Reconsidering “Gettysburg”

Gettysburg movie poster (IMDB)

ECW welcomes guest author Tom McMillan

I was at a movie theatre in suburban Pittsburgh on an otherwise forgettable rainy Tuesday night in the fall of 1993.

“I left my spectacles over there,” General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army said to his ranking subordinate, James Longstreet, as they pored over a map of Pennsylvania, anxiously plotting strategy for their great invasion of the North. “What is the name of this town?”

I knew the answer but leaned forward anyway in anticipation.

“Gettysburg,” Longstreet said.

In each person’s life there are seemingly innocuous moments that affect you in ways you never imagined. That night – watching the movie Gettysburg in a darkened theater full of strangers – was one of those for me. I had always been a student of history and visited the Gettysburg battlefield with my parents when I was in grade school in the 1960s, but nothing had yet drawn me back to the small town in south-central Pennsylvania or plunged me more deeply into study of the Civil War. Until then. “We may have an opportunity here,” said the actor Martin Sheen, playing Lee, and it was if as though he were speaking directly to me.

I got in my car three days later and drove to Gettysburg, contracting a Civil War “illness” that remains to this day. I have attended the anniversary days of the battle every year for the past quarter century, served on the board of directors of the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, joined the marketing committee of the Gettysburg Foundation and recently wrote a book, Gettysburg Rebels, about five former residents who returned home as foreign invaders for the great battle. I was married in Gettysburg, and my wife and I even own a plot in the town’s famous Evergreen Cemetery. That’s about as all-in as you can be.

Lee and Longstreet portrayed in Gettysburg (IMDB)

I dare say none that would have happened had I not been in the theater that night watching Sheen and Tom Berenger, as Lee and Longstreet, making final arrangements to plot their insurrection, and the Union Army’s heroic actions to repel them.

The movie was that compelling, that dramatic … that impactful.

In the 25 years since then, Director Ron Maxwell’s epic Gettysburg has earned its rightful place in the pantheon of outstanding American war films. Coupled with Ken Burns’ epic PBS series, The Civil War, it touched off an astonishing surge of battlefield visitation and attracted a new generation of scholars to the 19th century war that shaped the country’s future. Previously obscure figures such as Joshua Chamberlain and John Buford of the Union Army became as well-known to modern students as Lee, Longstreet and the star-crossed leader of Pickett’s Charge, George Pickett. Certain lines from the script – “We should have gone to the right” and “All they had to do was roll rocks down on us” – became such a part of the Civil War lexicon that they are repeated even today by visitors on the craggy slopes of Little Round Top.

I wasn’t the only one.

But I soon came to learn there was an unexpected “downside” to the public’s newfound interest in Gettysburg. Many thousands of viewers took the movie as unvarnished fact – when, in fact, it was based on a historic novel, Killer Angels, with many fictionalized scenes The novelist, Michael Shaara, altered certain details and created much of his own dialogue among soldiers to move the story along, doing it well enough to win a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished fiction. Maxwell, in adapting Shaara’s novel to the theatre, couldn’t possibly cover the entire three-day battle in four hours, so he picked and chose his heroes as a director must. He elevated Chamberlain, Lewis Armistead and John Bell Hood to icon status while virtually ignoring George Meade, the Union’s commanding general, who appears on screen for all of 60 seconds.

Film image (IMDB)

This all struck me for the first time in the summer of 1994 when a park ranger doing a tour of Little Round Top pronounced the site of the 20th Maine monument as “the place where the great Joshua Chamberlain saved the Union Army and the entire United States.” The words fairly dripped with sarcasm.

Students with the deepest knowledge of the battle seemed to struggle most with this new reality – appalled that such a complex battlefield narrative had been condensed to a few fascinating vignettes in the minds of many visitors. For instance, Chamberlain’s stand against the 15th Alabama had merited only six pages in Edwin Coddington’s 550-page Gettysburg Campaign, considered the best single-volume academic study of the battle, and yet it was hailed in the movie as the singular turning point of the second day’s action. Other scenes and speeches were so riveting and believable that viewers took them for fact.

I realized this early on and dove deep into study of the battle and its aftermath, trying to untangle the myths and legends of the movie. What I found, at first, surprised me.

