Gettysburg rocks. We spent a whole week in class in high school watching that movie. It's pretty sweet going to class all week knowing you won't have to do anything but watch a Civil War reenactment.
That's how I felt in jr high when I found out we were watching Roots. Not only did the movie (as fucked up as some parts were ) kicked ass, but the fact that we got out of book work and weren't quizzed on it was a +1. My social studied teacher damn near had a heart attack when I told her that Alex Haley was a relative of mine. RIP Ms. Knowlton. You were a damned good teacher.
In Civil War class, Gettysburg meant a week of missing class yet not miss anything really. Not to mention all i had to do was tell my teacher ive seen it before for him to let me just leave. I preceeded to follow suit and tell him from there and out i had seen every movie before he showed it, this always exempt me.. stickin it to the man. Its funny someone else thought of the same thing as i did.
I've been living here for almost 2 years and I still don't know all the channels.
The movie Gettysburg is based on the book "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. It's a great read.
When I was younger, I would always watch it the first few days of July.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels) is pretty much responsible for saving the Union Army of the Potomac.
That's really not true. It is true that the fight between the 20th Maine and the 15th Alabama is one of the classic regimental clashes in the history of that war, but in truth, there's very little possibility that the outcome of the battle hinged on it. Unless the 20th routed at initial contact. Otherwise the 15th was one understrength regiment who had already fought their way through two line of Federal defenses, with no remaining water, etc. etc.
The truth is, the Union army probably had ample reserves to counter any reversal on Little Round Top. The Confederates lacked suffecient remaining forces to support any minor gains.
MGoBlog: educating your children for, we assume, many years.
But if the bayonet charge had not been ordered the line would not have pushed the rebels into Company B, which was "missing," IIRC, up till that point.
If supplies had been sufficient, why would he have ordered the maneuver? Would they have survived another charge, who knows.
So yea, that's all I have.
My father often told exhuberent tales of Jeff Daniels yelling "BAYONETS!" with all his might. Quite the Tally Ho for a Mainer, lest I pay it little mind.
I am not a civil war scholar per se, but I don't think I can agree with your assesment.
(1) Little Round Top was the anchor of the union left flank, had they lost it the Confederates would have the advantage of the high ground allowing them to enfilade fire the union line (assuming they could get guns up there).
(2) Without a geographical feature to anchor their flank on the union line would have been vulnerable to being rolled up.
(3) the Union Army was engaged in many places and reserves will still marching towards Gettysburg from some distance. I am not sure there was a lot in terms of immediate tactical reserves at hand.
(4) Again my knowledge is imperfect, but since Longstreet's entire corps was sent to attack the Union Left and Longstreet delayed attacking until late in the day I would be very surprised if Longstreet did not have some reserves left in hand to exploit any breakthroughs.
(5) It's a much better story the other way.
Finally, regardless of the tactical facts, I think the important thing to remember and to honor Chamberlain for is that given the lack of ammunition and heavy casualties, most men in his position might have decided that descretion was the better part of valor and fallen back. But Chamberlain, who was in a better position to know the true importance of the situation than us today, chose to gamble on an unothadox possibly suicidal attack.
I ask you, what would Tressel have done in that situation?? Assuredly punt.
Chamberlain for Heisman. You heard it here first.
3. By the end of the second day the whole Union army was up. While the 15AL and 20ME were going at it, the Union had Weed's brigade coming up to help Vincent's brigade (which the 20ME was part of), and Crawford's division was also in the area. They also had a bunch of fresh VI Corps brigades at various spots in reserve, although these would have taken longer to get on the scene.
4. Longstreet had no reserves. All 8 of the brigades he had on hand (Pickett's division had not come up yet) were heavily engaged and most had been beaten up pretty badly. This wasn't true of Anderson's division on his left where one brigade never moved and another got owned by a single Union regiment (from Ohio!), but that was far removed from the action on Little Round Top.
I think Chamberlain deserves credit for the unorthodox "swinging gate" maneuver and for keeping the 20ME intact under pressure, but the overall situation probably still favored the Union even if the 20ME had been dislodged and Vincent's brigade thrown back down the hill. The Confederates probably would have had a hard time holding Little Round Top against a Union counterattack. As it was, the action there probably put the battle out of reach for the rebs.
A lot of historians would argue your point Belisarius...not saying your wrong, but to say it's not true, well that's going to far amigo.
