My oldest brother,  Joseph, is a lot like Papa. Tall, fair hair, quiet, the total opposite of Willie. Joseph is 18. He is peace-loving, hates violence. He only joined the army to watch over Willie, the impetuous brother. I cannot see Joseph harming anyone.

Joseph is an artist. He can look at an object and draw it precisely. Nat will have him sketch the plans for Nat’s air machine. When this war is over. And someday, they may fly to the stars. When my brothers put their heads together, anything is possible.

Sometimes, though, I wish for a sister, someone to talk with, to share my secrets with. My brothers have each other. I have Mama, of course, and Aunt Lois, but some things you simply do not discuss with parents and other older people. Some things only a girl my age would understand.

I love my brothers and pray for the safe return of Willie and Joseph.


My brother Willie is away in Virginia, fighting to end this war. I miss him terribly. Willie is the mischievous one in the family, always in trouble of some kind. He’s 16 and daring and brave and sometimes foolhardy (Mama’s words). He’s gentle too, and kind. I love him. We have a favorite tree in our yard that we climb and sit there, among the branches, talking, teasing each other.

I pray God will bring him safely home. And that we’ll have peace again. Is that too much to ask?


Nat is my younger brother. He’s 14 and very smart. He lives in a world of his own. At least he did before the Federal army invaded our city. His hands carve beautiful works of art out of wood. Our story mentions some of them. Not only is he artistic, but he knows everything about the heavens. He plans to build a flying machine some day and go to the moon. Imagine that. But knowing Nat, it’s very likely he will.

Nat is a gentle soul. The war confuses him. He doesn’t understand why men kill each other. Neither do I. The war does terrible things to Nat. He sees things he should not see. But he is brave and faces them. He tries to help me too, though we often disagree.

Now you know a little about Nat. My book will tell you much more.




Excerpt from Chapter 1

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Thursday, May 21, 1863

Dearest Brother Willie,

We went to the cave for the first time today–Mama, Nat, and I. And I hate it! I prefer to risk injury from the hissing, screaming shells in my house than to scurry underground like a scared rabbit. Papa is at the hospital, attending the sick and wounded. We see him so seldom these days. Sometimes I wish he were not a doctor. Then he could stay home with us, where he belongs.

I hate what this war has done to our family. You and Joseph are far away, in Virginia. I miss you all terribly. Mama worries about you. She worries about Papa. She scarcely lets me out of her sight. Most of my friends have left Vicksburg for safer places. The ones remaining are living in caves or basements.I’m supposed to watch Nat. Mama fears he will run away to find you. I know he shan’t do such a thing. Every time a shell falls, he hides. The war confuses gentle Nat. He does not comprehend why men kill each other. Neither do I. 

We heard the Yankees have taken Jackson. Our army fell back to the Big Black River and then retreated to Vicksburg. Their return was a sad sight. Wagons, cannon, and ambulances clattered down the streets. Ragged and weary soldiers, some with arms in slings, some leaning on crutches, others carrying the wounded, stumbled alongside them. We gave the men what food and water we could spare, which was very little. Many blamed General Pemberton for our defeat. Others said the fault was not his. Jefferson Davis must have confidence in him,or he would not have put John Pemberton in charge of defending Vicksburg, would he? I have met Gemeral Pemberotn and think he has courage.

Vicksburg has been under siege now since the eighteenth of May. Gunboats on the Mississippi bombard us from the west. Parrott shells rain down from the hills to the east. We are caught in the middle. Nowhere is safe, not even the caves, like Mama says. You’d think General Grant would know better. He has tried to conquer our city before, without success. No matter. Our soldiers will send those Yankees scuttling, their tails tucked between their legs like scared dogs.

Mama and some of the women made bandages for the wounded last night. Oh! I must tell you what happened this morning. I was asleep in my bed when a shell burst through the roof and tore a hole in the wall above me. The house rocked like a baby’s cradle, until I thought it would fall down around my ears. Nat and Mama rushed in to see if I was injured. Nat, being Nat, dug the shell out to add to his collection. He has quite a few. Why he wants them heaven only knows.

When Mama saw my damaged room, she panicked and skedaddled us to the cave. We’ve been here ever since, and it’s near evening. I had no time to get my guitar or my books. My piano surely will be ruined. These Yankees! Have they no manners? Would they wish us to destroy their homes! I think not.

Nat tugs on my arm. He has something to show me, so I’ll close. Tell Joseph I shall write him later. If I were a boy, I’d fight the Yankees with you. Does a girl love her home and family any less than her brothers do? Does she not have pride, honor? It angers me that girls are not allowed to defend what is theirs.

Mama would faint away if she heard me talking this way. I’m supposed to be a lady she reminds me every day.

“Why?” I ask her.

“Because you are,” she says. A truly puzzling answer.

My love and prayers go with you.






As promised, here is a snippet of the review of my book by Donna M. McDine, author of The Golden Pathway. 

“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.”

Learn more about Donna M. McDine at her Web site


Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has posted a super review on her blog. also. 

“Caves, Cannons and Crinolines” is thought provoking young adult
historical novel. Set in the days of the Civil War where families are
torn apart, readers are given a very real picture of life in 1863. Ms.
McClure has clearly done her research and skillfully brings her
characters to life.”


Cheryl Malandrinos at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection has this to say:

“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.”


From Darby Karchut, author of the forthcoming Griffin Rising.

“In Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, Beverly Stowe McClure has deftly crafted an appealing tale of war, family, and the coming of age of a headstrong heroine.”


Midwest Book Reviews:

Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines is an intriguing read, not to be missed for historical fiction readers.”


Wayne S. Walker, “Home School Book Review” says:

“All the characters are portrayed quite naturally, and the action is carried forth in a way that will keep the reader turning the pages. One can really get a feel for how the war affected the lives of the people who experienced it. Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines would make good historical fiction supplementary reading in connection with any study of the Civil War, especially the capture of Vicksburg. 


N. A. Sharpe, author of If Wishes were Fishes, has nice things to say.

“I highly recommend this story. The characters are compelling, the story well written and thought provoking.”


Author of The Giving Meadow, Stephanie Burkhart,  also relates the story to modern times.

“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.”


From Beth B. Reinke, author of In My Bath, we have her thoughts.

“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.”


pksm says from reading the book on the Kindle:

“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 dissappointed when I found I had reached it. I would have loved for this adventure to continue.”


Thanks to all you wonderful readers for the kind words about my novel.