I’ve started a Q&A section at Goodreads.com for the Jackson Speed books, and to kick it off a little bit I decided to go ahead and ask myself the first question and answer it. It is the question I most often get from people who have read the book:
“Was the Battle of the Boat real?”
The answer is an unbelievable YES!
In researching Jackson Speed, I used (among many other sources) newspaper articles from a couple of Georgia newspapers. As I was reading the articles, I read one that referred to a “despicable incident” that occurred between two companies from Georgia. I knew immediately, whatever companies were involved and whatever happened, I was somehow going to have to get Ol’ Speedy involved in that.
I did a fair amount of research beyond the newspaper articles, and the sources were sometimes wildly divergent in their details. Some of the newspaper articles were so wrong about what took place (one article, for instance, had Col. H.R. Jackson shooting his own men on the deck of the boat, when in fact he was miles away with Gen. Taylor), and often those errors of fact were never corrected.
None of the sources I could find was what I would consider authoritative, although some had very specific details that were clearly accurate. So I took what made the most sense out of all of my sources and created Jackson Speed’s version of the Battle of the Boat. I believe it is accurate, or accurate enough. It does seem that the fight began over anti-Irish insults from the Kennesaw boys against the Jasper Greens; I believe the fight started down on the beach and was taken up later in the day on the deck of the boat. It seems to me from all of the sources that it is most likely that the fight was under control by the time the Illinois Col. Baker rushed the boat.
The Battle of the Boat was one of the great surprises to me as I researched the book … what a wonderful episode of history (mostly forgotten) to be able to add into my novel!