I went to Gettysburg College for undergrad (UM for business school), and know way more about the battle and 20th Maine in particular than I'd like to honestly...our fraternity was in charge of maintenance for the the 20th Maine reenactment site (part charity/partly court ordered). Our advisor had his PHD in History and his thesis was on the 20th Maine, he was also old enough to have been in the battle.
I think you're over looking two parts:
1) The odds were high that the 20th should have been routed (according to most of the local historians).
2) If they had been routed, the 15th would have likely seen the reinforcements they should have already had if it wasn't due to incompetence up the ladder.
On a side note, I was actually on campus when they shot the movie and a couple of my fraternity brothers were extras. Plus Tom Berenger hit on undergrads at the local watering hole for the entire length of the shoot, I'm guessing he wasn't unsuccesful...
I went to the National Park last summer. It is truly stunning to actually see and walk the grounds of the battlefield. I was able to walk on the rocks that Chamberlain and his regiment held on Little Round Top. The whole park is very well done and well-preserved--they let it have its dignity and don't fuck it up with a lot of touristy garbage.
Not sure why I feel the need to note this, but I would reccomend going as well, beasutiful country. A few years ago my family went without me, damn being an adult and having to work, and they got to stay the night in Lee's HQ.
The North wins.
Pretty amazing given all that SEC speed they were up against.
I watched this in high school as well. Everybody was bored and used it as a reason to go to sleep, but the history buff I am, I loved it. We also watched a documentary on the Civil War that included letters from both sides to their loved ones back home. It's amazing how people back then with little education could write like that while we have kids today that can't write a full sentence without using an acronym. End of old man rant; now git owf mah laown.
You are probably talking about the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War. Another fascinating and powerful look at the Civil War. Plus, Burns is from Ann Arbor.
It was of the era before the "gritty realism" war movies (Saving Private Ryan, etc.), but after era of the "war is spiffy and glorious" war movies (The Longest Day, etc.).
I've probably spent more of my life than I should wondering what would have happened if Lee had played his cards correctly in that battle. Or if the Rebels hadn't detoured to Gettyburg for shoes (true story). Or if Stonewall Jackson hadn't been shot after Chancellorsville.
Or if Lee's cavalry was doing their job of recon/harassment instead of stealing wagons.
The crazy thing about war is that each and every single one of them is filled "what if " moments.
Jackson likely advances swifty on day 1, taking the high ground in the area, and perhaps puts the Union on the run in full retreat. Ewell, his successor did not. This determined that Gettysburg would be the sight of battle for the next three days. Still the Union could have solidified further back. It isn't a given that Jackson pours them out and pushes on to threaten Baltimore and Washington or Philadelphia as is often stated. He could have, but it is no given. He likely continues to press, but the result is conjecture. It is fair to say that there is no Little Round Top on Day 2 or Pickett's Charge on Day 3.
In his defense, Ewell was considered outstanding up until that point. He had been a standout in Jackson's Valley Campaigns and was picked to lead the Pennsylvania invasion. Prior to Gettysburg, his forces were near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's capitol, before being recalled back south to Gettysburg.
The thing that we should never lose sight of is that the Union ultimately had massive advantages in men and resources. That more than anything any commander did, decided the war. The south had to have the field advantage a man like Jackson provided. The North really didn't. They just needed a leader who accepted the loss of life and continued to press forward for more. Grant ended up being that guy.
"The thing that we should never lose sight of is that the Union ultimately had massive advantages in men and resources. That more than anything any commander did, decided the war."
This is almost always the case in any war. The North was hobbled by terrible leadership in the field, constantly losing the battle for ground and being tactically schooled by Robert E. Lee.
One of my favs, the late great Shelby Foote, didn't think it mattered either way, opining,"the North fought that war with one hand tied behind their back".
This is kind of ironic since I just spent last weekend in Fredericksburg.
Sit behind a stone wall and just wait for shit to go down?
No but I went to a mall as it seems like that is what most of the area is. Of course, I have pics posted on my blog.
I'll have to check out your blog again. You're quite the history buff with your camera. I approve.
I just wanted to mention that about 10 days ago, you inspired me to visit Bo, Fielding Yost, and Bob Ufer in Forest Hills Cemetary when I was in Ann Arbor. I probably wouldn't have done it if it weren't for you. Thanks so much!!
I am headed to Fredricksburg in May for the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon. (I think we actually may be running along Sunken Road at one point.)
