Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guest Post: Women at War by Christine Blevins (includes giveaway)

We are very pleased to welcome Christine Blevins to Historical Tapestry as she kicks off her virtual book tour

Christine Blevins’ latest novel The Turning of Anne Merrick is the second in a 3-book series set during the American Revolution and War of Independence.

Women at War

The history we learn in school and what is most often portrayed in popular media is almost always focused on the courage and dedication of men. Women’s stories are often lost or overlooked, and in this regard, the history of the American Revolution is no exception.

Some will say, “Aw come on, Christine… what about Betsy Ross, or Martha Washington… or Abigail Adams…” and then the argument usually peters off right there. Most of us can name too few examples of women who played any role in the event considered to be one of the biggest turning points in world history.

Betsy Ross

Because women’s roles very often occur backstage to the political arena or battleground, they are seldom recorded, and hence become lost to us. Researching and writing a continuing story set during the American Revolution has offered me the opportunity to explore the many and diverse ways women were involved in the conflict.

Apathetic, Patriotic or Loyalist, women could not help but be touched by the events that occurred once “the shot heard round the world” was fired in 1775. Though 18th century society might dictate that a women’s role and viewpoint be either unimportant, or based on that of her husband or father, the events leading up to revolution and the resultant war inspired many women to act upon their own political choices.

Hearth and Home

Revolutionary America could be a very unsafe place for women. American women became eyewitnesses to war when their towns, cities and farms were engulfed in battle. With men gone off to fight, the women left behind were often called upon to manage the family and farm or business on their own. Many of these women were responsible for defending hearth and home from military foragers (both Continental and British), British Indian allies, and desperate deserters. Those unlucky enough to find themselves in either army’s path were often forced out onto the road as refugees. On her way to marry a Redcoat officer, Jane MacCrae was brutally murdered and scalped by Indian raiders employed by the British. News of her death helped to turn sentiment away from the Loyalist cause.

Jane McCrea

Out of loyalty, or sometimes due to economic constraints, many women followed their men from garrison, to camp, to battlefield, carrying children (and often bearing children) along the way. Officer wives, like the Baroness Frederika Von Riedesel, crossed oceans and braved the wilds to support their husband’s career. Other women followed their common soldier-husbands and served as cooks or laundresses for the army. No matter their social strata, these camp following women suffered victory and defeat with their armies, and bore witness to the brutality of army life and the horror of battle by nursing the sick and wounded. Though it is debated whether the story of Molly Pitcher – the wife of a Continental gunner who took his place at the cannon when he was killed in action – is fact or fiction, I would be willing to wager the act of a camp follower taking up arms against the enemy was not an uncommon one.

Molly Pitcher

Some women tried to engage in a more active role than those permitted. Deborah Samson was exposed – and is thus remembered in the record – as a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to enlist and fight as a soldier in the Continental Army.

Both Loyalist and Patriot women risked having their necks stretched for treason by gathering intelligence on the enemy. The mysterious agent known only as “355” was a female member of Washington’s Culpur Ring of spies who goes down in history with her name and fate never revealed. Anne Bates was one of the Britain’s most successful she-spies, infiltrating the Continental Army as a peddler woman she gave accurate report on rebel troop numbers, movements, and munitions. Lydia Darragh was a Quaker housewife who eavesdropped on the British Command quartered in her home and smuggled the information thus gathered to General Washington at Valley Forge.

These are but a few examples. Patriot or Loyalist, free or slave, black, white, or Native American, women were there. As a writer of historical fiction, I am always compelled to try and ferret out their lost stories. In my digging, I can’t help but wonder about all the unnamed women whose world was turned upside down by Revolution and War – whose stories we can only imagine.

For more information check out the following links:

HFVBT Tour Schedule
Christine Blevins' website
Christine Blevins on Facebook
Christine Blevins on Twitter: @Author_CBlevins
Tour Event Twitter Hashtag: #TurningofAnneMerrickVirtualTour

Giveaway Details

We are very pleased to offer an International giveaway as part of the blog tour.

"18th Century Stationery – just the sort of sundry Anne Merrick peddled to those bloodyback scoundrels in Burgoyne’s camp. Supplied with a quill pen and wrapped for convenient stowing amidst your gear, these sheets and envelopes are perfect for scrieving all manner of secret messages – invisible ink not included."

To win, leave a comment telling us which historical figure you would write to if you could! Also, please leave an email address so that we can contact you if you win!

Giveaway closes on 12 February 2012.

Don't forget to stop by on Friday when I will be posting my review of The Turning of Anne Merrick.


  1. Of the historical figures mentioned in the above post, I would most want to write to Molly Pitcher (as I like to believe she actually took on the part of her husband when he fell, maybe in anger and grief, and maybe in patriotism). I would want to ask her how she didn't just crumble to the ground with her husband, as I think I would have, and tell her how amazing she was for being so strong!

  2. Cleopatra (although I know it's been done to death) she has always fascinated me. Thanks for the giveaway!


  3. Wonderful guest post. I love reading about the women in early American history. They had to be super brave even though we are not supposed to remember that.

