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A Blue and Gray Christmas

A Blue and Gray Christmas

3.9 24
by Joan Medlicott

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A buried cache inspires the ladies of Covington to plan an unforgettable Christmas for two families forever changed by a long-ago war.

A rusty old tin box holding nineteenth-century letters and diaries is unearthed at the Covington Homestead, and the contents reveal a thrilling drama to longtime housemates Grace, Amelia, and Hannah. Two Civil War


A buried cache inspires the ladies of Covington to plan an unforgettable Christmas for two families forever changed by a long-ago war.

A rusty old tin box holding nineteenth-century letters and diaries is unearthed at the Covington Homestead, and the contents reveal a thrilling drama to longtime housemates Grace, Amelia, and Hannah. Two Civil War soldiers—one Union and one Confederate—were found dying on a battlefield by an old woman and nursed back to health. After the war, they chose to stay in Covington, caring for their rescuer as she grew frail . . . but they never contacted the families they had left behind.

With Christmas coming, Amelia is inspired. What if she and her friends were to find the two soldiers’ descendants and invite them to Covington to meet? What better holiday gift could there be than the truth about these two heroic men and their dramatic shared fate? With little time left, the ladies spring into action to track down the men’s families . . . and to make preparations for the most memorable, most historic Covington Christmas yet.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Medlicott's Ladies of Covington (A Covington Christmas) unearth a rusty box filled with Civil War-era letters and diaries. Realizing these documents tell the story of their town's founding, they decide to track down the descendants of the soldiers who wrote the items. All of this culminates in a grand Christmas reunion. The perfect gift for Covington fans.

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Pocket Books
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Ladies of Covington Series
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Read an Excerpt


The Battered Box

The fall day had turned chilly; a brisk wind blew from the west. In the ladies' farmhouse, flames danced behind faux logs in the fireplace, casting a golden glow across the pale yellow walls of the living room. Grace Singleton and her housemates, Hannah Parrish Maxwell and Amelia Declose, had pulled chairs into a circle around a low table. Upon it sat a battered tin box the size of two large shoeboxes.

Earlier that day, Hannah's husband, Max, had strode into the house, his overalls streaked with dirt and grime from carrying the box, which was discovered while a foundation was dug for one of his historic restorations.

"Lord only knows how long it's been buried," he'd said. "The fellow on the backhoe said it looked like an old fishing box he inherited from his grandfather, who had it from his father. We broke the lock and opened it. Just a bunch of letters and a couple of small books inside, but I thought you ladies might like to check them out."

Intrigued, Grace had taken the box to the kitchen, scraped away layers of red clay dirt, and scrubbed it as clean as she could get it. One side looked as if it had been struck by a hammer, but the box had survived intact with no apparent damage to its contents: several small leather-bound diaries and bundled letters addressed in faded ink to folks in South Carolina and Connecticut. Dark and dented, the box sat now on their coffee table.

"Open it, Grace. Open it." Amelia's blue eyes gleamed with excitement. "Maybe it's a buried treasure."

"Books and letters, treasure?" Hannah's eyebrows shot up. "We'll be lucky if they don'tcrumble when we touch them."

Rusty hinges creaked as Grace lifted the lid and eased it back. Inside lay six packets, one of which had been untied. The remainder were bound with twine, frayed and crumbling in places.

A thrill of excitement raced through her and she eased the untied bundle of letters out as gently as she would lift a newborn babe from its cradle. The top envelope opened easily and Grace extracted two sheets of paper, which she spread on the table beside the box.

"It's to a Marianne Mueller, Little River Bend Community, Walhalla, South Carolina." Surprised, Grace looked from Hannah to Amelia. "We know where Walhalla is. We've eaten at The Steak House there. It's near Lake Jocassee, remember?"

Amelia nodded. "Can you make out the writing?" Her fair skin was pink with excitement, and she could hardly sit still.

