Researching history by visiting battlefields

I write historical romance novels, and the time span is 1860 through 1866 for my Impending Love series, which means I include a lot of Civil War history in my stories.

Although I have a large collection of books on the Civil War, this summer I journeyed to Harpers Ferry, Antietam, Bull Run, and Gettysburg to take photographs of the locations of some of the major battles.

Harpers Ferry had people in period dress to talk about medicine, ambulances, military passes, and other topics. IMG_0199

I asked a lot of questions, but I also learned that sometimes the person can give erroneous information or embellish something, so double check any information received by a person in period dress.

The scope of the area where battles occurred at Antietam is impressive, especially after we visited Bull Run in the afternoon where the fighting was in such a small IMG_0980area for the first battle in 1861.  Ohio boys fought at Antietam with the 7th Ohio Volunteers reduced in half.  Many of them died in the cornfield, which had been planted on some sections of the battlefield.  It was hard not to image ghosts walking among the stalks.

IMG_1240At the Gettysburg battlefield we visited Culp’s Hill, and found markers for the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry near the Pennsylvania boys.
They were ordered to Little Round Top but got lost and missed some of the deadliest fighting.

We attended the Gettysbu_MG_2689rg reenactment and I learned about photography, Mrs. Robert E. Lee, and the making of the movie, Gettysburg, from one of the actors in it.

When I returned home, I visited Hale Farm and Village in Bath and wrote about my experience for the newspaper.


by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: August 14, 2015 12:00AM

IMG_1610As the Confederate troops marched out of the woods and lined up for the last time, stacking their guns and relinquishing their haversacks, cartridge cases and military issued equipment, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia.

Every August reenactors converge on Hale Farm and Village in Bath to bring history to life. This year, 150 years after the surrender on April 9, 1865, the Confederate troops lost the battle around Appomattox Court House portrayed on Aug. 9.

The Rebel flag was rolled up and placed across stacks of guns, surrendered along with piles of supplies used by the soldiers. The regiments were called forward and men of the Southern states received their pardons, some tucking them in their caps. The Union troops, assembled on the perimeter, gave no cheers of victory, and the crowd was unusually quiet as the troops, now civilians, walked away in silence to return home.IMG_1822

On Aug. 8 reenactors portrayed the Battle of Dinwiddie Courthouse and the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia.

Besides the infantry battles and surrender, the annual event offers artillery demonstrations and cavalry demonstrations with reenactors camped on the grounds.

IMG_2155The command staff for the reenactment included Brigadier General Bob Minton, commander of the First Federal Division; Colonel Paul Baltzer, commanding one of the Division’s two infantry battalions; Colonel Nick Medich, commanding the Medich battalion; Captain Greg Van Wey, second in command of Medich’s battalion; and Captain Michael Church who led the 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

The Confederate Camp was in the woods and west side of Hale house. The Union troops were camped on the east side of the road on the green surrounded by historic buildings and the church.

Camp Chase Fifes and Drums Corp entertained visitors with music from the Civil War, and President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Gerald Payne, gave a speech near the apple orchard.

IMG_2077Visitors could learn about photography during the Civil War from Michael Rhodes of Medina and Drew Tanner of Marietta or have their photograph taken on a tintype.

In addition to the regular staff at Hale Farm and Village, visitors could ask questions of the reenactors on a variety of historic subjects.

Hale Farm was founded by Jonathan Hale in 1810 and three generations lived on the farm. In 1956 the property was bequeathed to the Western Reserve Historical Society.

More information can be found at


Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

Cory Beecher on courtship

Excerpt from “Impending Love and War” with Cory Beecher explaining courtship to mathematics instructor Douglas Raymond.ImpendingLoveandWar_w8676_300

My novels are on sale through The Wild Rose Press at and Love and Death” is due out soon.

If Cory had a plan, it disappeared the minute she saw Douglas looking so vulnerable. Maybe it was the sunburn on his high forehead or the way he kept spinning his mangled hat around with his fingertips. She didn’t like hurting others, but it was cruel to lead Douglas on with no hope of loving him. A quick severance was better than letting plans unravel over time.

“I haven’t seen you all day.” Cory tapped Douglas on the shoulder with her closed fan. “Where have you been?”

“I saw you with your family and Mr. Montgomery and hesitated to intrude.”

I love him, and I don’t love you. That might be too abrupt. Cory sat on a bench under one of the shade trees planted on the edge of the square. “You were honest and forthright about your plans for the future, and I wish to talk about mine.”

Douglas sat next to her and took her hand. It was sweaty. Cory opened her fan and waved it with her free hand.

“Then you’re not angry with me?” He lowered his voice. “About the kiss?”

Cory tried not to groan and moved her fan to block her face. “You were quite forward, Mr. Raymond.”

“You make me bold.” He knelt on one knee in front of her. “I will not jeopardize your reputation by hesitating to make my intentions clear. Miss Beecher, will you marry me?”

Cory had meant to gently coax his attention toward Beth, but a harsher voice would be necessary. She glanced around and saw only a few people nearby who might witness the scene she would create. She took a deep breath and launched her attack. “Is that it?” She snatched her hand from his.