Jeff Daniels as Chamberlain in Gettysburg (IMDB)

Among other things:

  • Two emotional conversations between Longstreet and Armistead on the eve of battle never happened. Such scenes served a clear purpose for the movie, personalizing the friendship between Armistead and General Winfield Hancock of the Union Army – which became a key subplot – but they simply are not based in fact. Battlefield guides Wayne Motts and James Hessler, writing in their recent book, Pickett’s Charge, note that while Armistead and Hancock certainly were friends from the antebellum army, “there are no contemporary accounts to indicate that the two men were emotionally pining for each other in the battle as they do in the popular novel and film.”
  • Buster Kilrain, the crusty old sergeant of the 20th Maine, and one of the most popular characters in the movie, was a figment of Shaara’s imagination. Names of soldiers from the 20th who were killed at Gettysburg are listed on the side of the regimental monument on Little Round Top. Many modern-day visitors often wonder why Kilrain’s name does not appear.
  • One tear-jerking line attributed to Armistead is especially misleading. In the movie version of a pre-war conversation with Hancock, he blurts out, “Win, so help me, if I ever lift a hand against you, may God strike my dead!” However, according to a book written by Hancock’s wife, who was present when the two men spoke, what Armistead actually said was, “I hope God will strike me dead if I am ever induced to leave my native soil.” Using the correct (but far less emotional) quote would have changed the meaning of the entire scene.
  • Joshua Chamberlain’s brother, Tom, wasn’t the Union officer who spoke with Armistead on Cemetery Ridge after he was wounded. It was actually Henry Bingham, a member of Hancock’s staff. This was done to keep the movie rolling along, rather than introducing a new character in its final moments – but it was another fabrication.
  • Lee and Longstreet didn’t meet in Lee’s headquarters on the night of the second day – the compelling movie scene to that effect notwithstanding – and almost certainly didn’t sit around a campfire on the night of the third day, commiserating about their defeat in Pickett’s Charge.

And yet none of this takes away from the movie’s grandeur, its edge-of-the-seat combat action or its unprecedented impact on battlefield visitation. Shaara never said he was writing an academic history of the battle, and Maxwell never touted his film as a documentary. If viewers mistook the obvious drama for facts and footnotes, that was not the fault of the author or the director. The magnificence of Gettysburg lies in capturing this seminal battle in the most easily understandable of human terms. You left feeling you had seen Pickett’s Charge as it happened. You were exhausted.

Pickett’s Charge begins in the movie Gettysburg (IMDB)

I had the pleasure of attending the 25th anniversary celebration of the movie in October 2018 in Gettysburg. Eight hundred giddy movie buffs crammed themselves into the little town’s Majestic Theatre to hear Maxwell’s opening oratory and mingle with the actors who played Pickett, Hancock, Hood, Richard Garnett, A.P. Hill, and E.P. Alexander (a gracious Patrick Gorman, who played Hood, even told my wife she should have “gone to the right”). The film was almost five hours because it included several scenes that never made the final Hollywood version, but few in the audience fidgeted and no one complained

It is, I believe, the greatest war movie of all-time, unquestionably the greatest I’ve ever seen, outdoing even “Patton,” the previous champion. If it departed from actual history at some points, so be it. An entire generation of Civil War enthusiasts, me included, were drawn into a lifelong fascination with the epoch event of the 1800s because of Maxwell’s big-screen adaptation of Shaara’s award-winning novel. We could use a similar artistic effort to entice the scholars of the future.

Tom McMillan works in sports, but his passion is history. In addition to being the author of two books – Gettysburg Rebels and Flight 93 – he serves on the board of trustees of Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center, on the board of directors of the Friends of Flight 93 and on the marketing committee of the Gettysburg Foundation. Several of his ancestors served with the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers and fought in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg. He works as vice president of communications for the Pittsburgh Penguins and resides in Pittsburgh with his wife, Colleen.

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53 Responses to Reconsidering “Gettysburg”

  1. Tom Schobert says:

    Outstanding

  2. Doug Ashton says:

    Excellent summation with clarifications that are spot on.

  3. Meg Groeling says:

    So glad to read this. I think we are all going to have to make room in our historical psychology for both film and novels in the coming years. For me, this means the war is changing in the way folks interact with it–it is becoming more–more–more something. More familiar? More accepted? Less problematic? I don’t know exactly, but I sense a shift in the national consciousness. Good job, sir. Huzzah!

