This Day in History – May 29, 1862

I’ m a lover of history. Always have been. I especially enjoy early American history–Colonial times and the Civil War era. My Civil War library is the only one that rivals my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection. I took a Civil War course in college, which allowed me to read one of the best books on the conflict, Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson. I thought it might be interesting to share some historical tidbits from this and other historical eras. We might also touch upon sports history, music history or entertainment history. I hope you’ll provide feedback on these posts, so I know if you are enjoying them.

On this day in history in 1862, P. G. T. Beauregard began moving troops out of Corinth, Mississippi. Beauregard was born in Louisiana and became a prominent general in the Civil War for the Confederate States Army.  Trained at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Beauregard served in the Mexican-American War. After the Southern states seceded, Jefferson Davis was named president of the Confederacy. Davis appointed Beauregard as a general to take command of the militia and big seacoast guns and mortars in Charleston Harbor in South Carolina. Beauregard’s objective was to take control over Fort Sumter, which was running out of supplies and awaiting relief. General Beauregard demanded the surrender of the fort, but U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson refused. The Confederates opened fire on April 12, 1861. Anderson surrendered the following day and the fort was evacuated, giving the Confederates their first victory of the Civil War.

With the help of forces from General Joseph E. Johnston, General Beauregard would seize another victory in July 1861, during the First Battle of Bull Run, or as the South calls it, First Manassas. He is credited with designing the new Confederate flag to avoid confusion between the “stars and bars” and the “stars and stripes” of the United States flag.

Because Beauregard did not get along well with Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the Confederac. He was sent to Tennessee and became second in command under General Albert Sydney Johnston. By this time, the Confederate Army had witnessed defeat, and they were hoping for a victory. Much of northwestern Virginia was under Federal control and Missouri and Kentucky were Union occupied. At this point, Beauregard and Johnston were poised to attack the Union forces under the command of Major General Ulysses S. Grant. Beauregard devised a plan for a march by four different corps on converging roads to deploy for battle on April 4th. The inexperienced troops and officers were soon confused, and rain bogged down the wagons and artillery. By April 4th, none of the Confederate troops had arrived where they were supposed to be and Beauregard wanted to call off the attack. He was sure the delays meant that Grant’s troops had been reinforced by Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell.

Johnston overruled Beauregard, and though they didn’t know it, Grant wasn’t expecting an attack. It was an early patrol that found the advancing Confederates and warned a division under the command of Benjamin M. Prentiss. William Tecumseh Sherman commanded the other division that soon found itself under attack by Confederates. Johnston was mortally wounded in the battle and Beauregard assumed command. The Yankees were successful in repelling the multiple Confederate attacks, but their much smaller force under Prentiss surrendered. Fighting by the division under Prentiss allowed Grant time to post his remaining forces along the Pittsburg Landing ridge. Beauregard called off the attack for the night, which would prove to be a mistake.

Confident of victory, Beauregard sent a telegram to Richmond,  Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. What he did not know is that Grant’s reinforcements had arrived. The next morning, it was the Yankees who were attacking with surprise. The rebels were pushed back to the original point of their attack. Beauregard ordered his men to retreat to Corinth, Mississippi. On that same day, the Union army-navy team won an important battle in Mississippi. After being at war for a year, morale was low. Many southerners turned against Beauregard because of his defeat at Shiloh. Things weren’t going much better for Grant, who was temporarily relieved of command after the initial defeat at Shiloh. His superior, Major General Henry W. Halleck assumed command and slowly advanced on Beauregard.

Beauregard still had a few tricks up his sleeve. Though Corinth was considered a crucial strategic point by the Confederates, Beauregard found the water supply contaminated, and many of his men were still recovering from wounds received at Shiloh. Using the railroad to transport the sick and wounded, along with heavy artillery and supplies, Beauregard planned to fool his opponents by making them think reinforcements had arrived. The train whistle would blow and the troops would cheer, buglers and drummers played, giving Halleck the impression he was facing a much larger force than was actually in Cornith. Beauregard and his troops evacuated. When Union patrols arrived, they found the enemy gone.

