A Research Trip During COVID-19
Our family vacation this summer was always planned to be a lakehouse retreat to the Land Between the Lakes Area on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky with a side research trip planned for a day at Fort Donelson.
Then COVID hit. Our vacations are pretty much socially distanced all the time anyway, so all that changed was the ability to visit historical museums. WHICH IS HUGE!!! After spending intense months researching books, I was ready to visit the actual location of one of my stories, speak with the park rangers, examine the artifacts in the museum, and buy some of the resources which can only be found on location. With the exception of touring the outside grounds, everything else was closed to me.
It was a disappointment, but I am very grateful that I still was able to spend several hours walking around, imagining my characters, taking pictures, recording details from the placards, and even recording some videos for research and future promotions. It was over 90 degrees with outrageous humidity, but this author was willing to endure hours of it to get all the details needed to create a realistic story.
Below are a few of my favorite historical tidbits and pictures taken from my phone. When going to write this post, I realized my new computer does not have an SD Card slot so my real camera pictures will have to wait until I find an adapter. 🙂
A Soldier’s Winter Home
While we often think of soldiers as living in tents, more permanent establishments like Forts or long-term camps built little cabins for soldiers to huddle close in and combat against the winter. The cabin below is an example of one such cabin. The door was locked but pulling away from the hinges, so I stuck my hand in with my phone to get an inside look. You can see the hay strewn on the floor and a small fireplace used to heat the space. The chink in the walls really displayed how much wind could pass through a building. Any light you see in the walls is coming from the outside. It had to be better than a tent, but that wind still must have been biting.
An Important, Often Overlooked Battle
Forts Henry and Donelson were important locations for the Union and Confederate armies. Whoever controlled those, controlled the rivers and the railroads west of the Appalachian Mountains. The above is a panoramic view of Confederate States of America’s River Batteries. The Battle of Fort Donelson was both a land and river battle. From this position, the United States of America sent a gunboat flotilla led by Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote. The vessels which floated down this now peaceful river consisted of both timberclad and ironclad vessels. The timberclads were commercial river steamers converted to gunboats. My picture shows a hot, humid summer day, but the Battle of Fort Donelson was fought during frigid and wet conditions February 11 – 16, 1862.
Video Tour of a Scene I Plan
I can’t stand my own voice, but you can tell how really excited I was to be here. This was at the end of my tour, so my brain was a little wonky, but the ACTUAL date of the scene would be 1862 NOT 1863. 🙂 For those who don’t want to watch the video, this was a former Confederate camp taken over by Union soldiers. By February 15, the Confederate soldiers were wanting to retreat to Nashville but this encampment of Union soldiers stood in the way. So in the wee hours of the morning they attacked the Union camp. Union soldiers were hopping out of their tents pulling up their pants in order to fight. No one was ready, and it is a scene of chaos I look forward to writing.
Well that is all I’m going to share for now. With all the pictures and videos I have, I could write many more posts, but I think I’d rather focus on writing the actual story. 😉 Have a great week, y’all, and I hope you enjoyed what you read.