"I'll try." Grace squinted at the faded words, then read aloud:

Dear Cousin,

I write to you, this bein' the year 1864 and the war ain't ended yet. Bein' so much alone, at times my mind plays tricks on me, specially when it's quiet like it was after my last battle, no guns roarin' or men screamin'. Sometimes, layin' in bed, safe now and far from war, I think back to that time when I was layin' in that rock-hard ditch, thinkin' I'm gonna die. Weren't nothin' but gray fog, hard mean pain, and my leg twisted, hurtin' bad. Them Yanks come at us out of nowhere, the blue coats yellin' and shootin' a cannon right atop us. The noise like to bust my head open. Cannon blast mustta sent me flyin', mustta dumped me in that there ditch. All's I could do was keep breathin' and stay alive. 'Twas the worst I was ever scared.

Fellow layin' next me in that ditch was a-wearin' a blue uniform stained with blood, and he raised up his hand, fingers bloody and clawin' the air. His face all mussed with dirt and gunpowder and filthy from war. That there Yank's alive, I thought. Let the bastard die. Then I thought, he's jus' a man like me, scared and sufferin' in this stinkin' hell.

They mustta give us up for dead. Guess we fooled 'em, I thought, and the pain gripped me so bad I thought, this here's my last breath. But the pain eased, and I lay there pantin', tryin' to gather my wits and strength to help myself and maybe the Yankee layin' next to me.

I'd mended plenty of animals on the farm at home and the broken parts of men in the war, 'cause there was never 'nough medics to carry the wounded from the field to the hospital wagon, and I'd carried many a man and helped in their care. The Yank aside me was bleedin' bad. I tore my shirt and turned, even with the pain it brung me, and tied off the Yank's wounds to stop the bleedin' and bandaged the gash on his head, all the time wonderin' why I was tendin' the enemy.

I laid back, then, and worried how I was gonna splint my broke leg, 'cause there weren't no wood about. If I could splint my leg, I could crawl outta this here ditch. Aside me, the fellow groaned, and I figured he'd never make it out.

My rifle was next to me, and I laid it next to my leg and tied it straight, though I wondered why, since I was gonna die anyways. Then I thought, damn well better die with the Yank than dyin' alone.

Then the pain came over me real bad again, and my mind went away again. When I came to, I muttered somethin' about bein' lost and a-headin' east.

The Yank groaned like he was awake then, and told me they was lost, too, their maps gone, officers dead of dysentery. They was scared, he tells me, and didn't know what to do. Someone loaded their cannon and sent a shot flying. He went flying. That's all he remembered.

Then he turned hisself over best he could and said his name, John Foster, and I said mine, Tom Mueller, and somethin' passed between us — and to hell with the war, I knew I weren't gonna crawl outta that ditch and leave him to die alone.

Grace looked up. "I can't make out the rest. It's too water stained." As she carefully folded the brittle paper and slid it back into the envelope, the ladies sat deep in their own thoughts.

Then Hannah said softly, "Amazing. That letter's more than a hundred years old. The war began in 1861, if I remember correctly, and ended with Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox in April, 1865. Here we have two soldiers from opposing sides left to die in a ditch on a battlefield in 1864, and Frank Hays's backhoe dug up that rusty, old box in our field."

"You know your history," Grace said, turning to Hannah. "I'm impressed."

Amelia dabbed at her eyes with her handkerchief. "How terrible, to be injured and left to die like that." Then her face brightened. "But they didn't die; they wrote those letters and diaries. How did they survive? How did they get to Covington?"

"Hopefully the other letters are in better condition." Hannah cleared her throat. "I'm sure we'd all like to know more about this Tom Mueller and the Yankee he helped."

Amelia nodded and looked at Grace. "Go through the packets, please, and see if you can find one of John's letters."

Copyright © 2009 by Joan Medlicott

Meet the Author

Joan Medlicott was born and raised on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She lives with her husband in the mountains of North Carolina. She is the author of the Ladies of Covington series as well as several standalone novels. Visit her website at JoanMedlicott.com.

