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Highlighting Historical Romance with Lizzi Tremayne

Today Highlighting History comes roaring back with a piece by my fellow Bluestocking Belle, Lizzi Tremayne:

I’m often asked if my stories contain real history…

Well, yes. And yes. And yes some more. My sources are old newspapers of the day, old journals, diaries, historical records and… army dispatches. I especially loved them while I researched The Hills of Gold Unchanging, which includes as the major plot the attempted secession of the new state of California during the American Civil War.

Army dispatches, whether from the United States, the British Isles, or Canada (at this point in history, part of the British Empire), to name only a few, are ambrosia to the writer of historical fiction. Imagine my excitement when I found some British and Canadian Army dispatches which let me write the finale for the second book in The Long Trails series, The Hills of Gold Unchanging!

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Image from article by Martha Wallace of San Mateo Co Genealogical society.

No one will stand in their way—and live.

As the Civil War rages, secessionists menace California.

Aleksandra and Xavier are trying to get back home—through the oncoming Civil War, the mining camps of 1860’s Nevada and California, the Great Flood of Sacramento—to Xavier’s Californio Rancho de las Pulgas.

Embroiled in the Confederates’ fight to drag the new state from the Union and make it their own, can Aleks and Xavier survive?

The secessionists mean business.

The Dispatches!

And here are the dispatches I found with respect to the above! They’re from The American Civil War through British eyes: February 1863 to December 1865, by James J. Barnes and Patience P. Barnes.

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Figure 1 Image from article by Martha Wallace of San Mateo Co Genealogical society.

Dispatch 319.  Lyons to Russell, 17 April 1863

I have the honour to enclose a copy of a dispatch from Her Majesty’s consul at San Francisco’s reporting the seizure at that place of the American steamer J.M.Chapman, suspected of having been fitted out for Confederate privateer.

William Ln., Booker to Lyons, 18 March 1863, enclosed in the above.

I have the honour to inform Your Lordship that the American schooner JM Chapman was seized early in the morning of the 15th instant by the Federal authorities just as she was on the point of sailing for Mazatlan, under suspicion of her being fitted out for a Confederate privateer.

On examination of her hold, 15 or 16 men were found concealed in it, and from what information has been given to the public, there is good reason to believe that the schooner was intended for that purpose

The steamship Oregon was to have sailed this morning for Mazatlan, but the Collector has detained her up to the present hour (3 p.m.), from the naval officers of the port I gather this afternoon that the authorities believe that they have pretty conclusive proof of the intentions of those on board the schooner to have attempted to capture the steamer on her present voyage, and the capture of the steam ships carrying treasure to Panama would have been an easy matter.

There are many rumors as to what was found in the JM Chapman, but it is positively stated that there were on board to brass 12 foot boat howitzers, and carriages complete; 20 rifles, 200 loaded shells, powder, and other and ammunitions of war, besides amongst the papers, oaths of secrecy and fellowship in connection with the Confederate States.

The persons found on board and who are now prisoners in Fort Alcatraz, state the arms were intended for Mexico.

I will write again when further developments have been made.

Dispatch 320. Lyons to Russell,  17 April 1863

With reference to my dispatch no. 287 of the 7th instant, I have the honour to enclose copies of correspondence which I’ve had with Mr. Seward, as well as of a telegram which have dispatched to Her Majesty’s Consul at San Francisco, and of the dispatch which I have addressed to the Governor of Vancouver’s Island, relative to a rumor that attempts are being made to fit up privateers for the Confederates at that island.

Mr. Seward observed to me the day before yesterday that the ships which were believed to be fitting out for the Confederates in Great Britain were not the only cause of the alarm and irritation which prevailed in this country. It was apprehended he said that unless energetic measures were taken by Her Majesty’s Government, similar vessels would be fitted out in British colonies in the neighbourhood of the United States. This would, he said, bring about the total ruin of the American mercantile navy, and any risks must be run in order to avert the evil.

I remarked to Mr. Seward that I was not aware of anything which had already happened which warranted the apprehensions which appeared to be entertained.

Dispatch 324. Lyons to Russell, 17 April 1863

I have the honour to enclose copies of a telegram in a dispatch which I addressed on the 14th instant to the Governor General of Canada respecting our relations with the United States Government. Both the telegram and the dispatch were sent in cipher.

Telegram from Lord Lyons to Viscount Monckton, 14 April 1863, enclosed in the above.

