Posts Tagged ‘Maud Hart Lovelace’

First Minnesota

August 15, 2013 @ 8:02 pm | Filed under: Betsy-Tacy, Books, History

1st MinnesotaImage source: Wikimedia Commons.

Reading this story, my heart is in my throat.

The Battle of Gettysburg, Day 2, July 2nd, 1863.

“The scene is the center of the American line. Most of the attacks on the flanks have been repulsed by now, or nearly so, and the sun is near to setting. The American lines are now almost set into the famous ‘fish-hook’ formation that one can find on so many maps. But the operative word is ‘almost.’

“In the center, there is a gap…”

The writer is Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, and his recounting of the events in the weeks leading up to Gettysburg has had me enthralled for days. I’ve followed him from Fredericksburg, Virginia—the town, incidentally, where I graduated from college, and where I met Scott—north to Pennsylvania, his posts spanning the months of June and July, 1863, just over 150 years ago. I don’t particularly want to be in Gettysburg right now; my attention ought to be far to the south, in Alabama. But I can’t look away. Lt. Col. Bateman’s account is riveting.

“In the center, there is a gap because one American Corps commander took it upon himself to move well forward earlier in the fight. The rebels are now finishing crushing that Corps. But ever since that audacious Union Corps commander created that gap in the first place, a succession of recently arriving units have been fighting to keep the middle from collapsing. Now, as the sun sets over Seminary Ridge, the game is almost over. But there is a half-mile opening in the remaining American line, and two whole rebel brigades are headed straight to it.”

You’ll have to read the entire post to get the full thrust of what’s on the line in this moment—heck, you ought to read the whole series—but some of you will understand why this next passage made me gasp.

The American Corps commander now in charge of the section of the line closest to the hole, a fellow named Hancock, sees what is about to happen. The rebels are moments away from breaking the center of the Union line. His own Corps line ends several hundred yards to the north. The next American unit to the south is a quarter mile away. Hancock can see the reinforcements he has called for, as can others on the crest of the hill. Those troops are marching at full speed up the road. By later estimates, the relieving troops are a mere five minutes away from the ridgeline. But the Confederates are closer.

I talked about psychology yesterday. I wrote about how sometimes something that can only be described as moral ascendency (or perhaps morale ascendency) can make it possible for a smaller force to defeat a larger force — first emotionally, then physically. Rufus Dawes and his 6th Wisconsin Infantry pulled that off on the First Day, albeit at a horrendous cost. General Hancock understands in an instant the bigger picture. This is not some small slice of the field. He sees that if the rebels make it to the ridge, they might gain the psychological advantage over the whole Army of the Potomac, much of which is still arriving. So the rebels must be stopped. Now. Here.

And now, what I am about to describe to you transcends my own ability to explain. Hell, it is beyond my own understanding, and I have been a soldier for decades.

General Hancock sees a single American regiment available. But, though it is a “regiment,” this is in name only at this point. A “regiment,” at the beginning of the war, would be roughly 1,000 men. Before Hancock stand 262 men in American blue. Coming towards them, little more than 250 yards away now, are two entire brigades of rebels. Most directly, half of that force — probably about some 1,500 men from a rebel brigade — were coming dead at them. Perhaps a thousand more, at least two entire additional regiments, were on-line with that main attack, though probably unseen by Hancock. But what does that matter? The odds were, already, beyond comprehension.

“My God! All these all the men we have here…What regiment is this?” Hancock yelled.

“First Minnesota,” responded the colonel, a fellow named Colvill.

First Minnesota.

That’s right, Lovelace readers. The very regiment Emily Webster’s grandfather fought in, the one Carney’s Uncle Aaron (her great-uncle, surely) died in—in that charge on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

“When Colonel Colville told us to charge,” [Grandpa] said, nobody ran out on that field any faster than Aaron Sibley.”

“You ran fast enough to get a bullet through your arm.”

“Only winged, only winged,” he answered impatiently. “It might have been death for any one of us.”

It was for a good many of them, Emily remembered. She had heard her grandfather say many times that only forty-seven had come back out of two hundred and sixty-two who had made the gallant charge.

—from Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

“Every single man of the 1st Minnesota,” writes Lt. Col. Bateman,

“placed as it was at the crest of the gentle slope, could see what was going on. All of them were veterans, having fought since the beginning of the war. Each of them understood the exact extent of what they were being asked to do by General Hancock. And, it would appear, that they all understood why.

