When I sat down to begin writing/researching for the Ancient Words Series, one of the first questions I had asked was, “If a man joined the Confederacy from Bedford Co. TN, which regiment would he join?” There were two infantry regiments. I chose the 17th and drowned myself in its history. I read everything I could get my hands on. I took notes. I followed their trail like a dedicated fan…because, let’s face it, that’s what I was at this point.
While my characters were fictional, their experiences were based on reality. One of my favorite moments to research was the Battle of Chickamauga. The anniversary of this extremely bloody battle is today and tomorrow. While there are so many factors to cover, I only want to focus on the experience of the 17th. You can read about Frank Harper’s version of events in my 2nd book, In the Shadow of Thy Wings. I had the pleasure of weaving in several real details into the story.
I also had the pleasure of touring the battlefield for the first time this summer. Here are some of my favorite photos…most of them featuring the 17th! The flag pictured above is a replica of the regimental flag. This is the first time I’ve ever seen it in person. What a TREAT!!
Perryville and Murfreesboro were two significant battles for the 17th. And both are featured in Where Can I Flee.
After touring the museum inside, we set out in search of monuments featuring the 17th. This was one of my favorite family moments of the entire weekend. We had turned it into a contest to see who could find the monuments first and all of a sudden children and adults that might not have cared in the beginning was invested and enjoying themselves. It does my heart good to see people enjoying history.
*Family Fun Tip: When visiting historical sites with children or history-hating adults, create a scavenger hunt. It worked on my family and maybe it’ll work on yours. 😉
At long last, we were rewarded with two monuments. There was something so special about standing before a monument honoring the regiment that I’ve spent so much time with.
We found smaller monuments dedicated to individual regiments around this larger one. But sadly, we couldn’t find one for the 17th. We hiked all over the area, searching for it but came up empty. I’m not sure if there ever was one for the 17th or not. I’d love to check into the situation and see what can be done, but for today, Where Can I Flee and In the Shadow of Thy Wings act as monuments to a now beloved regiment.
Words can hardly explain and these pictures will hardly do it justice when describing the hilly terrain. I’m convinced any semi-flat area that we stood on was man-made. I stepped off to the side and snapped a few pictures of the area. You can only imagine the additional hardships the armies faced on account of the landscape.
And here are some cannon shots.
A trip to Chickamauga isn’t complete without visiting the impressive Wilder Brigade Monument.
Visitors can climb to the top of the tower. I’d advise you to bring a water bottle and inhaler with you, both of which, I had left outside with my parents. Lol
But thankfully, I had brought my camera. 😉
6 thoughts on “When Fiction Meets Reality: The Battle of Chickamauga”
I love these kinds of trips! It’s thrilling to see in person something you’ve researched!
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It really is!! What a blessing!
That’s up near where most of my extended family lives. I’ve been there once, out of all of the times I’ve been up there. I’ve been to Andersonville, too, a couple of times. Did the driving tour there. Next time I get up to visit family, I’ll have to visit Chicamauga.
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I haven’t been to Andersonville. Was it one of those hard places to visit?
No, actually, it wasn’t. I had heard about it, and wanted to go. They have a really nice visitor center set up, and there isn’t a lot to see, but they have an interactive system that you can put your ancestors names in and pull up info. I tried, couldn’t pull up any of mine. I only did last names, though, and now I have some first names to put in, so I’d like to go and see if anything comes up! I went to a place in Chattanooga that had a little Chickamauga battlefield set up and told the story. I just didn’t make the time to go to the actual battlefield. If you can, take the trip to Andersonville. I can tell you a great place to stay, and some other sites to see there, too!!
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Sounds great! I’ll be sure to check in with you if I get that chance to go.
It’s a personal goal of mine to see all the battlefields that the 17th had been involved in. I have a few under my belt so far but many more to see. 🙂