Blue and Gray Christmas
Christmas keeps Love and Hope Alive During the Civil War
Four-in-one Contemporary Inspirational Romance Collection
Includes Carrie’s novella: “A
Shelter in the Storm”
Barbour Publishing ISBN 978602605557, 352 pages, $7.97
The Civil War stirred up great emotion, and both men and
women were swept along in the tides of war. Men marched off
to battle, but women also played a significant role in both
the North and South. A BLUE AND GRAY CHRISTMAS highlights
the faith and courage of four couples who remained true to
their convictions and found lasting love despite the hardships
of war. Each story takes place in a different state and gives
a unique look at how the Civil War affected a particular
family. Christmas traditions of the time period and true
historical eventes are integral in each story. Surrender
yourself to the forces of love and enjoy these four engaging
Civil War Christmas romances.
Order in Paperback
In ‘Til Death Do Us Part by Lauralee Bliss, a young
woman clings to faith and love amid the cruelty of war when
her fiancé mysteriously disappears soon after their
engagement is announced in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
In Courage of the Heart by Tamela Hancock Murray, amidst
ridicule, a West Virginia pacifist proves his bravery and
wins his bride.
In A Shelter in the Storm by Carrie Turansky, The daughter
of a wealthy Tennessee doctor falls in love with an injured
artist-correspondent on assignment to cover the battles near
Union occupied Nashville.
In Beloved Enemy by Vickie McDonough,
an embittered Union soldier falls in love with his ailing
only to discover she is a hated Confederate.
Review of A Blue & Gray Christmas by Kathleen L. Maher
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Review of A Blue & Gray Christmas by Kathleen L. Maher
"Nestled like a gem in the middle of the collection is A Shelter in the Storm by Carrie Turansky. I am a sucker for wounded-soldier-meets-nurse plots. James Galloway hails from Bristol, England, a sketch artist for Harper’s Weekly. Rachel Thornton is a refined heroine with a wonderfully real relationship with her impulsive younger sister. Turansky’s prose are lovely, her characters are of real flesh and blood, and her setting captivated me—Nashville 1864. A great little love story."
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Christmas During the Civil War
Taken from: Voices From the Past
The Burgin Genealogy Website
Many of today’s American Christmas customs
are rooted in the early 19th century. Perhaps ironically,
they came to maturity during the Civil War, when violence,
chaos, and staggering personal losses seemed likely to drown
out the choruses of “Peace on Earth.”
of the artists of the period, Winslow Homer, Thomas Nast,
and Alfred Waud (*** Note from Carrie: these artists
were the inspiration for James Galloway, the hero of A Shelter
in the Storm) created visual chronicles of the spreading
influence of many holiday traditions we enjoy today, including
Santa Claus, Christmas trees, gift-giving, caroling, holiday
feasting, and Christmas cards.
Nast and Homer drew scenes
of the wartime practice of sending Christmas boxes filled
with homemade clothes and food items to soldiers at the front.
The war made an impact on the nation, both North and South,
in the way Christmas was observed.
Christmas boxes like the
ones Homer and Nast pictured gave their recipients a much-needed
mental and physical boost. When in 1861, for the first Harper’s
Weekly Christmas cover of the war, Homer drew overjoyed soldiers
reveling in the contents of Adams Express boxes from home.
most beloved symbol of the American family Christmas, the
decorated Christmas tree, came into its own during the Civil
War. Christmas trees had become popular in the decade before
the war, and in the early 1860s, many families were beginning
to decorate them. Illustrators working for the national weeklies
helped popularize the practice by putting decorated tabletop
Christmas trees in their drawings.
On the home front, the homes were mostly
decorated with different kinds of pines, holly, ivy and
there were many families who spent lonely Christmases during
the war, they still had a Christmas Tree which was the centerpiece
for the home. Most trees were small and sat on a table.
decorations were mostly home made, such as strings of dried
fruit, popcorn, pinecones. Colored paper, and silver foil,
as well as spun glass were popular choices for making decorations.
Santa brought gifts to the children. Those gifts were homemade,
such as carved toys, cakes or fruits.
was only a matter of time before the Christmas tree made
its way into military camps. Alfred Bellard of the 5th New
Jersey remarked about the arrival of the newly popular Christmas
icon to his camp along the lower Potomac River.
order to make it look as much like Christmas as possible,
a small tree was stuck up in front of our tent, decked off
with hard tack and pork, in lieu of cakes and oranges, etc”.
Christmas carols were sung both at home
and in the camps. Can you imagine how homesick the soldiers
would become singing these songs. Some of the most
popular ones were “Silent
Night,” “Away in the Manger,” “Oh
Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Deck the Halls”.
1863, the Union blockade of the Southern coasts had made
it nearly impossible for Santa Claus to visit homes in the
South; scarcity of goods and the consequent high prices put
both store-bought presents and raw materials for homemade
gifts out of the financial reach of many Southern consumers.
Quite a few mothers explained to their children that even
Santa Claus would not be able run the formidable blockade.
Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas of Augusta, Georgia, told how
a simple act of faith on the part of her children caused
her to dig deeper for a holiday offering on Christmas Eve:
“I have written so much that it is now after 9 o’clock
and yet I have said nothing of Turner’s and Mary Bell’s
party which we gave them last week in lieu of the Santa Claus
presents. Mary Bell has been told that Santa Claus has not
been able to run the blockade and has gone to war. Yet at
this late hour when I went upstairs Thursday night of the
party I found that the trusting faith of childhood they had
hung their little socks and stockings in case Santa Claus
did come. I had given the subject no thought whatever, but
invoking Santa Claus aid I was enabled when their little
eyes opened to enjoy their pleasure to find cake and money
in their socks.”
Santa Claus apparently had a much easier
time visiting homes in the North than those in the South
that Christmas. According to a letter Sarah Thetford sent
to her brother George, “Santa
arrived in here in Michigan dressed in a buffalo coat with
presents fastened to his coat-tail...and a corn-popper on
his back.” She continued that she had “often
heard Santa Claus described, but never before saw the old
fellow in person.”
Sometimes Santa Claus worked
behind the scenes of wartime savagery to bring a bit of Christmas
cheer to those who otherwise had little reason to celebrate.
Following General William T. Sherman’s capture of Savannah,
Georgia, and presentation of it as a Christmas gift to Lincoln
in 1864, about 90 Michigan men and their captain in turn
gave a token of charity to Southern civilians living outside
the city. Christmas Day, the soldiers loaded several wagons
full of food and other supplies and distributed the items
about the ravaged Georgia countryside. The destitute Southerners
thanked the jolly Union Santa Clauses as the wagons pulled
away under the power of mules that had tree-branch “antlers” strapped
to their heads to turn them into makeshift reindeer.