Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


***All photos accompanying posts are either owned by the author of said post or are in the public domain -- NOT the property of History Undressed. If you'd like to obtain permission to use a picture from a post, please contact the author of the post.***

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Video of the Week: What the Oregon Trail Looks Like Today

I was obsessed with the Oregon Trail when I was younger! Check out this video from the Smithsonian!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Memorial Day!

Today is Memorial Day. Do you know why we celebrate? Today we give thanks to those who serve(d) our country in order to keep us safe. Thank you.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Happy Birthday John F. Kennedy!

Today is John F. Kennedy, the USA's 35th President's birthday. Below is a short bio of his life.

Check out Eliza Knight's New and Upcoming Releases!

Taken by the Highlander (in the Captured by a Celtic Warrior Anthology)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bold...Brilliant...Brave...Heroines Throughout History: PETTICOAT SPIES by Tara Kingston

Heroines Throughout History
Tara Kingston

Greetings! I’m Tara Kingston, historical romance author and lover of all things Victorian. I’m fascinated by history through the ages, especially the bold, brilliant women who helped shape our world, and I’m delighted to be a monthly contributor to History Undressed. I’ll be sharing facts about daring women through history—some famous, some not so well-known, but all remarkable with their own unique contributions.

Today’s post takes a look at several female spies of the Civil War era. Driven by fierce loyalty, women on both sides of the conflict faced incredible risks to gather intelligence that help defeat the enemy. This month, the focus is on some of brave women who spied for the Union.

Elizabeth Van Lew ~ The true story of the Richmond, Virginia matron known as Crazy Bet was the inspiration for the cagy spymaster in Pistols, Parasols & Passionate Little Lies, the second book in my Secrets & Spies series. Abolitionist Elizabeth Van Lew capitalized on her eccentric personality while she operated a spy ring out of her Richmond home. While making visits to provide aid and food to Union prisoners at Libby Prison, she was able to funnel information to the inmates and aided those who managed to escape.

Pauline Cushman ~ Actress Pauline Cushman served as a Union spy behind enemy lines, using her charm and acting skills to gain access to intelligence. Caught with Confederate battle plans, she was tried and sentenced to hang, but narrowly escaped execution. After her rescue by Union forces, she was honored by President Lincoln and awarded the rank of Brevet-Major by General James Garfield.

Harriet Tubman ~ The renowned Underground Railroad conductor served as a spy behind the Confederate line during the Civil War, establishing a spy network of former slaves. In 1863, she became the first American woman to lead a military expedition when she led a raid to free hundreds of slaves from rice plantations along the Combahee River in South Carolina.

Sarah Emma Edmonds ~ Disguised as a man, Sarah Edmonds (under the alias Frank Thompson) enlisted in the 2nd Michigan Infantry as a male field nurse. She later is said to have served as a spy, infiltrating the Confederate Army behind enemy lines using a variety of disguises, including the persona of an Irish peddler named Bridget O’Shea and dyeing her skin with silver nitrate to affect the persona of a black man named Cuff.

Petticoat spies like these courageous women inspired my Secrets & Spies series. The first book in the series, Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies, is on sale for Kindle until May 28 for only 99 cents! Here’s a link:  Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies on Kindle

Here’s a little about the story:

A heart's destiny cannot be denied when a daring Union spy abducts a beautiful runaway bride he suspects of being a traitor.

Emma Davenport was a model senator’s daughter: prim, proper, but hell-bent on escaping the dreaded fate of spinsterhood that awaited her under wartime Washington’s all-too watchful eye. She was going to be a bride, and no one was going to stop her. Not even the daring renegade who steals her from a train transporting her to a forbidden marriage. Her heart tells her this mysterious desperado is a dangerous man, but the pleasure of his touch is a more potent threat than any weapon.

Union Army Major Cole Travis is a highly trained operative, as skilled with deception as he is with a gun. Keeping a beautiful traitor from her rendezvous with a treacherous scoundrel shouldn’t be a challenge for the battle-seasoned spy—but he’s not the only one after his tempting captive. Emma Davenport must be kept out of enemy hands at all costs. Drawn to this woman whose innocent allure may be just another weapon in her arsenal, Cole risks his neck to shield her. Soon, however, protecting her from his own heart’s desire becomes another story entirely.

 To Read More About Civil War Petticoat Spies:

https://www.nps.gov/resources/person.htm?id=76 All photographs are in the public domain.

