Friday, December 16, 2022

News of Hamiltonian Proportions

Portrait of Elizabeth Hamilton
by Henry Inman (1825)

Hello, dear readers! I know I have not been blogging as much as in the past, so if there is a topic you have been hoping I would cover, please let me know in the comments below. In the meantime, I have an excerpt from Women of the American Revolution that I would like to share with you. This comes from the chapter on Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, and if you only know her from the musical, you will love to learn more about the 50 years of her life that it doesn't cover! That is where this excerpt begins:

Eliza forged ahead, creating a life of her own for the first time. In 1805, she joined the board of the New York Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children, joining the ranks of women in the early nineteenth century in branching out from their homes to help form and improve society through benevolence. In March 1806, she was one of a group of women who formed the New York Orphan Asylum Society, as many of the small children of poor widows inevitably became orphans. Eliza perhaps also contemplated Alexander’s youth as an underprivileged orphan and transferred some of her love for him to young people in need. 

Eliza led this organization from its formation in a small rented home in May 1806, and quickly realized more space was needed. A lottery grant from New York City Council raised $5000 toward a new building with more space for children’s quarters, as well as rooms for schooling, religious studies, and trade skill training. In Eliza’s lifetime, hundreds of children would receive housing, care, and education through the Orphan Asylum Society that she founded.

Her son, James, shared an anecdote of this time in his memoir. ‘She found a little fellow in the arms of a fireman whose parents had been destroyed by the burning of their house. Being an orphan, she directed the fireman to take the little “McKavit” to the Orphan Asylum, on the Bloomingdale Road, giving him the means to hire a carriage to do so, and gave him her card.’ Many years later, Eliza found this young man a position at the Military Academy. When he was killed in the Mexican American War, he left all he had to the Orphan Asylum that had cared for him. This organization exists to this day as the Graham Windham in Brooklyn.

Portrait of James Alexander Hamilton
by Aimee Thibault

The above quote from James Hamilton's memoir is not the only one I included in Eliza's chapter. In fact, I became so interested in his observations and experiences that I decided to write about him next! I hope that my dear readers will be as enchanted by James as I am. This third son of Alexander and Eliza lived to be 90 years old and was an intellectual observer of the Early Republic from the American Revolution through the Civil War. 

James Alexander Hamilton: Son of the American Revolution will be published by Pen & Sword History. Until then, here is a bit more of his personal story included in Eliza's chapter:

Eliza tirelessly continued her work for poor women and orphans in New York City throughout most of the last fifty years of her life, petitioning the city for grants, increasing awareness of public needs, and personally overseeing the work of the orphan asylum for many of those years. ‘She was a most earnest, energetic, and intelligent woman,’ wrote her son, James. ‘Her engagements as a principal of the Widow’s Society and Orphan Asylum were incessant. In support of these institutions she was constantly employed, and as I once playfully told her, “Mamma, you are a sturdy beggar.” She replied, “My dear son, I cannot spare myself or others; my Maker has pointed out this duty to me, and has given me the ability and inclination to perform it.”’ 

The world of women’s charity work of the early nineteenth century was one into which Eliza fit perfectly and helped define. She was able to extend her love for family and children to include those who needed her. As her children grew and had families of their own, she spent increasing time helping other women raise their children and serving as a substitute mother to those who had lost their own. Eliza not only was able to be a part of the raising of dozens of children, she had the connections necessary for the fundraising that was vital to any charitable organization.

She had connections with those who had resources but continued to struggle with the financial situation in which her husband had left her. In a letter to her son, James, dated 11 May 1827, Eliza reveals her continued need and her gratitude toward those who assisted her. ‘My Dear Son: Your unremitting kindness and attentions, and in this last instance of providing for my comfort, demands my most ardent and affectionate thanks….As all good acts are recorded in the habitation where your father now is, I have no doubt this one will be proclaimed to him, and have thus given him another motive to implore continued blessings upon you.’ 

Read more about Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton in Women of the American Revolution!

Available at Amazon, Book Depository, Pen & Sword, Barnes & Noble, and other major book retailers.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

19th Century Women in Business

I am happy to welcome author Michael Ross to the blog today. In addition to being one of my co-authors for Alternate Endings, Michael has a new book that will transport you to the 19th century. The Founding explores the fate of families forging their futures in the wake of the Civil War. For some, that meant women entering the business world in ways they hadn't before.

Welcome, Michael!

~ Samantha


19th Century Women in Business 

Guest Post by Michael Ross

Wars often have a way of changing society, more than just fighting. For the last two centuries in the United States, the actual fighting has been done primarily by men. However, when the men are away, someone still has to tend the farms, factories, and offices. In her husband’s absence, a wife may have to take on tasks that her husband usually does, whether plowing fields, paying bills, or making strategic business decisions.

As women began to assume these new roles, society’s perception of women and their capabilities began to change, along with their legal status. In 1859, women in Kansas were granted full economic rights, to own property and control it, in the Kansas constitution. In 1861, similar rights were granted to women in Ohio, if they were not living with their husbands, including husbands away fighting in the Civil War.

In my series Across the Great Divide, one of the primary characters is Julia Crump, sister to the main character William D. Crump. In the first book of the series, The Clouds of War, Julia is a dowdy farm girl who dreams of marrying rich. She may not be beautiful like her sister Albinia, but she is smart and endowed with a great deal of common sense, the will to work, and courage. Julia manages to marry a rich man, Hiram Johannsen, whose family owns a steamship business. When Hiram’s father dies, and Hiram goes off to war, Julia is left as the manager of the steamship business. She has to learn fast, and fight for respect, but takes to business as though she were born to it.

At the end of the war, Julia has successfully navigated the business waters, and avoided sinking by either the North or the South – but Hiram is home, and she no longer has a legal right to command. Hiram is impressed with what she has accomplished. He tries to take the traditional male role, but finds that Julia isn’t satisfied, and has a better grasp of some business dealings than he does. In The Founding, after a bumpy start, they agree to work together and divide responsibilities. Since their primary base is Cincinnati, Ohio, the laws on women’s rights from 1861 that gave Julia authority during the war seem more natural than they once did, and they combine forces to prevent the ruin of their business as steamships fall and railroads rise.

The latter half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th was a time of rapid change for women. While most women still didn’t work outside the home, some did – particularly widows and women not ready to rush into marriage. The Civil War killed as many as 1 in 10 adult white males in the country, from ages 17 to 70 (Exact figures vary). That left a lot of women without husbands, and children to feed. Most found a way to re-marry, in time. Many inherited their husband’s property, and some were in no hurry to give it up. Following 1900, most women in the United States did not work outside the home, and those who did were primarily young and unmarried. In that era, just 20 percent of all women were “gainful workers,” as the Census Bureau then categorized labor force participation outside the home, and only 5 percent of those married were categorized as such. (1)

Julia is barren and never has children, which is unusual for the era. She pours herself into working with her husband and making the business a success, as we see in this short excerpt.


