Yay! Tara Johnson is here today to share some of the history behind her new book All Through the Night – plus an excerpt & a chance to win a copy of your own!
ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2021
With her stammering tongue and quiet ways, Cadence Piper has always struggled to be accepted. After the death of her mother, Cadence sets her heart on becoming a nurse, both to erase the stain her brother has left on the family’s honor and to find long-sought approval in the eyes of her father. When Dorothea Dix turns her away due to her young age and pretty face, Cadence finds another way to serve . . . singing to the soldiers in Judiciary Square Hospital. Only one stubborn doctor stands in her way.
Joshua Ivy is an intense man with a compassionate heart for the hurting and downtrodden. The one thing he can’t have is an idealistic woman destroying the plans he’s so carefully laid. When the chaos of war thrusts Cadence into the middle of his clandestine activities, he must decide if the lives at stake, and his own heart, are worth the risk of letting Cadence inside.
Everything changes when Joshua and Cadence unearth the workings of a secret society so vile, the course of their lives, and the war, could be altered forever. If they fight an enemy they cannot see, will the One who sees all show them the way in the darkest night?
What Was It Like to Be a Nurse during the Civil War?
by Tara Johnson, author of All Through the Night
“I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.”
When war broke out between the states in 1861, many women felt the urge to serve. Women like thirty-year-old spinster Louisa May Alcott sewed uniforms and raised money for the US Sanitary Commission, but the charity work left her unfulfilled. She wanted to do more, so she volunteered to become a nurse during a time when such a thing was considered degrading, humiliating, and scandalous by proper society.
Alcott served at the Union Hotel hospital and treated filthy, wounded men whose bandages had not been changed for days. She wrote the hospital was filled with “the vilest odors that ever assaulted the human nose.” Surgeons asked Alcott, as well as the other females, to tell the fatally ill when they weren’t going to make it. “Women have a way of doing such things comfortably, so I leave it to you.”
When I began research for my new novel, All Through the Night, I was surprised to learn how strict the requirements were to become a nurse. The superintendent of nurses, Dorothea Dix, insisted no ornamentation would be allowed (i.e. no lace, fancy buttons, ruffles, etc.). The only appropriate colors were black, brown, or gray. A nurse could only be between the ages of thirty and fifty and had to be either married or widowed. Plain-looking countenance. No jewelry or cosmetics. Reputable character. Good health. Upstanding morals . . . on and on the list went.
This, of course, left many willing volunteers out. But like any great heroine, many of them didn’t take no for an answer. Enter Elida B. Rumsey. When Dorothea Dix turned Elida away because she was too young and too pretty to serve, Elida found a way to do what she could to lift the soldiers’ spirits . . . she sang to them.
As a group of emaciated soldiers marched through Washington during a prisoner exchange, Elida lifted up her voice and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The soldiers stopped, their sagging spirits rising once again. She was soon asked to sing at hospitals all over Washington and was eventually allowed to nurse on the battlefields.
When Elida saw blood spurting from her first patient, she passed out. After being revived, she vowed it would never happen again and immediately went back to work helping as many men as she could. Her life is the inspiration for my heroine Cadence Piper.
Elida wasn’t the only one who struggled. For most nurses, the work was mentally and emotionally draining. “Cornelia McDonald struggled on her first day working in a Winchester hospital after she stumbled over a pile of amputated limbs and was asked to clean a soldier’s face wound. . . . Amy Morris Bradley, who was aiding the wounded at Fair Oaks, was told by a surgeon to stop crying” (“Female Nurses during the Civil War,” American Battlefield Trust, https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/female-nurses-during-civil-war).
In addition to the emotional stress, nurses endured twelve- to eighteen-hour workdays and physical exhaustion. “Throughout the city of Richmond, Phoebe Yates Pember cared for as many as 600 patients at Chimborazo Hospital, while across the city a group of nuns cared for 500 at a time. In the Union hospitals in Washington, DC, and Alexandria, the number of occupied beds varied from just over 100 in some hospitals to over 2,000. Nurses also had to prepare beds for future battles. Prior to the Battle of the Wilderness, Emily Mason was directed to prepare 800 beds in a hospital outside of Fredericksburg for the incoming wounded. Another nurse in Fredericksburg in 1862 reported that ‘in one day she had singlehandedly cooked and served 926 rations of soup, farina (a cooked cereal), tea, and coffee’” (“Female Nurses during the Civil War”).
Nursing was far from the romantic notion many people associate with it today. Louisa May Alcott contracted typhoid fever while caring for the ill. The doctors treated her with calomel, a solution that contained mercury. She lost some of her teeth, her hair and had health problems the rest of her life. While Clara Barton treated a wounded soldier on the field of Antietam, a bullet passed through the sleeve of her dress, missing her by millimeters, but killing the patient in her arms.
What about Elida B. Rumsey? She lived an amazing, adventure-filled life. (You’ll have to read All Through the Night to find out more.) Some nurses continued on after the war to change their part of the world. Others gave all they had, just as our courageous soldiers did. No matter what the age, region, gender, or social class, nursing took grit and resilience.
An Excerpt from All Through the Night
Blinking, she turned again. Focusing. The white canvas of the surgical tents shone just ahead. Her breath caught when the morning light revealed hundreds of wounded piled around the structures. Tears pricked her eyes. So many. As she approached, a moan sent shivers down her spine.
“Help me! Please! Don’t pass me by . . .”
“Don’t pass me by.”
She froze. The drifting memory of Fanny Crosby and her recollection of the prisoner begging to be noticed assaulted Cadence like a slap. It didn’t matter what she had been asked to do. She could not turn away from these men. The need was too great. Their suffering incomprehensible.
She knelt at the man’s side before grasping his dirt-crusted fingers. Blood and mud coated his neck and torso.
“I’m here, sir. I’ll not pass you by.”
He wheezed, his face contorting in pain. “Water.”
“I’ll find some and return. I promise.”
As the morning crept along, the mournful howls of the dying continued. Cadence walked from soldier to soldier offering a cup of water and praying, asking each man his name.
One soldier grabbed her wrist, his blackened fingers curling around her hand, causing her to spill the cup of water across his chest. His eyes were wide and panicked. “I ain’t ready. I’m dying and I ain’t ready.”
She kept her voice calm. “Do you believe Jesus is God’s Son? That he died for you and rose again?”
The soldier’s eyes searched the sky, his throat convulsing. “I believe. I cast my soul on his mercy.”
“Then go in peace.”
A single tear trickled from his eye and slid into his beard. He coughed violently and curled into a ball. She held his hands, murmuring, “Jesus, be with him. Have mercy.”
His body suddenly relaxed. A shadow passed over his face as his breath left him. Bowing her head, she sat back on her heels and rubbed her palms against her gritty eyes.
She turned slowly. Farther up the hill, a man sat outside the surgical tent, his head in his hands. Weariness weighted his broad shoulders.
She trudged toward him. Either he did not hear her approach or was too weary to care. She rested her hand on his shoulder. He didn’t look up.
“There are too many, Cadence.”
He lifted his head. Heavy lines ringed his eyes. “Is it worth it?”
“The price of freedom.” He waved his hand over the valley. “Is it worth all this?”
She knelt at his feet and looked into his shadowed features. “Picture James or Etta and ask the question again. Is it worth it?”
His jaw firmed. “Yes.” He drew his hand over his face. “I just feel helpless. I don’t know how to help them all. I can’t.”
She sighed. “No, you can’t.”
He looked at her.
“You help one at a time and leave them all in the hands of the Almighty.”
His hand lifted and grazed her cheek. He pulled her close and pressed his lips to her forehead. His breath hovered warm near her skin as he pulled away, his eyes dark. “Thank you.”
Tara Johnson is a passionate lover of stories who uses fiction, nonfiction, song, and laughter to share her testimony of how God led her into freedom after spending years living shackled to the expectations of others. Tara is the author of three novels set during the Civil War: Engraved on the Heart, Where Dandelions Bloom, and All Through the Night, which releases in January 2021. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and makes her home in Arkansas with her husband and three children. Visit her online at tarajohnsonstories.com.
Tyndale House is offering a print copy of All Through the Night to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read All Through the Night by Tara Johnson?