The Cast Net is set in the late 1980’s, but is historically connected to the Civil War period of American history. While researching the history for my novel, I read numerous books that explored Civil War battles, the politics of the period, and addressed individuals who played significant roles during that time period.
One of my most valuable learning experiences involved a trip on Sandlapper Tours based in Charleston, South Carolina, to Morris Island, which was the site of horrendous fighting between Federal forces and Confederate defenders. During the fighting, a regiment composed of black soldiers, the 54th Massachusetts, led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, attacked the Confederate installation at Battery Wagner. I learned from historians, Joseph McGill, and D.J. Tucker, that fallen soldiers were buried in mass graves. This led to the contamination of the potable water supply and to the Confederate withdrawal from Battery Wagner.
I was also fascinated to learn that Mr. McGill, a program officer at the Southern office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has been researching plantation systems. To increase understanding of the individuals who were enslaved on plantations, he has slept in slave dwellings in both northern and southern portions of the United States. I found his efforts to bring attention to the plantation system informative and helpful in increasing my knowledge of the institution of slavery.