Hands circle,internationl teamwork concept

The name of this blog is “Living Lightly,” but the topic of this post may veer from my intentions when I first started the blog. However, I must write what’s in my heart even if it means some of you (I hope not) decide to unfollow me.

I’m sickened by the political debacle occurring in my country, the United States. I’m tired of people my age–normally the politically active baby boomers–telling me continually they’ve decided not to vote because they are so disgusted with what is happening.

How did we sink so low?

And how much further can we go?

I’m worried. But yesterday, I discovered my new found concerns really should have bothered me before the crisis in electing a president.

Weekend guests to our home showed me I’ve been living under the falsehood that we are a nation of souls who love one another for our diversity and our individuality. I’ve lived for more than sixty years assuming that if we can simply communicate and love one another, we can solve all our problems no matter who we are, where we come from, how much we weigh, where we worship, what we believe, or how much money we make. It’s all accepted here, except by a few fringe elements.

Back to the guest who opened my eyes and mangled my innocence. She wanted to buy a few of my books before she left. I showed her to my closet stock of novels. She picked out two books, and then I had the bright of idea of gifting her with a copy of my great grandfather’s memoir Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier. I’m very proud to have published this book and believe its historical context to be of supreme importance. It gave me great pride to produce it. I explained it to our guest and attempted to hand her a copy. She stepped back as if bitten.

“My family was in the Confederacy,” she said.

I tried to explain that the journal shows the horrors of war and of brothers fighting brothers.

“My family owned slaves.” She stood in my living room saying words I thought I’d never hear. “My grandmother told me that she worked right along side the slaves, but one day a storm came up. The slaves were sent to the barn while my grandmother stayed in the fields.”

Her grandmother told our guest, “We valued our slaves more than our relatives because we needed them.”

Nervous laughter from everyone listening–except for me. I walked away protectively clutching my precious book.

“I still fly the Confederate flag.” Her words followed me back to my office.

I seethed all afternoon after she left. Then I watched the second Presidential debate last night. How can I possibly believe we can heal the great divide created in this campaign year if there are those still fighting the Civil War? And this comes from a woman my husband has known for more than twenty years. He admires her knowledge in their common field of work. She didn’t just come out from under a rock.

Even though I feel nauseated and hopeless in these waning days of the 2016 Presidential campaign, I won’t let it stop me from going to the polls and voting on November 8 for the candidate who I feel will not turn my beloved country into a totalitarian regime. And I urge every citizen of this great country to do the same no matter how you want to vote. That’s why we’re a great country because we do allow freedom of expression without fear of arrest. At least,that’s the way it stands now.

We always say to remember history lest we forget, but sometimes we might need to forget lest we continue to fight a war that ended more than one hundred and fifty years ago.

And remember propaganda,  which can be used for good or for bad, must be deciphered so we know what is positive and what is evil. Consider the following persuasive techniques to create propaganda:

  1. Take advantage of brewing discontent
  2. Offer the right answers in a time of economic upheaval
  3. Blame a scapegoat for the ills of an entire nation
  4. Place the success of a campaign on the back of one person’s personality
  5. Speak to the largest rallies possible
  6. Use a simple dogma and focus on only one or two points
  7. Repeat the simple dogma
  8. Find slogans to repeat
  9. Speak to emotions and stir them

I pulled these points together from several websites describing how Hitler managed to fool the German people long enough to form the Nazi party.

Think about it before you vote, and then remember this poignant piece from anti-Nazi and Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemoller.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

REMEMBER WHO WE ARE AND VOTE NOVEMBER 8USA map multicultural group of young people integration diversity



AudiACXTo celebrate the release of the audio version of A Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier, the memoir of my great grandfather, I’m offering a chance to win a copy. Please enter the rafflecopter for your chance to win.

Jeffrey A. Hering narrated the book, and I’m extremely pleased with the outcome. Check out a sample, by clicking here.

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Harmon and Eliza CamburnOther versions:

Amazon Kindle


B&N Nook




#Civil War in April 1861 – #Virginia

FinalCoverI woke this morning of Easter thinking of my great grandfather and where he might have spent Easter during his years as a soldier in the Union Army. He makes no reference to the religious holiday even though he was a deeply religious man. However, I found a passage in his memoir, Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier, from April 4-6, 1861, that tells the tale of springtime during war.

He and Michigan’s 2nd regiment had been encamped near the Black River, five miles from Newport News Point, Virginia, for almost two weeks. They endured two weeks of almost solid rain before receiving the word it was time to march through the mud to their next camp. Here’s his story of those few days in early April, one hundred and fifty-three years ago.

