Land Where Our Fathers Died

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The day was hot; summer announcing itself. There’s a smell in the south — warm earth and wilting verdure — that I forget every fall and rediscover in the late spring: the smell of summer. The breeze stirring my hair didn’t cool me, though it moved the wheat in which I stood. From the top of the hill, looking down over the field, I tried to imagine the scene 150 years earlier when the Battle of Chancellorsville raged.

I stood at the spot where Robert Lee’s Confederate troops flanked Joseph Hooker’s Federal forces. Among the Federal troops at Chancellorsville was the Connecticut Fifth, the unit to which the hero in my forthcoming novel, Brave in Heart, belongs. Without spoiling the book, the battle is significant to the story I’m telling. I’ve looked at engravings. Read survivors’ accounts. But I needed to see it for myself.

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