Thursday, April 15, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet: B is for Billy Yank

Blogging Through the Alphabet B is for Billy Yank, background photo of cannon; A Mom's Quest to Teach logo


This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

When it comes to nicknames, the American Civil War has provided many: 

  • Johnny Reb
  • Rebel Yell
  • "Stonewall" Jackson
  • Honest Abe 
  • "Lee's War Horse"
  • Little Mac 
But one that may have been added after the Civil War was the term, Billy Yank. And it probably gained popularity with a classic Civil War history, The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union by Bell Irwin Wiley. He had already written a book about Johnny Reb and wanted to pen a companion piece. As Wiley stated, "The two were so much alike that the task of giving this book a flavor and character distinct from The Life of Johnny Reb has at times been a difficult one" (13). 

In What Ways Were the Two Soldiers Who Fought for Different Causes Similar? 


  • Pride in themselves and their families 
  • Sense of duty 
  • Will and strength to endure
  • Devotion to country 
  • Devotion to the cause 

What was unique about Billy Yank? 


  • Devotion to Abraham Lincoln
  • Devotion to McClellan
  • Deep patriotism 
  • Joined because of the example of friends and family 
  • Antislavery urge – abolitionism 


book cover of The Life of Billy Yank


Who Were the Billy Yanks? Who Wore the Blue Uniform? 


The men of the Union Army were very diverse. Among the Union soldiers, there were people of various nationalities, races, creeds, and occupations. Different religious denominations were represented, and the age range was quite large. Very young boys would sign up as drummer boys, and men like John Burns from Gettysburg would help fight for the North. We may never know the exact ages of all the Yanks as they often listed their ages as 18 and up – even if they were younger – so they could enlist. 

When Wiley investigated 123 company rolls, he created a list of over 300 occupations. What an amazing and varied group of talented men gathered together for a common cause. And the occupations of some of these Billy Yanks included: 

  • Barkeepers 
  • Chemists
  • Grocers 
  • Iron workers 
  • Miners 
  • Pianists 
But the most numerous group? Farmers. 

This diversity in the Union Army meant that they were able to fulfill needs – like print official papers, re-lay railroad rails, and provide entertainment – in between the battles and more. They were resourceful.

Blogging Through the Alphabet: B is for Billy Yank; A Mom's Quest to Teach; background of school clip art and clip art of Union Drummer boy from wpclipart.com


Where Were They From? 


While Billy Yank fought for the North, his ancestors (and perhaps himself) were from one of many nations. The majority were Americans. There were regiments made up of solely different ethnic groups like those in New York made up of Germans or Irish or the 15th Wisconsin made up of Scandinavians. And while the Union Army was mostly white, there were 186,017 African Americans on the Federal muster rolls and a brigade of Native Americans in the Indian Home Guard.

The men in blue were a mix of weak and strong men who were sometimes less prepared than other days. They were proud to defend their nation but were also scared at times. I don't think Billy Yank is much different than the men at uniform in any time or place.

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of My Dear Miss Dupré

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; Book Club: Book Review of My Dear Miss Dupré; floral background

I received a COMPLIMENTARY copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

I enjoy reading historical fiction, so it was natural to read and review My Dear Miss Dupré by Grace Hitchcock. It is the first book in the American Royalty series where we meet the Dupré family and those who are part of the 1880s Four Hundred in New York City. 

"Thirty suitors, six months of courting...would it be enough time for her to fall in love?" 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Review of My Dear Miss Dupré; cover of the book


The 358-page paperback book opens on New Year's Eve in 1882 with Willow Dupré ice skating. We quickly meet one of Willow's suitors - Friedrich Blythe - and learn of her parents' plans to hold a competition to help Willow pick a husband. Willow had no knowledge of this competition until she saw Mr. Blythe's invitation. The idea behind the competition is to find Willow a husband to help her manage the Dupré sugar industry. Even though she had trained alongside her father to manage and eventually take over, the shareholders do not want her running the business without a husband – a man – by her side.

Throughout the book, we meet Willow's 30 suitors, those involved with the sugar business, and others. Do not think this is a book just about romance. There is also cooperate espionage as a sugar competitor attempts to push the Dupré's out of business. And to complicate matters, there is intrigue among the suitors as one is a spy for that competitor, one is leaking information to the press, and one is even more dangerous. 