“On this day, at the closing of the day, there was no illusion that they might win. There was not any thought that they could throw back a force more than seven or eight times their own size. Not a one of them could have entertained the idea that this could end well for them, personally.

“I suspect, though of course nobody can actually ‘know,’ that there was only a silent, and complete, understanding that this thing must be done. So that five minutes might be won for the line and the reinforcements and that their widows and children might grown up in a nation once more united, they would have to do this thing. Then, as men, the 262 men of the 1st Minnesota followed their colonel as he ordered the advance, leading them himself, from the front.

“They charged, with fixed bayonets, to win 300 seconds for the United States. Union and Confederate sources agree on this next point: There was no slacking, no hesitation, no faltering. The 1st Minnesota charged, en masse, at once alone and together. One hundred and fifty years later, those 300 seconds they then won for the United States have proven timeless. Because it worked. They threw a wrench into the rebel attack, stalling it, before the inevitable end.

“And, as Fox’s Compendium pointed out in cold, hard numbers, it only cost 82 percent of the men who stepped forward.”

Grandpa Webster and Aaron Sibley are fictional characters, but they are based on real people, just as Emily and Carney were. In the afterword to HarperPerennial’s 2010 edition of Emily of Deep Valley, Lovelace historian Julie A. Schrader tells us that Grandpa Cyrus Webster represented a man named John Quincy Adams Marsh, the grandfather of Maud’s friend Marguerite Marsh, the “real” Emily. He was not, however, a Civil War veteran. Schrader writes,

“Maud appears to have based Grandpa Webster’s experiences on those of Captain Clark Keysor (Cap’ Klein)…. General James H. Baker, a veteran of the Dakota Conflict and the Civil War, was the basis for the character of Judge Hodges. In 1952 Maud wrote, ‘Old Cap’ Keysor and General Baker used to visit the various grades on Decoration Day to tell us about the Civil War…’”

Emily is, as I’ve often mentioned, not only my favorite Maud Hart Lovelace book, it’s one of my favorite novels period. Grandpa Webster is very real to me. I can’t describe my astonishment to find him there, suddenly, in Lt. Col. Bateman’s account, rushing unhesitatingly toward that gap in the line. 262 men made the charge. 47 survived. One of them was Cap’ Clark Keysor, who visited Maud’s school classrooms and told her stories she never forgot. Nor shall I.

***

For Lt. Col. Bateman’s entire Gettysburg series, click here.

For more background on the real people who inspired Maud Hart Lovelace’s characters, I highly recommend Julie Schrader’s book, Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley.

Related posts:
Why I love Carney
Why I love Emily
A Reader’s Guide to Betsy-Tacy

O di immortales!

February 27, 2013 @ 7:18 am | Filed under: Betsy-Tacy

BETSY-TACY is $1.99 on Kindle right now!

“Happy Collaboration, Happy Marriage”

January 16, 2013 @ 9:10 pm | Filed under: Betsy-Tacy, Books

“The Lovelaces seem to do the impossible. They are writers who can actually work together day after day without the lightning of clashing temperaments…Maud does all the historical research, Delos all of the plots.”

via Betsy-Tacy’s Deep Valley, a wonderful new blog for Maud Hart Lovelace fans, written by Julie Schrader, author of Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley. I loved this article about one of my favorite (perhaps my very favorite!) literary couples. Julie’s new blog is a treasure trove for Betsy-Tacy fans—don’t miss it!

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Betsy-Tacy Digital Books

April 26, 2011 @ 2:32 pm | Filed under: Betsy-Tacy, Books

Today’s a big day for Betsy-Tacy fans:

First of all, it’s Maud Hart Lovelace’s birthday…

And second, many of the Betsy-Tacy books are available as e-books for the first time today!

Yes, I’m excited. The more ways we can spread the Betsy-love, the better. Here’s what’s available so far for Kindle, Nook, iPad, and other e-readers:

Heaven to Betsy / Betsy in Spite of Herself (together as one volume, just like the recent reissues)

Betsy Was a Junior / Betsy and Joe (ditto)

Betsy and the Great World / Betsy’s Wedding

Carney’s House Party / Winona’s Pony Cart (Have I mentioned I wrote the foreword for that?) ;)

Emily of Deep Valley (Please, treat yourself to this one. It stands alone, and it shines.)