Abilene, Kansas, 1868

When Julia returned home, the front porch lamp was lit, and she could see Hiram on the porch swing, probably furious after arriving home to a dark house with no supper and no word. Served him right, she thought. The very idea of permitting the sale of a major stake in the railroad without her still set her boiling.

“Good evening, Hiram. I hope your day went well.”

He stood, clutching one arm of the porch swing as though to snap it in half.

“Why weren’t you here? And not even a word. I might have looked over half the town for you.”

“You might have, but you didn’t, did you? I had no idea when to expect you home. You didn’t tell me. I’ve been visiting Mrs. Pomeroy, who seems better informed on many issues than I am. You did tell me to cultivate the wives, did you not? Of course, we needn’t worry about Mrs. Gould anymore, and it appears not much for Mrs. Pomeroy either. When were you planning to tell me?”

“Now, Julia, you must understand . . .”

“What is it I must understand? You think me incapable of understanding anything.”

“No, it’s just . . . bills have been mounting and not much income. I didn’t want you to worry your pretty little head.”

When she heard that, she exploded. “My pretty little head! Is that what you think of me? I know as much as you do about this company, and you know it!” She drew her eyebrows together and glared at him, eyes shooting flames. She wanted to slap him. Her hurt and anger threatened to overwhelm her. She would not cry! She threw her umbrella at him, point first, hitting a shin.

“Ow! What was that for?”

“My pretty little head ran the company for three years. I think I can be trusted to know about a potential sale that affects everything. But if you think not, then my heavens! How can I even be trusted with shopping and getting your meals? I might just forget altogether!”

“I don’t like your tone. See here—”

“No, you see here! I am in this godforsaken cow town with drunks, gunfights, heat, and bugs instead of our comfortable home in Cincinnati to be with you and to help with the railroad, which was my pretty little head’s idea! Instead of a partnership, you think you’re a one-man show. I have to find out from Mr. Peter that we’re hiring five hundred for the southern line. Visiting Martha Pomeroy, I couldn’t ask for more details without appearing a fool. She did tell me that her husband swindled the Pottawatomie out of the best farmland in Kansas under threat of army intervention.”

Hiram’s shoulders drooped, and his head lowered in surrender. “I’m sorry. I only meant to save you from worry.”

“Don’t patronize me. We’re in this together, remember? For richer or poorer, or whatever it was in that Swedish marriage ceremony. I know how to read a balance sheet. If we’re in trouble, we share it. If we triumph, we share that.”


Two men, two dreams, two new towns on the plains, and a railroad that will determine whether the towns — one black, one white — live or die.

Will Crump has survived the Civil War, Red Cloud’s War, and the loss of his love, but the search for peace and belonging still eludes him. From Colorado, famed Texas Ranger Charlie Goodnight lures Will to Texas, where he finds new love, but can a Civil War sharpshooter and a Quaker find a compromise to let their love survive? When Will has a chance to join in the founding of a new town, he risks everything — his savings, his family, and his life — but it will all be for nothing if the new railroad passes them by.

Luther has escaped slavery in Kentucky through Albinia, Will’s sister, only to find prejudice rearing its ugly head in Indiana. When the Black Codes are passed, he’s forced to leave and begin a new odyssey. Where can he and his family go to be truly free? Can they start a town owned by blacks, run by blacks, with no one to answer to? But their success will be dependent on the almighty railroad and overcoming bigotry to prove their town deserves the chance to thrive.

Will’s eldest sister, Julia, and her husband, Hiram, are watching the demise of their steamboat business and jump into railroads, but there’s a long black shadow in the form of Jay Gould, the robber baron who ruthlessly swallows any business he considers competition. Can Julia fight the rules against women in business, dodge Gould, and hold her marriage together?

The Founding tells the little-known story of the Exodusters and Nicodemus, the black town on the plains of Kansas, and the parallel story of Will’s founding of Lubbock, Texas, against the background of railroad expansion in America. A family reunited, new love discovered, the quest for freedom, the rise of two towns. In the end, can they reach Across the Great Divide? The Founding is the exciting conclusion to the series.


Connect with the author:

Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories.

He’s a retired software engineer turned author, with three children, and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of 39 years. Michael graduated from Rice University and Portland State University with degrees in German and software engineering. He was part of an MBA program at Boston University.

Michael was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. He’s written short stories and technical articles in the past, as well as articles for the Texas Historical Society.

Across the Great Divide now has three novels in the series, The Clouds of War, and The Search, and the conclusion, The Founding. The Clouds of War was an honorable mention for Coffee Pot Book of the Year in 2019, and an Amazon #1 best seller in three categories, along with making the Amazon top 100 paid, reviewed in Publisher's Weekly.

The Search won Coffee Pot Cover of the Year in 2020, and Coffee Pot Silver Medal for Book of the Year in 2020, as well as short listed for the Chanticleer International Book Laramie Award.

Connect with Michael online: Website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Book Bub, Amazon Author Page, Goodreads

(Photos are property of Michael Ross. Copyright (c) HistoricalNovelsRUs 2018-2022)

Sunday, November 13, 2022

A Personal History with the Tudors

Dear readers, I am so excited to introduce you to Karen Heenan. She shares my love for the Tudor era and the historical figures of the time who are often overlooked. I have had the pleasure of working with Karen on the latest Historical Writers Forum anthology, Alternate Endings. While I imagined a brighter future for Queen Mary in my story, Karen went back a little further and looked at Catherine's story if Prince Arthur had lived. I know you're going to love it!

Welcome, Karen!

~ Samantha


A Personal History with the Tudors . . . and how Henry VIII doesn't improve with age

A Guest Post by Karen Heenan

My first introduction to the story of Henry VIII was the 1970 BBC series The Six Wives of Henry VIII, which we got in the US in 1972. I was eight. My mom was a big reader and had some knowledge of (and sympathy for) Anne Boleyn, so she wanted to watch the first two episodes covering Catherine of Aragon and Anne. After one episode, I was hooked and insisted on watching the rest of the series, even though Mom lost interest once Anne was executed. 

Throughout my teens and early twenties, I devoured every bit of Tudor-related historical fiction I could get my hands on. I loved stories of Henry and the queens, but it didn’t occur to me at that point to wonder “what if” about any of it. History was what it was, and I accepted it. 