Douglas fell back. “What do you mean? I asked you to marry me?”

“Without a declaration of love?” She stood. “Get up! You didn’t even say I was pretty. When other men have proposed to me, they at least compliment me. You didn’t even do that.” She fanned herself with quick, agitated strokes.

Douglas looked stunned. “I’m sorry.”

“Oh, don’t apologize!” she snapped. Douglas cowered as if she’d struck him. He looked so scared that Cory had to fight the urge to soften her words. She closed her fan and smacked it against her palm. “It’s too late. Why no self-respecting woman would say yes to such a proposal. A woman expects flowers, flattery, and a declaration of love from the man she marries. In

fact, I don’t think you love me at all. I believe you’re still in love with someone else.”

Douglas shook his head. “No, that isn’t true.”

Cory raised her voice not only in volume but to an annoyingly high pitch. “Don’t lie to me, Mr. Raymond. I won’t be trifled with. I saw how you looked at Beth Davis when we were having supper the other night,” Cory accused. “You couldn’t take your eyes off of her. You still have feelings for her, don’t you?”

“I have the highest regard for Miss Davis but…”

“Don’t say another word.” Cory emphasized the words with a slap of her closed fan on his shoulder. “I could never take second place in a man’s heart.”

“But she turned me down when I proposed.”

“Proposed?” she gasped. “If you asked Beth to marry you the way you proposed to me, it’s no wonder she turned you down.” Cory lifted her chin. “No woman accepts a proposal of marriage with such callous calculation.” She softened her voice. “You should tell Beth how you truly feel about her and demonstrate your affection with words and deeds if you want her to accept a second proposal.”

Douglas looked confused. “Mr. Montgomery said something about Southern women not accepting the first time, but I thought Northern women were more practical.”

“A woman has pride,” she explained. “Not the same pride as a man. She has no career or is equal in education as a man, but she takes pride in little tasks. It could be the way she embroiders or the flaky crust on her pie. A woman cherishes these accomplishments. They make her life of hard work and drudgery bearable. Beth is an excellent cook, but did anyone compliment

her on her pie crust but her father? Did you know she cut nearly all the pies for the contest on the square? She could easily handle the cooking and cleaning for a dozen men.”

Cory paused to make sure he comprehended the implication of her last words. “Those are skills

overlooked by most. Skills a husband should cherish. A romantic like Beth longs for words of affection and kindness, and she expects them from a man who proposes marriage.”

“But to propose to the same woman twice doesn’t seem to increase the probability of acceptance,” Douglas said. “It’s illogical mathematically. The answer is either right or wrong. It doesn’t change the outcome by doing the problem over and over again.”

“But Beth isn’t a mathematical problem.” How could one man be so obtuse? “She’s a woman. She admitted she admires Jane Austen. She wants romance. Even Mr. Darcy had to ask Elizabeth to marry him a second time. I’m sure if you asked Beth, after a proper declaration of love, she would be tempted to accept your proposal.”

“I don’t think I could ask her again,” Douglas said. “What about my pride?”

“Mr. Darcy swallowed his pride,” Cory reminded him. “Any humbling on your part would be replaced by the proud announcement of your impending marriage.”

Douglas thought on her words. Cory was growing impatient. What did she have to do to convince the man to court Beth?

“You said a woman wouldn’t accept the first time. Is that why you turned me down?”

Good Lord. She was caught by her own words. She had given him hope instead of making it clear she had no interest in him. “I said no because I’m in love with another,” she confessed honestly.

Douglas was shocked by her words. “Who?”

“Why, the man I’ve spent the entire day with, Tyler Montgomery.” She raised her fan to mask her face. “I know we haven’t known each other for long, but he has all the qualities I admire.”

“But he spent the entire evening paying attention to Beth,” Douglas recalled.

Cory lowered her voice to a whisper. “She was flirting with him to make you jealous.”

“Why would she do that?”

“Because she still has feelings for you.”

Douglas looked surprised. “I guess I should go and propose to Beth.”

“You can’t do that!” Cory shouted.

He cringed under her outburst. “Why not?”

Cory rolled her eyes. “Haven’t you heard anything I’ve said about romance? You need to court her. Win her affection. Show how much you care. But first, you should ask permission to escort her to the dance.”

“But wouldn’t that be wasting time? I know the solution to the problem. I should act immediately.”

“A woman doesn’t like to be rushed.”

“But I wish to be married before fall term begins,” he said. “I don’t want to waste any more time.”

He was complaining about wasting time. Cory tried a new tactic. “But a dance accelerates your schedule,” she reasoned. “It’s the perfect opportunity to begin anew and show her how you feel, and it’s a public declaration of your intentions.” She put it in terms he would understand. “Dancing with Beth is equal to three Sunday visits.”

“Three visits,” he repeated. “Do you think she’ll go to the dance with me?”

“All you have to do is ask,” she prodded.

Douglas thought for what seemed like an eternity. “I’ll do it.”

