Before the Civil War, a woman's job was to cook, clean, sew, wash, and care for children. In fact, there were many things a woman was not permitted to do. They could not vote, own property, serve on a jury, or be elected to political office.
After the outbreak of the Civil War, with the men away fighting, a woman's role changed. Some women took positions in factories and many others became nurses.
Others became spies and even blockade runners.
It was these unique women who inspired the heroine in my historical romance, Rebel Rose.
Belle Boyd of West Virginia passed along information about Union battle plans to Confederate Generals. Rose O'Neal Greenhow (the real Rebel Rose) was a Washington socialite who passed on coded information to the Confederates. Many believe she is responsible for the Confederate victory at the first Battle of Bull Run.
Medicines, food, and clothing, and most other things were contraband during the war. It was necessary to obtain permits from the provost-general in command before the supplies could be obtained. Many a pretty belle was enlisted to acquire goods from the Union officers.
In my own hometown of Florence (and the setting for Rebel Rose), Mary Nail Blair was known as a beautiful black haired widow and she was the most daring blockade runner in North Alabama.
Following the surrender of Forts Donelson and Henry in 1862, traffic on the Tennessee River was controlled by the Union Navy. Florence was cut off from receiving any supplies from the outside. Locals began to depend on blockade runners who were brave enough to go behind enemy lines from Florence to Nashville.
Mary Nail Blair was said to have been the most successful of these. Her wagon train was driven by her three slaves and she rode ahead in her own buggy. Her granddaughter claimed she was as good as a general and could outmaneuver any of the Yankee forces.
At the battle of Franklin, her caravan was captured by the Union army and she barely escaped back to Florence. She died soon after the war but her bravery was heralded for years afterward.
I combined elements from many of these historical accounts to create the fictional characters in Rebel Rose. To borrow from Paul Harvey - And now you know the rest of the story!
Rebel Rose will be available at Ellora's Cave, September 8, 2010.
They say she’s a Rebel spy…
Rosalie O’Kelley is not above using her feminine wiles to secure much-needed supplies for her fellow townspeople. But when Union Colonel Eric Skaarsberg is put in charge, Rose’s usual tactics fail miserably. In exchange for supplies, she comes to a scandalous arrangement with him. She agrees to become his willing plaything—to fulfill his every physical need, eagerly and without hesitation.
Eric is duty-bound to ferret out the spy who has been leaking information to the Confederates. All evidence points to the passionate belle who readily responds to every touch and taste he metes out. One by one, he strips away Rose’s secrets, but Eric is not satisfied with owning the she-Rebel’s luscious body. He must uncover the truth of her past at any cost—even if it means the destruction of them both.
Buy it September 8 - Rebel Rose