As I got older, and read more non-fiction, threads began to present themselves, offering clues to different ways the story of Tudor England could have gone, if only one tiny thing had happened differently.  

Arthur Tudor’s death in 1501 was no tiny thing. He was Henry VII’s firstborn son, the heir to the newly-created Tudor dynasty, trained and educated from birth to take on the role of his father’s successor and lead the Tudors into a new age.  

Henry, on the other hand, was the younger brother, educated separately, and intended for the church. It was a failing on the part of Henry VII that he didn’t prepare the “spare” as thoroughly as he educated the heir, and I sometimes like to imagine the panic he felt when Arthur died and he realized that he had a limited amount of time to reshape his son into an eventual monarch.  

Which is not to say Henry VIII did a bad job as a young king. He kept on Thomas Wolsey as an advisor, and promoted him. Wolsey was a master of detail and excelled at the day-to-day drudgery of ruling, and Henry relied heavily on him in the early years. He also got rid of Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley (via execution). Empson and Dudley had been his father’s “hatchet men,” two lawyers who headed up the king’s council Learned in the Law and who enriched Henry VII (and themselves) by collecting taxes, dues, selling wardships, pardons, and licenses, and generally extorting from the nobility with the king’s full permission. 

He also married Catherine of Aragon. This was a fiscally sound idea, since her Spanish dowry had already been paid and Henry, like his father, was of no mind to return it. It had been widely proclaimed that Arthur and Catherine’s marriage had not been consummated, but a dispensation was obtained from the pope anyway because canon law forbade a man – even a king – from marrying his brother’s widow.  

Henry and Catherine fully expected to have children during the course of their marriage. And they did, but only one, the future Mary I, survived childhood.  

Thus began Henry’s frantic quest for a son, changing the course of English history and ending or turning upside down the lives of many people. 

I chose to write Princess of Spain in Catherine’s voice, allowing Arthur to live until their eldest son was sixteen, and questioning what would happen to an over-ambitious Archbishop named Henry if he tried to put himself forward as regent for the young king, rather than allowing his sister-in-law and the council to act as regent for two years. Catherine will have a fight on her hands, but at her side she also has two of Arthur’s most trusted advisors – Edmund Dudley and Thomas Wolsey. 

As a lover of history – and a stickler for accuracy in fiction - It was strangely cathartic to imagine what might have happened had Arthur Tudor survived and Henry had been left in the secondary spot history intended for him, and if Catherine had been given the wife, mother, and queen she could have been. Want to know more?  

Read my story in Alternate Endings to find out! 

Connect with Karen Heenan and check out the rest of her books on her BlogTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, or her Amazon Author Page.

Get Alternate Endings from Historical Writers Forum for only 99c!


Sunday, November 6, 2022

What If Mary & Reginald Got Married?

I'm excited to announce that a new anthology is available from Historical Writers Forum! Each author was asked to answer a historical 'what if' question, and I considered a few before deciding to write a story about Queen Mary I choosing to marry Reginald Pole instead of Philip of Spain. You will love the alternate endings that other historical novelists came up with too!

Did I mention that it is only 99c?!

What if Mary and Reginald got married is a question I have written about before, but this was my first time expanding on it and what might have happened. Without the people rising up against a fear of Spanish rule, would Mary still be remembered as Bloody Mary? Might she have also been happier married to a man who might return her love instead of seeing her as a path to a crown? The fact that Mary and Reginald died on the same day, 17 November 1558, becomes heartbreakingly romantic if we imagine that they were married at the time.

In my Alternate Endings story, I got to think about a few other people who would be impacted by Mary & Reginald becoming co-monarchs. What would Princess Elizabeth think of this, and what would she do to ensure her own position as heir apparent? Perhaps, marriage would be a better path for her as well. How might the Tudor dynasty change?

Writing alternate history is thought-provoking, and I decided to keep some parts of Mary's story as they truly happened, but you'll have to read Tudors with a Twist to discover what stays the same and what is just a might-have-been. One big change alters the course of England's monarchy. Find out what happens in Alternate Endings from HWF!

Explore more Alternate Endings on the HWF Blog Hop Page!

What would you do if you could change history?

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Historical Inspiration for The Godmother's Secret

I am pleased to welcome Elizabeth St John to the blog today. She shares my passion for Wars of the Roses and Tudor history and even has a family connection for inspiration! So, I am excited to help her celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Godmother's Secret. If you enjoyed my Plantagenet Embers series, you are going to love this too.

Welcome, Liz!

~ Samantha


Historical Inspiration for The Godmother's Secret

Guest Post by Elizabeth St John

When I was looking for inspiration for my new book, The Godmother’s Secret, I literally entered my own name into our digitised family tree to see who else was recorded. About half a dozen Elizabeths appeared - Victorian, Georgian, and Tudor women; some who had lived at court, others who led simple lives in the English countryside. But I was intrigued to find Elysabeth St.John who lived in the 15th century – and over the moon when I discovered she was the godmother to Edward V – the eldest brother of the missing Princes in the Tower. I had a new family story to investigate! And surely Elysabeth, above anyone else, would know what happened to those poor boys?

Bolton Castle

As a little background, my books are inspired by my own family stories that I have discovered through our ancestral records, diaries, letters, and the homes they’ve lived in – from Nottingham Castle to the Tower of London, Lydiard Park to Bolton Castle. I’m fortunate the St.John family was prominent in English history, and so we left quite a trail — which can be both good and bad! My previous novels, The Lydiard Chronicles, are based on the diaries and records of my 17th century family, and it has been a glorious research journey uncovering their words and stories.

Returning to my new main character, Elysabeth Scrope. In medieval times, a godmother was considered a blood relative, and was responsible for the spiritual wellbeing and security of their godchild. A serious commitment! Where it gets interesting is that Elysabeth St.John was also the half-sister to Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. Elysabeth’s husband, John Scrope, 5th Baron Scrope of Bolton, was a close ally of Richard III. So not only was Elysabeth (a Lancastrian) godmother to the York heir, she was also aunt to the Tudor claimant. Talk about family feuds! Margaret was also married to Lord Thomas Stanley, a powerful follower of Richard III, until the Battle of Bosworth. And we all know how that ended.

The St.John ancestral home, Lydiard Park, has a wonderful collection of paintings and documents, scholarly reports and papers tracing the history of the family all the way back to the 14th century. So I’ve a rich and always growing repository of content to research and explore. And it’s when I started making those connections – as in The Godmother’s Secret – seeing who the St.John women married, who they were allied with, where they lived, that I realized the vast web of political and social influences the family had during the Wars of the Roses.