Cory sighed when Douglas headed for th

Interview with twin sisters who each wrote a children’s book

Twins from Hudson celebrate double

Triumph with published novels

Suzanne (Young) Cordatos and Sonja (Young) Anderson being published by Sunberry Books

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: August 2, 2015 12:09AM

Hudson — Twinsburg won’t be the only place to see double during Twins Day Festivities when twin sisters debut their children’s novels at The Learned Owl Book Shop, their favorite store when growing up in Hudson.

Suzanne (Young) Cordatos and Sonja (Young) Anderson, graduates from Hudson High School in 1981, will have their novels for ages 7-12 on sale and be present to sign them on Friday, Aug. 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Learned Owl, 204 N. Main St. in Hudson. They also are registered for Twins Day Aug. 7-9 and plan to be in the parade.

Cordatos’ novel, “Lost Crown of Apollo,” features a Greek American family on a boating adventure in the Greek Islands. Eleven-year-old Elias and his younger sister get more adventure than they bargained for when they become stranded on a barren island with nothing but headless statues, lizards, a grumpy caretaker and some antiquity thieves for company. Can a self-proclaimed “bad luck magnet” save the sun god’s priceless good luck charm he’s found–and his kidnapped sister–from the thieves?

Anderson’s novel, “Sophie’s Quest,” features an unlikely friendship between a Great Horned Owl and a tiny pirate-wannabe mouse while on a Holy Land Quest. Can Sophie face her greatest fears to save her new friend–something she used to consider “just a tasty snack”?

In this book, children will become better neighbors in our diverse world as they gain a basic understanding of the world’s major religions, along with a hint at what makes Jesus so unique, Anderson said.

Both books are Mediterranean Sea adventure tales, and both are published by Sunberry Books, an imprint of Sunpenny Publishing Group in the United Kingdom. However, when the publisher at Sunpenny requested full manuscripts–on the very same day–she didn’t have any idea that Cordatos and Anderson were even related, much less twins.

Anderson holds a master’s degree in Education from Harvard and Cordatos has a master’s degree in International Studies from Ohio University. They have shared adventures living and teaching together in Tokyo, Japan, but currently “bookend” the USA, with Anderson residing in Seattle and Cordatos in Connecticut.

Anderson said her book took nearly 15 years to research, write, revise and submit to publishers.

The idea for the story came from teaching a multi-faith religion class in Tokyo 25 years ago, Anderson said.

“I was struck by the enthusiasm for the Bible that this particular group of kids had, even though they were from different religious backgrounds,” Anderson said. “I loved learning about their traditions and stories, too, and I remember picturing for the first time a wise owl who could help me and my class sort through all the traditions to get at a wiser sense of God’s truth.”

Children need examples of friendship that defy the odds, like the friendship between natural enemies, Sophie and Timley, she said. They also are surprisingly interested in topics like world religion that are rarely addressed in elementary school.

Anderson said when her daughter was in kindergarten, she had an argument about God on the playground with a Buddhist boy and a Jewish boy

“I wanted to write something to help Christian kids (like my daughter) understand basic tenets of world religions so she could understand and empathize better with her classmates in our increasingly diverse community and world, and vice-versa–I wanted a way for non-Christian kids to understand better what is at the heart of Christianity, to hear for the first time or in a new way about Jesus, who is uniquely ‘God with us.'”

Sophie’s Quest offers children a respectful and fun way to learn something about our diverse world, and to introduce them to Jesus in a fresh and exciting way.

When Anderson began writing “Sophie’s Quest,” she sent new chapters to her twin sister and suggested she write her own stories.

“I think she began with picture book stories, but I remember reading a draft of “Lost Crown of Apollo” during Christmas vacation a number of years ago,” Anderson said. “I can’t wait to read it in its final form.”

Cordatos indeed wrote “The Lost Crown of Apollo” as a picture book but after attending a conference, an editor suggested a novel to enlarge the Greek island setting.

Cordatos said her husband is from Greece and while visiting, the toured the small island of Delos or “mini Pompeii.”

“We were virtually alone with the headless statues, lions, marble columns–and the island’s single palm tree which, in mythology, was the birthplace of the sun god Apollo and his twin, the hunter and protector of women, Artemis,” Cordatos said. “As a twin, I was especially interested in the twin’s story.”

After reading and critiquing her sister’s book, Cordatos said the realized how much she loved creative writing and wanted to share the wonders of Greece with others.

In “The Lost Crown of Apollo” readers will get a taste of Greece’s fascinating long past and mythology, it’s beautiful island culture, boating fun, delicious Greek food and warm hospitable people, Cordatos said.

“We each have local writing friends, but we constantly encourage each other through the ups and downs of writing contests, submissions to publishers, rejection letters, brainstorming new ideas,” Cordatos said. “Writing is not only a talent but a craft–it can be improved, and it helps to work with others to revise.”

Cordatos is working on a book about twin princesses who each have two wishes. Her first picture book, SNEEZE-FIRE from 4RV Publishing will be released soon and is the first in a series about a young dragon facing tough choices.

Anderson is working on the sequels to “Sophie’s Quest” and a young adult novel about Christian persecution in 17th century Japan.


Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP