Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Eviction Fight

Good morning, dear readers! I'm pleased to introduce Glen Craney as my guest today. A prolific writer of historical fiction, Glen is here to share some insight into the fate of American soldiers facing the Great Depression following their service in World War I and his book, The Yanks are Starving: A Novel of the Bonus Army

Welcome, Glen!

~ Samantha


Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Eviction Fight

Guest Post by Glen Craney

An unlikely American duo made history together twice.

In France, and fourteen years later on the tear-gassed streets of Washington, D.C.

In the Great War, courage had many fathers.

Joe Angelo, a second-generation Italian-American, volunteered as a private for the American Expeditionary Force in 1917 to prove his loyalty to his family’s new country. In contrast, his future captain, George Patton, a brash West Pointer who would become the controversial World War II tank commander, sailed for France eager to match his Confederate ancestors in glory.

Angelo and Patton could not have been more different in background, temperament, or motives for fighting. Yet they came together twice during the early twentieth century to play pivotal roles in U.S. history.

Angelo was as diminutive as Patton was imposing. A laborer in the dangerous DuPont Powder Works in New Jersey, Angelo enlisted at a time when many Italian immigrants still had family in the old country, where support wavered during the first year of the war between the Central Powers and the Allies. First and second-generation Italian-Americans like Angelo came under suspicion in the States, as did German-Americans, some of whom suffered harassment and even lynchings.

Joe Angelo

Patton, despite his aristocratic Virginia roots, saw potential in Angelo and chose him for his orderly. That decision would prove one of the most important in Patton’s eventful life. On a foggy day in September of 1918, he and Angelo stumbled into a desperate machine-gun fight in the Meuse-Argonne. When Patton took a shot to his upper leg, Angelo stayed at his side while the battle raged and managed to drag him to safety. Angelo’s heroism earned him the Distinguished Service Cross.

After the war, Patton climbed the ranks to command the Third U.S. Cavalry, while his orderly returned to the tough streets of Camden. Despite his medal commendation, Angelo would likely have been forgotten to obscurity had it not been for one of America’s most shameful episodes fourteen years later.

George Patton

During the summer of 1932, a charismatic, rail-riding hobo named Walter Waters led nearly 43,000 unemployed WWI veterans and their families into Washington, D.C. to demand advance payment of their deferred service annuity, popularly known as the Bonus. Angelo, nearly destitute, walked 150 miles to testify at a congressional hearing about his plight. He became one of the colorful champions of the Bonus Expeditionary Force, the name adopted by the army of veterans that camped under the shadows of the U.S. Capitol and paced along its steps in a pitiful procession called the Death March.

Months passed in the standoff. Then, at the end of a tense July, General Douglas MacArthur, the Army’s Chief of Staff, called out the infantry regulars from their barracks and drove the encamped veterans and their families from the city with tanks and gas. Patton led MacArthur’s cavalry in the attack down Pennsylvania Avenue. Amid the screams and smoke of the rout, Angelo sought out his former captain whose life he had saved in France.

What happened during their encounter would shock the nation and help decide the U.S. presidential election of 1932.

The Yanks Are Starving: A Novel of the Bonus Army relives the experiences of eight Americans who survived the fighting in France and came together again during the Great Depression to decide the fate of the nation on the brink of upheaval. It is the little-known story of the political intrigue and government betrayal that culminated in the only pitched battle ever fought between two American armies under the same flag.

Two armies. One flag. No honor.

The most shocking day in American history.

Former political journalist Glen Craney brings to life the little-known story of the Bonus March of 1932, which culminates in a bloody clash between homeless World War I veterans and U.S. Army regulars on the streets of Washington, D.C.

Mired in the Great Depression and on the brink of revolution, the nation holds its collective breath as a rail-riding hobo named Walter Waters leads 40,000 destitute men and their families to the steps of the U.S. Capitol on a desperate quest for economic justice.

This timely epic evokes the historical novels of Jeff Sharra as it sweeps across three decades following eight Americans who survive the fighting in France and come together fourteen years later to determine the fate of a country threatened by communism and fascism.

From the Boxer Rebellion in China to the Plain of West Point, from the persecution of conscientious objectors to the horrors of the Marne, from the Hoovervilles of the heartland to the pitiful Anacostia encampment, here is an unforgettable portrayal of the political intrigue and government betrayal that ignited the only violent conflict between two American armies.

Get your copy of The Yanks Are Starving: A Novel of the Bonus Army

Connect with Glen Craney

Glen Craney is an author, screenwriter, journalist, and lawyer. A graduate of Indiana University Law School and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, he is the recipient of the Nicholl Fellowship Prize from the Academy of Motion Pictures and the Chaucer and Laramie First-Place Awards for historical fiction. He is also a four-time indieBRAG Medallion winner, a Military Writers Society of America Gold Medalist, a four-time Foreword Magazine Book-of-the-Year Award Finalist, and an Historical Novel Society Reviews Editor's Choice honoree. He lives in Malibu and has served as the president of the Southern California Chapter of the HNS.