About The Author:

Award-winning author Tara Kingston writes historical romance laced with intrigue, danger, and adventures of the heart. A Southern belle-out-of-water in a quaint Pennsylvania town, she lives her own love story with her real-life hero in a cozy Victorian. The mother of two sons, Tara's a former librarian whose love of books is evident in her popping-at-the-seams bookcases. It goes without saying that Tara's husband is thankful for the invention of digital books, thereby eliminating the need for yet another set of shelves. When she's not writing, reading, or burning dinner, Tara enjoys cycling, hiking, and cheering on her favorite football team.

In a world where a man’s loyalty doesn’t depend on the color of a uniform, danger, intrigue, and passion are facts of life for the men and women of Tara’s Secrets & Spies series, historical romances set against the backdrop of the Civil War. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GK677PY/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Big Guns

Pirate ships were well equipped with weaponry. For any ship worth its reputation, shipboard guns were an important part of the arsenal. It was these guns that waged war, won battles, and kept crews alive. But they were more complex than just cannons that go boom.

The basics:

First and foremost, cannons were not cannons aboard a ship. They were called guns. And the projectiles they fired were not cannon balls, rather they were shot. Guns were made from cast iron or sometimes bronze. Iron guns were subjected to corrosion from saltwater causing misfires or the lodging of the shot. Bronze guns were expensive to make.  The longer the barrel of the gun, the farther it fired. Well, sort of, since the farther the distance the greater the inaccuracy. The guns could weigh anywhere from a few hundred pounds to several tons.  Smaller guns, such as swivel guns, could be fastened to the ship, but the larger guns were mounted on wooden carriages. These big guns were identified by the weight of the shot they were made for.  It was common for ships to carry 8-pounders, 12-pounders, 24-pounders, 36-pounders, and higher. There are a variety of small calibers, too.

Parts of a shipboard gun
Those suckers on carriages were big, weighed a ton (literally), and were dangerous.  Smooth sailing did not apply with guns on board. They had to be lashed down to prevent rolling. Gun tackle (ropes) were tied to both sides of the carriage. In addition, a breeching rope was tied to the knob at the rear of the gun (called a cascabel) and fastened to the ship’s hull (wall). The breeching rope gave way just enough for loading. It also helped prevent the gun from recoiling with such force to snap the lashing ropes – a term called jumping its track.  More rope was used to pull the gun up to the gun port. This rope, known as the train tackle, was attached to an eyebolt below the cascabel.

It takes a team:

Seriously, it took four to five men per gun working in synchronicity to fire. Men had assigned guns which totally makes sense when avoiding additional chaos in the heat of battle. After the gun was unlashed, hauled inward, the gun ports opened, and the equipment used for priming and loading were in hand, the real work commenced.

The gun’s barrel was swabbed with a wet sponger rod to remove residue or embers. Loose, measured gunpowder went in first using a scooped powder ladle. Gunpowder might also come wrapped in
Beautiful thief + sexy libertine = wicked fun
Click  here for more!
cloth. Once the gunpowder was in, it was followed by a cloth, paper, or sometimes hay wad, packed in using a ramrod. Shot and another wad (to prevent the shot from rolling out) were rammed in next. A priming iron was used to clear the touchhole of residue and, if using a cartridge charge, pricked open the charge to expose gunpowder. The touchhole was filled with more gunpowder. The men adjusted the gun’s height using a quoin—a wooden wedge with notches on the carriage. A two to three-foot lintstock with a slow burning match was then set near enough to the touchhole to ignite the powder. Bam! A good gun crew familiar with their weapon could swab, load, aim, and fire a gun within two to five minutes. Huzzah, ye sea dogs!

Types of shot:

  • Aside from spherical balls of varying size and weight, pirates (and naval crews) were creative in their deadly projectiles.
  • bar shot - two balls affixed at the ends of an iron bar (effective for maximum damage on men and rigging)
  • chain shot - two balls affixed at each end of a chain (also effective in destroying rigging and sails)
  • double shot - two balls with extra gunpowder in one gun
  • grape shot - small iron balls wrapped in canvas (think buckshot, lots of balls taking out more than one target, be it human or other objects)
  • langrage - canisters filled with scrap metal, nails, bolts, and even eating utensils (another impressive way to annihilate crew and rigging)
  • partridge shot - small bags filled with pellets of lead (excellent for saturating an area)
  • trundle shot - iron spikes or sharpened bars (good for impaling)

And these are just what was used in the guns. Weapons used by pirates were extensive—a topic for another post.

About the Author

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.