The Godmother’s Secret revolves around Elysabeth’s vow as godmother and her desperate efforts to protect her 12-year-old godson, Edward V, from the intrigue and betrayal that surrounds him after she delivers him to the Tower of London for his coronation. He was automatically king upon the death of his father Edward IV (“the king never dies”). However, he had yet to be anointed when the Duke of Buckingham moved Edward into the Tower for his own safekeeping and to prepare for his coronation. In my novel, Elysabeth is navigating her own conflict, upholding her loyalty to both her husband and her sister as competing factions battle for the throne. More than anything, Elysabeth defies the bounds of blood and loyalty to make her own decisions for her godson’s survival in a hostile medieval world where women had little authority.

What was fascinating as I started digging deep into the research were the layers upon layers of rumours, gossip and myths that surrounded Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York. Our common perception today is very often “Richard III killed his nephews, the Princes in the Tower” (a name for them that only came into being in the Victorian times). Most of what we think about Richard is derived from Shakespeare’s eponymous play, which in turn drew from Thomas More’s account, written during the reign of Henry VIII. As I read further, first hand accounts from foreign diplomats and letters between English merchants revealed only that the boys were not seen after the summer of 1483; later rumours were reported that Richard III had murdered them.

The princes vanished. Their bodies were never discovered, and no one was ever found guilty of murdering them. Even the bones that are claimed to be theirs in Westminster Abbey are not authenticated. Their disappearance is the biggest mystery in English history. And that is where I landed as a historical fiction novelist. I could weave in genuine family facts and create my version of their story. About halfway through the first draft I came across a piece of family history (basically a dynastic marriage) that made my story plausible, which was really exciting.

As far as if my version is true? It’s historical fiction. We create narratives from the known facts, sift through rumours and gossip until we find the source – or can dismiss them. Until the next fact comes along.

As a writer friend recently said to me, “history is fragile”. We were commiserating that we were both rewriting significant parts of our novel because of previously unfound documents that suddenly came to light. Incredibly exciting and a lot of hard work to reform plots! We don’t know when the next letter, diary or document will reveal a completely different truth than one that we hold dear today. So we write what we know, what we can authenticate, what we believe is history. For now.

What if you knew what happened to the Princes in the Tower. Would you tell? Or would you forever keep the secret?

November, 1470: Westminster Abbey. Lady Elysabeth Scrope faces a perilous royal duty when ordered into sanctuary with Elizabeth Woodville – witness the birth of Edward IV’s Yorkist son. Margaret Beaufort, Elysabeth’s sister, is desperately seeking a pardon for her exiled son Henry Tudor. Strategically, she coerces Lancastrian Elysabeth to be appointed godmother to Prince Edward, embedding her in the heart of the Plantagenets and uniting them in a destiny of impossible choices and heartbreaking conflict.

Bound by blood and torn by honour, when the king dies and Elysabeth delivers her young godson into the Tower of London to prepare for his coronation, she is engulfed in political turmoil. Within months, the prince and his brother have disappeared, Richard III is declared king, and Margaret conspires with Henry Tudor to invade England and claim the throne. Desperate to protect her godson, Elysabeth battles the intrigue, betrayal and power of the last medieval court, defying her husband and her sister under her godmother’s sacred oath to keep Prince Edward safe.

Were the princes murdered by their uncle, Richard III? Was the rebel Duke of Buckingham to blame? Or did Margaret Beaufort mastermind their disappearance to usher in the Tudor dynasty? Of anyone at the royal court, Elysabeth has the most to lose – and the most to gain – by keeping secret the fate of the Princes in the Tower.

Inspired by England’s most enduring historical mystery, Elizabeth St.John, best-selling author of The Lydiard Chronicles, blends her own family history with known facts and centuries of speculation to create an intriguing alternative story illuminating the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower.

The Godmother's Secret is available now on Amazon & FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

Connect with Elizabeth St John

Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An acclaimed author, historian, and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Lydiard Park and Nottingham Castle to Richmond Palace and the Tower of London to inspire her novels. Although the family sold a few country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them — in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their legacy. And the occasional ghost. But that's a different story.

Having spent a significant part of her life with her seventeenth-century family while writing The Lydiard Chronicles trilogy and Counterpoint series, Elizabeth St.John is now discovering new family stories with her fifteenth-century namesake Elysabeth St.John Scrope, and her half-sister, Margaret Beaufort.

Connect with Liz on her Website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Book Bub, Amazon Author Page, or Goodreads.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Enoch Hale's Search for his Brother

Detail of Nathan Hale's Signature
from letter to Benjamin Tallmadge

When Nathan Hale was executed by the British on 22 September 1776, the news crossed enemy lines quickly. Captain Montresor met with American officers, including Alexander Hamilton according to at least one source, that very day and informed them that a spy had been hanged. Nathan had spent a few moments with Montresor, who said Nathan had been allowed to write letters to his commanding officer and his brother Enoch. Those letters and Nathan's Yale diploma were destroyed by a less sympathetic officer. Captain William Hull, a friend of Nathan's, wrote that Montresor assured them that Nathan 'was calm, and bore himself with gentle dignity, in the consciousness of rectitude and high intentions. . . . His dying words were remembered. He said, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."'

The news, however, took longer to reach Nathan's family. Throughout their lives, Nathan had been closest to his brother, Enoch. They had attended Yale together at ages 14 & 15 and separated for the first time when Nathan took a position as schoolmaster, first in East Haddam then New London. Enoch returned to their childhood home in Coventry, Connecticut, where he continued studies to become a preacher.

Letter from Nathan to Enoch
dated 20 Aug 1776

Enoch's diary, which includes notes to 'write Brother Captain' on multiple dates in 1775 & 1776, records his concern about Nathan for the first time on September 30. 'Hear a rumour that Capt Hale belonging the east side College was seen to hang on the enemies lines at N York being taken as a spy - or reconnoitring their Camp - hope it is without foundation - something troubled at it sleep not very well.'

Two days later, Enoch wrote, 'Hear some further rumours of the Capt - not altogether agreeing with the former!'

One's heart breaks for Enoch almost 250 years later, reading his words and knowing his hope is in vain. He did not realize - or at least not fully accept - the truth until October 14, when he wrote, 'Accounts from my brother the Capt are indeed melancholly! That about the 2nd week of Sept. he went to Stanford crossed to long Island & Had finished his plan but before he could get off was betrayed and taken & hanged without ceremony!'

Increasing his grief, Enoch recorded the same day that rumor also named the betrayer. 'Tis said by his cousin Sam Hale.' This line was crossed out by one of Enoch's descendants, so perhaps Sam's name had been cleared. At least at the time he wrote it, Enoch believed it might have been true. Nathan and Enoch had visited Samuel Hale and his father of the same name in Portsmouth following their commencement at Yale. They had enjoyed the time in New Hampshire, as Nathan had written to the elder Samuel afterward that the trip 'served only to increase the nearness of your family and make me the more desirous of seeing them again.'