Jefferson Davis was angry when he heard the news of Shiloh and Corinth. When Beauregard took an unauthorized leave of absence, he was relieved of command.  But this wasn’t the last Davis would hear of P.G. T. Beauregard.


Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson, Oxford University Press, Inc., 1988

Chronicle Books 2nd Annual Happy Haulidays Giveaway!

Last year, Chronicle Books–one of my favorite publishers–started the Happy Haulidays Giveaway. This year, they have made it even bigger and better, giving bloggers, commenters, and charities a chance to win $500 worth of their books! There are also ways to increase your chances of winning.

To read all the details, please visit: You must enter by December 2nd in order to be eligible.

Here is the stash of books on my list:

Christmas Scratchers by Eric Golden for $9.95

Eddie Van Halen by Neil Zlozower with a foreward by Slash (great present for the hubby) $29.95

Follow the Star by Andy Mansfield (present for our little nephew, nicknamed The Little Olive) $19.99

Holiday Crafting and Baking with Kids by Jessica Strand, photos by Aimee Herring $19.95 (The girls and I love to craft and bake together.)

Ivy and Bean Paper Doll Set by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall (The Lil Princess is a huge Ivy & Bean fan.) $14.99

The Story of Christmas by Pamela Dalton (text based on the King James Version) $17.99

Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats, and Drinks by Stephanie Izard with Heather Shouse, photos by Dan Goldberg $29.95 (Okay, this one’s for me. :))

Botanicals Notebook Collection by Rifle Paper Co. (Great gifts for any lady on your list.) $12.95

Botanicals Stationery Collection by Rifle Paper Co. (Did I mention this would make a great gift? :)) $14.95

Ivy and Bean What’s the Big Idea? by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall $5.99

One Love by Cedella Marley, based on the music of Bob Marley $16.99

Boo The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog by J.H. Lee, photos by Gretchen LeMaistre  (The Lil Diva would go crazy for this one.) $12.95

Brainjuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! by Carol Diggory Shields, Illustrated by Richard Thompson $7.95

Brainjuice: Science, Fresh Squeezed! by Carol Diggory Shields, Illustrated by Richard Thompson $14.95

52 Amazing Science Experiments by Lynn Gordon,Illustrations by Karen Johnson (Don’t think I like science. I really don’t. The kids dig it, though, so I should be happy.) $6.95

From last year’s list I would still like:

Lincoln in 3-D: Amazing and Rare Steroscopic Photographs of His Life and Times by Bob Zeller,and John J. Richter,Prologue by Harold Holzer $35.00 (I’m a Civil War buff.)

The Little Book of Saints  $19.95

Deadgame by Kirk Russell $13.95

Shell Games by Kirk Russell $23.95

Christmas with Rita and Whatsit by Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod,Illustrated by Olivier Tallec $14.99

The Circus Horse: Horse Crazy Book 2 by Alison Lester, Illustrated by Roland Harvey(I read the first book and loved it.) $4.99

The Sea Rescue: Horse Crazy Book 3 by Alison Lester, Illustrated by Roland Harvey (Did I tell you I already love this series?) $4.99

The Royal Show: Horse Crazy Book 4 by Alison Lester, Illustrated by Roland Harvey $4.99

Ivy and Bean Bound to Be Bad by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall $5.99

The Ivy and Bean Secret Treasure Box: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, and a Cool Secret Surprise by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall $19.99

Nana Cracks the  Case! by Kathleen Lane, Concept by Cabell Harris, Illustrations by Sarah Horne (We read Nana Takes the Reins this year. Very funny!) $14.99

The World’s Greatest: Poems by J. Patrick Lewis,Illustrated by Keith Graves (The Lil Diva loves poetry.) $16.99

The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis (Both girls would love this one.) $17.95

Pocket Cash by Jim Marshall,Introduction by John Carter Cash,,with essays by Kris Kristofferson,and Billy Bob Thornton $19.95

D.I.Y. Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratchy Vanessa Barrington, Photos by Sara Remington $24.95

If I can still add–which is debatable considering the early snowstorm, lack of heat and power, sewer water in my basement, and fallen trees–that comes to $480.07.

