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Caves, Cannons and Crinolines

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On Thursday, May 21, 1863, a mortar shell rips through the wall of fourteen-year-old Elizabeth (Lizzie) Stamford's bedroom. Afraid their home is no longer safe, her mama, Susan, rushes Lizzie and her younger brother, Nathan, to the cave, where she plans to live until the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ends. Lizzie, however, has her own plans: to enlist in the Confederate Army and help drive General Ulysses S. Grant and his Yankees into the Mississippi River. Her older brothers, Joseph and Willie, are in Virginia, fighting for their cause. Can she do any less? But Willie's death in battle, Joseph's return home, wounded, bitter, and filled with guilt, and a young Yankee whose life she saves make Lizzie question whether there is a right or wrong side to the Civil War.

154 pages, Paperback

First published June 15, 2010

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About the author

Beverly Stowe McClure

17 books453 followers
Most of the time you'll find Beverly in front of the computer, writing stories young voices whisper in her ear. Other times she's snapping pictures of wildlife, clouds, and flowers. She has fifteen books published for children and teens, some of them award winners, like the Children's Literary Classics, Sharp Writ Awards, and Next Generation Indie Awards, as well as others.

To relax she plays the piano. Her kitties don't appreciate good music and hide when she tickles the ivories.

Happy Reading. She hopes you enjoy her novels and picture books.

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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for N.A. Sharpe.
Author 1 book21 followers
October 14, 2010
Beverly Stowe McClure is an award-winning, multi-published author. In Caves, Canons and Crinolines she delves into the pages of history, bringing them to life in this young adult historical novel. The story has been inspired by events of the American Civil War, and chronicles the hardships and triumphs of her engaging characters as the horrors of war invade their lives.

Fourteen year old Elizabeth (Lizzie) Stamford and her family live in war-torn Vicksburg. The family is deeply involved with the war efforts – the father is a doctor working diligently in the nearby hospital tending to the wounded; brothers Willie and Joseph are serving with the troops in Virginia. Not unlike many of the surrounding families, Lizzie, her mother and young tender-hearted brother Nat, have to abandon their beautiful home after a shell comes crashing through the home. They seek refuge in a local cave and begin to set up housekeeping in this dingy hole in the earth in order to avoid the blast of cannons and gunfire. Every time the artillery fires the ground shakes and dust and dirt falls all around them in their cave. McClure’s vivid descriptions draw you right into the chaos and fear of the time.

I was immediately drawn into the story with the emotional letter from Lizzie to her brother Willie. She is quite upset with the separation of the family, and life is no longer as they once knew with the city under siege. Civilians are caught in the middle and no where is safe…not even the caves, but they do their best to find shelter and survive this ordeal…and the precocious girl hatches a plan. She cuts her hair, and, disguised as a young man, enlists to wage battle against their attackers.

Soon she finds war is not as black and white as she once thought. Living through the horrors of battle and seeing the fields littered with corpses, she is quite overwhelmed and overcome with it all and she quickly retreats towards home. In her journey she meets a Yankee soldier and finds he isn’t at all what she expected a Yankee to be like. She learns many life lessons in her adventures including compassion and the “enemy” is not necessarily the monster she imagined but, confusingly enough, has beliefs and ideals that are very much like her own.

I highly recommend this story. The characters are compelling, the story well written and thought provoking.
Profile Image for Stephanie Burkhart.
Author 47 books424 followers
August 7, 2010
McClure crafts a compelling young adult novel that takes place during the Civil war with Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines. (for those that don't know, a crinoline is a hoop skirt which was in fashion in the mid 1800's.)

Set in 1863 during the Yankee siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth (Lizzie) Stamford's life has turned upside down. Her house has been shelled more than once, so her mother takes the family to a nearby cave. Lizze's family consists of twelve-year-old Nathan, her two older brothers, Willie and Joseph, and her father who is a surgeon in the local hospital.

Lizzie wants to help in the war effort and runs off, disguised as a boy, hoping to join the army. She meets two Confederate soldiers who befriend her, but she also witnesses events no one should see.

On her way back to her mother, Lizzie find a young Yankee soldier who is injured. Despite her better judgment, Lizzie takes him to her shelled out house and seeks out help for him. Nathan reluctantly supports her.

Lizzie gets to know the Yankee and learns his name is Private Benjamin Clayton. He heals in the house, but a rogue bunch of Yankees try to loot it. Lizzie is forced to shoot one. Ben soon leaves and Lizzie is left to wonder if she'll hear from him again.

McClure's writing is crisp. The plot flows well. The story is told in the first person from Lizzie's perspective, capturing the authenticity of the time and place.

McClure's characters are interesting. Lizzie is brave and daring, dressing as a boy to join the army. She looks fear in the eye and overcomes it when she decides to help Benjamin.