Enoch also wrote on October 14 about his determination 'to go visit the Camp next week.' He hoped, at least, to recover his brother's body and belongings. Perhaps he also prayed his brother would be in camp and the rumors all false. If so, his optimism was not rewarded.

Nathan Hale's Army Trunk
Image (& trunk) property of
Nathan Hale Homestead

The 26 October 1776 entry in Enoch's diary records his visit to camp and the confirmation of his brother's execution. 'When at the Gallows he spoke & told that he was a Capt in the Cont Army by name Nathan Hale!' With several people in camp adding details to the story of Nathan's capture, Enoch was forced to accept that his brother was gone. At least Nathan's friend and fellow soldier, Asher Wright, had kept Nathan's trunk.

On what would have been Nathan's 22nd birthday, 6 June 1777, Enoch wrote, 'busy myself a little looking over some paper &c of Brother Nathan's.' Then on the 28th, 'Make in part a distribution of Brother Nathan's Cloathing.' By that time, there was no doubt of his death, though Enoch was never able to recover Nathan's body and his burial place remains unknown. Enoch quietly remembered his closest brother by sorting through his meager belongings and passing some along to those who could put them to use.

It was the Essex Journal that reported Nathan's final words as 'among other things . . .. that if he had ten thousand lives, he would lay them all down.' By all reports, Nathan went to his death with dignity, despite the poor treatment he received, undergoing no trial and being denied even a Bible for comfort. One hopes that these reports helped soothe the pain of his grieving brother.

Enoch Hale went on to become a reverend, and he was called to serve the new Westhampton Congregational Church in Massachusetts in September 1779. He married Octavia Throop in 1781 and named his first son Nathan in 1784. Enoch served the Westhampton congregation for 50 years before he died on 19 January 1837 at age 83. His papers, including diaries, letters, and sermons, are kept in a special collection at Yale University.

(No contemporary images of Nathan or Enoch Hale exist.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Conjuror's Apprentice

Hello, dear readers! If you have enjoyed my Plantagenet Embers series, I know you will enjoy my guest today. GJ Williams is here to celebrate the publication of The Conjuror's Apprentice by sharing with us a sneak peek!

~ Samantha


The Conjuror's Apprentice: An Excerpt

Guest Post by GJ Williams

As Margaretta retreated through the stables, she passed a stall with the name Jonas carved into the cross beam. Inside was a truckle bed, neatly covered with a blanket and, on the floor, a leather bag. She banged the stable door closed without stepping out. It was only five quiet steps back to Jonas’s bed space, where she huddled down in the black of the shadows.

The voice of Father Thomas started in a rhythm of prayer and blessing. Then Luke, his voice strained and urgent, like all men who are trying to stop their emotions spilling out of their mouths.

‘I cannot just sit here and do nothing, Father. Jonas was like a son to me… and…’

The priest’s response was low and firm. ‘Luke. We have spoken of this before. Lord Cecil will not let this rest until the killer has been found.’

‘Killers. Jonas was a strong lad. It would take more than one to hold him down and do those things to him.’ Luke’s voice was tinged with anxiety now, like a child whose pleading is being dismissed. ‘Have you told Lord Cecil what I told you? Did you tell him that Jonas spoke of someone called the Shepherd? Did you tell him that Jonas said he was in a flock?’

Then banging followed by a whimper. It was Luke beating his fists on the timbers of the stable. The priest was telling him to calm himself, that there was nothing he could do. Luke almost shouted: ‘Jonas was afeared the night before he disappeared. In church that morning he was praying like he had never done before. Flock be damned. He was a lamb to the slaughter.’

‘Did he say who he feared?’

‘No. But he had a bruise on his cheek a few days before. When I asked him who did it he claimed a few street boys battered him…that a woman called…called…something I cannot recall…had helped. That she was good no matter what others said.’

The priest snapped. ‘What woman? You did not tell me of this before.’

Luke’s intake of breath was audible. ‘Tell truth, father. My mind has been full of witnessing the lad’s body. Memories are sneaking back.’

‘You must tell me everything, Luke. How can I pass the information to Lord Cecil if you do not? Now, what was the woman’s name?’

‘I cannot recall.’

‘You must.’ The voice was hard now, like a teacher with an errant child. ‘I will return in half of an hour for the name.’

There was a rustle as the priest turned, his long black coat sweeping hay along the floor. His tread was heavy, determined as he made towards the stable door. Then he stopped. From the shadow on the floor it was obvious he was looking into Jonas’s sleeping area. Margaretta held her breath. The cleric muttered something low under his breath as he peered into the gloom. It was not English. He stepped forward. Then a shout from outside. ‘Father. Are you here?’

With a grunt, he turned for the door and walked away. The only sound was the chomping of the horse in the stable opposite and the moaning from Luke. She was listening to a heart break.


Born with the ability to hear thoughts and feelings when there is no sound, Margaretta Morgan’s strange gift sees her apprenticed to Doctor John Dee, mathematician, astronomer, and alchemist. Using her secret link with the hidden side and her master’s brilliance, Margaretta faces her first murder mystery. Margaretta and Dee must uncover the evil bound to unravel the court of Bloody Mary.

The year is 1555. This is a time ruled by fear. What secrets await to be pulled from the water?

The Conjuror’s Apprentice takes real people and true events in 1555, into which G J Williams weaves a tale of murder and intrigue. Appealing to readers of crime and well researched historical fiction alike, this is the first in a series which will follow the life, times, plots and murders of the Tudor Court.

Available on Amazon or at Waterstones.

Connect with GJ Williams

After a career as a business psychologist for city firms, G.J. Williams has returned to her first passion – writing tales of murder, mystery and intrigue. Her psychology background melded with a love of medieval history, draws her to the twists and turns of the human mind, subconscious powers and the dark-side of people who want too much.

She lives between Somerset and London in the UK and is regularly found writing on a train next to a grumpy cat and a bucket of tea.

Connect with GJ Williams on Twitter.

Friday, September 30, 2022

The Real Dollar Princesses

Linda Bennett Pennell joins me today to introduce her new novel, The Last Dollar Princess. Enter America's Gilded Age!

~ Samantha


The Real Dollar Princesses

Guest Post by Linda Bennett Pennell

Caroline Astor

Does Mrs. Astor know you? In the latter half of 19th century New York City if the answer was no, the most coveted invitations would have been beyond your grasp. You had a 5th Avenue address? You were first to wear the latest Worth gowns? Your husband could buy half of Manhattan with plenty of money left over to build your Newport cottage? You hobnobbed with European nobility and royalty? If you were – gasp – New Money, none of your family’s accomplishments, regardless of how well earned, mattered.

