Friday, September 20, 2019

A is for Andersonville (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

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There are many horrific events and locations connected to the American Civil War including those places in which soldiers were kept as prisoners. Andersonville, Georgia (officially called Camp Sumter) was known as one of the worst places for Union soldiers to be imprisoned during the Civil War.

In 1864, Camp Sumter was built in Andersonville, GA to house the Union prisoners. The Confederate government made the decision to move all the prisoners who were being housed in and around the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, to a location that would be more secure (especially as the Union was pushing closer and closer to Richmond).

Andersonville Prison image from

Andersonville was in existence for a mere 14 months but housed 45,000 Union soldiers with approximately 13,000 of them dying due to disease, malnutrition, exposure to the elements and other causes. It grew in size from the original 16.5 acres to 26.5 acres in an attempt to accommodate the growing number of men being held there during the final years of the Civil War. The prison was enclosed by a stockade wall. About 19 feet from the wall was the 'deadline' which prisoners were forbidden to cross. This restriction was to prevent prisoners from trying to climb over the wall or tunnel out. If a prisoner was found crossing the deadline, one of the guards in the sentry boxes or 'pigeon roosts' was allowed to shoot them.


Even though part of the reason of moving the men to Andersonville was to provide better house and access to food and water, these things would not actually occur. There was only one source of water for the prison - a branch of Sweetwater creek - and with rations in dwindling supply for the rest of the Confederacy there wasn't much left for Union prisoners. The economic conditions in the Confederacy were poor—namely, a lack of transportation and materials—and the government needed to supply its army.

From the official records of The War of the Rebellion, we have several accounts of the conditions of the prison. These provide first-hand accounts of the terrible conditions suffered in Georgia.

In early August, it is written that 3 surgeons attended the men at the prison and found 27,000 men imprisoned in a 25-acre enclosure, half of which is swamp land. There were 75 to 100 men dying daily. Those that were surviving had no shelter of any kind and their overcoats and blankets were taken away from them. In the field hospital at the prison there were 600 men with no medical attention.

In a letter to Major General John H. Foster of the U.S. Army, Stewart L. Woodford shared that the men at Andersonville were suffering and requested to be exchanged:

"The privates received by me yesterday unite in describing the condition of their late comrades at Andersonville as being pitiful in the extreme. They state they are but half fed, that they are naked, suffering, sick, and dying." (August 17, 1864, The War of the Rebellion)

Sherman image from

Operating at Smaller Capacity and the End

When General Sherman was moving through Georgia, the Confederacy moved the majority of the prisoners to other camps. Andersonville then continued to house less men until the end of the war in April 1865. With the end of the war, there came the arrest of the prison commandant, Captain Henry Wirz. He was charged with "murder, in violation of the laws of war." After being tried and found guilty, he was hanged on November 10, 1865. There is a monument erected to him by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Unfortunately, there was suffering on both sides during the American Civil War. Neither a Union prisoner or a Confederate prisoner had an easy time of it as he awaited his release. It has been estimated that over 190,000 Northerners and almost 215,000 Southerners were captured and confined with over 30,000 Union and 26,000 Confederate prisoners dying during imprisonment. From poor conditions to poor administration, there were many reasons why hardships awaited the lives of the Civil War prisoner.

Looking for more about the American Civil War

Be sure to read my posts about Robert E. Lee, George B. McClellan, and Ulysses S. Grant. I have also shared information about several battles including Antietam and Gettysburg.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Book Club: Book Review of The Spice King

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I know I have been writing this a lot in my book reviews but I am very glad that I had the chance to read The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden. The first book in a new series, Hope and Glory, is a fantastic work of historical fiction that brings to life Washington D.C. during the time period after the Spanish-American War. As a fan of historical novels, this book hit all the right notes for me.

The novel written by Elizabeth Camden, who is known for historical fiction set in the Gilded Age of America, follows the life of Gray Delacroix, the Spice King, and his family. We are also introduced to Annabelle Larkin who has recently moved to Washington D.C., with her sister Elaine, from Kansas. Annabelle has a temporary job at the Smithsonian Institution which brings her into contact with Gray. She is tasked with gaining access to Gray's private orchid collection and if she gains that access, to see a rare vanilla orchid that is believed to be extinct. Annabelle manages to ingratiate herself with Gray by bringing a whimsical world map of spices and the two very quickly start to fall in love. Gray opens his heart to Annabelle as he shows her his spice factory and his private greenhouses. We see her growing attraction to Gray even as she needs to look for evidence for the War Department to secure a permanent position in D.C. Why is it so important that she stays in D.C.? Her blind sister is working at the Library of Congress and relies upon Annabelle for assistance.