Nathan also embodies courage as he stands by his family. Joseph is shell-shocked when he returns from the war. Lizzie learns that sometimes things aren't what they seem and living is more challenging than crinolines.

Even though the story takes place during the civil war, young readers can understand the same hardships faced today when their loved ones deploy. "Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines" is a rewarding story that uses a subtle touch to show the reader what history is all about.
Profile Image for Susan.
Author 4 books106 followers
October 4, 2011
Most of us have read about the American Civil War, Mrs. McClure gives us a chance to live it through the eyes of Lizzy, a 14-year-old girl who is determined to help the South send those darn Yankees back to the North where they belong. Their beloved family home isn’t safe anymore, and if the war keeps up any longer, it will be unrecognizable from all the rubble surrounding it. Lizzy hates those cannons. She hates living in a cave even more, but what really gets her ire up is seeing how much those Yankees have turned the lives of her family upside down.

She rarely sees her father. He’s the town doctor so he’s gone for days at a time, caring for wounded soldiers. Apparently, it doesn’t matter that his family also needs him. Both of her older brothers snuck off in the middle of the night to enlist. Nobody has heard from them since. Lizzy writes them daily, but she’s afraid for them. She’s afraid of a lot of things lately. The cannons are getting closer, food is scarce, and her gentle younger brother, Nat, is changing. If this war keeps up, Nat might abandon his dreams of flying machines for a gun!

Her mother is too busy to notice. When she’s not making bandages for the war effort or helping wayward neighbors, her attention is on Lizzy. The woman is determined, against all odds, to turn her daughter into a proper southern lady. All Lizzy has to do is look pretty, keep her opinions to herself, and focus all that excess energy on attracting a suitable beau.

The Yankees!—Lizzy decides, all of this mess is the Yankees’ fault. Donning her brother’s clothes, she sets off to enlist. Someone has to end this war. Why not her?

Guns, battle, Yankees… none of them are what she expects. The lines between right and wrong are blurred. Friends are foes. Foes are friends. How in the world can a Yankee be a gentleman? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

I was hooked from the first page. Mrs. McClure weaved an endearing tale. I laughed. I cried, and I learned! I’m so glad I read this book! Thank you Beverly Stowe McClure for writing it!
129 reviews1 follower
September 21, 2011
Beverly Stowe McClure has crafted an accurate and exciting historical novel for young adults in Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines. She describes the Siege of Vicksburg through the eyes of a young Southern girl, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Stamford. Lizzie and her family, consisting of her mother, younger brother, Nat and their two servants have to live in a cave during the siege in an effort to keep safe from the Yankee bombardment. Her father is a doctor who cares for the wounded at the local hospital and is not home very often. Ms. McClure gives a faithful account of the townspeople’s plight during the siege – cave dwelling, lack of food and horrors of war.
Wanting to do something to help with the cause, Lizzie disguises herself as a boy in a misguided attempt at joining the Confederate troops. She soon learns that this is not the way to help, but meets a Yankee soldier who has been wounded. Her natural caring and the thought of her brothers make her take him to her house to nurse his wounds. She realizes that friendship comes through caring, not necessarily where you live or who you are. Read about Lizzie’s experience and a small part of our history. Lizzie’s spunky attitude shows throughout the story and does not waiver for long as she accepts what is happening and looks forward to the future when the war is over and all is returned to normal.
Beverly Stowe McClure lives in Texas with her husband, Jack. She is a mother to three sons, grandmother to four granddaughters and two grandsons and great grandmother to one great grandson. Her official bio says she married very young.
Beverly is a member of both the North Texas and the national Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines is a finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and a finalist in the Dan Poynter eBook Global Awards for Teen Literature — Fiction.
Profile Image for Cheryl Malandrinos.
Author 4 books65 followers
July 28, 2013
Every time I read a book by Beverly Stowe McClure, I am astounded by how much better her newest book is than the last. All of her books for teens that I’ve read have strong female leads, but the addition of her younger brother, Nat, in this book will also allow it to appeal to young men. While Rebel in Blue Jeans and Just Breeze were contemporary stories, with Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, McClure shows she can write an excellent historical. I absolutely loved this book!

Having studied the American Civil War for many years now, I can say without a doubt that McClure did her research and used it well. I felt I was right in the middle of Vicksburg alongside Lizzie. In an age where we teach our children so much about tolerance and acceptance of others, this book could be helpful in relaying that message. Students studying the Civil War would also get a great deal out of reading Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, as it would open up room for discussion on a variety of topics surrounding this period of American history.

Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines is a thought-provoking, emotion-filled read. While targeted for young adults, don’t be surprised if a parent ends up enjoying this one as well. Readers who appreciate strong female characters, those with an interest in American history, and anyone who likes books you just can’t put down, will want to pick up a copy of this one.
Profile Image for Sandra Thompson.
Author 12 books6 followers
February 14, 2014
Caves, Cannons and Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure is the story of fourteen year old Lizzie and her family in Vicksburg during the American Civil War. It's not just a fight for survival for Lizze and her family, with cannons dropping on their house, food shortages, and wandering vagabonds. Lizzie must also grow up and find her place in the world, as a woman, a sister, and maybe one day, a partner.

