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Rhode Island Bride, A Civil War Bride Story

Lynn Donovan



This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are all products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, organizations, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.


The book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. All rights are reserved with the exception of quotes used in reviews. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage system without express written permission from the author.






The Civil War Bride - Christine Sterling

Minnesota Bride - Lisa M. Prysock

New York Bride - Christine Sterling

Connecticut Bride - Marie Higgins

Rhode Island Bride - Lynn Donovan

Missouri Bride - Cyndi Raye

Massachusetts Bride - Marisa Masterson

Kentucky Bride - Caryl McAdoo



Virginia Bride - P. Creeden

California Bride - Parker J. Cole

Ohio Bride - Lynn Donovan

Louisiana Bride - Caroline Clemmons

South Carolina Bride - Heather Blanton

New Hampshire Bride - Marie Higgins

Oregon Bride - Marlene Bierworth

Texas Bride - Patricia PACJAC Carroll

Tennessee Bride - Cyndi Raye



Maryland Bride - Christine Sterling

Arkansas Bride Laura Ash-wood

New Jersey Bride - Marie Higgins

West Virginia Bride - Christine Sterling

Maine Bride - Marisa Masterson

Pennsylvania Bride - Christine Sterling

Indiana Bride - Cat Cahill

Delaware Bride - Cyndi Raye

Wisconsin Bride - Marianne Spitzer



Georgia Bride - Danielle Thorne

Nevada Bride - Caryl McAdoo

Mississippi Bride - Cat Cahill

Alabama Bride - Patricia PACJAC Carroll

Kansas Bride - Lynn Donovan

Vermont Bride - Marlene Bierworth

Michigan Bride - P. Creeden



Florida Bride - Cyndi Raye

Illinois Bride - Cat Cahill

North Carolina Bride - Heather Blanton

Iowa Bride - Christine Sterling


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Louise Wiley never forgot that kiss a random soldier gave her as he marched out of Newport, RI, to join the union army. He promised to come home and make her his wife, but she didn’t even know his name.

When William McLaughlin capsized in Newport Harbor along with two other men, Louise heroically rowed into the storm to save them. He kept his promise and married her before he went back to Fort Adams. Soon after the Fort Donaldson victory, he came home for good, without one leg.

Convinced she could never love him, he offers an annulment. But she is convinced that her determination is enough to help him overcome his loss. With the lighthouse assignment to support them, can Louise find her happy ever after as a Rhode Island Bride?












July 1861 Newport, Rhode Island


He kissed her!

Louise Wiley clung to the post as she swung out to see the soldiers marching past the general store toward the boats. All the handsome, dark blue uniforms marched past so quickly it made her head spin. Then one of them leapt out of his place in line. He charged right up to her, grabbed her around the neck, pulled her down to him, and—

He just… kissed her! Right there in front of God and everybody. She scrunched her face and pushed him back. “What’re y—?”

He smiled at her like he knew something she didn’t. She stared at him, confused. He shouted over the cheers, “When I come home, I’m gonna marry you!”

He ran back to his place in the grid of marching men. Louise just stared after the impulsive soldier, too stunned to even wipe his kiss from her lips. Who was he? He couldn’t be much older than her. Barely seventeen. Just because he was marching off to fight this war between the states, he decided he had to kiss her and propose marriage? Did he actually know her?

Actually, most folks did. She had acquired a ridiculous reputation ever since she had rowed out into Newport Harbor and saved that man and his son from drowning. She was fifteen at the time. A reporter came out and wrote an article about it. After that, it seemed like all kinds of strangers knew who she was.

Did he?

Maybe he needed someone to come home for. She straightened her spine and lifted her chin. Sure, she would be his reason to come home.

“Come home to me, soldier!” she called out.

His arm went up in the air. He waved. Did that mean he heard her? Oh, she hoped so!

She clutched her chest and moved back from the street. The soldiers continued marching down the street with their chests puffed out like a bunch of well-organized roosters.

Her momma had given her a list of supplies to pick up while she waited for her younger brother and twin sisters to get out of school. Better get to it.

She’d tell Momma about the soldiers marching out to the big boats— most probably on their way to Fort Adams where they would train and be sent into battle.

Would she tell Momma about the kiss?

Nah. That’d be her own private secret. Well, hers and everybody in Newport who saw. One advantage to her family living alone on Lime Rock Island, very little gossip made its way to her parents’ ears unless she brought it. She drifted into the store, searching for the items on Momma’s list, but her mind was still on that incredible kiss. Her first.