The four “younger” B-T books will be released as e-books on May 17th. You can pre-order them now if you like.

New to Lovelace? Here’s a A Reader’s Guide to Betsy-Tacy (and Carney and Emily).

 

Related posts:

Heaven to Betsy! High-school-and-beyond books being reissued! (Sept 2009)
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
The Betsy-Tacy Songbook
Interview with Mitali Perkins, Jennifer Hart, and me about Maud’s books
Betsy-Tacy booksigning at ALA Midwinter
Photos of my visit to the real Deep Valley, as chronicled by Margaret in Minnesota
Why I love Carney
Why I love Emily
A Reader’s Guide to Betsy-Tacy

Betsy-Tacy Booksigning at ALA Midwinter

January 10, 2011 @ 4:47 pm | Filed under: Author stuff, Betsy-Tacy, Books, Events

Saturday at Midwinter was a happy day for Maud Hart Lovelace fangirls like me…HarperPerennial hosted a booksigning, giving away tote bags and copies of Carney’s House Party and Emily of Deep Valley to a crowd of happy conference-goers. Mitali Perkins and I signed our forewords in the gorgeous reissues, and I loved getting to meet so many fellow Betsy Ray devotees, including several lovely women I know from the Maud-L discussion list.


With Maud-L listren Nancy D. and Kathleen W., a happy meeting!

The lovely Mitali Perkins

Me, HarperPerennial’s Jennifer Hart, and Mitali Perkins

Delightful lunch company. All of us are card-carrying members of the Betsy Tacy Society. (Well, I guess baby Lucy isn’t carrying a card…yet.)

Related posts:

Heaven to Betsy! High-school-and-beyond books being reissued! (Sept 2009)
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy-Tacy e-books!
The Betsy-Tacy Songbook
Interview with Mitali Perkins, Jennifer Hart, and me about Maud’s books
Photos of my visit to the real Deep Valley, as chronicled by Margaret in Minnesota
Why I love Carney
Why I love Emily
A Reader’s Guide to Betsy-Tacy

Music to My Ears

January 4, 2011 @ 7:07 am | Filed under: Betsy-Tacy, Music

Announcing the Betsy-Tacy Songbook

I can finally learn the Cat Duet!

And “Dreaming,”
“Because You’re You,”
“Morning Cy,”
“Same Old Story,”

and all those other good old tunes.

From the Betsy-Tacy Convention site:

Hot off the presses! The Betsy-Tacy Songbook is now available at Willard’s Emporium!

Join Betsy Ray and her Crowd as they gather around the piano and sing the popular hits of their day.

The Maud Hart Lovelace Society has lovingly and painstakingly researched the songs mentioned (and sung, and danced to) in the Betsy-Tacy books and assembled a “greatest hits” list of songs for your musical enjoyment.

The book is 212 pages long, spiral bound in green, and contains 40 songs mentioned in the Betsy-Tacy books, with scanned original vintage copies of the sheet music covers and the sheet music itself. There is information about each song and where it appears in the Betsy-Tacy books, as well as biographical information about two of the musical stars of Betsy’s day, Chauncey Olcott and Joe E. Howard.

More information at the site.

Related posts:

Heaven to Betsy! High-school-and-beyond books being reissued! (Sept 2009)
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy-Tacy Goes Digital!
Interview with Mitali Perkins, Jennifer Hart, and me about Maud’s books
Betsy-Tacy booksigning at ALA Midwinter
Photos of my visit to the real Deep Valley, as chronicled by Margaret in Minnesota
Why I love Carney
Why I love Emily
A Reader’s Guide to Betsy-Tacy

Betsy-Tacy Interview Link

November 15, 2010 @ 7:23 pm | Filed under: Author stuff, Betsy-Tacy

That was so much fun! Thanks to everyone who called or wrote in with questions. Here’s the podcast for those of you who couldn’t listen live. And don’t miss BookClubGirl’s follow-up post, which is chock-full of links and notes about the things we discussed.

