggle and fight for something. Maybe John's words can serve as a reminder as we prepare to celebrate everything that is wonderful about this historic republic.

So, how did John Adams get it wrong? Or is it the rest of us celebrating the wrong day?!

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

The Second Continental Congress voted to declare independence on 2 July 1776, approving a resolution proposed by Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee. "That these United Colonies are, and of right to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved." They met in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania State House (or Independence Hall as it is now known). However, congress still needed to approve of the specific declaration that would be sent to King George III. A committee had already been working on this document, and now it was presented to the full Continental Congress.

Assembly Room, Independence Hall

Over the next two days, the delegates read, edited, and debated the specific language contained within the Declaration of Independence that had been drafted by the committee composed of John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, credited as the primary author, had already been through this nit-picking process with the committee and now had to endure it from the full congress. Some changes were made, but the committee had done its job well. On 4 July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by another vote of the Continental Congress, and that was the date printed at the top of the copies that were ordered for distribution. Those copies were sent forth and read aloud in cities across the Colonies.

After Abigail Adams heard the Declaration read in Boston on 18 July 1776, she wrote to John:

Abigail Adams

"Great attention was given to every word. As soon as he ended, the cry from the Belcona, was God Save our American States and then 3 cheers which rended the air, the Bells rang, the privateers fired, the forts and Batteries, the cannon were discharged, the platoons followed and every face appeard joyfull. Mr. Bowdoin then gave a Sentiment, Stability and perpetuity to American independance. After dinner the kings arms were taken down from the State House and every vestage of him from every place in which it appeard and burnt in King Street. Thus ends royall Authority in this State, and all the people shall say Amen."

It was not until 2 August 1776 that the Declaration was signed by 50 (of the 56) members of congress, but I would not suggest our celebrations be held until that date! By the time our Founding Fathers were passing away, the 4th of July was accepted as the traditional day of celebration. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on 4 July 1826. In Jefferson's last letter, he wrote, "For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them." Fifth president, James Monroe, also died on the 4th of July in 1831. When fourth president and primary author of the Constitution James Madison was dying in late June 1836, physicians offered to extend his life by stimulants to ensure that he also died on the historic date. Madison declined and died on 28 June.

Learn more about John and Abigail Adams in my Women of the American Revolution!  It is available at Pen & SwordAmazonBook DepositoryBarnes & Noble, or your favorite book retailer. 

Also available now at Audible and!

You can also find more articles here.

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