As for my charity, I choose the Wilbraham Public Library. As a writer, I have to perform research for my books and market research to find agents and publishers to which to submit my projects. The WPL has been an invaluable resource over the past few months. I would especially like to mention Children’s Librarian Elaine Wrubel, and Asst. Child Librarian/Early Childhood Specialist Heidi Kane, both of whom went digging into the basement storage to find books for me. They’ve been truly wonderful.


Seven Miles to Freedom by Janet Halfmann

So engaging it could be fiction, Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story by Janet Halfmann should be in American classrooms everywhere.

The story of Robert Smalls begins in 1939 with his birth into slavery in Charleston, South Carolina. A favored servant, Smalls has a decent life for a slave, but he witnesses firsthand the cruelty of this Peculiar Institution. As he grows from child into man, Smalls falls in love and longs for freedom for him and his family. Seven Miles to Freedom shares how he leads a plot to steal a Confederate steamboat and pilots it into Union held territory.

What a fascinating story! My Civil War collection is the most extensive in my home library. I have numerous non-fiction titles about a variety of topics on the War between the States. I will proudly add Seven Miles to Freedom by Janet Halfmann to my collection.

Having enjoyed Halfmann’s Good Night, Little Sea Otter and Fur and Feathers, I knew the writing would be superb; but it can be difficult to make history interesting for young readers. Halfmann makes it look easy. It’s a true historical action adventure on the Atlantic. I wasn’t sure how I would like the impressionistic artwork for this book, but in the end I decided that Duane Smith’s creations were the perfect complement to the story. His style allows the reader to imagine this being any African-American slave’s story. Granted it is Smalls’s story, but the fact remains there were many brave African-Americans who helped the Union win the Civil War.

It’s no wonder that Seven Miles to Freedom has won so many honors and awards.  If you want to teach your children history in an engaging manner, you’ll want to pick up a copy of this one.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:Lee & Low Books
  • ISBN-10:9781600602320
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600602320
  • SRP:  $17.95

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation to provide this review.

Seven Miles to Freedom by Janet Halfmann

Growing up a slave in South Carolina, Robert Smalls always dreamed of the moment freedom would be within his grasp. Now that moment was here.

Robert stood proudly at the Planter’s wheel. Only seven miles of water lay between the ship and the chance of freedom in Union territory. With precision and amazing courage, he navigated past the Confederate forts in the harbor and steered the ship toward the safety of the Union fleet. Just one miscalculation would be deadly, but for Robert, his family, and his crewmates, the risk was worth taking.

Seven Miles to Freedom is the compelling account of the daring escape of Robert Smalls, a slave steamboat wheelman who became one of the Civil War’s greatest heroes. His steadfast courage in the face of adversity is an inspiring model for all who attempt to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Read an excerpt!

In late 1861 freedom suddenly grew closer for Robert and Hannah. The Union navy captured Fort Royal, just down the coast from Charleston. A Union fleet set up a blockade at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. Looking thorough the captain’s field glasses, Robert could see the northern ships. The Union lines and freedom were within reach—only seven miles away.

Read the Reviews!

“The daring Civil War escape of a slave, his crew and their families in a stolen Confederate supply boat receives appropriately inspirational treatment in this new picture book. . . .Smith, a newcomer to picture books, sketches out scenes and characters with broad daubs of oil, creating a sculptural effect that heightens the monumental nature of Smalls’s deed. Page turns and textual pacing combine to relate the actual escape with pulse-pounding excitement; readers’ relief at Smalls’s success is almost physical. A triumph.”

–Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This book is an excellent vehicle to bring [Smalls’s] story to a wider audience. . . .The oil paintings employ thick, bold strokes and deep saturated colors to convey Smalls’s strength and determination in successfully delivering his and his crew’s family members to freedom.”

–School Library Journal

“The story is simply told with the appropriate perspective of the era and the risks taken by the participants. Dramatically illustrated, this book should find a sympathetic audience among young readers and help reestablish in public memory the existence of a remarkable person.”