I'm pretty sure there is a monument to a Michigan Brigade along the shore somewhere...Not really sure...I'll have to google that and check it out when I get there.
EDIT: found it - http://www.nps.gov/frsp/photosmultimedia/upperp.htm
Anyways...I can't wait!
I will definitely check that out.
...and I realize food is personal preference, but do you have any particular favorites/recommendations?
From the little bit of research that I did, it looked like there were quite a few unique places. I think we were just planning on heading downtown, and winging it. There was a seafood place my wife was interested in, but that's about it. We'll have almost 3 full days down there, so we're really looking forward to it.
That confirms that we will for sure hit up Bistro Bethem (because we were already leaning towards it).
The rest of those, I had not even seen previously....so thanks!
/and now I'm hungry
I saw some of the things you mentioned. my comment on the malls was more or less in jest because the area seemed alot more built up than Gettysburg and Antietam.
Glory, check it out. Its with morgan freeman, denzel, and mathew broderick
Favourite? You really are Canadian aren't you?
For some reason I love the first half, but the second half, not so much. The character development in the confederate camp on the second night falls flat for me and Picket's charge takes forever while the defeat of JEB Stuart's atttempted envelopment of the union right is not even mentioned.
On the other hand I can't get enough of Col. Chamberlain's pep talk to his men on the morning of the second day. Like Henry V and Bo rolled into one. Perhaps my favorite movie speech ever!
Yeah, the action on the East Cavalry Field isn't in the book either, which is a huge bummer since we miss George Armstrong Custer's famous command "Come on, you Wolverines!" as he led the Michigan Brigade in a cavalry charge. Epic.
The movie is one-sided in it's portrayal of Stuart overall. He comes off as a buffoon who freelanced jeoparding the Confederate advance. But you correctly point out his contributions.
The 16th Michigan, made up of men from Ann Arbor/Plymouth, were on the right flank of Little Big Top. There is a large monument to the 16th on the spot they fought.
As President Lincoln (possibly) said, "Thank God for Michigan!"
humming "The Victors" to himself.
Is an unsung hero. If not for John Buford, commander of the advance of the Union Cavalry... Chamberlain's heroics, and Pickett's charge may never have happened.
He arrived just ahead of Confederate forces advancing on Gettysburg. He quickly recognized the strategic importance of the ground around him. He had the high ground, and he was determined to hold it at all costs. General Buford arranged his men brilliantly. The opening shots fired by his men took the advancing Confederates by surprise.
Buford only had two Brigades. Two Brigades to stand against the advance elements, of the Army of Northern Virginia. If prior to the battle you had told it's commander this... General Robert E. Lee would have smiled. Up till this point, Union Cavalry had earned a poor reputation. However, Union troopers were about to make their mark on history.
Surprised by the Union fire, but disciplined...the Confederates began to deploy in line of battle. This took time however, time which Buford needed. He knew that John Reynolds in command of the 1st Corp was fast approaching. If he could just hold till then. This is where his tactics came into play. His defense in depth was textbook, and his men executed it superbly. By making use of the terrain, he delayed the enemy's advance. He held long enough for the troops under General Reynolds to arrive and deploy.
However, even with the arrival of the 1st Corp, Union forces were still outnumbered. Fighting was heavy, and sadly, General Reynolds had been killed. He was admired by his men and peers. He was considered to be the best General in the Union Army. He had approved of Buford's plan. With the deployment of his Corp, he had committed the Army of the Potomac to the coming fight. Despite a spirited defense, Union forces were forced to retreat south.
However, thanks to the leadership of John Buford, the skill and bravery of his men... the Army of the Potomac, had gained the strategic high ground south of Gettysburg. Despite repeated and furious attacks by Confederate forces, the north never relinquished this ground. The Army of Northern Virginia was forced to retreat. It would never again be an offensive threat.
Little Round Top, The Devil's Den, and Pickett's Charge take precedent in history, and with good reason. However, the opening of the battle, which has no name, also deserves it's place. If John Buford and his troopers, had not been able to hold the high ground... if they had not been able to buy time... the events of those early days in July of 1863, might have turned out far differently.
One of the factors in Buford's troops being able to hold off the advance elements of the Confederates is that many of them were armed with Spencer carbines, which had seven shot magazines. Although, outnumber almost 4 to 1, repeating rifles were a big reason why the cavalry was so effective in holding their ground early in the battle.
I once got into a verbal altercation with a Buckeye fan at Devil's Den. And once again, the guys wearing blue won.
