Tuesday, November 08, 2011
A Bit Of History
Today it's my pleasure to introduce you to Karen Whiting. Karen is an author, speaker and a military wife and mother. Among Karen's many accomplishments is her upcoming book, Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front of American Wars. Not yet released, (April 2012) Karen has been kind enough to give us a sneak peek right here!
The shells were bursting in every direction and there seemed little hope of us crossing the parade ground in safety. We did so however and remained until after the surrender. My husband, Col. Snelling, was taken prisoner, and I accompanied him to Fort Erie.
Abigail’s words described a battle of the War of 1812 that occurred several days after her wedding.
After studying and writing about military families for my upcoming book on the home front of American Wars, especially wives, Abigail left a great impression. One of America’s early military brats Abigail survived being an orphan, married a military man, became a widow, and survived the heat of battle.
Abigail’s father served in the American Revolution and she moved for the first time at six weeks, in 1797. She lived a life of frequent moves and changes. And par for many military moves, orders changed on route and instead of heading to Indiana they switched directions and moved to Fort Mackinaw. Thankfully the former occupants of the quarters left all the furnishings.
In 1808, stationed in Missouri, Abigail faced excitement and sorrow. She met Lewis and Clark on their return from their great west expedition and shortly after her parents succumbed to fever and died. Abigail’s older brother moved her to Boston to her grandmother’s home, after staying at the home of General Harrison to rest (later President Harrison). A few years later, she moved in with her brother in Detroit. Soon after arriving in Detroit Abigail met and married Capt. Josiah Snelling, a hero of Tippecanoe.
Once the British captured her husband, Abigail and the other wives rushed to catch the ship holding her husband prisoner, leaving behind all their luggage. In Montreal a prisoner exchange took place that freed her husband. She survived many more moves, lived several years in a rustic log cabin on the frontier in Minnesota until her husband completed the building of Fort Snelling. Abigail’s hired nursemaid remarked that entertainment at Fort Snelling was very selective and aristocratic and the household decorated with good taste.
Abigail read the classics, poetry, and history and spoke fluent French. Gen. Edmond P. Gaines, an Italian explorer wrote of his visit to Fort Snelling that Abigail Snelling made him forget he was in the wilderness. Abigail, concerned about faith, ran the Sunday school at Fort Snelling. One of her sons described his mother as a compassionate woman, and indulging mother with beautiful hair that nearly reached to the ground. A brave, resourceful woman, Abigail once ran out to the parade grounds, grabbed a bucket of milk from a soldier, and ran back inside her quarters to douse a fire in her children’s bedroom.
In 1825 Josiah Snelling purchased a farm in Detroit while on leave. He died a few years later and she moved to Detroit and settled on the farm, at twenty-nine. She spent years petitioning for a military pension as a widow. Some of her brothers and children also served in the military.
Abigail learned to enjoy the best moments as a military wife as well as to survive the worst scenarios. She later married a minister but he died five years after they wed. Her children loved and cherished her, and she lived with various during her years of widowhood.
Today’s military wives are also often very accomplished and hospitable, as well as brave and resourceful. Examples of previous generations remind us that military life is not easy but the support of family and faith is part of what strengthens our soldiers.
You can find Karen on the web and on Facebook Leave a comment for Karen today for a chance to win one of her books!