In my great grandfather’s words:

April 4 – The long expected forward movement was begun at last. The clouds that had poured rain upon us so long and continuously had rolled away, and a fiery sun shone down upon

us with all the fierceness of full summer. We crossed Back River and took the road up the peninsula between the York and James rivers.

The roads were heavy with mud, and the soldiers were fain to relieve the tiresome march by reducing the weight of baggage carried upon their backs. Believing summer had come to stay, they began to throw away their overcoats, and some their blankets and soon the roadside was literally covered with these castoff articles. The route step of vigorous, fresh troops soon brought us through a wooded country to Little Bethel. We were some surprised to see nothing but a small church, for General [Benjamin F.] Butler’s movements of last June had given the Bethels a place in history.

[From P.C. Zick:  It’s noted that General Butler was one of the first to employ observation balloons during the Civil War, but his reputation as a terrible tactician was proven on June 10, 1861, at Big Bethel, Virginia, which was the first land battle of the Civil War. Despite outnumbering the Confederates, his men fired on each other, which accounted for one-third of the Union casualties in the defeat.]

Late in the afternoon, we came upon Big Bethel. Here as before, there was a church though a little larger than the other Bethel. Some deserted rebel earthworks stretched away into the woods on each side of the road, but as there were no rebels about there was little of interest to us. Two miles beyond Great Bethel, we bivouacked for the night, sleeping beside our arms, for it was known that we were very close to the enemy.

April 5 – At an early hour, the column was on the move. The men, in high spirits, pushed eagerly forward, the dominant thought being that every step brought us nearer the enemy. The road lay mostly through heavy timber. In the after part of the day, the country became low and swampy and the roads soft, the mud coming often to our knees. The distant booming of artillery freshened our lagging zeal as we came upon higher ground, but a brief delay, during which the sounds of strife at the front became more animated, raised hopes that once more we were to have some practical experience in warfare. As the firing died away, we moved on and soon learned that the enemy had made a feeble attempt to check our advance at Worms Mills.

Late in the day, the occasional discharge of cannon sounded nearer, and as we emerged from the woods onto an open plain, we could see the smoke of the guns rise from a dim line of earthworks on the opposite side. That we were within range of their artillery was evident from the shots that now and then screamed over our heads and clipped the limbs from the trees in our rear. Just at twilight, our brigade was moved to the left and camped between the woods and a pool of water. Beside the pool were Professor Lowe and his balloon. As we approached, he was being pulled down from his lofty place of observation, a thousand feet high. This was one of McClellan’s favorite ways of gaining information of the enemy’s movements.

As we had experienced a long and hard march, the cooks were ordered to serve coffee with dispatch. Being in a strange locality close to the enemy and already dark, the cooks took water for the coffee from the pool. When the coffee was served, each man, as he took some in his mouth, quickly spit it out again. Everyone declared it bit his mouth so they could not swallow it. Investigation showed that they had taken the water from the same spot where the refuse vitriol used in manufacturing gas for the balloon had been emptied. A storm of indignation was raised against the cooks and some curses were hurled at the balloon, but I doubt any of us could have done better under the circumstances.

We were now before Yorktown and on the border of the plain where Cornwallis surrendered his forces in Revolutionary times. Yorktown is a walled town of the old style to which the rebels added a long wing of earthworks that entirely covered the available route up the peninsula.

After eating the remnant of food in our haversacks, we lay down with the thought that on the morrow we should surely assault the enemy and severely punish him.

April 6 – With the dawning of a new day, the encampment was astir, anxious to get a glimpse of the surroundings by daylight. The first object that met my gaze as I crawled from my shelter tent was the forms of General [Hiram G.] Berry and two staff officers stretched upon the bare ground under a tree, without other covering or shelter than its spreading branches while their horses gnawed at neighboring saplings. The baggage train that should have brought the general’s tent and equipage and our rations, had been delayed by the bad roads. The prospect for something to eat was dubious. The majority of the men had eaten the last from their haversacks the night before. Roused by the bustle of the camp, the general and his aides arose and kindled a small fire and put something to cook in a quart cup. Three of us who messed together pooled our rations and found we had six hardtack for the three. We voted to give the general and each of his aides one apiece and have one each for our own breakfast. Upon tendering them to the general with the information that it was half we had, he accepted on condition that we take half of the rice they were cooking which was all they had. It was a great consolation to us that for once the general and his soldiers fared alike.

Notwithstanding our eager expectation, the day passed without any action. The next day and the next passed in inactivity and no rations.

[From P.C. Zick:  Elsewhere in the war, General Ulysses S. Grant’s troops are surprised by a Confederate attack at Shiloh on the Tennessee River. More than 23,000 men are killed or wounded.]