In addition to seeing the development of the characters of Gray and Annabelle, as readers we also learn of Gray's siblings – Caroline and Luke, the Talbots, the parents of Annabelle, and a rival business family. I really felt like I got to know each character through the descriptions and conversations written by Camden. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the adulterated food products, the debate about government regulation of food (and spices), and the First Lady, Ida McKinley (I want to go read more about her now!). For fans of historical fiction, I highly recommend The Spice King.

I really like books that make me want to read more about the topics introduced and discussed. I already had an understanding about the need for the Pure Food and Drug Act after studying another historical fiction novel set in the early 1900s but it was very interesting to see how manufacturers also attempted to scam customers and save money through the use of chemicals and spices. And with the description of Annabelle and Elaine trying different spices while making dinner I want to go and experiment with spices in my own kitchen. These are sure signs of a good book for me.

Who might enjoy this book? Readers who like historical fiction, Christian romance, cooking and baking, mystery and intrigue, and good triumphing over evil will find something to enjoy in The Spice King. It is a fast-paced novel written by a Christy and RITA Award-winning author. I recommend you take a look at it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Blogging Through the Alphabet Series Introduction

It is time for a new Blogging Through the Alphabet Series! If you are unfamiliar with what Blogging Through the Alphabet is, no worries, here is what our series is all about.

Several bloggers have joined together to host a link up for weekly blogs based upon a common theme: a specific letter of the alphabet each week. Sometimes individual bloggers have a theme for all 26 blog posts and other times they write about whatever strikes them as interesting for that letter and that week. In the past, A Mom's Quest to Teach has shared two series of Blogging Through the Alphabet posts with a history focus. A Net in Time's shared a series of posts regarding how to breed and raise rabbits (these are so interesting!). Others shared posts about places to visit in their state, children's books, or recipes.

 The Rules

  • Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it. 
  • When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares. 
  • Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up. 
  • Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
  • If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love. 
  • The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

What Does Blogging Through the Alphabet Series Mean to Me?

This series provides me with the opportunity to have at least one non-review post a week. I also get the opportunity to share my love of history with others. And I get to research new topics as I pick and choose what I would like to write about each week. For example, I may already have lots of information about the American Civil War and Egyptology, but when it came to writing my posts about China, I needed to do some research. This was fun for me. I love to research history topics. I hope you join me on my journey through history again this series. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Wordless Wednesday: Our Homeschool

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We are officially back to school! Here are some of the photos I took around our schooling rooms (which is mostly the living room and dining room) for a mostly Wordless Wednesday post.

We use our calendar to keep track of everything from trips to the library as well as when I will be sharing different reviews and blog posts. 

I love having this quote visible to me at all times when I am blogging and homeschooling.

I love having the map of the United States at the level of the kids so they can find states, cities, and bodies of water. 

I keep extra worksheets for our younger children to work on and complete when they are bored while one is working on the laptop in a file holder on the wall.

I am using this large canvas crate to hold our books and workbooks when we are not homeschooling. Each day I pull out the ones we need and place them on the dining room table for our schooling day. 

How do you organize your homeschool? 

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Virtual Refrigerator Weekly Art Link Up: Sewing Kit

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We would like to extend an invitation to you and your children to share their artwork created while homeschooling. Each month, we will host a link-up for you to share your posts about you or your children's art creation.

After you link up, please visit the other blogs and admire what they have shared from their fridges.

Learning to Sew

During the last week of August, we took a trip to the bookstore. In addition to buying several books for the kids, we also picked up a Minecraft workbook and a sewing kit. Our daughter was so excited to start working on the sewing kit.

My Simple Sewing 

This book and craft kit is from Klutz Jr and features three crafts that a child ages 4 and up can make with just a little bit of help from a parent. There are also two practice crafts included to help your child learn how to sew. Our daughter created a donut and a peanut butter & jelly sandwich to start. 


The first real sewing craft is the pizza pocket. It allows for lots of creativity and individualization as part of the materials include felt toppings of pepperoni, green pepper slices, mushrooms, and olives to accompany the eyes, mouth, and cheeks. 

Other Projects 

We have been working on one project every other day or so (depending on our schedule) so we still have two projects left: a cookie key chain and plush cupcake. Both of these crafts allow our daughter to be creative as she places the chocolate chips on the cookie and the sprinkles for the cupcake.

There are even some additional ideas listed at the end of the book for kids to create a dinosaur, a ladybug, and a watermelon from paper plates. These projects also include sewing so you can reuse the plastic needle that is included with the kit

My Thoughts 

All the materials (with a few exceptions) that children will need to complete the projects are included in the kit. This is fantastic for getting kids started right away! It would be a good kit to take on a long weekend or vacation for those rainy days when sightseeing or going to the pool isn't possible. 

We have been on the lookout for a simple sewing project for our children after we found one for $1 at the craft store. I love that our daughter can learn the basic skills necessary to sew with a safer plastic needle. Then we can move onto other sewing implements as she gets older. Now I just need to find a different kit for our son because he wants to join in, too. 

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