  4. rarerootbeer says:

    This is a very interesting article. I appreciate the passion and serious study. I tried once to show the Picketts Charge in my history class and it took over 40 minutes of the film; I could not fit it in one period at school. Gettysburg is a very moving film.

  5. Mike Maxwell says:

    Unfortunately, in order to make a successful movie, tight editing and emphasis on the spectacular and memorable are essential… and some important facts are left on the cutting room floor. But, those truly sparked to investigate further can discover the Truth.
    Hopefully, when someone finally gets around to producing a film featuring the Battle of Shiloh, the end result will be as tight and compelling as “Gettysburg.”
    Cudos to Tom McMillan.

  6. Bonnie Jean says:

    I always had been a lover of American History… especially the history of our wars. I have read books of fiction and non-fiction and seen movies and documentaries. Two of my favorite movies are Gods and Generals and Gettysburg. Although stories may add or subtract just as movies do… the truth is that none of us really know everything that was said or done… or even everyone who fought and died… because some died far from the battlefield or were so badly disfigured that their names were unrecorded. Stories give us the feeling of an event and lead us to want to know more about the truth. That is one of their greatest gifts. I have been to Gettysburg… about 45 years ago. Seeing the real place and bullet holes in trees… bloody uniforms in museums and other artifacts was an amazing experience. For three days I just wandered the battle fields and museums and it was a very emotional experience for me. Nothing is as simple as it seems.

  7. Indycoman says:

    Tom is well known and respected to Pittsburgh sports fans and I at first could not believe it was the same person when I saw a presentation of his on C-SPAN. Anyhow, having been touched in the same way by the film at the same time in Weatern Pennsylvania, I thank Tom for this excellent summary. The historical inaccuracy items and selective emphasis was a disappointment to me 25 years ago, but I now revere the movie more each year! Could this movie even be made today? We should be thankful it was made when it could be. Thanks to all who did it.

  8. John Foskett says:

    Wow – “the greatest war movie of all time”? Tom makes a good point about the movie being based on Shaara’s fiction and not on fact, so one can’t criticize the movie for using Shaara’s contrived stereotypes and distortion of history. But let’s not go overboard about what’s left. Only by way of example, field pieces that don’t recoil; Berenger’s ludicrous beard; the notoriously profane, and large, Hancock coming across as an annoying little man; and combat scenes with classic B western effects and the July 3 charge being made by troops that looked as if they had come out of retirement for a 30th reunion. It can’t touch Saving Private Ryan for reality or Patton for character portrayal or even Glory. Cold Mountain did a better job of portraying Civil War combat by using troops from the Romanian army as supporting actors. If we want a great Civil War movie I suggest lining up Spielberg to develop a script based on one of Ralph Peters’ excellent books.

    • David Corbett says:

      If you look at any photograph of Longstreet his beard does look fake; “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Glory,” have superb scenes but are basically formula WWII-type films. Spielberg can hardly make a film without an obscene word. I agree, the Hancock character was annoying and the opening scenes of “Cold Mountain,” were superb. Consider also that a film like “Gettysburg,” could probably not be made today.

      • John Foskett says:

        The problem is that “obscene words” are part of combat and they definitely were in the Civil War, Victorian constraints on written accounts notwithstanding.We can label SPR a “formula” film but it’s far closer to reality than anything in Maxwell’s film, much of which was just your standard re-enactment (complete with large numbers of about-to-be-retirees). While we’re at it, the acting left a lot to be desired. Again, this is in the context of a statement that this is “the greatest war movie of all time.” Not hardly …. .

    • Indycoman says:

      When someone makes a more impactful Civil War movie, I will happily applaud it. But having seen the impact Gettysburg had in making the War relevant on at least some scale to millennials during the 1990s and early 2000s, I gladly accept its flaws and a, grateful it exists.

      • John Foskett says:

        That’s a fundamentally different point from labeling it “the greatest war movie of all time”. If you want to call it “the most impactful war movie of all time”, I may still disagree but that at least would be in the ballpark. Its “flaws” which you acknowledge are enough to refute the “greatest” adjective. They certainly preclude its separation from several others, including those I mentioned..