—The Bloomsbury Review, Editor’s Favorite


Starred Review: Kirkus Reviews
Honor Book: Society of School Librarians International
Best Children’s Books of the Year: Bank Street College of Education
Editor’s Favorites: The Bloomsbury Review
Honor Book: Paterson Prize for Books for Young People
Land of Enchantment Book Award Masterlist: New Mexico Library Association
Beehive Book Awards Nominee: Children’s Literature Association of Utah
Reading Circle Program: Missouri State Teachers Association

Purchase Seven Miles to Freedom by Janet Halfmann at:

Lee & Low Books –

Amazon –

Barnes and Noble –

Teaching guide for Seven Miles to Freedom by the National Museum of American History:

Janet Halfmann is an award-winning children’s author who strives to make her books come alive for young readers and listeners. She has written more than thirty fiction and nonfiction books.

Before becoming a children’s author, Janet was a daily newspaper reporter, children’s magazine editor, and a creator of coloring and activity books for Golden Books. She is the mother of four and the grandmother of four. When Janet isn’t writing, she enjoys gardening, exploring nature, visiting living history museums, and spending time with her family. She grew up on a farm in Michigan and now lives in South Milwaukee, WI.

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Call Me Kate by Molly Roe

A masterfully told historical is what you’ll find in the award-winning Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires by Molly Roe.

Catherine “Katie” McCafferty is an Irish immigrant living in the Patch. Coal mining is a large industry in Pennsylvania, and poor working conditions, being paid in script, and the ever-present danger of working in the mines complicates the lives of those living in the Patch.

Tragedy comes to Katie’s family and she is forced to leave school and take a job as a domestic to help her family survive. The Civil War has burbled along for months, but when the northern draft is enacted in the fall of 1862, new troubles fall on people in the Patch. Now breadwinners are expected to leave the mines and fight in Lincoln’s War, further tightening the noose around their necks. 

In order to rescue a lifelong friend from the escalating violence, Katie disguises herself as a draft register and infiltrates a secret Irish organization, hoping to prevent bloodshed. But what will happen if her ruse is discovered? And can Katie balance her sense of justice with the law?

Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres. As someone who has studied the Civil War, I had heard of the Molly Maguires, but honestly I never researched this organization fully. Historians are conflicted on their views of the Mollies, with some believing the organization used intimidation and violence against the mining companies; whereas others believe the Mollies were victims of more violence than they ever stirred up.

In Call Me Kate, Katie’s lifelong friend and potential suitor is drawn into the Mollies after a tragic accident. She fears for Con’s life and decides she must infiltrate the organization in order to convince Con to stop what the Mollies are planning. This is a dangerous scheme, as not only must she pose as a man, it’s possible she could be recognized by other residents of the Patch.

Roe has created a superb coming-of-age story with a relatable, likeable, independent-minded heroine who is willing to do whatever it takes to save her family and Con. The author’s attention to detail and knowledge of the region add much to this book.

Young adults will be captivated by Katie’s story and looking forward to the next two books in Roe’s planned trilogy of historical novels based upon her ancestors.  After reading Call Me Kate, I know I’m eager to read them.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Tribute Books
  • ISBN-10: 0981461956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981461953
  • SRP:  $19.95 

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    Molly Roe Bio:

    Molly Roe is the pen name of Mary Garrity Slaby, a veteran language arts & reading teacher at Lake-Lehman Junior Senior High School. Mary holds a Ph.D. in education from Temple University, and Pennsylvania teaching certification in six areas. She has pursued the hobby of genealogy for the past decade. Mary was born in Philadelphia, raised in Schuylkill County, and currently lives in Dallas, Pennsylvania with her husband, John. They are parents of two grown children, Melissa and John Garrett, cover illustrator of Call Me Kate. Digging into the past has given Mary newfound respect for her ancestors and a better understanding of history. Call Me Kate is the first in the author’s trilogy of historical novels loosely based on the lives of the strong women who preceded her.