What was that boy’s name? Could she write to him? But how? She thought about it. With a resolute jerk of her head, she set her mind to an answer. She’d write letters and save them. Then when he came home… if he came home, she could show him she had taken him at his word.

“Oh my!” Mrs. Taylor spoke loud enough to break through Louise’s reverie. “I thought the war had come to Newport!”

“Now, now, Missus Taylor.” Mr. Stotler looked over the list she had handed him. “Just because Bull Run wasn’t the quick and merciful end to this political disagreement we thought it would be, doesn’t mean the war’s gonna come to Rhode Island.”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right.” She conceded, standing back to let him gather her supplies. Then she gasped. “But weren’t those boys handsome marching off to Fort Adams?”

Louise smiled to herself. Yes, they were. Especially the one. But she kept her eyes down, perusing some pretty buttons that would look particularly lovely on a new dress— if she could afford a new dress.

Mrs Taylor’s wailing pursisted. “Oh, I hate to see our country divided like this. Why must those southern states be so bullheaded?”

Stotler glanced at her over his reading spectacles. “Well, Missus Taylor, I suppose they think they want to preserve their way of living, don’t ya know?”

“Yes, I suppose…” she whimpered. But then carried on even more. “I just knew the war was over when I heard all that cheering. What a shame we hafta send more of our boys. This war is going to take a while longer then we thought to get resolved, isn’t it, Mr. Stotler?”

“I imagine it will, Missus Taylor.”

Louise’s heart ached all of a sudden. She was proud of these boys! They were brave and strong. But how many of them would come back home? Alive? Whole? Until that boy kissed her, she’d never considered how dangerous a war could be. Now she cared a lot about the decisions being made in Washington and how they affected that boy’s future.

Louise added a Newport News to her pile and paid for the supplies, then walked toward the small dock where she’d tied her heavy rowboat. Her siblings soon scurried playfully toward the dock. Shielding her eyes from the sun, she watched them approach giggling and laughing. She was glad they were happy, in spite of the hardships caused by Poppa’s limitations ever since his stroke.

Were they aware the country was divided by war? Louise bent to cast off when a man shouted something at her. She shielded her eyes again to see what he wanted. “I say, what?”

“I say, it’s unladylike to row a boat like you do. I can’t figure why Lewis Wiley would let his daughter run around town without a proper escort!” He waved a dismissive hand at her. “Girls should be home cookin’ a man’s suppah, not rowing out into the ‘arbor and pullin’ ‘em into her boat like a fish.”

Louise puzzled over this rude man’s comments. Who was he to judge what her poppa could allow her to do? He had no idea the state her poppa was in since the stroke or what her momma and she managed to do to keep things running at the lighthouse. She was willing to bet the father and son she pulled out of the water two years ago weren’t concerned about how feminine she had acted.

She considered her reply, looked to see that her siblings were seated in the craft, lifted her chin, and calmly stated, “None but a donkey would consider it unfeminine to save a life.”

With that, she shoved off the mainland and took her family and her secret kiss to the island that they called home and the Lime Rock Lighthouse.


Momma!” Louise called from the island’s dock to the two-story house attached to a thirteen-foot lighthouse tower. She handed her brother, Lewis Junior, a bundle of the supplies.“Here, take these to Momma.”

She turned to help her twin sisters, Lena and Lisa, gather their school books and get out of the craft. Her eyes, of their own volition, lifted to the sea as she placed each girl on the rocky ground. The soldier’s boats could no longer be seen heading to Fort Adams across Newport Harbor, but on a clear day like today the bump of land was visible from Lime Rock, especially from an upstairs window. She stared at the hint of land, knowing he was there. That boy who kissed her today. Was he thinking about her like she was thinking about him? She hoped so.

Sadness filled her heart. His days would be filled with learning how to be a good soldier and fighting in the war. He’d be too preoccupied to think of her. Her days would be mundanely routine. How could she help but to think about him all the time? She leaned back with the mooring line firmly in her hands and pulled the boat against the dock to tie it the mooring lift. She cranked the handle to pull her boat out of the water, above where high tide could reach it. Tying the line securely to the mooring post, she carried the other bundle to the house. “Momma?”

“Coming!” her mother called from upstairs. She must be tending to Poppa. Louise set about putting away the supplies. Momma came through to the kitchen, carrying an armful of linens for tomorrow’s wash, then returned upstairs.

Louise followed her to record the weather in the journal and check the oil level, recording it as well, then she sat on her stool in the kitchen to peel potatoes for supper. Her siblings gathered at the table with their readers, each mumbling quietly as they read their assigned passages. Louise listened attentively for correct enunciations. She never minded being the one to listen while her siblings read, their little stories were an enjoyable part of her evening’s entertainment.

Her family’s life on the island was a less solitary one compared to other lighthouse keepers. Most Wickies could only get up-to-date news and fresh supplies once every two months when their relief came. But Lime Rock was only six-hundred feet from the mainland. Close enough for her to row to Newport every weekday for her siblings to attend school. She could pick up supplies, mail, and newspapers five days a week, weather permitting. The library let her exchange books once a week, thus maintaining her with fresh imaginations. Otherwise, she was certain she’d lose her mind from boredom.

She looked up as L.J. struggled with a passage. Louise corrected his failed attempt. He continued and she divided her attention between their reading and her preparing carrots and turnips. Soon she had the vegetables ready for the boiling pot. Louise listened to her siblings finish their reading assignments while she stirred the vegetables. Finally, she added quahogs and gave it one more stir. Quahog stew was among her family’s favorite crustacean meal and so easy to get along the rocky banks of their island.

She pulled the stew off the stove to let the quahogs cook in the boiling hot pot without overcooking. While she waited for supper to cool, she hauled oil from the storage room upstairs to the lamp. It was a fairly short walk down a hall, past the two bedrooms, to the tower where the lamp resided at the stair landing. It took up one small corner of their two-story house. If one didn’t know this was a lighthouse, it would be hard to distinguish it from the dwelling itself. Both the lighthouse roof and the house roof were the same height.

She would come back after supper to fill the lamp reservoir before dusk approached, trim the wick, polish carbon off the reflectors, and light the lamp. It would burn until midnight when she’d have to come fill it again. Luckily the bedroom she shared with her siblings was just a few steps across the hall from the lamp housing. It would only take a few minutes. Then she could return to her bed and continue to sleep until first blush of sunrise.

The ships at sea could see her fixed white light for eleven miles, barring foul weather. A sense of satisfaction lingered in her heart as she descended the single flight of stairs to the sitting room. Her family’s work in this lighthouse saved ships. All ships that came through this harbor at night, including the one that boy who kissed her today would be on to leave Rhode Island this evening. Her lighthouse lamp would be the last he saw of Rhode Island before he traveled down south to fight. She wouldn’t even know he was out there, but he’d see her lighthouse illuminate the night sky across the harbor and know she was here, waiting for him to come home.

That is, if they left under the cover of night. Wasn’t that what Mrs. Taylor said? They were shipping out tonight. Louise smiled and tucked her hair behind her ear.

This was her life. Even though Poppa suffered the stroke just four months after he moved the family to this island, he still held the official assignment to tend this lighthouse. His pay continued to come as long as the job got done. Louise had picked up most of his chores and some of Momma’s and life continued for the Wiley’s on Lime Rock.












Three month later…


Louise frantically scrubbed the carbon from the reflectors. A winter storm howled across the windows, chilling her to the bone. The sky darkened. The lighthouse lamp was needed now even though it was day. Her eyes kept lifting to the lump of land where Fort Adams stood. The sea undulated with huge white and green peaks. Yet, her mind tormented her with thoughts about that boy who had kissed her.

Would she recognize him when he came back to Rhode Island? He had kissed her and disappeared in the ocean of blue uniforms. His hand waving in the air was the last she saw of him. She could not recall his face.

She sought the memory again. He was clean shaven and handsome. He had clear eyes. What color were they? Brown? Blue? Green? He had long, dark eyelashes. Was she making things up now or did she actually remember? She tossed aside the polishing cloth and trimmed the wick, neat and round.

Would he recognize her?

Again her mind asked the question: Did he know her? Was that why he had kissed her? Could she rely on that? Would he recognize her and find her again? Did he mean what he said? The sound of his voice was fading from her memory but not the words. They echoed over and over in her mind, as she filled the oil reservoir and lit the lamp. “I’m gonna marry you…”

Was that even what he said? Or did she hear him wrong? The people were yelling and cheering really loudly around her. What if she misunderstood? But what else could he have said?