As soon as I started reading this book, I knew I was in good hands. From page one, the book launches into an action packed adventure, combined with just enough emotion to let me share in Lizzie's fears, sorrows, and joys. The author expertly weaves the story of Lizzie's personal growth into the adventure and makes the characters and the atmosphere feel very real. I was left thinking about the book for a long time after I finished reading.

In an added bonus, the book is also quite educational. Without meaning to, I learned a lot about the American Civil War, while still feeling like the book was light-hearted and easy to read. I finished the book in one day.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes meaningful stories with strong characters and action. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Donna McDine.
Author 6 books55 followers
March 11, 2011
The year 1863 finds outspoken, 14-year-old, Lizzie Stamford at a crossroads of what her parents believe to be acceptable behavior for a young lady, and secret desire to join the Confederate Army disguised as a boy. Her two brothers, Willie and Joseph willingly joined the Confederacy to defend Vicksburg from the Yankees and Lizzie longs to be part of the glory. Her blind courage brings her into the midst of a battleground at nighttime. Much to her dismay war is not what she believed it to be. The horrific acts of violence overwhelm her and she runs away as quickly as she arrived.

Her emotions and beliefs that all Yankees are evil is put to the test when an unexpected encounter with a Yankee soldier has her doubting her belief system. Will Lizzie come to terms of the ever changing world and circumstances which surround her? And what is to become of her beloved brothers and the city of Vicksburg?

McClure balances the emotions of the Confederate and Yankee characters with such in-depth feeling the reader will find themselves switching sides throughout the perilous journey of Lizzie Stamford and her family, and their quest to reclaim Vicksburg.
Profile Image for Beth.
Author 52 books8 followers
February 20, 2011
Life is turned upside-down for 14-year-old Elizabeth Stamford when her hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi is under siege during the Civil War. Forced to vacate her home and live in a cave with her family, Lizzie ends up learning firsthand about war: its horrors and unfairness. Through an unexpected alliance, Lizzie learns that what side you are on isn’t as important as what’s in your heart.

Ms. McClure did a lovely job bringing Lizzie to life. I enjoyed the young heroine’s spunk, impulsiveness and wry humor. Lizzie’s close friendship with her younger brother, Nathan, made for interesting scenes - tender one moment, typical sibling bickering the next, but with a fierce loyalty to one another.

I recommend Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines for young adult readers, especially those interested in history. The book would make a nice addition to the American history curriculum for teachers or homeschoolers.
Profile Image for Victoria Simcox.
Author 7 books121 followers
August 29, 2016
At the time of the American Civil War, Elizabeth Stamford and her clan’s everyday existence is hard tried. Lizzie, at a tender age of 14, chose to register in the Confederate Army. Severed from the remainder of the world, Vicksburg is blockaded. Bombarding Vicksburg, Mississippi, General Ulysses S. Grant and his troops are aiming to regulator the great Mississippi River. Love, harmony and refuge is a universal necessity thread in this read, and author Beverly Stowe McClure has outdone herself in bringing the passion of this message in this moving tale, where bravery and fortitude of fellow citizens, standing for what is honorable, no matter the consequences is of most importance. Hats off!
Profile Image for Darby Karchut.
Author 19 books254 followers
January 22, 2011
What a great way to learn about the Civil War through the adventures of a spunky heroine. Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines belongs in every history classroom! Well done, Beverly Stowe McClure.
This YA novel has been submitted to the Michael Shaara Prize for Excellence in Civil War Fiction.
Profile Image for Wanda Porter.
Author 14 books21 followers
October 21, 2010
A young girl encounters death and a bit of romance while her family is trapped in Vicksburg during the Civil War. Tween and teen girls will enjoy this story.
Profile Image for Darby Karchut.
Author 19 books254 followers
January 5, 2011
Sweet tale about a young girl coming of age during the Civil War. A good read to learn some history while being entertained.
Profile Image for Kai Strand.
Author 26 books112 followers
July 1, 2015
The main character, Lizzie, is a wonderful blend of strength and vulnerability. She is faced with changes in her life that she neither wants nor likes and she is determined not to accept all of them. The supporting characters in this story are equally likeable and very believable.

This historical fiction is steeped in emotion, danger and trauma. It is so compelling that I didn't realize I was approaching the end (read it on my Kindle) and was sorely disappointed when I found I had reached it. I would have loved for this adventure to continue.
Profile Image for Liz.
124 reviews20 followers
July 14, 2011
I liked the writing style, but I hated that it was about the Civil War and never really addressed slavery or "states' rights."
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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