Excellent posts. Especially the one about Buford.
Belisarius, had Chamberlain failed in defending Little Round Top on Day 2, there almost certainly would not have been Pickett's Charge on Day 3. Longstreet's Corps would have held the high ground to the south with open access to the road network to the East. (Next stop, Baltimore and Washington) The Union supply trains parked there would have been Longstreet's to take. Under those circumstances Lee almost certainly would not have had Longstreet retreat and then re-deploy in order to attack the Union center as he did on Day 3. (Imagine first and ten on the opponent's 20 yard line and then punting.)
No doubt about it, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a born defensive coordinator, saved the Union flank and made victory at Gettysburg a reality
This being the sesquicentennial, a couple things to check out for civil war buffs: the NY Times is running a history blog that is recalling every day of the war with some article or aspect, it is very good and you can "like" it on Facebook to get daily updates on the days article. Also yale's David blight (from michigan, a sparty but a good one) has a iTunes U class on the civil war for free which is amazing and enthralling.
linky? Por favor
times "disunion" blog
itunes U david blight class
The Blight lectures are great, as is his book about the civil war in american memory.
It's also worth checking out what's probably the ultimate in civil war primary source online archives, UVA's Valley of the Shadow project, which has collected and put online a massive amount of letters, maps, newspaper articles, military records, census data and other material related to the inhabitants of two counties, one in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania. It's really one of the most amazing, and involving, things you'll ever check out online if you're interested in the civil war.
An alumnus of the University of Michigan brought to a close to one of the final chapters of the Civil War.
After the fall of Richmond, Jefferson Davis fled, hoping to get to Texas to continue the war from there. He fled south for several weeks, before finally being captured near Macon, Georgia by the Fourth Michigan cavalry. The Fourth was commanded by Lt. Col. Benjamin.D. Pritchard, an alumnus of the University.
Michigan's first victory over the SEC.
That's a fine movie. Too bad the Southrons can't get over their butthurt from the glorious invasion. I just watched a film, recently, about the latter point.
A lot of people in the South still refer to it as the "War of Northern Aggression."
I haven't personally heard anyone call it that yet (although I'm aware of the saying). But on the University of Georgia historical marker it is called the "War for Southern Independence."
she does indeed call it "The War of Northern Aggression." Only she purposely says it with an exaggerated southern accent: "The Waaaw of Naaawthaaan Aggreshaaan."
who would launch into a detailed assessment of how south carolina seceded first, and then texas messed it all up - he would do this about twice a week. the details are fuzzy now, but man did he hate texas - specifically for ruining the assured success south carolina would have had as an independent country. i also was asked by another south carolinian what i thought about the war of northern aggression - and then everyone in the vicinity (all from the south) turn to hear my position. kinda awkward, as my thoughts are, 'duh, you guys didn't have a chance.'
In actuality, it was the South (specifically the South Carolinians) who fired first on the federal troops at Fort Sumter. Recently took a tour there and learned that the federal troops withheld fire for two hours after having been attacked. It seems to me the side to have taken the first (of many shots) would be the agressor.
Yes, but didn't the Union inhibit trade (and even blockade ports) within slave states after the election?
Yes, but didn't the Confederacy seize most Union forts in the south prior to the blockades (Anaconda Plan)?
Go to Gettysburg. Go see Little Round Top. Go see the field Pickett charged. Find a guide or a tour. The movie really helps the visualization.
History Channel Tour Guide CD http://antietammuseum.stores.yahoo.net/geexgu.html
I have heard great things about the driving tours, where you hire a guide for like $50 to sit there and talk you through everything. I am going to try it when I go back.
If you all get the chance, go to Antietam in Maryland. The bloodiest single day in US history. The battlefield and nearby area is almost totally as it was back in 1863. Gettysburg is awesome but way more developed.
Most people will view it from behind the Union line, since that is where the road is.
But start in the middle of the field and walk toward the Union front, following the same path the Confederates took. You are completely unprotected. Then imagine the whole Union front opening fire on you when you get within 50 yards.
Your blood will run cold.
I think viewing it from the north's perspective makes the point pretty well. I remember that my exact words after looking down from behind the stone wall over the huge unobstructed field were "oh, good luck with that".
Hired a guide from the visitor's center when I was there last year. While we were driving around, asked about his background. Turns out he went to UofM -- and we overlapped in years of attendance. He and I actually lived a few blocks away from each other one year! We also both worked at Greenfield Village at the same time.