19th century New York’s well-to-do were basically divided into two groups: Nobs and Swells. Nobs were old New York, often referred to as Knickerbockers. They lived quietly. Their homes surrounded Washington Square Park and lined the best locations along lower 5th Ave. The husbands earned their livings as bankers and from real estate. A girl’s debut meant a white dress with a few friends to tea at home. When she found the right young man, their engagement party or dinner and the wedding all took place at home witnessed by the young couple’s most intimate friends. Life among the Nobs was calm, quiet, subdued, and above all else, eschewed ostentation.

Swells were polar opposites. The husbands were captains of industry. Ostentation appeared to be the guiding principle in all they did. Whether it was building a new mansion farther north on 5th, importing the grandest artwork and furniture from Europe, or buying the best Worth gowns, the bigger and louder the display, the better. Nobs naturally viewed Swells as social climbing arrivistes who were crude, uncouth, and tacky. The Nob husbands might do business with the robber barons, but the wives would have nothing to do with the new money people, and as everyone knows, women are generally the arbiters of society.

Vanderbilt NYC Mansion

For Swells with daughters of marriageable age, the situation was dire indeed. Their beautiful, well-educated, accomplished girls had little-to-no chance of being introduced to, much less marrying, New York’s most desirable, socially prominent young men. What was an ambitious mother to do? Enter the Buccaneers, whose mamas cast their gazes east toward much greater prizes than even Mrs. Astor could command.

Edith Wharton, the novelist and chronicler of Gilded Age manners, grew up among the elite of old New York and knew them well. She also knew the daughters of those déclassé new money arrivistes, fictional versions of which she incorporated in her last, unfinished novel, The Buccaneers. She dubbed these girls with rich papas and socially ambitious mamas, but who lacked pedigree, thus. One must suppose she chose the nickname due to the effect they created among the targets of their parents' social-climbing efforts, the English aristocracy.

It has been said that these American heiresses presented a significant, alluring contrast to their English counterparts and it was not just their papas' money. The daughters of wealthy Americans were well-educated and reared to be confident in themselves, their abilities, and their opinions. Their mothers, reared in the spirit of the pioneers, set examples of strong-willed, accomplished wives to whom their husbands bowed in all things domestic. The daughters were cossetted and adored by their fathers; their English counterparts were basically treated as lesser members of the household and something of a liability until they married. The daughters of America's robber barons tended to be vivacious and outgoing. In other words, they were often the life of the party in an otherwise stuffy, rigid society. In the eyes of some Englishmen, including the Prince of Wales, they were a refreshing breeze blown in on the Atlantic Drift.

Between 1870 and 1902, no fewer than 102 American girls married into the English peerage. While American heiresses had been marrying abroad for many years, none had reached the epitome of the English social order until 1876 when Consuelo Yznaga married George, Viscount Mandeville, the future 8th Duke of Manchester.

Consuelo Yzanga

Consuelo was born in 1853 in New York City to Antonio Yzanga del Valle, a Cuban diplomat and of the landed Cuban gentry, and Ellen Maria Clement of Ravenswood Plantation, Concordia Parish, Louisiana. The Yzanga family owned plantations and sugar mills in Cuba, a home in New York, and a large home in New Port while the Clement family was originally from stalwart New England stock. Between them, Consuelo's parents were rich, owned large tracts of land in the US and Cuba, and were connected to the Spanish aristocracy, but this was not enough to gain their beautiful, accomplished daughter invitations to the best balls and dinners. Mrs. Astor did not "know" them; therefore, they were beyond the pale. To make matters worse, Mrs. Yzanaga was considered "fast" by the people who counted.

Shunned by New York society, in the 1860's Mama Ellen decamped for the much brighter and more accepting society of Paris where her three daughters made quite a splash. They became favorites at the court of Napolean III's Empress Eugénie. The empress had no illusions when it came to maintaining a glittering court. Social standing was far less important than sparkling personalities, charm, wit, and plenty of money. Her court was peopled by those who could afford new dresses for every occasion and lots of diamonds. The Yzanaga girls suited very nicely and were seen often at the Tuileries attending State Balls and musicales. Only thirteen, Consuelo knew the empress well and became friends with Alva Smith, the future Mrs. Vanderbilt.

In 1875, the Yzanaga women joined the social whirl in Saratoga Springs, NY. Where life had much more to do with seeing and being seen than any health concerns the mineral waters might address. Suitable young men came for the horse races and to observe the young ladies promenading along the United States Hotel piazza and attending the weekly balls all under the strict eyes of mothers and chaperones. The now 22 year-old Consuelo drew the notice of many of the young men, but one young man in particular drew that of Mama Ellen.

George Montagu

At 23, George Drogo "Kim" Montagu, Lord Mandeville, had already seen something of life beyond the walls of his family's country seat, Kimbolton Castle. He had served as ADC to Sir Garnet Wolseley in the Zulu War. While in Saratoga, he suffered an attack of a recurring malady thought to be a fever picked up in Africa and Mama Ellen saw an opportunity. She invited him to recuperate at the Yzanaga family cottage in Orange, New Jersey. Consuelo and her mother acted as his nurses, giving them exclusive access the most eligible bachelor. His positive qualities included being charming, being friends with the Prince of Wales, being the future 8th Duke of Manchester, and having developed an attraction to Consuelo. On the down side, he gambled on games of chances and the horses and was in need of cash. That last negative became a positive when Papa Yzanaga offered a £200,000 (approximately $6 million today) dowry. Consuelo accepted his proposal and a wedding date was set. The 7th Duke and Duchess of Manchester were furious, but the couple were wed in New York's Grace Church in 1876.

The wedding party was greeted by newspapers and a cheering public as the event of the season. New Yorkers were excited by and proud of the hometown girl who was now a duchess. London was equally as charmed by Consuelo. The Duke of Portland described her entry into the London season as a success, saying, "[she] took society completely by storm by her beauty, wit, and vivacity and it was soon at her very pretty feet."

Consuelo blazed the trail for the American heiresses that would come after her. These “dollar princesses,” as they became known, would bring millions to their aristocratic husbands, saving many noble English estates from ruin and allowing their parents back home in the States a step up on the Nobs and Mrs. Astor who shunned them. After all, “have you met my daughter, the countess…marchioness…duchess” definitely has a certain cashé, does it not?


De Courcy, Anne. The Husband hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2017.

MacColl, Gail and Wallace, Carol MCD. To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery. New York: Workman Publishing, 1989.

