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Excerpt Thursday - Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure by Betty Bolte
This week, we're pleased to welcome author Betty Bolte, whose latest novel, HOMETOWN HEROINES,is set during the 19th century. Join us on Sunday, when the author will offer a free copy of Hometown Heroines to a lucky blog visitor. Here's the blurb.
During the 1800s, daring and courageous girls across America
left their unique mark on history. This book provides both historical fact and
historical fiction about each of 19 girls and young women whose actions are
remembered with an historical landmark in the United States. These are
inspiring true stories of real American girls, our Hometown Heroines, who faced
danger and adversity and made a difference in their world.
** An Excerpt
from “In the Face of Danger”
the story of Nancy Crouse (1862 Maryland)**
Nancy cleared the breakfast dishes and washed them up
quickly, while Martha straightened away the mess from preparing the meal.
Rebecca picked up the braided rugs from the hallway and parlor and took them
out behind the house so Nancy could beat them. With each swing dust billowed
into the air. Nancy pictured the Rebels with their gray uniforms, and swung
harder, taking out her anger over slavery on the defenseless rugs. Once cleaned
thoroughly, she carried them back inside and laid them out.
Suddenly she thought of the United States flag waiting to be
hung outside. She raced up the stairs, gathered it into her arms, and carried
it to the front bedroom, where she hung it on the pole out the window.
Thirty-four stars on the blue background danced with the thirteen red and white
stripes in the slight breeze. Nancy sighed. The flag symbolized freedom for
everyone who lived in the country, not just those of a particular skin color.
On July 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln had declared that the slaves must
be set free and that had fueled the war even more. She hoped that it would end
quickly and Papa and George would come home safe.
She turned and went back downstairs. Taking up the broom she
headed for the front porch. Charles thundered down the hall towards her, a
frantic Frances chasing him, a headless cornhusk doll in her hand. Nancy
chuckled and moved aside to let them pass. As she stepped onto the porch, her
friend Effie Titlow walked up the few steps from the street to the wooden
“Morning, Nancy,” Effie said.
“Morning, Effie. What brings you out so early?” Nancy set
the broom aside as she talked with her friend. She recalled her mother telling
her that a lady didn’t do household chores when entertaining company.
“I thought you’d like to know – an advance detachment from
the Confederate cavalry are heading this way. They’re close by!”
“Are those rascals coming into town?” Nancy asked, her eyes
darting up the street.
Effie nodded. “They aren’t far away at all. You should take
that flag down before it gets you in trouble.”
Nancy looked up at the flag, stirring peacefully in the
crisp fall breeze. A deep blue sky provided a perfect background for the stars
and stripes. She thought about what the flag stood for, what her family
believed, what the men were fighting for. She turned back to Effie with a
determined smile. “No. It stays right there.”
Effie shrugged. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
A clatter and rumble from down the hill to the west caught
the young ladies’ attention. In the distance they could see a cloud rising
along the street as a detachment of Confederate cavalry rode into town.
“There they are!” cried Nancy. “I hope our troops come soon
and catch them.”
The riders approached purposefully, heading for the next
town of Frederick to meet up with the rest of the Confederate soldiers. As
Nancy and Effie watched them from the narrow porch, the cavalrymen suddenly saw
the United States flag hanging from above the ladies heads. The detachment
stopped and several men dismounted.
Nancy watched with defiant horror as they ran onto the
porch. They were dirty, smelly, and had holes and tears throughout their uniforms.
The set of their jaw and the glint in their eyes sent a shiver through Nancy.
She could see Effie shaking with fear as she backed against the house. Nancy
raised her chin. This was her house and they had no right to be on her porch
without an invitation.
“Give me that damn Yankee rag!” one officer demanded.
“No.” Nancy said it as calmly as she could, but she thought
she heard her voice waver.
“While this town is occupied by Confederate forces, the town
will fly the Stars and Bars!” the officer snapped. He made for the door, but
Nancy was quicker.
“You’ll never take my flag from me!”
She dashed inside and scrambled up the steps to the front
bedroom window. Snatching the flag from its post, she held it around herself
and walked back downstairs. Her mother stopped her for a moment, about to say
something, then released her arm. Nancy saw her brother and sisters, Malinda
and her children, gathered behind her mother, eyes wide and glistening.
Nancy stepped onto the front porch, sure that wearing the
flag would end the matter. No gentleman would harm her in her own home.
The officer grew even angrier at her display of Union pride.
“Girl, give me that damned Yankee rag, right now.”
“Not as long as I live.” Nancy tucked the flag closer around
She heard Effie inhale sharply and then noticed the revolver
in the officer’s hand. He placed the muzzle of the gun against her head and
growled, “Divest yourself of those colors.”
“You may shoot me, but never will I willingly give up my
country’s flag into the hands of traitors,” Nancy declared.
“You’ll give me that flag, or I’ll take it,” The officer
pushed the muzzle into her skin, hurting her. “Off your dead body if
Nancy realized she couldn’t win. Too many cavalrymen
surrounded her, all looking like they would follow this officer’s orders
without hesitation. She released her grip on the flag and the officer grabbed
it from her. A whoop from the troops was raised at their minor victory. Within
moments the men had remounted, the officer had tied the flag around his horse’s
head, and the detachment galloped up the hill, bound for Frederick.
“Oh, Nancy, I don’t know whether that was the bravest or
stupidest thing I’ve ever seen,” Effie exclaimed, sinking to the floor.
Nancy put her hand to her heart. “They stole my flag.” Tears
rolled down her cheeks. “Those traitors put their grubby hands all over my
beautiful flag – they had no right, Effie.”