      • Indycoman says:

        Totally agree with John’s assertions. Is it a consensus that the movie could have been as dramatically effective if it had only used accurate depictions?

  9. Ralph Siegel says:

    This movie did a lot to bring people to the battlefield park, including, evidently, this author. That makes the film hugely valuable and very much above criticism. Maxwell’s film helped trigger a resurgence of battlefield visitation and support that continues. Hollywood in general has done appalling damage to any notion of truthful history, but “Gettysburg” has good integrity and faithfulness to actual events. I am fond of telling people who have not seen the movie that “it will not hurt you.” All of that being said, it does seem there is a mistake every 30 seconds, albeit all of them minor and quibbling — the providence of battle nerds such as myself. The notion, for instance, that Gen. Lee in his tent in Chambersburg is somehow unaware of the location and identity of Gettysburg is preposterous.

    • John Foskett says:

      Ralph: You make valid points. Those are different, however, from stating that it’s “the greatest war movie of all time.” I’d add Band of Brothers as another example of how a cinematographer can do a better job of portraying war (even though technically it wasn’t a movie). For anyone who has read Shaara (either one) but not Ralph Peters, I strongly recommend his series of books on the war in Virginia. They are well researched and IMHO a more realistic presentation of the main figures and Civil War combat while still being highly entertaining “reads”.

      • Ralph Siegel says:

        I am very fond of Peter’s “Cain at Gettysburg.”

      • John Foskett says:

        I’d definitely recommend the others, as well. Having gotten to Appomattox, he’s apparently going back to Chancellorsville for the next one.

  10. John Pryor says:

    My favorite is still the “Red Badge of Courage” Nothing better captures the claustrophobia of battle in the woods.

  11. Bob Ruth says:

    How about the movie All Quiet on the Western Front? It’s an old one, but still holds up well today. Of course, the book was a classic.

  12. True story: In 1997 I met a bunch of like-minded “Civil War nuts” at a hotel near Chickamauga for a weekend of battlefield tromping and excessive drinking. Someone brought a VCR and a tape of “Gettysburg,” so we played the obvious drinking game: Every mistake required you to take a drink. I don’t think anyone was conscious when it came time to switch to the second tape!

    • John Foskett says:

      Jim: You’re fortunate that you weren’t doing that while watching “Gods and Generals”. With Gettysburg you might make it through one tape. G and G would be a 15-minute cutoff. Although it’s proof that between December 1862 and July 1863 Chamberlain had gone through the Nutri-System program.

  13. Rob wilson says:

    Thanks. What an interesting and well researched/written piece. I learned a lot reading both the article and the many comments.

  14. Robb Thomas says:

    My copy of the Killer Angels contained a forward by Sharra that outlined, in broad strokes, many of liberties he had taken. Especially Kilrain, who in the book and movie provide the needed sounding board to bring in the thoughts of Chamberlin. At least it did not put forth blatant falsehoods as most Civil War, and historical themed movies do. I have met several people who thought that Mel Gibson’s movie the Patriot, was 100 percent actual truth. Sharra was a skilled writer, the story was intriguing, and brought many people to actual history. I can not say the same of the follow on books by his son, though I have not read them all.

    • James Reeves says:

      Braveheart and The Patriot are both travesties from an historical perspective.

      • Bonnie Jean says:

        I believe that both are great movies. Most people who are reasonably intelligent know that license is often taken in books and movies. Great stories do reveal great truths. But, the best thing is that they often lead people to read the real history… which is not a travesty, but a wonderful thing. Braveheart led many to read about the real William Wallace and the true history of that time. Some were led to look into their family tree to see if they were related to any of the many clans mentioned in the story. It generated a lot of interest for many to travel to Scotland and those are all good things. The Patriot was loosely based on a real man in history. It also led many people to find out more than the few lessons we are taught in school about American Revolutionary War History. To read more books and really investigate. In my mind, these activities are far from a travesty. The travesty lies in the lack of real education in many schools today. The movies often create a desire to discover the real story. How many people really thought about the tragedy of the Titanic before they saw the movie ? Very few I am sure. Many liberties were taken in that, yet the story compels people to learn more. Perhaps you can think of such movies a bit more positively in the future.