The Last Dollar Princess

It must be said. Scandal follows her family like a faithful hound. No matter how hard they kick it away, it comes slinking around to insinuate itself into their lives again. Although her family is obsessed with social position, one thing is certain. Heiress India Elisabeth Petra De Vries Ledbetter is an outlier among her kin. She is determined to set her own course, family expectations and society's demands be damned.

Reared away from the social whirl of Gilded Age New York, India would prefer a life of philanthropy in her native Appalachia, but Mother and Grandmama have far grander plans. They believe Mrs. Astor’s old 400 are ready to overlook the past and that an advantageous marriage will cement their place in society once more. In fact, they have already selected the prospective bridegroom. The only problem? No one consulted India.

With captivating insights into the human spirit and heart, The Last Dollar Princess leads us on a riveting quest for self-determination through the most elegant and glamorous settings of the early 20th century. Perfect for fans of Marie Benedict, Daisy Goodwin, and Julian Fellows, this sweeping work of historical fiction will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

The Last Dollar Princess is available now on Amazon!

Connect with Linda

I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course, being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, "Let's pretend." 

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable, sweet Labradoodle who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

"History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire  

Linda's Blog: History Imagined: For Readers, Writers, and Lovers of Historical Fiction 

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Before She Was Mrs Madison

Dolley Payne was born 20 May 1768 in the small Quaker settlement of New Garden (modern day Guilford County, North Carolina). The family did not remain there long enough for little Dolley to retain memories of the place, and she always thought of herself as a Virginian, even after moving to Philadelphia in 1783 at age fifteen. Anthony Morris, who became a lifelong friend of Dolley's, wrote, 'She came upon our comparatively cold hearts in Philadelphia, suddenly and unexpectedly with all the delightful influences of a summer sun, from the Sweet South . . . .and she soon raised the mercury there in the thermometers of the Heart to fever heat.'

Quaker she may have been, but quiet and modest she was not. Dolley was obsessed with many fashions that she was not permitted to wear, and she would document what she saw around the city in her diary. She wore the plain clothes required by her mother but still gained attention with her dark hair, blue eyes, and friendly demeanor. This charm would serve her well decades later when she became First Lady.

Dolley's father had manumitted his slaves before moving to Philadelphia. Not able to farm successfully without their labor but devoted to Quaker beliefs that it was wrong to own another human being, John Payne hoped that the city would offer other opportunities for supporting his family. Unfortunately, tragedy made frequent visits upon the Paynes. A baby, named Philadelphia for their new home, died shortly after birth, and oldest son, Walter, was lost at sea. When Payne's starch business went bankrupt, he looked for suitors to take Dolley off his hands.

Todd House, Philadelphia

Among Dolley's many admirers, her father thought John Todd Jr the best choice. A lawyer six years Dolley's senior, Todd had shown interest in her for some time. Whether he was Dolley's first choice is unknown, but letters between them indicate love during their marriage if it was not present before. They were married 7 January 1790. The young couple moved into a home that still exists at the corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia.

A son was welcomed on 29 February 1792 and named John Payne Todd to honor both his father and grandfather. Little could Dolley have imagined then that this little boy would cause her much trouble in the coming years, but her love for him never wavered.

In the summer of 1793, another son, William Temple Todd, was born. Then Yellow Fever struck Philadelphia, killing about 5000 people or approximately 10% of the city's population. The young Todd family did not escape the epidemic, and Dolley lost both her husband and infant son on 24 October 1793. Dolley went to her mother, who had opened the family home as a boarding house, while she grieved and attempted to settle the estate of her husband and his parents, who had also died of the fever.

At her mother's boardinghouse, Dolley was introduced to Aaron Burr, attorney and senator, who assisted her with her legal battle and became godfather to Payne, as Dolley's remaining son was called. Burr also introduced Dolley to a man who many expected to remain a lifelong bachelor. When forty-three-year-old James Madison met the young widow, he fell hard and fast.

Statue of the Madisons
at Montpelier

By marrying outside the faith and within a year of her late husband's death, Dolley knew she was relinquishing her place in the Quaker church. From 15 September 1794 when she wed the Great Little Madison, she never expressed any regret. In fact, they were happily married until James's death forty-two years later, and Dolley embraced the fashion and society that she had longed for but been denied a place in. 

When James Madison was elected the fourth president of the United States in 1809, Dolley was well prepared to define the role of First Lady in a way her predecessors had not, opening up the White House to any who wished to visit and charming political rivals into civility - at least long enough for dinner. In fact, the term First Lady may have been used for the first time at her funeral in 1849. Sometimes called the Queen of America, Dolley Payne Todd Madison had left behind her Quaker roots and forged a unique path of her own.

If you would like to learn more about Dolley Madison and other amazing 18th century ladies, please consider my newest book, Women of the American Revolution. It is available at Pen & SwordAmazonBook DepositoryBarnes & Noble, or your favorite book retailer. I appreciate your interest and support!

Available now at Audible and!

Join me on your preferred social media for daily fun facts, on this day in history posts, and lots of pictures!




Tuesday, September 6, 2022

The Eisenhower Chronicles

I am pleased to welcome M.B. Zucker to my blog today. As a fellow biographical fiction writer, Zucker has taken on a fascinating historical figure. In his Eisenhower Chronicles, readers will experience some of the most exciting moments of the 20th century.

Welcome, Mr Zucker!

~ Samantha


The Eisenhower Chronicles: An Excerpt

Guest Post by Michael Zucker

It is early 1942. America has entered WWII following the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Ike has become a protege to Army Chief of Staff George Marshall. He is in charge of the War Department's War Plans Division. He contemplates the state of the war and discusses an interesting proposal for the first time...

Ike concentrated on a logic tree of wartime priorities he was drawing for the Combined Chiefs while hunched over his office desk. The fall of Britain, or Russia, or India will give the Axis a greater industrial output than the Allies. That can’t be allowed to happen. Our industrial power is the key to victory.

He glanced at a map that hung on the wall. Ike envisioned recent events in his head, picturing the ultimate nightmare if fortune did not reverse and the Axis maintained its momentum.