Related posts:

Heaven to Betsy! High-school-and-beyond books being reissued! (Sept 2009)
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
The Betsy-Tacy Songbook
Interview with Mitali Perkins, Jennifer Hart, and me about Maud’s books
Betsy-Tacy booksigning at ALA Midwinter
Photos of my visit to the real Deep Valley, as chronicled by Margaret in Minnesota
Why I love Carney
Why I love Emily
A Reader’s Guide to Betsy-Tacy

A Reader’s Guide to the Betsy-Tacy Books

October 2, 2010 @ 7:58 am | Filed under: Betsy-Tacy, Books

The blog A Library Is the Hospital of the Mind is hosting a Maud Hart Lovelace reading challenge during the month of October. Pick out some Betsy-Tacy or Deep Valley books and skip on over to sign up. Participants will have a chance to win copies of HarperPerennial’s brand-new reissues of Emily of Deep Valley and (in a double volume, two books in one) Carney’s House Party / Winona’s Pony Cart. You know, the book I’ve been squeeing about for months, the one I had the thrill-me-to-my-very-bones honor of writing the foreword for? That one!

Not sure where to start?

Here’s a rundown of the Betsy-Tacy books and their Deep Valley companions.

Book 1: Betsy-Tacy. Betsy Ray’s story—which is very, very similar to Maud’s real life story—kicks off on her fifth birthday, the day she gets to know her lifelong best friend, Tacy Kelly. From that day forth they are inseparable, which is why the neighbors always call them Betsy-Tacy. That’s the first book: very young girls having sweet and funny adventures in small-town Minnesota at the turn of the last century. It’s a lovely read-aloud for small girls, though I always give other mothers a heads-up about the death of Tacy’s baby sister, which happens quite early in the book and is very sensitively and quietly handled.

In Book 2, Betsy-Tacy and Tib, Betsy and Tacy roam farther from home, all the way to the grand chocolate-colored house a few blocks away—where they meet Tib, whose spritelike looks belie her blunt and practical nature. This is the year the girls learn to fly, explore the Mirror Palace, and concoct Everything Pudding. It’s the year Tacy has diphtheria and Tib and Betsy cut off their hair in solidarity. It’s a year full of exactly the right sort of mischief.

In Book 3, Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, the girls are the extremely sophisticated age of ten. Venturing to the other side of the Big Hill is a big deal—here, I’ve already written a big long post about it.

Book 4: Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown. Now the girls are twelve—old enough to go all over town by themselves. Christmas shopping, Mr. Poppy’s Opera House, a friendly rivalry with spunky Winona Root, the newspaperman’s daughter. That’s the year the first horseless carriage comes to town, as well as a troupe of traveling actors. Betsy, Tacy, and Tib get involved with the play and there is a delicious bit of family drama as well.

Those are the four “young” Betsy-Tacy books (collected now in a beautiful Treasury edition with a foreword by Judy Blume). Chronologically, Winona’s Pony Cart fits in that group; the central event is Winona Root’s 8th birthday. She gets herself into a bit of a scrape having to do with her party, and she’s not the only member of her family who makes a misstep, and what I love about this book—probably the most overlooked of Maud’s Deep Valley stories—is the earnestness with which Winona and her parents strive to recover from their individual errors of judgment. I was so happy to get to unpack this book more thoroughly in the foreword to the reissue. Winona is a girl to remember.
HTB BWAJ BATGW

Now come Betsy’s high-school-and-beyond books.

Freshman year: Heaven to Betsy, which I wrote about here. New house, new school, new friends; Sunday night lunches, dances, skating parties. Joe Willard at Butternut Center. A crush on Tony; a Betsy struggling with moods and competing wishes. A Betsy who writes but doesn’t quite know what to do with her writing, doesn’t know how to reconcile the need to slip away and work with the desire to be in the thick of the merry-making crowd.

Sophomore year: Betsy in Spite of Herself. It’s a makeover story! One of my favorite plot devices. Betsy is determined to reinvent herself into a creature more glamorous, more poised, more devastating to boys. Only trouble is, her own irrepressible self keeps bubbling up and taking over. This is the year of the fascinating Christmas visit to Tib’s German relatives in Milwaukee, the year of Phil Brandish and his red auto.

Junior year: Betsy Was a Junior. Sorority fever. The joys of being part of a clique—and the crash that comes when you realize you’ve forgotten about the feelings of people outside your in-crowd. I think Betsy does some of her best growing up in this book, especially after that incident with her little sister Margaret and the stove.

Senior year: Betsy and Joe. My favorite, because, well, Betsy and Joe.