April 8 – The troops were moved back into the woods and picks and shovels came to the front. Our spirits were dampened by the prospect of more shoveling. For many days, camp life was broken only by the regular rotation of picket duty and an occasional turn at shoveling in trenches, which were to form a regular approach by means of parallels to the enemy’s works.

The camp of our brigade in the woods lay between two swamp holes, the waters of which we were compelled to use for washing, cooking, and drinking purposes. Very soon around the entire edges of the ponds was a wide circle of dirty soapsuds where the men had washed their clothes and their persons. Water to drink was procured by walking as far out as possible on a log and dipping up the filthy swamp water, and even there it tasted of soap. We knew of no better water, and if we had perfectly patrolled, that if a man strayed from his own camp, he was sure to go to the trenches to work instead of finding water. Drenching rains fell most of the time, rations were scarce, and the miasma of the swamps sickened the men so that our ranks were depleted faster by disease than they would have been by assault upon the works at Yorktown. At intervals through all these days, the rebels sent shot from their heavy guns over us and around, but nobody was ever hurt by them. Working parties pushed the fortifications day and night under the direction of experienced engineers. By day, the work went on behind the woods and in other places out of rebel observation and by night parallels were dug across the open spaces by the aid of white lines. Each morning, the enemy awoke to find some new piece of Yankee impudence right under their noses.

One dark and rainy day, I was ordered to take out a working party of forty men. The engineer conducted us to a narrow strip of woods that projected into the plain on the same level and in full view of the walls of Yorktown. On the edge of the wood, next to the enemy, was a fine growth of underbrush. Through this as close as possible to the open ground, the engineer ran his line, his own men cutting off the fine brush and standing it up to thicken the screen that concealed us. It was our work to follow and cut out the trench, one spading deep so that a larger

force could throw out the remainder at night without the aid of lights. With a wholesome respect for the frowning guns before us, we did not draw a single shot from the rebel batteries.

As fast as works were completed, men were detailed to man them for twenty-four hours at a time. It was my fortune to be in the same trench several times during the thirty days siege of Yorktown, and I witnessed two or three amusing incidents. It was the custom of the rebels to fire a shot once a half hour over this work, and sometimes it hit the work and at others, it clipped the treetops. Just behind us was a low spot where grew some lofty elms. Through these, one day came a straggling soldier leisurely surveying the surroundings. He paused in a comfortable attitude under one of the elms and seemed to be enjoying himself very much when a shot from the enemy cut a limb as big as his body directly over his head. He did not wait for the limb to fall, but started on the jump for camp and had not slackened his speed nor looked behind when he entered the wood on the opposite side of the plain. At another time, General Phil Kearney and three other generals rode up to this part of the line and stopped to gaze through the thin growth of timber at Yorktown. As they looked, a puff of smoke shot up from the rebel works. Quick as a flash of light, the four generals were off their horses and flat upon the ground. When the deadly missile has passed, they arose and remounted. Kearney remarked with a pleased smile, “I never before saw generals so quickly reduced to the ranks.”

I came on duty once with a captain of the 3rd Michigan. After lookouts had been posted and everything was arranged for the night, the captain and myself wrapped our blankets around us and lay down on the shelf of the trench, feet together, while the other men were disposed conveniently near. In the night, a big shell buried in itself in the breastwork near the point where our feet met, and burst, sending a great amount of dirt into the air. As the earth came down, it buried both under a heavy load. With some exertion, we both released ourselves and met in the darkness, he being sure it had torn him to pieces. Investigation showed that no one was hurt, and we returned to our slumbers to be disturbed no more that night.

Time brings all things to an end and at last the earthworks were completed, the cannon and mortars mounted, and it was currently rumored that the bombardment would take place in a day or two. Our sharpshooters were so close to the walls of Yorktown that they could pick off the gunners whenever they attempted to serve their guns, and their keen eyes were always strained to detect an animated mark for their aim.

Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier by Harmon Camburn as presented by P.C. Zick is available at the following locations. Click below to purchase.




Barnes & Noble (Nook)


Apple iBooks

Some Things Never Change


View from my office window

As I prepared to start my day with frigid temperatures and snow falling outside, I thought about my great grandfather, Harmon Camburn, and what life must have been like for him and the other soldiers fighting in the Civil War during the winter. I went to his journal (Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier), and found this passage from the last few days of 1862. Despite all of our growth as a nation and people, some things never change.

Yes, they were miserable living out in the elements, but how much worse it must have been to realize that those snug and warm in their homes had no idea how life was on the battlefield for these young men. 

