Today on History Undressed, I'd like to welcome back, Nancy Lee Badger! She's written a great post for us today on Fort Sumter. And I must say, I love the title of her new book!
FORT SUMTER-Then & Now
By Nancy Lee Badger author of SOUTHERN FRIED DRAGON
A funny thing happened one year ago this month while celebrating my husband’s birthday. We took a few days off and headed south to Charleston, South Carolina. The harbor is famous for the various forts and battle scenes made infamous during The War Between The States, also known on its 150th anniversary as The Civil War. As history buffs, and as descendants of those who fought in the war, we wanted to see where it all began. Little did I know that the experience would culminate in SOUTHERN FRIED DRAGON, my latest paranormal romance.
|Fort Sumter -- THEN|
We toured the first of two museums to get a flavor for what the ferry ride would offer later. We saw grainy black & white photos, and drawings depicting life in the city of Charleston before talk of secession made its way to its halls. The city is nestled in a protective harbor made safe by the many forts lining the waterway. Begun in 1829 while memories of the war of independence from the British were still fresh, the fort was still not nearly complete when the threat of secession grew. The Federal government’s huge five-sided fort on a man-made island of stone was built to protect against possible seafaring attacks from foreign governments or pirates. No one would have foreseen its explosive demise.
My book’s hero, a federal officer of Scottish descent, is stationed at Fort Moultrie when word comes that a special secession convention had voted unanimously to secede from the union. I describe how under the cover of darkness he and his men secretly transferred from indefensible Fort Moultrie and took over the partially built Fort Sumter. In theory, Fort Sumter was a well thought out construction project. Three stories of thick brick and stone, it was immense for the times. However, it was built to withstand bombardments from passing ships, whose low-slung cannons could not breach the inner sanctum.
Unfortunately, the southern secession forces took over several batteries that stood on land less than a mile away. Their shells easily flew up and over the walls, landing inside the fort where they did horrific damage. Luckily, no lives were lost, but return fire was sparse. The Federal soldiers were small in number and most cannons faced the open sea. They had no fuses to explode the cannon balls and their food was nearly gone. Surrender came within thirty-four hours of the first shell.
|Fort Sumter National Monument|
The boat ride out into the harbor was pleasant. When we walked along the wharf and stared at what was left of the walls, we were silenced by what we saw. Even though little is left of the original structure, our visit allowed us to walk through the Sally Port and into the inner parade ground. Dozens of cannons were on display surrounded by battered walls, broken staircases, and decrepit barracks.
The section called Battery Huger, added years later, contains another museum and a tattered flag that once flew above the fort. A grassy overlook allows visitors to look toward the sea and imagine the soldiers as they waited for supply ships that never arrived. The fort’s five-foot-thick walls still stand, but only the first floor. Parts of the second level are in ruin, but the entire third level was blown away as the war progressed and after the Confederates took control of the grounds. There is little left of the enlisted men’s barracks, or the officer’s quarters. Though the fort was 90% complete by the time the Federal soldiers were fired upon and held ports for 135 guns and could house a garrison of 650 men, only about nine or ten casement guns returned fire. Only 85 men stood against thousands during April 12 through April 14th, the beginning of what became four years of Civil War.
Amid cannon fire, and the threat of Civil War, love and trust will find a way.
Dru Little flew away from her home in a cave beneath a Scottish Island to end her lonely existence and find companionship across the sea. Her journey in late 1860 has led her to the modern American city of Charleston, South Carolina. Hiding her true self, she takes over the life of a serving girl and enjoys the hard life working in a tavern near the wharves. She has no idea that her life will turn upside down in a dark alley the moment a handsome soldier saves her life.
Lieutenant Shaw Stenhouse has his own worries. Southern secessionists are talking up a storm in Charleston. His fellow Federal soldiers are suddenly at risk from the community they are here to protect. The possibility of civil war takes a backseat when he saves a comely lass from drunken sailors. A good deed and a stolen kiss put a smile on his face until the threat of war becomes a reality. Their instant attraction proves disastrous when Dru spots her former lover, the Black Dragon, working for General Beauregard and the southern troops. As the clandestine group plans their attack on Fort Sumter, and Shaw’s soldiers, she takes to the sky.
Dru fights against the threat of detection, while she fears losing Shaw’s love. What will he do when he finds out that she is a powerful Scottish dragon Hell-bent on carrying him to safety? When Shaw discovers her hiding inside the heavily guarded fortress, thoughts of espionage—and worse—catapult the two lovers into danger from many sides.