I have mixed feelings about My Dear Miss Dupré. I enjoyed parts of the book immensely. I found, with only about 80 pages left, I couldn't put the book down. I even think the story would translate well to the silver screen but I struggled with the book at times. I would still recommend My Dear Miss Dupré because I think it is a good book. I look forward to the next in the series. I am very curious to see if it will be about Willow's good friend, Flora. So if you like Christian historical romance, please check out My Dear Miss Dupré

Cover of My Dear Miss Dupré


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet: A is for Andersonville in History and Fiction

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; photograph of cannon; Blogging Through the Alphabet: A is for Andersonville in History and Fiction

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

In the history of the American Civil War, there are many horrors that can be shared. From children who lost fathers to fathers who never really came home due to experiences at prisons like Andersonville, life was difficult during and after the Civil War. While reading a recent work of fiction, I was introduced to the idea that the Union soldiers who survived their time at Andersonville may have come home with unseen wounds. 

What was life like at Andersonville? 

The daily life at Andersonville was one of monotony. The men were responsible for constructing a place to live, trying to keep their clothing, and maintaining some level of cleanliness to stave off illnesses that were always knocking at the door. When they weren't trying to keep themselves safe, clean, and fed, they would talk of potential freedom, the food they missed, the nature of the weather, and their health (or lack of health). And, of course, they spoke about the reports from the field of battle.


clipart of Andersonville from wpclipart.com
from wpclipart.com


I may earn a commission through the links provided.  

How does Fiction tie into Andersonville? 

I recently read and reviewed the second in the Windy City Saga by Jocelyn Green – Shadows of the White City. As I enjoyed this book set during the Colombian Expedition, I read the first book in the series – Veiled in Smoke. In this work of Christian fiction, Meg and Sylvie Townsend try to take care of their father, Stephen, who is a Civil War veteran who spent time as a prisoner in Andersonville. He returns home after the war a changed man. 

I must admit to never really thinking about how the men who suffered in Civil War prison camps would fare at the end of the Civil War. It only makes sense – after reading Veiled in Smoke – that some of the men would suffer PTSD, which was referred to as 'soldier's heart.' 

In this fictional account, Stephen builds a replica of Andersonville in their backyard, patrols the rooftops of their building with his gun, and cannot bear the affectionate touches of his daughters. He eventually finds himself in an asylum where doctors attempt to treat him for 'soldier's heart.' After a small bit of research, I found the post-war asylums housed many veterans who raged and exhibited peculiar behaviors. Others were documented to see people that they saw die either during battle or, like the fictional Stephen, see the men they could not save in the prisons. 

Prisons like Andersonville, Libby, and Elmira caused problems for the men while they were imprisoned and also continued to haunt them after the Civil War ended. How sad are the devastating effects of war!


photograph of cannon; Blogging Through the Alphabet: A is for Andersonville in History and Fiction


To read more about Andersonville, please check out my post from 2019: A is for Andersonville.

If you would like to join the Blogging Through the Alphabet link-up, please follow these rules: 

  • Your post must be family-friendly. We have the right to remove any posts that are inappropriate.
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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet 2021 Series Introduction

 Blogging Through the Alphabet 2021 Series Introduction; A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; background photo of cannon

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

After a bit of a hiatus, I am participating in another Blogging Through the Alphabet series on A Mom's Quest to Teach. After I finished my series on the American Civil War with Z is for Zouaves, I deliberated about what topic or theme I would like to do next. At one time, I thought about writing about World War I or crafts for children's books. But, since I have found myself very busy of late due to work, homeschooling, and family obligations, I decided to stick to one of my favorite subjects. I will be writing another series on the American Civil War.

For this series, I already have some topic ideas including: 

  • Billy Yank and Johnny Reb (thanks to the books by Bell I. Wiley) as inspiration 
  • Devil's Den 
  • Harriet Tubman 
  • Frederick Douglass 
  • Vicksburg 
  • Andrew Johnson 
  • North Star 
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin 
  • Chancellorsville 
These are just some ideas after looking at my bookshelf and flipping through a really neat book the Homeschool Review Crew is reviewing - Famous Figures of the Civil War from Figures in Motion. I still have not narrowed down my list except for the first two posts, which I have in draft form.