As Congress begins a new session, I implore them to look beyond their own political agendas and into the hearts and minds of those they serve. It would warm the heart and souls all veterans, living and dead, who have fought for our causes.

From Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier

The last week of 1862, Burnside’s army lay in camp inactive.

The winter rains had set in, and it was almost impossible to get supplies for the army over the miry roads from Aquia Creek and Belle Plain Landing. With the whole surface of the country one vast mortar bed, active operations were not thought of in the army. Yet every newspaper that reached us was full of condemnations for the idleness of the troops in the field. Any attempt to move large bodies of men was inexpedient and to move artillery and supply trains was next to impossible.

Between the clamor of northern papers, the quarrels among general officers, and the interference of Congress with artillery movements, the rank and file of the army of the Potomac was becoming discouraged and demoralized. The men were beginning to feel that they were enduring hardships and that lives were being sacrificed without adequate results, because of petty jealousies among the leaders. Idleness and discontent go hand in hand with soldiers, and the gloomy outlook of our winter camp was not cheering. The fences had all disappeared for fuel and green wood for cooking and heating purposes had to be hauled long distances with the mules floundering knee deep in the mire and the wagons cutting almost to the hubs.

Find out more about my great grandfather’s journal by clicking here to view the video trailer. His insights are astounding and universal.

"Camburn's words paint a rich tapestry often shadowed with the bleak aspects of war." Amazon review

“Camburn’s words paint a rich tapestry often shadowed with the bleak aspects of war.” Amazon review

#Civil War – Battle at Seven Pines, 1862

Currier & Ives depiction of the Battle of Seven Pines

This excerpt from Civil War Journal of a Confederate Soldier – the memoir of my great grandfather – shows firsthand the horrors of war. There are no winners here at Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), Virginia.

May 31 – Orders came for us to report to General Kearney at Seven Pines Tavern. Without delay, we were on the move. Before we reached the stage road, one of those sudden storms peculiar to the south burst upon us without warning. The sky grew dark. Then quickly came sheets of livid flame, followed by deafening crashes of thunder. In another moment, sluices of water began to pour. Darkness became so intense that nothing could be seen except by the blinding, hissing, crackling flashes of lightning. The scene was one of terrific grandeur, but exposed to its fury as we were, it was not pleasant. Some gained the partial shelter of the trees. Others could not make head against the flood and were forced to stand and take it where they were. In half an hour, this cloudburst was a thing of the past. The only evidence that it had been was the distant detonation of thunder and the lake of muddy water in which we stood over our shoe tops.

As soon as the storm swept by, we marched away in pursuit of orders. Then there broke upon our ears rapid explosions of thunder that we knew too well were not from heaven, followed by an unsteady roll that we knew was not the reverberation of thunder along the clouds. To our experienced ears, it was the sound of deadly strife.

Then came fugitives from the front, saying that Casey’s division which was in the advance had been surprised at Fair Oaks station and “All cut to pieces.” As with increased pace and quickened pulse we pushed forward, the number of fugitives increased and all had the same cry. “We’re all cut to pieces.” To say that our little band felt no misgivings in the face of this wild rout would not be true. Thoughts of Bull Run forced themselves upon us, but when did the 2nd Michigan fail to report wherever they were ordered. Straining toward the front, we met the lion-hearted, firm and true General Heintzelman at a point where the swamp and creek came close together within forty rods. This hair-lipped old general demanded, “What are these and where are you going?” Being told that we were two companies of the 2nd Michigan going to report to General Kearney, he ordered, “Deploy across this muck and stop these stragglers or kill them.” Instantly, the movement was begun at double quick and in another moment, we were facing the mob of excited, terrified men, some hatless, from they knew not what, while the spent balls from the enemy was stimulating their speed.

To stay this tide was to us a harder task than to fight the enemy. They were our friends, and we did not want to hurt them. By the sounds from the front, we knew that our men who had not been stampeded were bravely holding the rebels in check. These men must be made to turn and help them. At first, it required rough treatment and some received wounds here that had escaped unscathed at the front, but when the tide was once stayed, a peremptory order to “Fall in,” enforced by the point of the bayonet, backed by a loaded musket was obeyed without resistance. Each had his story to tell, to which we would not listen. Officers and men alike insisted that “We’re all cut to pieces” and “I am the only man left of my regiment.”