“Very confidential. The relations between the British and American Governments are not quite satisfactory. The Confederate privateers are the cause. I do not apprehend an immediate crisis, but I think it may be desirable that you should know the facts at once. I write by post.”

Lance to Monk, 14 April 1863, enclosed in the above.

The exasperation produced in this country by the proceedings of the two Confederate cruisers, by the belief that other ships are fitting out for the Confederates in England, and by the success of the Confederate loan, has become intense. With reference to my telegram of today, I have the honour to inform you confidentially that the remonstrance from this Government goes to England by the Boston packet of tomorrow. Mr. Seward says that this is a last effort to settle the question, but assures me that no strong measures will be resorted to at present. Making full allowance for the evident attempt to frighten us, I still think there is some real cause for uneasiness. At any rate, it is well to let you know at once that the weather is threatening, although the storm may not improbably blow over. Pray acknowledge the receipt of this letter by telegraph.

Dispatch 426. Lyons to Russell, 15 May 1863

With reference to my dispatches number 287 of the 7th ultimo, and number 320 of the 17th ultimo, I have the honour to enclose a copy of a dispatch which I received yesterday from Mr Consul Booker, in answer to the telegram dated the 16th ultimo, by which I directed him to communicate with the Governor of Vancouver’s Island, on the subject of the reports that attempts were being made at Victoria to fit out privateers for the Confederates I have also the honour to enclose a copy of the note, with which I have transmitted to Mr. Seward an extract from Mr. Booker’s dispatch, omitting the last two paragraphs.

W. Lane Booker to Lord Lyons, 17 April 1863, enclosed in the above.

I had the honour to receive at 6 o’clock last evening Your Lordship’s telegram, and at once replied to by telegraph.

I have today written to Governor Douglas in accordance with your instructions, and the reply will be received here about the end of April, should the steamer wait long enough at Esquinalto to enable His Excellency to acknowledge receipt by return mail

I feel confident there is no foundation for the reports made the United States Government that attempts are being made to fit out the Confederate privateer in Vancouver’s Island. I see so many people from there and I am in such constant correspondence with the officials and private residence of that island, that I should have been almost sure to hear if anything of that kind had been going on. I believe the idea to have originated in sundry articles in one of the Victoria papers about two months ago, wherein it was stated that a Confederate Commodore was in Victoria, and that proposals have been made to purchase the screw steamship Thames for a privateer.

The supposed Commodore was Captain Manley, who was sent to Victoria by a firm in this city engaged in the Mexican trade, to ascertain if the Thames was a suitable vessel to run between this port and Mexico, and if so, to endeavor to purchase her.

The capture of the American steamer JM Chapman about which I wrote Your Lordship has made the authorities very vigilant and also mistrustful

Nothing more is known by the public of the intentions of those on board the schooner; all sorts of rumors are abroad about secessionist plots, but I cannot certain if they have any foundation.

Dispatch 452. Lyons to Russell, 25 May 1863

With reference to my dispatches number 426 of the 15th instant and number 320 of the 17th ultimo, and number 287 of the 7th ultimo, I have the honour to transmit Your Lordship a copy of a telegram from the Governor of Vancouver’s Island on the subject of the rumors that attempts were being made to fit out privateers in that colony for the Confederates.

I have also the honour to transmit Your Lordship a copy of a note communicating the governors telegram to Mr. Seward and a copy of Mr. Seward’s answer.

James Douglas to Lord Lyons, 14 May 1863, and close in the above

“Your communication of 2nd of April with enclosures has just arrived, and I beg Your Lordship to assure the President of the United States that every vigilance will be used by this government to discover and frustrate all attempts by the enemies of the United States fit up privateers in the ports of Vancouver’s Island and British Columbia.”

About the Author

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Awarded author Lizzi grew up riding wild in the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods, became an equine veterinarian, and practiced in the California Gold Country before emigrating to New Zealand. She writes historical fiction and veterinary fiction/non-fiction—all with a horsey flair,and also collaborates on boxed sets with the Bluestocking Belles and the Authors of Main Street. Besides the fact she loves reading historical fiction, Lizzi’s writes romantic stories for two reasons. First, to satisfy the many dyed-in-the-wool fans of historical romantic fiction, and second—probably the most important—to offer the past in a palatable fashion to those who might never pick up a history book.

This is a corrected version of the post from 1/3/2019 with apologies from the editor.

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