      • John Foskett says:

        The Patriot is especially bad.. it’s one thing to use “poetic license” in portraying history. It’s quite another to create a false and misleading narrative. I have little doubt that a lot of moviegoers came away thinking that the British routinely massacred women and children and that the AWI in the South saw manumitted slaves fighting alongside white slave owners. Bloody Ban did some bad things but burning a church full of trapped wives and kids wasn’t one of them. And white folks in Mel Gibson’s position feared slave rebellions at least as much as they feared the Brits. For all of its defects (IMHO, of course) Gettysburg doesn’t fall anywhere close to that level.

      • Mark D says:

        The dialogue in Gettysburg is plausible enough that it doesn’t take you out of the moment. The dialogue in the Patriot was sometimes cringeworthy….at least for me, it broke my “suspension of disbelief” several times, and made me keenly aware that I was sitting in a theater watching a movie.

      • Bonnie Jean says:

        I am just wondering if any of you commenting ever read any letters, diaries, autobiographies or memoirs or just history written from one point of view or another. I understand that many would prefer everything to be as historically accurate as possible, but none of us were there. And not everyone who was there felt the same way about these events and there were brutalities or both sides in the American Revolution (that were often not recorded). If there were people who could murder their own neighbors, in essence, what makes you think that the British could not burn people in a church or anywhere else ? And there were people widely known for their brutality.

        As for slavery issues at the time, most of the slaves were brought here by the English and the French until the slave trade was ended (or at least slowed down markedly) by William Wilberforce.

        That was earlier in time, but it affected who was here during the American Revolution. So the English could be quite brutal. Just ask the Scots and the Irish. My family was forced to leave England during the Land Clearances… forced to move off the land that they owned by the English. They came to the Americas with just one trunk for six people and very little of any worth. So I can easily see the Brits burning a church if they would take land legally owned for themselves that was owned by a widow and 5 children who had nowhere to go or land to work or sheep to raise. I think we would find many things done in all wars to be quite barbaric if we were there in the think of it.

        I am not saying that the Patriot did not take licenses, however, I think we are naive if we do not believe some of the things that were done could have been done.

        Consider places and events that occurred during the Civil War… did not Sherman burn his way through some of the South ?

        I just feel as if some are too critical of movies and books that are historical fiction and a bit naive about what the realities were then.

      • John Foskett says:

        I stand by my point about The Patriot. Frankly you might be a bit naive about what is and is not historically false. We’re all quite aware of any number of brutal things perpetrated by the British in their colonies – here, India, South Africa. Now back to facts – there is no recorded instance of women and children being herded into a church and torched – that’s over the top. Likewise, feel free to give me some documented facts showing freed slaves fighting alongside whites in the southern war 1776-81. I haven’t even touched on the other historical absurdities in that movie.

      • Bonnie Jean says:

        You are certainly entitled to your opinion. After all, that is what Freedom of speech is all about. But I am hardly naive. I believe that photography was not in common use until the 1800’s, so I cannot give you photographs. And off the cuff, I have no documented evidence at the moment. I just think that you fail to consider what might have been since we were not there. Did you know that Native Americans had African American slaves ? And that predates the American Revolution. The biggest thing that I think you fail to get about both Braveheart and The Patriot are that they are movies. Historical fiction is what draws so many people to look into the true facts. And I happen to be related to Robert the Bruce’s sister Margaret who married Donald Campbell. In Braveheart, Old Campbell and Hamish were not real people, but the clan was and many of them fought the English in the very real battles depicted in the movie and celebrated by many Scots to this day. So I am more deeply into truth in history than the average bear. And it took many years, land deeds, parish records, and letters and phone calls because I had no computer at the time I began my research many years ago. I also have the real diary of a Union soldier (and had family on both sides of the battle). And I lived in the Boston area for about four years of research into the Revolutionary War and early life in the colonies. I was also born in Monmouth County, New Jersey and happen to know well about the battles there and at Princeton and Trenton. I also live close to Sandy Hook and know well of the activities there for many of our wars of Freedom. So although I have no documented evidence in my files at the moment, I think you don’t allow enough room for what can be inspired by such movies.