Connect with Glen on his Website, Twitter, Facebook, Book Bub, Amazon Author Page, and Goodreads

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Historic Places: Mount Vernon

I recently made my fifth visit to Mount Vernon, the beloved home of George and Martha Washington. Each visit has included its own special element - a trip with my oldest son, one with my daughter, mint juleps just like George Washington used to drink, and the time I got to introduce my husband to one of my favorite places in the country. This time, I got to bring my book that includes my own little chapter about Martha Washington and her life spent mostly in this beautiful place. We also took an in-depth tour and got to see parts of the home that I hadn't seen before.

I'm excited to share it with you!

Scaffolding is often seen against one of the walls of Mount Vernon. This time, it was all along the portico facing the Potomac River, so the facade of the mansion was pristine.

The exterior of the home is sided in wood planks that are painstakingly prepared to give the illusion of stone. A special paint blended with sand is used to create this effect, just as it was in the 18th century. The estate has been restored by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association to appear as it did in 1799, the final year of George Washington's life, but this is not how it appeared when he first inherited it. For a great overview of the evolution of Mount Vernon and George Washington's passion for improving the home and grounds, visit Mount Vernon's website which makes a vast amount of information available to the public

Inside, there is far too much for me to include in a single post, but the room the Washingtons were most proud of was the New Room that they built for entertaining in European style (they hoped, neither of the Washingtons ever traveled to Europe).

This room has a ceiling twice as high as any others in the home and was larger than the entire home of most other Virginians of Washington's time. Hints of George's love of farming and his belief in America's future as an agricultural nation are found all around, including this marble mantlepiece that was designed by him.

Other rooms that may be of particular interest to my readers include the Lafayette Room, where the Marquis de Lafeyette stayed while visiting the Washingtons. The portrait of the Marquis is a reproduction of one that George had commissioned to honor his friend.

Another room that I mention in Women of the American Revolution is the third floor guest room where Martha moved to after George's death. She never again slept in the bed they had shared.

The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association has performed an astonishing amount of research to determine which guest bedroom Martha used, what paper was on the walls, and all sorts of other facts that we take for granted when we visit Mount Vernon today. The estate was in ruins when they purchased it in 1859. 

I've discovered a fun fact connecting this to my current project on James Hamilton!

Mary Morris Hamilton, James's daughter, was the MVLA's first vice-regent for New York, and she raised about $40,000 of the estate's $200,000 purchase price. I can't wait to include more about her story in my next book! Needless to say, I have a greater appreciation for what these women went through than ever before.

I will share one more fun picture for those who are fans of the National Treasure movies.

You may recognize this cornerstone as the entrance to a secret passage. (We were assured that it is not.) It is a cornerstone believed to have first been used by George's grandfather, Lawrence Washington, to establish the family in Virginia. Mount Vernon researchers believe the cornerstone was preserved and moved until it was eventually installed in the Mount Vernon cellars when George Washington had them built. The one currently in place is actually a replica, but the original is in the on-site museum, which you absolutely must visit if you ever take a trip to Mount Vernon.

I have so many photos and will be sharing more on Instagram

If you would like to learn more about Martha Washington and other amazing 18th century ladies, please consider my newest book, Women of the American Revolution. It is available at Pen & Sword, Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite book retailer. I appreciate your interest and support!

Available now at Audible and audiobooks.com!

I also have a few other articles written about Martha here.

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




Tuesday, January 3, 2023

That Dickinson Girl


My dear readers know that I am a fan of novels that spotlight the lives of historical women, so I am happy to introduce my guest to you today. Joan Koster is here to share an excerpt from her new book, That Dickinson Girl.

Welcome, Joan!

~ Samantha


That Dickinson Girl: An Excerpt

Guest Post by Joan Koster

Julia eyed the intruder. Half a head shorter, more girl than woman, she wore a drab dress under a plain cloak. No ribbon or jewel relieved the narrow white collar. No ruffle or crinoline spoiled the fall of the skirt. Her upright stance and the quality of cloth reeked of the morality and righteousness Julia knew all too well. A Quaker, for sure.

Their eyes met. She glimpsed a smooth cheek and long, dark lashes, a wide, smiling mouth, and a square chin partially hidden beneath black curls cut so short that she could see the girl’s neck peeking above the stiff collar, pink as the dawn-tinted clouds. She wanted to rest her palm on that vulnerable bit of skin, pull her close, and steal her warmth. 

