In July and August of 1862, the Fifteen Volunteer New Jersey Infantry was raised up at Camp Fair Oaks in Flemington. It was comprised of young men from Sussex, Morris, Hunterdon, Warren, and Somerset Counties. Edgar Lape and Patrick McCoy, residents of Maggie Blaine Smith’s boarding house in the fictional town of Blaineton, decided to join up. Their decision had no small impact on Maggie’s household. Edgar was Lydia’s husband, Patrick was Frankie’s beau, and Maggie's husband, newspaperman Eli Smith, was determined to get permission to follow the Fifteenth and send back reports to be published in his penny weekly, the Gazette. Hence, the men went marching off to war, while the women were supposed to stay behind to hold things together and worry.
THE ENLISTMENT, a new novella within the “Saint Maggie” world of novels and short stories, is set between the first novel, SAINT MAGGIE and the second, WALK BY FAITH. Throughout Saint Maggie series, Frankie Blaine struggles to ascertain her vocation. She has taught school, attended seminary (as a non-enrolled student), nursed wounded soldiers, and more recently worked as an attendant in a hospital for the insane. At the end of SEEING THE ELEPHANT, she believes she knows her calling.
The new, shorter novel features Frankie as the central character. She has just turned sixteen, is in love with Patrick McCoy, and in all her stubborn, outspoken, impetuous glory. As I wrote this novella, I realized that I was describing the awakening of Frankie’s desire to know her calling.
In doing research for the story, I learned about the role of laundresses in the Civil War military, the presence of female soldiers, a bit of history about the Fifteen New Jersey Volunteers, and some fascinating information about perceptions of gender in nineteenth-century America.
A sample is attached. I still have to do more editing and need to bring in my loyal team of beta readers, but I hope you’ll enjoy this.