Here are some of the books I’m reading for my next novel in my Dauntless Series. They focus on contemporaries of Susan B. Anthony’s brother Daniel Read Anthony, who lived and fought on the Missouri-Kansas border before the Civil War and in its early days. Annie Osborn Continue reading
We are pleased and honored that The Truth About Daniel was recently featured in Life in the Finger Lakes Magazine. The review praised the novel’s good pace, handling of critical historical events, and “careful attention…to mores and manners of the time.” See the complete review here, titled “Endurance, Determination, and Resolve.”
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A band of 400 proslavery ruffians–many teenagers–led by a madman named Quantrill conducted the Lawrence Massacre in 1863 in Kansas on this day. Most of the the town’s men were off fighting for the Union. As a result, 180 died and the town became ashes.
Daniel Read Anthony knew the town of Lawrence like his own child because he helped to establish it. Therefore, he suffered its loss. In this excerpt from The Truth About Daniel, he visits just a few days after the attack:
Early on their fourth day in Lawrence, D.R. and Chas rode by the homestead of Martin Townsend, a farmer from Vermont who had settled in ’fifty-four. They found him pouring water from a bucket into a stone trough for a pair of oxen.
“Marty!” D.R. hailed him before swinging down from the saddle.
As the man turned, D.R. took in his friend’s face covered with grime and a four-day stubble. He asked Townsend how he had escaped.
“The day before the raid, I took my team a few miles outside of town to help my cousin. On my way home, I saw the town on fire and heard that Quantrill was singling out men old enough to bear arms. So I hid in the ravine where raiders wouldn’t go.
“I felt like a coward leaving my wife and children inside, but how would they have farmed if I turned up dead?” His house was ablaze, he said, but he was relieved to see his family out front. He gestured to a crude tent partially supported by a scorched tree. “We all survived, thank God, but this is all I have left of my home.”
D.R. wanted something to do, but there were no tools, not even an extra bucket. “Apparently Quantrill’s raiders didn’t come to fight, but to murder and steal.”
“They never would’ve gotten away with it if so many of our men weren’t off to war.”
“So what happened when the army finally did come?” asked Chas.
Townsend leaned on his shovel and gestured toward the road. “The ruffians turned tail and ran south. Cavalry followed them right through town and out again.”
D.R. pictured how he would’ve handled the operation. The Jayhawkers and the Seventh Kansas were trained to grip their horses with their knees and shoot with both hands at once. Having faced Quantrill’s raiders in Missouri, he knew many of them to be teenagers with no training at all. At least the army will have extracted its toll on them, he consoled himself. Hopeful of a good report, he asked, “How many did Quantrill lose?”
Townsend sighed deeply. The anger blazing from his eyes contrasted with his dusty face. “One,” he replied.
“One!” roared D.R. “They caused all this damage and got away with only one casualty? What the hell was the army doing?”
Next time: Read how the Lawrence Massacre of 1863 fueled a Union retaliation.
Read more about this fateful day in Lawrence at History.com.
Susan LaFlesche Picotte, a Nebraska doctor and and reformer, had credentials that wowed me and reminded of Susan B. Anthony. Google saluted her yesterday; Continue reading
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Here’s a recent review from a staff member at the Leavenworth (KS) Public Library:
As far as the historical parts of the novel are concerned, they are well researched and its depiction of Civil War era Leavenworth is spot on.
The story is split between two viewpoint characters, D.R. Anthony and his wife Annie. There does not seem to be an existing novel written about Mr. Anthony, and the fact that this one also shows events from Annie’s perspective is quite interesting, especially considering that she is often pushed into her husband’s shadow. Seeing Annie fleshed out as a real human being with thoughts and emotions of her own was quite refreshing.
Why was D.R. Anthony so fiercely abolitionist? Events such as the following would have fueled his anger. Today’s post gives us a typical example of how proslavery forces treated John Brown, an antislavery man whom Anthony revered and probably knew. (D.R.’s brother Merritt had fought with Brown several years earlier in southern Kansas.)
Living only 25 miles away from the following tense encounter between a proslavery posse and Brown, Anthony might have stood with the guards who protected the famous hero. Even if Anthony didn’t, he certainly would have followed the news with as much anxiety as did New Hampshire emigrant Julia Louisa Lovejoy, whose letter back east gives us this riveting account.
For the death of John Brown, the Missouri governor and others offered $5,500. Lured by this “bait,” Lovejoy reported, a pro-slavery posse headed by Marshal J.P. Wood tracked “our champion” (Brown) to a cabin where the abolitionist holed up with a dozen African-Americans.
This cabin he had strongly barricaded, and told his pursuers “he would never yield, neither would he be taken alive.” The Marshal and his force surrounded the cabin and ordered Brown to “surrender!” Brown replied, “Come and take me.” The officer dared not undertake the job, and one hundred more like him could not capture those indomitable spirits that well knew what would follow if they were taken prisoners.1
A stand-off occurred. Brown’s group, armed with Sharpes rifles, was guarded by a company of twenty-five antislavery supporters. Giving voice to the bodyguard, Lovejoy wrote, “Take care, sir, if one gray hair on that venerable head is singed, your whole party will be riddled with balls!”
The Marshal’s posse sent for reinforcements to Atchison (about four miles away) and rumored that two cannons would soon arrive to explode the cabin. In an oddly turned phrase, Lovejoy wrote that United States Army troops who engaged in “pretended pursuit” seem to have sufficiently distracted the posse, during which time:
Brown sallied forth and took three of the Atchison men prisoners (one of them, it is affirmed, he recognized as the miscreant who shot his own son, F. Brown, at the “Ossawottamie battle.”) He also took four of their horses that they had secreted in the timber, and then with his freed slaves and party pulled for Iowa, taking prisoners and horses along with him!
Thus Brown escaped from Kansas in February 1859, just eight months before his fateful raid on the arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, WV. In a summary of this western event, Lovejoy correctly predicted the manner of Brown’s death, saying, “We fear now that Brown and his party will be intercepted by an overwhelming force, but he cannot be captured alive.” “
Photo courtesy of Kansas Historical Society
- Bell, Sarah. “Lovejoy, Julia Louisa” Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict, 1854-1865. The Kansas City Public Library. Accessed Mar, 31, 2017 at http://www.civilwaronthewesternborder.org/encyclopedia/lovejoy-julia-louisa
It wasn’t a midnight ride conducted in the midst of political danger. But then, Paul Revere didn’t ride 30 miles alone across Kansas wilderness in an evening snowstorm, either. Continue reading
Of Susan B. Anthony’s two brothers who emigrated to Kansas, Daniel Read (D.R.) was the more colorful. Abolitionist, Republican, publisher, mayor, postmaster, and gunslinger, he figured prominently in Leavenworth’s early history. Continue reading