My first novel!
A Soldier’s Embrace is a sweet, yet exciting story. The characters are captivating and the settings are perfect. The dialogue between the characters is well written and realistic. Ms. Romero has written a great historical romance.

Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

Where authors and readers come together!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Ghosts of Fort Laramie

I love October. The leaves change, the weather dips slightly as only Southern California autumns can and the History Channel hosts their yearly spooky line up. I love Halloween programs!

There is something devilishly fun about being scared. I think my love for it comes from my brother popping out of a dark closet or hiding under my bed to grab my feet as I walked by.

Whether you believe in spooks or not, it seems everyone has a ghost story. Even during my research on Fort Laramie wheeled results of reported hauntings. Since the post was established in 1849, it has said to have been called home, not only to hundreds of soldiers, but also said to be visited by a host of ghosts. The most well-known spirit is known as the "Lady in Green.”

She was said to be the strong willed daughter of an agent for the American Fur Company. I couldn't find her name but the young lady was known to be an accomplished equestrian, her favorite riding habit was made of dark green velvet, her mount, a big black stallion. When it came time for her to leave, she begged to lengthen her visit on the rough frontier. Her father relented on her promise to stay close to the fort. One afternoon while her father was gone, she left the protection of her escorts and rode off on the distant prairie. She never returned. Despite a long thorough search, no sign of her was ever found. To this day, her disappearance is still a mystery.

Since then, her ghost is said to appear every seven years, just east of Fort Laramie on the Oregon Trail. In 1871, a young Lieutenant who was known as a fine horseman, claimed to have been chased down and struck with a jeweled riding crop by a young dark haired woman riding a huge black steed.

The old Captain’s Quarters is also said to be haunted. Built in 1870, it was intended as housing for the commanding officer, but eventually divided into a duplex, when the commanding officer of the time chose to remain in another new dwelling. When a new officer was assigned to the post, he could "rank out of quarter" any junior officer and take the house for himself. Here it is said doors open by themselves, the old wood floor boards echo with the sound of heavy boots and unseen footsteps. Late at night, there have been reports of bright lights coming from inside the facility, even though it has no electricity. This spirit has been nick named George by the staff.

Old Bedlam, the bachelor officers' quarters is also said to be haunted. First constructed in 1849, it is said to be the oldest military building in Wyoming. This entity, thought to be a Cavalry Officer, has been known to walk throughout the building, sometimes telling people to "be quiet.”

The Cavalry Barracks building, built in 1874, once housed hundreds of soldiers in its two large, open squad bays on the second floor. Early in the morning, the sounds of heavy boots can be heard making their way over the boardwalk, incidentally about the time soldiers would have once answered the reveille.

Other ghost sightings around the fort include the form of a young man in a raincoat, still holding a long past conversation...with no one. Also the apparition of a surgeon has been seen, looking irritable, his uniform covered in blood.

At Deer Creek, a small stream running through the fort property, a headless man has been sighted throwing rocks into the water during early morning hours. This ghost is said to be unfriendly and should be avoided.

Southeast of the fort is a place called Bovee Draw. Here, at midnight, witnesses have said to see the ghost of a erratic Civil War soldier. This ghost is also said to be menacing and should be left alone.

North of town, there is a place called Detention Dam. Here, the spirit of a man holding
a blood-splattered sword has been seen staring at the water at the stroke of midnight.

So, if this Halloween finds you alone on the Wyoming prairie, look out for the lone figure of a young woman, still astride her favorite mount, her green riding dress forever flowing in the ever-present Wyoming wind.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Army Wife

Life for women at U.S. Army forts on the frontier was not any easier. Being far away from their families and friends, they were often lonely. Just like any other women at that time, many died in childbirth.

Different classes of women lived or worked at army forts, but they did not always socialize with one another because of the army caste system. In other words, officers’
wives did not befriend other women, such as enlisted men’s wives who often worked as servants for officers or as laundresses for the army.

Of all the women who lived at western army forts, officers’ wives probably had the hardest time adjusting to the frontier because they usually had a pampered upbringing. Like my character Elizabeth, they disliked having no voice in their housing arrangements. 'Falling Bricks' aspect of fort life meant officers received quarters, which was their housing based on their rank and seniority, but they could be “ranked out” of the house by a superior officer. A military wife worked hard to make their cramp quarters into a nice home, but if a new officer arrived at the fort who had a higher rank than your husband, and he selected your house to be his own, the existing family had to leave, and in turn bump someone else of lower rank, then that family would have to move, and so on. They had servants to help with household chores. So they spent their time making clothes for the family, educating their children, managing the household, reading and writing letters, sidesaddle horseback riding, putting on plays, and going on picnics.

Enlisted men’s wives didn't have it as nice. They endured miseries, suffered hardships, and often worked from sunrise to sunset. They took jobs on the forts, usually working as:
1. army laundresses—who washed uniforms and other clothes for soldiers,
2. hospital matrons—who did laundry at the post hospital, or
3. officers’ servants—who cooked, cleaned, and did laundry for officers.

The fort in my novel is Fort Laramie, so the links on forts that I used came from their main site, which is wonderful! They have added a site tour that shows some of the buildings.
Another great resource for me at least has been Libby Custer memoirs. She has three, but the one I resourced was Boots and Saddles. This link has great information on forts and the trail history For information on different bugle calls

As I'm continuing the series, I'll post more links as I run across them in my own writing. If you have any questions, send me an email.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Victorian life an U.S. Army fort

We've all seen the movies of the gallant US Cavalry charging down a hill toward a wagon train being attacked by Indians, or saving a stage coach from outlaws. Just when all seemed lost, the bugle would sound and help was on the way. Army life was no picnic but without the brave men of that long ago era, the move west might never have happened.

By 1844 Americans began to spread out, leaving their towns and crowded cities to "Go West young man." And so the expansion west begin, mostly in the form of long slow moving wagon trains that cut across the long flat plains, the hot dry deserts, along the ridges of the America's majestic mountains.

These families, just as their parents and grandparents before, wanted their own piece of land. By setting forth to explore the west, they encroached on land belonging to various tribes, some hostile, some not, for hundreds of years. The first few years of the migration didn't stir up too much trouble, but as the wagons kept coming, the Indian's began to resent their land being taken. Many tribes decided to fight back in hopes of making the trek West not so appealing.

The United States government decided to establish military posts along the Oregon Trail for the protection of the emigrants. In 1846 Congress approved "An Act to provide for raising a regiment of Mounted Riflemen, and for establishing military stations on the route to Oregon," and Fort Laramie in Wyoming was reborn. Early in 1848 Fort Kearny was established on the south bank of the Platte near the head of Grand Island. Later that year news of the discovery of gold in California raced through the country like wildfire, resulting in fevered preparations to move westward increased the urgency of extending the chain of forts.

Life on a military fort was not an easy one. When the plains were peaceful, It was a life of endless drills interrupted by a series of bugle calls. The calls were so frequent that horses and dogs understood them and even a military wife's life was set by them. Officers may have graduated from a Military academy such as West Point or may have served in the Civil War and had been granted military title for their service. Many of the men who made up the forts regiments were hard working boys, some may have never before ridden a horse or others enlisted to hide their identity. Fighting Indians may have seemed glamorous but the excitement soon wore off as week long campaigns turned into months.