Officers and men resorted to various subterfuges and tricks to get past our line. Two men carrying their brave and esteemed captain, with both legs tied up with handkerchiefs, were stopped to examine the captain’s wounds. When the bandages were removed, no wounds were to be found. Men with heads, bodies, legs, and arms tied up were detected in the cheat and put into the ranks. A colonel of a New York regiment with two men carrying him desired to push through. We sent the men to the ranks, but passed the colonel. He was dead-drunk. We dumped his carcass on the ground in the swamp as of no use. One by one, seven color bearers drifted back to us with their colors and the declaration that they alone had escaped with the colors, the others were “all cut to pieces.” The phrase “cut to pieces” became a joke and many an officer in splendid uniform was asked to take off his clothes and show where he was cut. Some officers were indignant that their rank was not respected, and that private soldiers dared to prevent their passing, but a look into the muzzle of a loaded musket with a resolute eye behind it inclined them to waive their rights for this once. By stationing the various regimental colors in different parts of the field, and directing the men to assemble around their own colors, we rallied seven good-sized regiments of live men that were not “cut to pieces.” We kept our line all night, part of the men sleeping at a time. Our duty had been a very unpleasant one, but we were assured that it was very important.

June 1 – Early in the morning we joined our regiment on the battlefield. Seven companies of the regiment were in the thickest of the fight and lost heavily in killed and wounded, and Colonel Poe had his horse shot under him. Richardson’s division was already pushing the enemy, and long before noon, the lost ground was regained. This two-day battle was called by both names – Fair Oaks and Seven Pines, the fighting being done between a railroad station of the former name and a country tavern of the latter. (The aggregate loss to Union and Confederate – killed 3,690, wounded 7,524, prisoners 2,322.)

[Fair Oaks or Seven Pines, May 31-June 1, 1862 with the total killed, wounded, or captured now recorded as 13,736.]

From Civil War Trust:

The Battle of Seven Pines
Fair Oaks
May 31, 1862 – June 1, 1862

On May 31, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston attempted to overwhelm two Federal corps that appeared isolated south of the Chickahominy River. The Confederate assaults, though not well coordinated, succeeded in driving back the IV Corps and inflicting heavy casualties. Reinforcements arrived, and both sides fed more and more troops into the action. Supported by the III Corps and Sedgwick’s division of Sumner’s II Corps (that crossed the rain-swollen river on Grapevine Bridge), the Federal position was finally stabilized. Gen. Johnston was seriously wounded during the action, and command of the Confederate army devolved temporarily to Maj. Gen. G.W. Smith. On June 1, the Confederates renewed their assaults against the Federals who had brought up more reinforcements but made little headway. Both sides claimed victory.  Confederate brigadier Robert H. Hatton was killed.

Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier is available on Kindle and in paperback. Click on the image to visit the Amazon page.

Click on cover for Amazon page

Click on cover for Amazon page

Words of a #Civil War Soldier Show Not Much Has Changed

Today’s post is inspired by my fellow blogger and author, Lori Crane, over at A Day in the Life of Patootie. She’s challenged all bloggers to participate in a month-long series of posts about our ancestors. Check out her blog – she’s loaded with anecdotes from her lineage.

In the past few weeks, I’ve immersed myself in the writings of my great grandfather. He left behind a legacy for his children chronicling his years as a Union soldier in the Civil War. He joined Michigan’s 2nd Regiment in 1861 in the early days of the war. I’m putting the journal in electronic form so others can read about his experiences as a soldier and as a prisoner of war with the Confederates in the last year of the war. As I proofread a chapter, I came across this passage that gave me pause. The passage was written in December 1862 as the soldiers prepared to make winter quarters after several Union defeats. He wrote this in the days following the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 11-15,1862, where the Confederates won the battle, but nearly 18,000 men were injured or killed.

If we’re discontent with what’s happening or not happening in Washington today, imagine what it was like to be a soldier in the field having seen the death and destruction of the bloody Civil War while the folks at home sitting in front of warm fires fought over petty matters.

Excerpt from Civil War Reminiscences of Harmon Camburn:

“December 1862 – With the whole surface of the country one vast mortar bed, active operations were not thought of in the army. Yet every newspaper that reached us was full of condemnations for the idleness of the troops in the field. Any attempt to move large bodies of men was inexpedient and to move artillery and supply trains was next to impossible.

Between the clamor of northern papers, the quarrels among general officers, and the interference of Congress with artillery movements, the rank and file of the army of the Potomac was becoming discouraged and demoralized. The men were beginning to feel that they were enduring hardships and that lives were being sacrificed without adequate results, because of petty jealousies among the leaders. Idleness and discontent go hand in hand with soldiers, and the gloomy outlook of our winter camp was not cheering. The fences had all disappeared for fuel, and green wood for cooking and heating purposes had to be hauled long distances with the mules floundering knee deep in the mire and the wagons cutting almost to the hubs.”

Isn’t it time we learned?