      • John Foskett says:

        Your erroneous assumption is (apparently) that the rest of us haven’t read primary sources regarding the ACW or the AWI. I’ll speak for myself. I’ll wager that I’ve read far more primary sources on either of those than you have – contemporaneous diaries, journals, correspondence, AAR and (even less reliable) post-war memoirs and histories. You’re entitled to your opinion that The Patriot is a “great movie”. I’m simply pointing out two aspects in which it is completely misleading and not even loosely based on history. (There is far more wrong with it than the two elements I’ve mentioned). The Southern War featured a good deal of brutality by both sides because it was essentially a civil war. But the church burning scene was over the top. Tarleton’s reputation was largely based on what happened at The Waxhaws, which involved only troops and event the basics of that have come into some question. the And you haven’t even tried to explain the “everybody feel good” falsehood regarding freed slaves fighting alongside white South Carolinians. Good historical fiction relies on facts. For me this one crossed the cinematic junk line in ways that the subject which started this thread of comments – Gettysburg – did not, despite its many flaws. .

      • Douglas Pauly says:

        There are indeed historical instances of blacks, both freed and slaves, fighting with the colonists in the Revolutionary War. Was it prevalent? It does appear to be more in the North than elsewhere, but Yorktown is in the South, and evidently the numbers of blacks in Washington’s army was significant.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Americans_in_the_Revolutionary_War

      • John Foskett says:

        I’m well aware that there were blacks serving in Washington’s army. The 1st Rhode Island was legendary and there were others. Let’s gedt to my point. The Patriot delivered the message that white South Carolinians encouraged freed blacks to fight alongside them against the British as part of the Southern war (S.C. and N.C.) with the implication “who needed the Emancipation Proclamation?” Sending a slave to fight in the master’s place? It’s junk, but far from the only egregious element of that movie. But when Mel Gibson’s your lead ………….

      • Douglas Pauly says:

        I disagree with your interpretation of what is attempted to be conveyed in “The Patriot”. I haven’t seen that movie in a long time, but the best I can remember there was one, ONE, black character in it. And yes, I rolled my eyes when the white rebel told that black character how “honored” he was to serve with him, it struck me as modern day political correctness being interjected. Regardless, I do not remember “The Patriot” ever being presented as a factual, historical representation of anything that happened in the Revolutionary War. There were attempts at ‘composites’ of figures from that time, like that of Francis Marion and Banastre Tarleton, and certainly a big battle was fought at Guilford Courthouse. That’s about it that I can remember. It was just a movie. Entertainment.

      • macq56 says:

        Bonnie All one has to do is read about Oliver Cromwell and the Irish

      • Bonnie Jean says:

        I left the trail for awhile… what in particular were you referring to ? I have to say that I am far less familiar with what happened between the English and the Irish. I know that it was brutal and I know a bit about the time of the potato famines. I am always up for learning more in areas where I am weak.

  15. Joe Amos says:

    I was there as an extra. Played both Confederate and Federal at Pickett’s Charge. One of the most wonderful experiences of my life.

  16. Mark D says:

    I wanted to see this movie so much that I took my 2-week-old baby and sat in the front row with a cradle at my feet. He slept through the whole thing. We watched it together again on video about 16 years later. He got more out of it the second time.

    • Sarah Kay Bierle says:

      That’s awesome! I love reading about the first time everyone saw this movie. Mine was less dramatic: just after my fourteenth birthday party, sitting at home on the couch. But it was big deal since my mom wouldn’t let me see it until I was “old enough.” 🙂

  17. Douglas Pauly says:

    What? Say WHAT? Someone putting a movie together would take some artistic license to tell the story? Say it ain’t so! ANYTHING from Hollywood should be viewed with some measure of skepticism when it tackles an actual historical event. “Based on real events” is an invitation to do what ever the heck they want. “Saving Private Ryan” was mentioned in some posts. Great war scenes, but the timeline is so flawed as to be a joke. People back home being notified of combat deaths within hours of those deaths would have been quite an accomplishment. But it’s still a great flick! When it’s all said and done, it’s just entertainment.

    • John Foskett says:

      My point about SPR was a comparison of the “B-Western”-style presentation of combat in Gettysburg with the far more realistic presentation in SPR. In addition I pointed to the use of 40-50-somethings in Gettysburg who clearly hadn’t gone without 3 square meals a day in decades as compared to the use of Rumanian Army personnel in Cold Mountain. “Artistic license” doesn’t require absurd imagery. You can take liberties with historical fact to tell a story but presenting an Army of Northern Virginia which looks like a tourist group hitting the nearby Denny’s kills the impression. Again, this is all in the context of Gettysburg being labeled “the greatest war movie of all time”. .