The Axis currently controls about one-third of the Earth’s surface. Nazi U-boats dominate the Atlantic. We’re losing dozens and dozens of ships per month. Hundreds of thousands of tons of material. Even our sea lanes to South America are at risk of being cut off. But the situation in the Eastern Hemisphere is infinitely worse. The Nazis are poised to overrun the Soviets in the Caucasus Mountains and Rommel’s pushing back the Brits in Egypt. Those two German thrusts can link up in the Middle East and quickly overrun that region. U-boats could then cross the Red Sea and enter the Indian Ocean. The Japanese, meanwhile, are overrunning the Dutch East Indies and could push through Burma and into India. The Nazis and Japanese could then link up near the Himalaya Mountains. And that would be it. The joining of the Axis armies would mark the entire Hemisphere’s fall to totalitarianism. Russia and China will be defeated and forced to surrender. Churchill will probably get thrown out of office with a No Confidence vote and Britain will make a deal with Hitler to avoid total destruction. Before too long the Axis will turn its attention to our Hemisphere. And America, with all its might, won’t be able to resist the combined strength of the entire rest of the world, no matter what Lincoln said. Americans will lose their freedoms. Freedom of speech. Right to a fair trial. Everything. We’ll all be Hitler’s slaves. The whole world.

That’s why I don’t get what’s wrong with this country. Why wasn’t it ready? My countrymen aren’t stupid. They must have seen what was at stake when Hitler took one country after another. And how could the Navy be caught with its pants down at Pearl Harbor? Because of that Japan has conquered half of the Pacific. How are so many people messing up this badly with this much at stake? What is wrong with people? And the Navy is still messing up. And MacArthur. And…

I need to calm down. We have a lot of smart people here. They’re getting a lot of the big decisions right. Like choosing to prioritize Germany over Japan. Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Combined Chiefs were right about that. I was wrong to question them. Yes, military doctrine says to target the weaker enemy first. But in this situation, that’s Germany. The Germans have more of their firepower pinned down fighting the British and the Soviets than the Japanese do in the Pacific. And besides, defeating Japan would do nothing to help Stalin. Our top priority needs to be to keep Russia in the war. Especially when there are rumors that Stalin has been asking Hitler for peace terms. If only there was some way to relieve pressure on the Russians.

Ike looked at the map. The Allies needed to slow the Axis advance. But more importantly, they needed to destroy the German Army. The German Army was Hitler’s center of gravity. Destroying it would force Germany’s surrender. That was the only way to win the war. But how would the Allies do that? Germany ruled the continent. The Allies had no way to even reach the German Army and fight it in a capacity large enough to destroy it.

The British are fighting Rommel in Egypt, but the Afrika Korps is a fraction of the entire German Army. The Soviets are fighting a huge portion of it, but they lack our industrial power and are taking excessive casualties. We need somewhere we can engage the bulk of the German Army and defeat it. I feel like that keeps leading me back to…

Ike turned to General Clark, one of his oldest friends in the Army.

“Can I talk to you?” Ike asked.

“Of course,” Clark replied. “What is it?”

“I think I know how we’re going to win the war in Europe.”

Clark froze. He turned away from his own desk to listen to Ike. A two-star general knew how to beat Hitler?

“Let’s hear it,” Clark said.

Ike hesitated.

“I think we need to cross the English Channel and invade the coast of France.” He had goosebumps saying it out loud for the first time.

Clark’s eyebrows furrowed.

“Are you serious?”


“Ike, there hasn’t been a successful cross-channel attack since William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings in 1066. And there’s never, in the history of warfare, been a successful attack from England and into France. What you’re talking about is without any precedence in military history. And against the toughest enemy imaginable.”

“Hear me out, Mark. When I served in Panama under Conner, he made me study the Civil War in extreme detail. Every general, every strategy. What worked and what didn’t. And you know what I learned? That Ulysses Grant was the best general we ever produced. He defeated Lee and saved the Union.”

“Which he did through brute force. Grant was a butcher.”

“No, he wasn’t. His casualties were lower than Lee’s. Grant did it by systematically destroying Lee’s Army. Not by taking Richmond, the Confederate capital. Not with some special maneuver like outflanking the Confederates. He did it through attrition. He targeted Lee’s Army, like Clausewitz wrote about in On War, and he destroyed it. That forced Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. There’s no special button we can press to defeat the Third Reich. I want us to do to Hitler what Grant did to Lee.”

“And we’d have to invade France to do that?”

“It’s the only land area large enough to engage the German Army on a large scale and defeat it decisively.”

“North Africa’s obviously not large enough. And there’s not enough of the German Army there to fight. What about the Russian front? We could put forces there and help Stalin defeat the German Army there.”

“Our lines of approach would be too long.”

“We could go through Murmansk from the north or from the Persian Gulf via the Cape of Good Hope from the south. We’re already sending the Russians war material that way.”

“I don’t think we could send millions of soldiers as well. Besides, I don’t see Roosevelt and Marshall wanting to rely on Stalin that much. I see them agreeing to a cross-channel attack before they’d ever make that deal with Stalin.”

“What about going through Norway?”

“It’s not large enough for the type of ground campaign we’d need to defeat the German Army.”

“Portugal? Spain? We wouldn’t have to go through the Atlantic Wall.”

“Maybe. But France is closer to Germany, so it would be closer to the heart of Hitler’s empire and engage the German Army faster. Plus, it wouldn’t pull Franco into the war.”

Clark nodded, persuaded.

“What timeline are you thinking?”

“If Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Combined Chiefs get on board with this now, we can invade France by early next year. The Brits would have to take the lead, since we’d still be building up our military.”

“Did you think of this just now?”

“I actually thought of it last September. But the more I think about grand strategy, the more I’m convinced that that’s the only way to beat Hitler.”

It’s strange. I’ve spent every day thinking about Hitler since November 1938. How he’s putting his own selfish interests over his duty to humanity, the threat he poses, how to stop him, how to defeat him. But he’s never heard of me. Doesn’t know I exist. Life is odd.

The Eisenhower Chronicles by M.B. Zucker

In 1938 he was a lieutenant colonel stationed in the Philippines; by 1945 the world proclaimed him its savior. From leading the forces of liberal democracy against history’s most evil tyrant to the presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower fought for and kept the peace during the most dangerous era in history.

The Eisenhower Chronicles dramatizes Ike’s life, portraying his epic journey from unknown soldier to global hero as only a novel could. He is shown working with icons such as FDR, Winston Churchill, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and confronting challenges like D-Day, the Little Rock Crisis, and Sputnik.

Eisenhower’s legacy is grounded in defending the world from fascism, communism, and nuclear weapons. This novel shows how he accomplished it all and takes readers into his mind and soul, grounding the history in the man who made it.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and Kobo.

Connect with M.B. Zucker

M. B. Zucker has been interested in storytelling for as long as he can remember. He discovered his love of history at fifteen and studied Dwight Eisenhower for over ten years. Mr. Zucker earned his B.A. at Occidental College and his J.D. at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He lives in Virginia with his wife.

Connect with him through his website or on TwitterFacebook, LinkedIn, Amazon Author Page, and Goodreads