After high school, there’s Betsy and the Great World—she got off to a rough start in college and her folks wisely surmise that someone who wants to be a writer might benefit from travel. So off she goes to Europe by steamer. Things are rocky with Joe, and that undercurrent of tension gives her some perspective as she explores Munich, Venice, London, and more. A beautiful book. And oh that perfect telegram!

And then, ever so satisfyingly, Betsy’s Wedding. I adore this book. Rings so true. The fun of finding and fitting out your first apartment, the comic misadventures of learning to run your own home. And (especially this) there’s Betsy’s challenge to make room for her writing, and to give Joe room for his. As a writer married to a writer, this book hits me where I live.

Two more Deep Valley gems

Chronologically, Carney’s House Party fits in between Betsy and Joe and Betsy and the Great World. Carney is one of Betsy’s best high-school friends, a year ahead of Betsy, Tacy, and Tib in school. Her famous house party takes place the summer after her freshman year at Vassar. Her somewhat snobby roommate, Isobel, comes to Deep Valley for an extended visit with Carney’s family. Rounding out the party are Carney’s best friend, Bonnie Andrews, home from Paris, and in a surprise appearance, good old Betsy Ray. It’s hard for me to contain my remarks about this book to one little paragraph—though I managed it before when I wrote “Carney’s House Party is one of my favorite of Maud Hart Lovelace’s books—I love how honestly Carney grapples with the complicated process of sorting out her college self from her hometown self.” Yeah, that’s it. I got to indulge in a meatier exploration of what makes this book tick in the foreword I wrote for the reissue.

And then there’s Emily of Deep Valley. I’ve written about her at length. Short version: Emily’s a quieter sort than Betsy and Carney; she lives on the edge of the Slough with her elderly grandfather, the only family she has left. All her friends are heading off to college but Emily won’t leave her grandpa alone—a difficult decision, and a right one. Loneliness and depression set in, but she (famously) musters her wits to combat them. There is much to love about this book, but if I had to pick a favorite part, it would be the relationships that develop between Emily and the Little Syrian boys, and what comes of their connection. HarperPerennial’s lovely reissue of Emily of Deep Valley, with a moving foreword by author Mitali Perkins, plus historical material by Maud Hart Lovelace experts Julie Schrader and Amy Dolnick, as well as a bio of illustrator Vera Neville, will hit the shelves on October 12th. If you haven’t read this rather incredible book it would be a perfect choice for the MLH reading challenge.

Of course you know I’m hoping you’ll read Carney and Winona too so we can gab about them!

Related posts:

Emily of Deep Valley
Heaven to Betsy! High-school-and-beyond books being reissued! (Sept 2009)
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy-Tacy booksigning at ALA Midwinter
Betsy-Tacy e-books!
The Betsy-Tacy Songbook
Interview with Mitali Perkins, Jennifer Hart, and me about Maud’s books
Photos of my visit to the real Deep Valley, as chronicled by Margaret in Minnesota
Why I love Carney
A Reader’s Guide to Betsy-Tacy

Betsy-Tacy Excitement

September 14, 2010 @ 7:28 pm | Filed under: Betsy-Tacy, Books

This afternoon, Jennifer Hart (aka @bookclubgirl) posted a picture of the Carney’s House Party/Winona’s Pony Cart and Emily of Deep Valley reissues with those gorgeous Vera Neville covers. The official pub date is less than a month away. Squee!

I got a sneak peek at Mitali Perkins‘s foreword for Emily of Deep Valley, and it is quite moving: an account of her discovery of the Maud Hart Lovelace books—and Emily in particular—as a young newcomer to America, “wandering the stacks of the children’s book section in the Flushing Public Library.”

My own foreword for the Carney/Winona double volume was a joy and an honor to write. But having Carney, Winona, and Emily back in print is the greatest joy of all. If you haven’t yet read the Deep Valley novels—companions to the Betsy-Tacy series—you are in for such a treat!

ETA: Bumping this up from the comments for all to see:

HarperPerennial’s Jennifer Hart writes: “Thank you for posting the link to the photo Melissa! It’s very exciting. I can’t stop looking at the books – there’s your foreword, Mitali’s, wonderful archival photos and writeups from Julie Schrader and Amy Dolnick – plus the never-before-published bio by Theresa Gibson of the elusive Vera Neville (with her photo!)”

Related posts:
Emily of Deep Valley
Heaven to Betsy
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill