A Civil War Adventure

The Breastplate

The Civil War brought them together and it would tear them apart! Beautiful Kitty Claiborne, the pampered daughter of a wealthy senator, fell deeply in love with Lt. William Benson, attaché to President Lincoln. However, she had no idea her life would change so dramatically after they were married. Could her love endure the hardships of life in a remote cabin when, during the war, Will was given an assignment in East Tennessee? And why didn’t her husband tell her his mission when he left her alone for weeks at a time? Was he one of the mysterious Phantom Warriors everyone was talking about? When he was carried home, badly wounded, by a group of strangers, would she be able to smuggle them all through enemy checkpoints to safety? And why did she bury her husband’s breastplate, from his uniform, deep in the soil on their little farm? The Breastplate is the story of the lives and families torn apart by the Civil War, and the courage of one woman as she struggles to keep her love and family intact during such turbulent times.

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Her tattered coat wrapped tightly around her, Kathleen O'Connor hurried home, the raw winter wind penetrating to her very bones. She had worked hard in the freezing cold since early morning, cleaning the stables where her father was employeed. She struggled, doing the hard, difficult work, trying to keep his job for him whie he was ill with lung fever. The tiny hovel they called home belonged to his employer, and without the job they would lose their home. As miserable as it was, she could not let that happen. Not while her mother and father were both so very ill. An epidemic of measles had swept through the small village where they lived, killing several peop;e. The terrible disease had not stricken her, but both of her parentgs were gravely ill with pneumonia as a result of it. She pushed open the door, but felt no warm relief from the bitter cold. Rushing to the stove she shoveled a few lumps of coal into the ashes, noticing with dismay the coal bin was almost empty. Quickly, she fanned the coals into glowing embers and held her red chapped hands over the heat. It was then she noticed the quietness. No coughing!

About Shirley McCracken

Shirley McCracken
Shirley McCracken is a freelance writer and poet. Always interested in the Civil War, she was intrigued when her husband found a relic from the war on their farm. The relic, a Union breastplate, lay undisturbed for years, but when the 150th anniversary of the war approached, she decided to write its story. She is a registered nurse, a wife, mother of two sons, and has two young grandsons who call her “Purple”. She enjoys being outdoors and has hiked, rafted, swam, scuba-dived, cross- country skied, even dog sledded. A horseman since her youth, she has ridden many miles on her Tennessee walking horses, Jazz and Jubilee.