When her former lover threatens Shaw, Dru must decide which is more important: protecting another of her kind, now nearly extinct, or protecting the human male, the man she has come to love.
Dru wanted to take flight and find Shaw. Was he all right? Where could he and his fellow soldiers have gone? Would she ever see him again?
She missed his kisses, but wanted him to stay safe. Her heartbeat pounded in her human chest when she dreamed of him. Her body softened when she remembered his taste, his smell, and the feel of his naked chest as he rose over her.
Why had Mistress Cumberland interrupted them? Her body had made ready for his, welcoming him. Frustration filled her nights since he kissed her cheek and returned to Sullivan Island.
Now? He’d left Fort Moultrie for places unknown.
Maggie muttered something.
Dru refilled the pitchers, then tossed pieces of Maggie’s fried chicken on a platter. The aroma made Dru’s stomach growl. “Maggie, speak up. I cannot offer my opinion if I do not know the question.”
“I am complaining, that be all. I would rather be abed. My head aches and I feel the cold, today.”
Dru smiled. The weather had turned blustery, but warmer than the winters she spent in Scotland. “Why not take to yer bed? I can handle the few men who have not the sense to keep to their homes this day.”
“Ah, you are a lovely lass. What would Mistress Cumberland say?”
“She’s off to church then to her daughter’s home for dinner.”
Maggie removed a large tray of biscuits from the oven, then wiped her hands on her apron. She sighed as she kissed Dru on the cheek, then trudged up the back stairs. The peck on the cheek, so similar to Shaw’s kiss, did not ignite her senses the way they sparked to life when Shaw drew near.
Dru hefted the pitcher of cider, foregoing the ale. Men had no need to get in their cups tonight. Cradling a basket filled with Maggie’s biscuits, she pushed through the door separating the hot kitchen from the much cooler dining hall.
As she walked among the tables, a half a dozen men nodded. She filled their tankards and offered biscuits. Her heightened dragon hearing caught their conversation. The tone sounded tinged with anger, while some chuckled.
“Aye, they turned tail and ran,” one man said.
“The fort is burning. Nobody’s home, I hear.”
“Are you talking ‘bout the soldiers from Fort Moultrie?” Dru asked, biting her bottom lip for her impertinence.
“We are, woman. The soldier boys are cowards.” Laughter filled the dining hall.
Dru forced a smile, though inside she worried about Shaw. The fort was aflame? Where was he?
“Where have they gone, do ye suppose?” she asked, pouring more cider to delay her return to the kitchen. She would rather take flight, follow Shaw’s scent, and carry him to safety. Maybe, all the way back to Scotland.
“I have no idea,” one man said, before downing his cider.
All heads turned toward a spry old fisherman who had settled by the front window. Dru recognized him as the kind man who’d delivered Shaw’s gift. He sat alone with a cup of tea.
“What do you know, Joseph?” A large dockworker stood and tossed the man a hot biscuit. Joseph caught it on the fly without moving more than one arm.
“I’ve me sources, boys.” Joseph smiled.
Dru walked over to his table and poured him a tankard of cider. She would not return to the kitchen, even to reheat his tea, until she heard what he knew about the soldiers.
“They moved camp, ‘tis all.”
“Moved where?” asked another patron. Everyone went quiet, as if Joseph was a storyteller, guiding the story to its mysterious conclusion.
“Fort Sumter, in the bay.”
For more information about Fort Sumter and Charleston:
Fort Sumter National Monument http://www.nps.gov/fosu/index.htm
Ferry Service to Fort Sumter http://www.spiritlinecruises.com/sumter_overview.asp
Charleston, SC Welcome Center http://www.charlestoncvb.com/
South Carolina Aquarium http://scaquarium.org/default.aspx
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. She and her family continue to volunteer at the New Hampshire Highland Games each fall. Nancy is a member of RWA, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy also writes romantic suspense as Nancy Lennea and is a proud Army Mom. Nancy’s earlier release, DRAGON IN THE MIST, recently won 1st Place in the Silken Sands Self-Published STARS Literary Contest hosted by the Gulf Coast RWA Chapter.
More about Nancy’s latest release:
Title: SOUTHERN FRIED DRAGON
Author: Nancy Lee Badger
Genre: Paranormal Historical
Length: 30,000 Word Novella
Amazon ASIN: B0074CX7SE
Buy Link: http://amzn.to/zgv30B