Louise!” her momma screamed from the bedroom where she was tending to Poppa. Louise jerked, attentive to Momma’s cry. Was something wrong with Poppa? “Louise, a boat! Capsized! Hurry!”

Louise looked out across the harbor. She saw it! Men struggled to grab hold of the upside-down hull. She dashed down the stairs and ran out to the dock. Scrambling to untie the rowboat, her hands hurt from the wet cold but she managed to get the boat loose, then shoved it into the water and leapt in. The oars were stored under the seat, she slammed them into the water and rowed with all her might toward the desperate men.

The storm whipped her hair into her face, covering her eyes. She vehemently shook her head, trying to see past her wet, sticky locks and leaned back to pull the oars through the water. Slowly she advanced on the capsized craft. Her back and arms burned from the exertion but she ignored the pain and continued to row with all her might.

The men coughed and sputtered, yelling for her to hurry. They wore dark uniforms. These were soldiers! There was no time to lose. In this cold water, their grip would not hold for long and they would slip into the water and drown. She’d seen it happen when she was just a few feet from reaching victims.

Pulling along side the capsized craft, she threw her paddles down on the deck and leaned over to grab the first man under his arms. Lifting him over the side, he tumbled into her rowboat. She reached for the next man. He was an officer. Her legs trembled from fatigue as she lugged the large man over.

With both men in the boat, she plopped down and maneuvered her rowboat over to the other side of theirs and pulled the third man in. Her strength waned, but all three were saved. Now to get back to land.

The men panted and wheezed, choking on salt water and trembling violently from the cold. She planted her backside on the seat and rowed for all she was worth to the island. Her body felt numb but as long as she could maintain her grip on the oars, she would continue to move her boat to the safety of land. Momma waited at the dock with blankets and a helping hand.

The men mumbled, “Thank you,” and some other words, but she had no strength to listen. She grunted as she pulled hard on the paddles until they reached the short dock. Momma helped the men out, as she wrapped each in a blanket around their shoulders. She wrapped Louise, too. Momma and Louise guided the soldiers toward the house. They were cold and weak, stumbling often. Louise’s knees gave way a few times, but she gritted her teeth and managed to get the one on her shoulder inside.

Still mumbling thank you, the soldiers collapsed into the dining chairs as Louise took the forth chair. Momma prepared tea, enhanced with whiskey, in mugs and distributed four on the table. They drew in the welcomed warmth and laid their heads on their arms on top of the dining table.

Louise panted with fatigue. The warmth of her breath filling the space between her face and the table. She let her momma see to the soldiers’ needs. Her job was accomplished.

Momma offered more tea and the soldiers accepted. Louise was too drained to reply. She maintained her head-down position and kept her eyes closed.

“Are you that girl?” One of the men spoke with a roughened voice.

Louise lifted her head slightly and peeked across her arms. All three men stared at her. “What?”

“You’re her, aren’t you?” The young soldier smiled. She recognized that smile. Was this the boy who kissed her? Her heart slammed against her ribs and pounded like a timpani drum as her eyes darted over the other two men. Her brow shot up on her forehead. Could it possibly be the sea brought the boy who kissed her back so soon?

“I can’t believe it.” He continued. “Captain Russell, this is that girl I told you about. The one I asked to marry me before we shipped out. This is Louise Wiley. The girl who can out-row most men I know and saves people from drowning in the ‘arbor.”

Momma gasped. “Wha—? Louise, what are they talking about?”

Louise swallowed hard.

The captain stood and extended his hand to Louise. “I’m Captain Buck Russell, ma’am.” He smiled as he sat and took another swig of tea. “Lucky for us, you saw us capsize.”

“Momma saw ya.” Louise uttered, avoiding her mother’s glaring question.

“Yes, but” —the captain set his cup down— “it was you who rowed out there in this storm and pulled us in. I am forever in your debt, Miss Wiley.” The captain dipped his head, confirming he meant what he said.

Momma refilled the mugs with hot tea as if nothing extraordinary had just been said. “You boys relax and get warmth in your bones. We got extra bedding. You can stay the night and go on to Fort Adams in the morning.” She turned to Louise. “You!” She paused for emphasis. “We’ll discuss this proposal that I knew nothing about another time.” She turned a pleasant smile back to the soldiers. “I ‘magine the storm’ll be passed over by then.”

Did Momma mean the storm outside or the one behind her eyes?

“Yes ma’am.” The captain agreed. “We are obliged to your whole family. Is there a Mister Wiley?”


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