It also turns out that he was the ONLY one from Michigan who was an official guide through the Gettysburg National Site. It was just dumb luck that he got assigned to me. He took special care to point out where the various Michigan Units were throughout the battle. (Highly recommend the guides if you ever go.)
Michigan people really are everywhere.
Actually, I don't think the movie does Pickett's Charge justice. Go to Gettysburg and stand where the Confederate lines formed up and then off in the distance, you see the copse of trees that they were all heading towards. They are much further away then how they are shown in the film. The movie never effectively conveys the distances involved, but it's astounding when you're standing there.
Little Round Top is a bit of a letdown only because the site doesn't look like anything in the film since the touring road runs right through the middle of the the hill the Confederates were marching up.
Ive followed the boards for about two years now, this is the first time i thought i might chime in.
I live in Gettysburg just down the hill from Bufords men I figured Id chime in a few more Michigan tidbits from Gettysburg.
1. The 24th Michigan of the Iron Brigade become one of the most famous regiments from the civil war based on what they did on the first day at Gettysburg. They along with some of thier Iron Brigade partners become the first soldiers to capture one of General Lees Generals (Archer). They suffered over 80% casualties and their epic struggle against the 26th north carolina is also one of the greatest unit on unit struggles of the war. The 24th was from Detroit.
2. Col. Jeffords of the 4th Michigan was a University of Michigan Law graduate. While leading his regiment in the wheatfield his flag bearer was shot down while his unit began to retreat. He turned back to rescue the flag and just as he did he was bayonetted to death by at least two confederates. This is a pretty famous moment that a few paintings have depicted.
3. Gen. Elon Farnsworth- Was expelled from the University of Michigan after one of his classmates died by being thrown out a window. He later moved to Illinois and was commanding a brigade of cavalry at Gettysburg. On the third day he was ordered to charge with his cavalry through rock infested forest by south round top. He refused but when his man hood was challenged he at once accepted and led the charge through the woods. His men overan the 1st Texas Infantry but soon encountered a second line from Laws brigade. At this point farnsworth was shot 5 times in the chest and died in what is now know as the south cavalry battlefield. I just hiked this area yesterday and this was quite possibly the worst possible attack of the battle. General Kilpatrick who ordered the charge being one of the worst generals of all the war.
4. 16th Michigan- Mentioned as being with chamberlains men on little round top. Little know fact during this battle is that for no reason during the middle of the battle the 16th michigans colonel and half his men just turned and walked to the rear. No one really knows why, most just contribute it to the confusion of battle. That colonel went on to serve for another year before being killed at Peebles Farm in '64.
5. 7th Michigan- Fought off Pickets charge just south of the angle.
The rest of the Michigan units not discussed in detail at Gettysburg-
1st Michigan Infantry- Fought near the Rose Farm, Day 2
3rd Michigan Infantry- Fought near the Peach Orchard, Day 2
5th Michigan Infantry- Fought in the Wheatfield, Day 2
9th Michigan battery- helped repulse pickets charge, positioned in front of where the current pennsylvania monument is.
3 companies of 1st and 2nd USSS. Fought as skirmishers for most of Day 2 around little round top and devils den. Thier monument is about 100 yards west of the 16th michigans monument on little round top.
Michigan Cavalry Brigade- East Cavalry Battlefield Day 3, also battle of hunterstown a few days earlier.
70th New York Co. C- This company actually from my home town of Paw Paw, MI. When they joined up Michigan had met its quota for soldiers so they went to NYC and joined the 70th. Three of the guys from Paw Paw carried General Sickles of the battlefield after his leg got blown off by the Trostle Barn.
Sorry for long fist post, my two passions are the Civil War (Gettysburg in particular) and Michigan Football kind of created a perfect storm.
Also- There are a million what ifs from the battle of gettysburg but I think what General Greene and Col Ireland did on Culps Hill was even more crucial to saving the Union on Day 2 and at greater odds then what Chamberlain did on Little Round Top. Everyone has an opinion on this so no one is really wrong.
Ah Gettysburg. Good movie. Fun fact of the day: I am related to Pickett on my dad's side.
...is all that needs to be said about that movie...
think the sound track could use an update? That was worst part, and the overly dramatic, stroke riddled Gen Lee. (thanks Martin Sheen) The close up shot of Gen. Picket after the battle, way too staged.