The First Lady and the Rebel: An Outtake

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Like most novels, The First Lady and the Rebel underwent revisions on its path to publication (look for it on October 1!). This is the epilogue in the first draft. It was replaced by one that I felt was more …

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Life Goes On

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I bought this 1862 letter mainly because of the patriotic letterhead, which depicts Elmer E. Ellsworth, an early casualty of the Civil War, shot while he was exiting the Marshall House hotel in Alexandria after removing a Confederate flag from …

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Benjamin Hardin Helm’s Last Will and Testament

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As long-term readers of this blog will know, I’m fond of wills, and I was pleased to find that one major character in The First Lady and the Rebel, Emily Todd Helm’s husband Benjamin Hardin Helm, left one behind. (Abraham …

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A Memorial Day Tribute to Charles P. Tidd and Carrie Cutter

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This Memorial Day, I’m remembering, Sgt. Charles P. Tidd, and his friend and nurse, Carrie Cutter, both of whom died in service to their country. Tidd, one of John Brown’s raiders, evaded capture after the raid. After the Civil War …

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Mr. Helm Goes to Washington–And Then to Montgomery

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In March 1861, one of many job-seekers arrived at the White House, looking for patronage at the hands of the new President, Abraham Lincoln. Unlike many, this one was successful. Ultimately, though, he turned down the offer–and ended up fighting, …

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The Great Couch Dust-Up: A Letter from Phoebe Yates Pember to Emily Todd Helm

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While doing research for The First Lady and the Rebel, my forthcoming novel about Mary Lincoln and her Confederate half-sister, Emily Todd Helm, I visited the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort to look through Emily’s papers. Among the many wartime …

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The Strange, Sad Case of George B. Love

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On April 21, 1865, as part of its coverage of President Lincoln’s assassination and its aftermath, the Washington Evening Star reported the arrival of the captured George Atzerodt in Washington. In addition, the Star noted that a man had been …

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Christmas in Springfield, Illinois, 1862

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A while back, I posted about Mary Lincoln’s close friend Mercy Conkling (née Levering). In December 1862, the Conklings’ oldest son, Clinton, was attending college at Yale, where he remained over the Christmas holidays. Accordingly, on December 28, 1862, his mother …

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Louis Weichmann: Boarder and Witness

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Of the residents of Mary Surratt’s boardinghouse, the best known–and the most controversial–is Louis Weichmann, whose testimony would help send his landlady to the gallows. Weichmann was born in Baltimore in 1842. His father, a tailor, moved to Washington and …

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Mary Surratt’s Loyal Daughter: Anna Surratt

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The second of John and Mary Surratt’s three children, Elizabeth Susanna Surratt was born on New Year’s Day, 1843, and was christened on December 10 of that year at St. Peter’s Church in Washington, D.C. For most of her life, …

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