Julia pressed the pendant she hid beneath her dress, the sting of cold metal against her racing heart suitable punishment for her wayward thoughts. 

The stranger lifted her skirt and gave a sideways bow like an actress at the Arch Theater. “Anna Dickinson, at your service.” She swung her attention to Gracie. “And who is this who wants to become a doctor?” 

Julia twisted her fingers in the faded ribbon of her bonnet and stifled the impulse to drag Gracie away. Her independent sister would hate that. Besides, it didn’t matter; Little Miss Quaker would be gone as soon as she heard their last name. Every member of the Society of Friends knew the sordid tale of the man who’d stolen money from Arch Street Meeting.

Her sister stuck out her hand. “Gracie Pennington.” 

Julia waited for the girl’s smile to fade and that oh-so-respectable personage to flee. 

Instead, the Quaker wrapped both hands around Gracie’s and smiled. A do-gooder then, set on some charitable work for a ragged schoolgirl with aspirations beyond her station in life. Julia knew where that would end. 

She stepped closer. “And I’m Julia. Julia Pennington.” 

“Ah yes, the vigilant older sister. Don’t worry; I won’t steal her.” She tapped Gracie on the nose. “So, what’s stopping you from pursuing an illustrious medical career?”

Gracie toyed with the unraveling fringe of the shawl. “We’ve no money—” 

“Is that all?” the girl said. “A mere pebble in your road, my child. If you truly want something, you’ll find a way, no matter how many pebbles and rocks they throw at you. We make our own chances in life. Takes hard work, though. A medical degree requires a mind sharper than a milliner’s needle.”

Pebbles? Julia scrutinized the thick weave of the girl’s woolen cloak and the toe of the polished half-boot poking out from under her skirts. Little Miss Quaker had to be younger than Julia’s own nineteen years. What experience did this privileged girl have ducking pebbles or piercing cloth with a needle? 

She yanked on the interloper’s sleeve. “Gracie’s top of her class. She doesn’t need a busy-body do-gooder sticking her nose into something she doesn’t know beans about. She’s not your child. She’s my sister. I take care of her.”

The girl ran a finger down the frayed collar of Gracie’s too-small coat. “Well then, that is a shame. Makes me want to weep, seeing ambition denied”—the corners of her mouth turned up—“by beans.” 

Connect with the Author
When she is not writing in her studio by the sea, Joan Koster lives with her historian husband
and a coon cat named Cleo in an 1860s farmhouse stacked to the ceiling with books. In a life full of adventures, she has scaled mountains, chased sheep, and been abandoned on an island for longer than she wants to remember.

An award-winning author who loves mentoring writers, Joan blends her love of history, and romance,
into historical novels about women who shouldn’t be forgotten and into romantic thrillers under the pen name, Zara West. She is the author of the award-winning romantic suspense series The Skin Quartet  and the top-selling Write for Success series.

Joan blogs at JoanKoster.com, Women Words and Wisdom, American Civil War Voice, Zara West  Romance, and Zara West’s Journal and teaches numerous online writing courses.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Freedom for Washington's Slaves

On New Year's Day 1801, Martha Washington granted freedom to a portion of Mount Vernon's enslaved population. An excerpt from Women of the American Revolution

"George had left Martha with a difficulty in his will. Over time, he had begun to struggle with the institution of slavery in a way that Martha never did, and he had granted his slaves their freedom upon Martha’s death. He might have meant for this to free Martha from the responsibility of coping with their emancipation, but it created a difficult situation where some of the Mount Vernon enslaved people knew their freedom was based on the elderly lady’s death. In addition to that awkward challenge, the enslaved populations of the Washington and Custis estates had become intermingled during George and Martha’s long marriage. Those that were a part of the Custis inheritance would legally transfer to Martha’s grandchildren upon her death, while those that had been George’s would be free. That not only seemed arbitrary and unfair but also left black families with some members anticipating freedom and others not.

Martha attempted to ease this tense situation by freeing George’s slaves on 1 January 1801. She was afraid that some of the enslaved people plotted her death in order to gain their freedom, so she gave it to them. Some eagerly took up their newfound liberty and left Mount Vernon, others stayed because of family who remained property or for the stability Mount Vernon offered. Her thoughts about this event are not recorded, but Martha had previously expressed shock and dismay when enslaved servants ran away. She did not understand why they would choose an uncertain freedom over the life offered at Mount Vernon. For a woman who had been part of a lengthy revolution based on liberty, it is an ironic blind spot."

Learn more about Martha Washington and other 18th century ladies in Women of the American Revolution. Available at AmazonPen & SwordBook DepositoryBarnes & Noble, and other major book retailers. Also available now at Audible and audiobooks.com!