Staff recorded music for Battle of Fort Sanders documentary

With the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sanders arriving next week, we’ve posted a 14-minute, Ken Burns-style documentary produced by Erin Chapin of our digital team. Erin is a talented videographer who did much of the work on our earlier long-form videos that were honored with national Edward R. Murrow Awards.

Union officers Orville Babcock, left, and Orlando Poe pose for photographer George Barnard at the Fort Sanders battlefield a few months after the fight.

Union officers Orville Babcock, left, and Orlando Poe pose for photographer George Barnard at the Fort Sanders battlefield a few months after the fight.

Many staff members were involved in creating this new documentary. Reporter Matt Lakin, a dedicated re-enactor, participated in the re-enactment that provided much of the footage for the piece, and he makes a cameo appearance as a dead soldier. Sports writer Mike Strange is the project’s narrator.
Artist/designer Don Wood, outdoor writer Morgan Simmons, and his wife, Ruth, recorded the background music using Civil War sheet music downloaded from the Library of Congress.
“We wanted a mix of music that was popular with the Union and Confederate troops,” said Chapin, “so I downloaded five songs from the Civil War Sheet Music Collection and sent them to Morgan. He and Ruth studied the music and practiced for a few days. Morgan switched between the banjo and guitar, depending on what the song required. Ruth played the fiddle. Don played the mandolin.
“I recorded the songs in Morgan and Ruth’s living room on Monday, Nov. 4, with a Zoom H4N audio recorder and a video camera as backup. During the recording of “Yellow Rose of Texas,” I had to have Ruth put a pillow under her foot because she was so involved with the tune that her foot stomping was picked up by the microphones.”
We’re now looking for ways to make the music available as separate digital downloads.