Civil War Dates

Innumerable events and individuals influenced the American Civil War. This timeline includes those events and persons that I consider will guide readers of Stand The Storm.

1793 – invention of the cotton gin - leads to the expansion of slavery

1850 – passage of the Fugitive Slave Law

1857 – March 6th - decision in the Dred Scott case

1860 – November 6th - Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th President of the United States

1861 – April 12th - firing on Fort Sumter, S.C., start of the Civil War

1862 – April 16th - Congress abolishes slavery in the District of Columbia with financial compensation to former slave owners

1863 – January 1st - The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect. All slaves in Confederate Territory are declared free. The policy does not apply to the border states or to Southern territory held by the Union before January 1st. First regiment of colored troops mustered into service.

1864 – April 12th - Fort Pillow Massacre

1865 – April 9th - Lee surrenders at Appomatox

1865 – April 14th - Lincoln assasinated at Ford's Theater

Behind the Book

One of the more valuable sources of 19th Century flavor for Stand The Storm is newspapers from the period. During my research time – time spent "seasoning up" my imagination to create a fictional account of an historic period, I collected archival newspapers. Most of the newspapers are actually from the era – not reprints. Because of their high rag content, many are in good shape and are readable. I've got mine in archival sleeves, but I bring them out occasionally and I cherish reading them. I look at news articles, advertisements, and examine the paper - smelling and touching. One paper in my collection of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly is dated Saturday, June 27, 1857 and reports a visit to Dred Scott and his wife and daughters at their home. I feel a stir while looking into the Scott family’s faces though the story that accompanies the pictures is demeaning and racist. They are human dignity personified and their grace, their physical and intellectual stature are clear and unmistakable. The portraits fly in the face of the pernicious decision that is associated with Dred Scott’s name. On the cover of the December 28, 1861 issue, the trademark woodcut is of three Black women imprisoned in the female department of the Washington jail. The image is compelling and provocative of ideas.

I grew up in Washington, D.C. and our family visited the Smithsonian Institution museums at least once a year. So I know where to go to see some of the every day items of 19C. Washington, D.C. Looking at spinning wheels, weaving looms, laundry buckets and agricultural tools at the Museum of American History gave me an opportunity to judge how my characters must move their bodies in order to accomplish their tasks. What relationship to the size of the tool? What clothing must be worn or should be worn to accomplish the work? Of course The Smithsonian’s textile collection was invaluable. Because the characters in Stand The Storm are needle workers, I kept my gaze trained on hand tools. In contemplating the implications of quilting, embroidery and fine tailoring in the 19C, I realized that illumination and ventilation would be crucial issues, too. This is the kind of atmospheric detail I try to incorporate in my novel and use to deepen my understanding of my characters. I went to historic period houses to see 19C lamps, typical room settings and furniture. I engaged in discussions of heating and lighting elements and plumbing and cooking processes with the docents.

I love inquiry into the provenance of ordinary objects and photos and jewelry. I’m fond of perusing antique stores and flea markets. After reading about a particular quilting method that employs a simple, tacking system that nevertheless has roots in African tradition, I saw a very mundane quilt in my favorite thrift store with that same knotting pattern. My heart jumped up and I paid a couple of dollars for it. I've got this quilt as an accent element in my home and am reminded daily that an unknown woman has made a very ordinary quilt that continues a long African and American textile tradition.