      • Douglas Pauly says:

        One person expressed their opinion or more to the point their preference that it is “the greatest war movie of all time”. Period. They are entitled to their opinion just like you and I are. One of my favorite war movies of all time is “In Harm’s Way” starring The Duke and a host of other big time movie stars of that time. There is hardly anything that is factual about it history-wise, and it was never advertised or presented as such. But, to ME, it’s still a great war movie. “Gettysburg” triggered a tremendous amount of interest in the subject. THAT is the gist of the article. If one looks hard enough perhaps they will see the contrail of an airplane somewhere in a scene. So what? As I stated before, it’s entertainment plain and simple. And they get enough historically right to make up for the other short comings. Well, at least it does in, IMHO.

      • John Foskett says:

        And I disagreed with that opinion and gave my opinion why. Your turn.

      • Douglas Pauly says:

        ‘My turn’ is it appears that you might be putting too much into what these endeavors are all about. If you hate it that the Confederate troops looked too well fed, I can accurately point out that among the reasons the South invaded the North at that time was to secure supplies for themselves while denying them to the Union forces. So eating good did take place among at least some of them. That they look mostly like middle aged porkers is a minor detail, to me anyways. But that said, I’ll wager that to most people your complaint is a trivial one. Inventing relationships that did not happen to provide some of the drama is far more egregious to me, like that of Hancock’s supposed relationship with Armistead. it gave an opportunity to provide a couple of faces to the immense tragedy we all KNOW did happen in Pickett’s Charge.

        But again, in the grand scope of things, these are all minor considerations. And a reminder that the point of the article is not the movie itself, it is what the movie spawned as far as interest in on this subject we all on here love so much. That folks out there take what is presented in the movie (and by extension “Gods and Generals” is ultimately on them. I remember reading how people took the original “War Of The Worlds” broadcast seriously, even though disclaimers were also broadcast. The movie provides a useful starting point for those interested in the truth. If they don’t want to do the work involved to get to the truth, oh well. That’s on them. After all, as has been pointed out on here, the movie was inspired by the book, which itself was a novel, not an encyclopedia.

      • John Foskett says:

        You appear to confuse your “opinion” with fact. We all know the old saying about opinions. If you want to take a poll on who agrees and disagrees with me and with you, have a party. I disagree with the original statement of opinion which was made – and i have yet to see whether you agree with that or not, entirely aside from this diversion. So is Gettysburg ‘the greatest war movie of all time”? FWIW I know an awful lot of folks who agree with my view and then some. By the way, the lean and mean ANV would have had to spend at least 6 months foraging in Pennsylvania Dutch Country before looking like that. Tip: it’s an opinion.

      • Douglas Pauly says:

        No John, I am not ‘confusing’ anything. YOU are the one on record here stating that another person’s ‘opinion’ is “wrong”. Your OWN words to that effect. All those others you hope agree with you can do as they please. ONE PERSON, the individual who wrote the article, said that he “believed” it is the greatest. One thing that is apparent here is that if anyone dares to not share YOUR ‘opinion’, then THEY are wrong, period. I couldn’t care less whether “Gettysburg” or any other flick is the GOAT. That is irrelevant to me. Unlike you I won’t allow my life to be hung up on that.

        Backatcha..

      • John Foskett says:

        Uh oh – ALLCAPS mode. Lighten up, Francis. Time to move on. “Backatcha”. .

      • Douglas Pauly says:

        I guess the truth struck a particularly sensitive nerve within you. It happens!

      • John Foskett says:

        Well, that’s a coincidence – I had reached the SAME conclusion !!!

      • Douglas Pauly says:

        So we both agree that you believe only YOUR (those caps again. Gasp!)opinion matters. Self awareness can only help you. Keep working at it!

      • John Foskett says:

        I see that you’re a “last word” guy, so feel free to respond but I’m cutting this frolic off due to diminished value and increased bandwidth. Ready? (because this is it) – You just flunked reading for comprehension. Congratulations.

      • Douglas Pauly says:

        I’d bail out too if I were in your shoes. After all, you’ve been caught. Run alomg now…

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