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A Blue and Gray Christmas 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. It was just simply a good read and a good story. Actually, very realistic. I liked the characters and the fact that these women were so devoted in their efforts to bring these families together and for them to know their ancestors, their links to each other and that these two men became like brothers. It didn't matter that one was from the South the other from the North,different backgrounds, different beliefs - they were human beings trying to survive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book that could have been written by a high schooler or by an author in a rush to cash in on a Christmas-themed book in a hurry. The plot starts out as interesting, but promptly bogs down with side characters and nonimpotant (boring) details that add nothing to the story except word count. Also there is a problem with the theology - or lack of theology for what it means to be Christian. One must accept Christ as Savior, not study for a month or so and be baptized so you can marry a pastor. Baptism does not make a person a Christian!
JGKF1 More than 1 year ago
How wonderful to read this personal view of two soldiers who found the gift of friendship and love of family at a very desolate time in their life.
CarolAnn05 More than 1 year ago
A good read, especially for those who can relate to geneology & appreciate that feeling when your links to family finally come together.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Recently discovered Joan Medlicott's work. Am hooked on The Ladies of Covington series and want to read them all, preferably, in chronological order. Difficult to find earlier books.
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ElleJ More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It was great to be able to revisit Grace, Amelia, Hannah and friends. I hope there will be more books in this series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a nice holiday story from the Covington series. The 3 main characters find a metal box buried in the ground on their property. Within it they discovered 2 journals written by 2 different men during the Cival War.The women become so fascinated by what they read that they decide to try to find the relatives of these 2 men. One man was fighting for the North, the other for the South. It is interesting to read these entries and see how they do manage to bring together the different families. If you like the Covington stories, you'll like this short story for a holiday read.
d45 More than 1 year ago
I just love this entire series. This one may not be my favorite; however, the story line is interesting and the Ladies never cease to perform above and beyond.
LHedgpeth More than 1 year ago
I had never read anything by Joan Medlicott before and I thought this book sounded like a festive Christmas read. I loved it from start to finish. While it is part of a series (the Covington series) the book works as a stand alone as well. The story and the characters are fresh and relatable, with the trio of housemates, Grace, Hannah and Amelia, the center of the story. And as much as I enjoyed the ladies themselves, I thought the best part of the story was the story of Tom and John, the two Civil war soldiers, one Union and one Confederate, who survived the war together and whose stories were told entirely through the letters Grace, Hannah and Amelia found buried on their property. Historical fiction can be a tricky thing - - an author must be accurate without being overly academic and Ms. Medlicott's use of letters only to transport the reader to Tom's and John's time is inspired and immensely satisfying. Reading their letters, you feel one man's anguish at leaving his life behind and another's glimmer of hope at starting life anew. Woven within the Civil War stories and the stories of Grace, Hannah and Amelia is also the story of Denny, the local pastor, and his desire to marry Sarina, Hannah's former daughter-in-law. All this is set to the backdrop of the Christmas season, with the underlying theme of family and Christmas miracles. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good, heartwarming tale, a true feel-good story. Enjoying historical fiction is simply an added bonus. For the discerning reader, there is no language, no sex and no violence, other than a few Civil War injuries mentioned. This is a great read for a book club or a reader of any age.
harstan More than 1 year ago
At Covington, Max brings in a box containing letters and journals that had been buried until Frank Hays' backhoe dug it up. He gives the box to the ladies (his wife Hannah Parrish Maxwell, Grace Singleton and Amelia Declose) believing they might enjoy the contents. The authors were Tom a Confederate soldier and John a Union soldier left to die in a pit in 1864. One from he South and one from Connecticut, but elderly angel Miss Ella Mae nurses both of them and conceals them from bounty hunters seeking deserters. Feeling an affinity, to the past, the three Covington women try to bring together descendents of Tom and John. Although refreshing and entertaining, the story line is too sugary especially in the present, but even in the last year of the Civil War, the sweetening feels out of place. Still the cast is solid especially the three Covington women and the three heroes of 1864 who come alive through their writings. With a strong refreshing premise, fans of the series will relish A Blue and Grey Christmas; others might find the glucose too high. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sits in the doorway staring blankly at the few people here, then gets up and leaves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey guys! Brb, getting more ppl
Guest More than 1 year ago
Out in open so you can see it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No im noy