    No need to enter me for the giveaway.

  4. I would write to Amelia Earhart, to find out what really happened to her in 1937. To put at rest a memory of a amazing woman in history. That paved the way for all women today. She is a hero!

  5. ANY historical figure? If it's any I would so want to write to Michelangelo. He fascinates me. He was so talented. He thought he wasn't a painter. He was so misunderstood in his time. He was a genius.

    Thank you
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  6. Queen Elizabeth I or Eleanor Roosevelt, such strong women.

    Thank you for the opportunity, and the information.


  7. Elizabeth I.


  8. I love reading about American history, I'm a great admirer (in many ways) of Thomas Jefferson. I would love to be able to correspond with his daughter, and get her perspective re. the Hemmings connection.
    Thanks for the giveaway. I've read Ms. Blevins' earlier two novels and this one is on my wish list.

  9. I would write to Clara Barton to see what it was like serving during the Civil War and trying to win support afterwards for the Red Cross.

  10. I'd write to Marie Antoinette. Or visit her at Versailles - either works :p

    martinack_75 AT hotmail DOT com

  11. Sally hemming finally get the true story.Lomazowr@gmail.com

  12. I read The Turning of Anne Merrick for the tour and really, really liked it! I am going to go back and read The Tory Widow as soon as I can because I miss the characters!

    If I could write to any female in history it would be to Lady Jane Grey. Her story is so sad to me and I would love to get a letter to her warning her of what was to come :). Maybe she could have escaped and lived another life, you never know!

  13. That was a fabulous guest post, thanks to Christine! And thanks to the lovely ladies at Historical Tapestry for hosting the tour and giveaway. Good luck to all who enter, the comments are great.

    HF Virtual Book Tours

  14. I would write about the antique queen Olympia, the mother of Alexander the III Macedonian. Her reign is surrounded with deep mists, mysteries and puzzles.

    Thank you for this giveaway :)

    Best regards, Diana

  15. I would have two people I would love to write to. The first is Laura Ingalls Wilder as she has been a idol of mine for a long time, I think she was a great woman.

    I would also like to write to Abagail Adams. I think she was a very strong woman and stood behind her husband in good and bad. You also don't hear much about her and I would love to know her better.

    Thanks for the giveaway. griperang at embarqmail dot com

  16. Dorothea Dix - a woman who was not afraid to effect reform - especially for the mentally ill. I believe she was very brave and compassionate as well as very forward looking.

    Thank you for the chance to obtain this book - sounds so very interesting!

  17. I had not ever really considered the part of women in war, and the points that you make in this interview are both intriguing and eye-opening. War is usually considered the arena for men, but your reflections on what it must have been like for women really makes me thoughtful. Thanks for the wonderfully penned interview today. It was much appreciated.

    I would love to write to Catherine of Aragon. I would tell her that her struggles were not in vain, and that her reputation as a steadfast and loyal woman did not get buried in the sands of history. I would tell her that she was loved by so many, despite the fact that Henry wanted to do away with her.

  18. This was a wonderful guest post! I really enjoyed reading the perspectives of women in the wars.I have written a couple of different research papers on women in the American Wars, one of my favs was a paper on Nursing in the Civil War.I love reading about women and their roles in society....there are so many fascinating subjects all around it's hard to narrow down which historic era is my fav for researching/studying women and society. Thank you for posting this awesome info!!

  19. Historical people and places are always so interesting to learn. I think it's even more interesting when their lives are shaped by such turbulent times as war or natural disasters. If I could write about a historical figure (so many to choose from) I choose Laura Ingall Wilder. It'll be interesting to capture her lives as she and her family settle into new land.

    I have this book on my wishlist. Thank you for the chance to read it.


  20. A very interesting post. It really makes you think how many great women's stories have been lost to us.
    If I could write to any historical character I think it would be Joan of Arc. Her story is so amazing and I'm sure we don't know the half of it.
    Thanks for the opportunity to enter.


  21. I would write to Elizabeth I...such a brave individual who faced so much...I love England and would love to see the country through her eyes.


  22. Wonderful post. Loved the Tory Widow. I'd write to Abigail Adams....a strong minded woman of her time and knowing her history, I'm sure she'd write back post-haste!

  23. I would like to write to my Brisbin ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower.
    BellaQuin6@ gmail.com

  24. I've also always admired my immigrant ancestors who braved the journey from England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany. I would love to write to my great-grandmother who was born in Texas in the 1890s, was pregnant with my grandmother when she was in a train chased by Pancho Villa and in her later years served as the U.S.' first music ambassador to the U.N. She had a love of books and learning that she passed on to her grandson (my father) and that I got from him. She died ten years before I was born and I've always wished I could have known her.

  25. Boudaica (or one of the various spellings of her name) - to defend the British Islea witha band of Celts, from the legions of Roman warriors - you can imagine the stories she could tell.

    Thanks so much!
    Ammy Belle
    apereiraorama @ gmail . com