A Soldier’s Letter
Lucinda Gilmore, a Civil War widow, struggles to stay on her family farm and raise her young son. Edward Healey, a soldier in the same regiment as Elias Gilmore, arrives on the rural Indiana farm with a final letter from her husband. Together, Luce and Eddie invite wounded soldiers to the farm to recover and heal. Eddie and Luce are putting their lives back together after the war when her father dies. Her primary concern is her son but now she must make a difficult decision about her father’s farm and her future.
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Historical novel writing
My great great grandfather died at the second battle of Bull Run. He was a farmer from northern Indiana and for years, I’d thought about my great great grandmother’s story. She was a widow with a young son living on a farm. What was her life like? Farming life is hard enough without being alone and raising a child.
I didn’t know details of her life so I started the research to write a fiction story about what her story could have been. The research was interesting, difficult and frustrating. Frustrating because I wanted real details of the people living in and around Delphi/Monticello, Indiana area in 1865. Some of the best information was from diaries of soldiers and young people during this period.
I wanted my protagonist to be a strong, independent woman (not dependent on others to take care of her and her child) but realistically she would need help and support working a farm. As I did the research, I discovered the similarity of soldiers returning from the Civil War and Iraq and Afghanistan. There were issues with PTSD, missing limbs and head wounds. The symptoms like PTSD were recognized in the late 1860’s and in some cases were called soldiers’ heart. The anxiety was thought to be a heart attack.
During the Civil War, there were many soldiers in hospitals but no home to go back to. It was thought the recovering soldier needed a home situation with a family-like support. The issues drew me into using details of a family and family farm life in Indiana to assist soldiers in their recovery. The story is dedicated to my ancestors, strong farm families from both sides of my family. I hope you will read my book, A Soldier’s Letter.
Michele Weiss, author