Blogging Through the Alphabet 2021 Series Introduction ; cannon background photograph


As a former high school history teacher, I never really got to spend what I consider adequate time teaching the American Civil War. Where I taught, the United States history courses were split into two years. In the first year, the students studied from the founding of America to the end of the American Civil War. In the second year, US History II, students studied from the Reconstruction to the present day (or as far as you could reach by June).  This basically meant that the Civil War was jammed in at the end of US History I. I felt lucky to spend a few weeks on it before we had to prepare for finals.

Just like with any event in history, there is so much that one can study. You can spend a lifetime studying the American Civil War and probably never learn everything. I hope that through this Blogging Through the Alphabet series, I will introduce you to some new individuals and share some new facts. Thank you for joining us on this journey. 

Blogging Through the Alphabet; letters a to z; join us here each week as we work our way through the alphabet



If you would like to join the Blogging Through the Alphabet link-up, please follow these rules: 

  • Your post must be family-friendly. We have the right to remove any posts that are inappropriate.
  • When linking up, you agree to give us permission to share your post or a photo in any future blog posts and social media shares.
  • Please link back to the host's or co-host's blog, and (if you want) use the image.
  • If you can, check out a few other posts in the link-up and leave some comment love.
  • Please make sure your posts relate to the alphabet or blogging through the alphabet in some way.
  • The link-up will be available for one week for each letter.
  • Last of all, have fun. If you can't join for one week, don't stress. Just join next time, and enjoy!
Visit the co-hosts to link up: 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of Flooded

Book Club: Book Review of Flooded; wavy clip art background; A Mom's Ques to Teach Logo

I received a FREE copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Sometimes a book ends up proving to be more impactful than you thought it might be when you first read the title and description. This was the case for me when I began reading Flooded: The 5 Best Decisions to Make When Life is Hard and Doubt is Rising by Nicki Koziarz. My original reason behind selecting Flooded to read and review was because I was interested in reading more about Noah. I had no idea that the book would have so many relatable applications to my present-day life. 

In the 197-page paperback book, Nicki Koziarz presents five lessons we can learn from Noah and his interactions with God. When our hearts are heavy and there are difficult circumstances we must navigate, doubt enters our lives. Koziarz shares her own personal situations, which led to hopelessness and doubt, and presents five decisions we can make to help push doubt aside. I really appreciate Koziarz's openness in sharing both funny moments (like the escapes of their farm animals) and difficult moments (like the suicide of her brother). An author who is open and honest is most welcoming on a journey to self-improvement.


Book cover of Flooded


Content and Organization of Flooded 

Flooded is divided into five sections, with each focusing upon a different decision. 

  1. To Walk with God 
  2. To Listen to God 
  3. To Rise Above the Doubt 
  4. To Remember Who is in Charge 
  5. To Find the Familiar Faithfulness of God 
These units are then divided into three chapters each. This division makes for easy reading. Readers would probably skip around the book to read just the section they are interested in, but I think there is more value in reading Flooded from cover to cover. This is especially true as we follow the story of Noah from before the building of the Ark to the time when the land was dry and ready for Noah, his family, and the animals. 

"God's in charge of the plan; I'm in control of my obedience." Flooded by Nicki Koziarz; wavy clipart background; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo


What Did I Think? 


From the appealing cover of Flooded to the heartfelt and honest stories shared by the author, I enjoyed reading this book. I personally struggle with doubt, so tools to help overcome that monster are most welcome. I appreciated that Koziarz spoke to the fact "a large portion of our world believes in God but does not consider the Bible absolute truth" (47) and shared the truth that not much has actually changed in the hearts of humans since the days of Noah. 

As someone who likes to know what is going to happen, to be in control, I enjoyed reading the reminder that we must let go and trust God. Even just the second decision, listening to God, can be difficult because "we don't know exactly where we're going" (60). It is not easy to remember that God knows what He is doing even we do not know. I find myself needing this reminder daily as I take care of my mom, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I need to put my trust in God, who is the one who is in charge. Much like the author, I find myself whispering, "Please, God, no more hard things" (107). 

I would recommend Flooded to those who are seeking help in a world of doubt. There is so much we can learn from the life of Noah, even though his story may seem small in the Bible. We know he came from a long line of faithful-to-God men, was married with three sons, a farmer, and preached. Most of us today are probably not that different from Noah. Hopefully, through reading Flooded, we can rise above doubt and find the familiar faithfulness in God. 

Book Club: Book Review of Flooded; A Mom's Quest to Teach; book cover of Flooded