Gods and Generals – Fredericksburg

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20th Maine assault up to Maree’s Heights, Fredericksburg 1862.

I’m again on this topic as I watched a brief scene last night before bed on my iPad; movie watching this way is punctuated and drawn out and takes me days sometimes.

From the movie we know that Burnside was a stubborn boob, Hancock was a prescient anti-boob, and Lee talks too much with a pseudo southern lisp. We also know that of all of the other brigades that stormed Maree’s Heights the Irish Brigade is most remembered. It’s a movie, so you have to cut some stuff.

General Sumner, in command of Burnside’s Left Grand Division, and Hancock have a little chat about the probably outcome of the battle and Hancock exclaims that Jackson’s line will not be turned. Well, it almost was in the real battle, not the movie one. Jackson’s Corps occupies Lee’s line on the right and extends along a treed and forested area parallel to the Mine Road and behind the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac railroad.

The following is excerpted from the NPS Fredericksburg web site about this action:

Burnside had reinforced Franklin’s sector on the morning of battle to a strength of some 60,000 men. Franklin, a brilliant engineer but cautious combatant, placed the most literal and conservative interpretation on Burnside’s ill-phrased instructions. He designated Major General George G. Meade’s division — just 4,500 troops — to spearhead his attack.

Meade’s men, Pennsylvanians all, moved out in the misty half-light about 8:30 a.m. and headed straight for Jackson’s line, not quite one mile distant. Suddenly, artillery fire exploded to the left and rear of Meade’s lines. Major John Pelham had valiantly moved two small guns into position along the Richmond Stage Road perpendicular to Meade’s axis of march. The 24 year-old Alabamian ignored orders from Major General J.E.B. Stuart to disengage and continued to disrupt the Federal formations for almost an hour. General Lee, watching the action from Prospect Hill, remarked, “it is glorious to see such courage in one so young.” When Pelham exhausted his ammunition and retired, Meade resumed his approach, Jackson patiently allowed the Federals to close to within 500 yards of the wooded elevation where a 14-gun battalion lay hidden in the trees. As the Pennsylvanians drew near to the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad north of Hamilton’s Crossing, “Stonewall” unleashed his masked artillery. Confederate shells ripped gaping holes in Meade’s ranks and the beleaguered Unionists sought protection behind wrinkles of ground in the open fields. Continue reading “Gods and Generals – Fredericksburg”

Gods and Generals

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I started watching my copy of Gods and Generals this weekend, working through my war movie collection. I know several of my civil war online acquaintances dislike various things about the Maxwell movies, some things that I’ve not even noticed before unless they were pointed out for me, but one of the things I liked most about the movie was its grounding in the unit and soldier portrayals. Not just satisfied to show you men in blue or grey moving hither and thither, but to tell you who they were. The opening sequence also sets this up rather well:
Gods and Generals opening

Having served in the military in the late 80’s through 2002 I had an appreciation for unit designations. I served all of that time in the 44th Army Band in Albuquerque, NM and we marched hundreds of ceremonies and trooped the line with a new or outgoing commander and the unit’s colors with its battle streamers (New Mexico is home to the predecessors of 200th Coastal Artillery Regiment – the Battling Bastards of Bataan fame) and other awards adorning and often eclipsing the flag itself. Each unit has a stand of colors and each is unique. The opening sequence with the music by Mary Fahl rightly sets the stage for the movie to come, that it is not going to be partisan (though, for better or worse it is almost wholly about Jackson with Chamberlain as the Union counterpoint) and it is going to portray a level of historical performance not seen in many war movies.

It can be preachy, there are some annoying soliloquy’s by a few characters you’d just soon fast forward over, but I appreciated adding dimensions to what I already knew about Fredricksburg and Chancellorsville and 1st Bull Run.

Novel #3 is off to the editor who is hard at work with it, my wife has worked up the cover and is tweaking it, I hope to do a cover reveal soon. A recent bargain book promotion moved more copies of They Met at Shiloh and moved copies of the other books in my series which was nice to see.

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