What would your very own Civil war movie be like?

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by mioque, Apr 13, 2004.

  1. mioque

    mioque
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    The origin of this history forum is tied up at least in part with the debates on other sections of the BB (about who was right the North or the South) surrounding the release of the film Gods and Generals.

    Now imagine for a moment you've got the combined budget of Gettysburg and Gods and Generals and carte blanche to create this huge film about the American civil war just the way you like.
    What would your American civil war epic be like?

    Personally, I'd focus on 1 guy from each side and their personal vendetta. And I wouldn't worry at all about historical accuracy.
    I'd go for Lee and Grant.

    Lee is this greater than life hero, the perfect battlefield general and he has impeccable personal ethics. He's a great swordsman and a sharpshooter and he always appears impeccably dressed.
    His only flaws are a strong attitude of: "Right or wrong, my country!" and a strong contempt for those in his professional field who do not live up to his standards (especially Grant).

    Grant is no soldiering material, his true dream in life was to become a poet, or maybe a veterenarian. He's a crying heart liberal type, who was most certainly bullied by Lee at West Point. He always seems to have his sabre and firearms misplaced somewhere and he never succeeds in wearing more than half of his uniform at any single time. Grant is however a gifted horseman, much better than anybody else in the movie, this quality serves him well all those times he has to flee.
    He is a confirmed loser at the moment the war begins, working behind the counter of his dad's little shop.

    At the start of the war everybody with any hero potential whatsoever joins the side of the Confederacy, so Grant receives a second chanche in the military.
    As the film progresses Grant's own peculiar strengths as a military leader start showing.
    He turns out to be a perfect manager/movie evil mastermind.
    He starts to proof a thesis he was ridiculed for early in the film: "Wars are won not by heroics, but by logistics.".
    He transforms the Union army into a huge mass of wellorganized 'stormtroopers' all with first rate equipment, that can be moved around relatively quickly. They are led by folks picked by Grant that do know how to be generals.
    While Lee's efforts are being crippled by his own government (portrayed as racist slime of the worst kind), Grant massages the politicians on his side (shown as less evil than the confederates, but far from noble) in giving him carte blanche for his operations.
    While Lee rages against the dying of the light, Grant calmly produces proof that the ways of chivalry are indeed dead.

    Last line of the film spoken by Grant to Lee at the surrender at Gettysburg: "Wars aren't won by men like you Robert, wars are won by supply sergeants."
     
  2. Hardsheller

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    I'd pay to see it. [​IMG]
     
  3. Kiffin

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    Hmmm...I am not so sure Grant was a great General. He outnumbered Lee abou three or four to one and never defeated Lee in a decisive way. His siege of Vicksburg and his corageous stand at Shiloh were probably his best moments. He wore down the Confederate army by sheer numbers which cost the Union Army thousands of deaths in the Wilderness campaign and Grant waged war against civilians. If the USA used Grant's tactics in Iraq it would be called a war crime. Eventually starvation, lack of numbers ended the CSA's hope for victory or as we Southerners like to say, "We just wore ourselves out whipping ya'll Yankees" [​IMG]

    A Good Civil War (Fantasy) movie would be the defeat of the Union at Gettysburg and the Siege of Washighton D.C. with Lincoln surrendering to C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis. [​IMG]
     
  4. mioque

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    "Hmmm...I am not so sure Grant was a great General."
    I have no idea about real life.

    In my film Grant would be portrayed as a lousy battlefield commander, but a very gifted organizer who turns the potential advantages of the Union, (a large industrial base and huge numbers) into reality (a large well equipped army with generals that know how to effectively exploit these advantages against a more heroic adversary).
    The Southerners are the guys who get to do all the cool stuff in the movie, with the exception of the horse chase sequences.
    They are tragic heroes because it doesn't matter that they are complete bad asses (I can't believe I just typed that :eek: ), their opponents just keep on coming, efficiently and doggedly wearing them down.
    They are tragic because all of their coolness and bravery comes up short against an enemy that fights them relentlessly in a very prosaic fashion and tragic because they are noble, idealistic and forthright, but their political backers are utter swine.

    "A Good Civil War (Fantasy) movie would be the defeat of the Union at Gettysburg and the Siege of Washighton D.C. with Lincoln surrendering to C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis."
    Last shot of that movie has to be Booker T. Washington, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Abe Lincoln being part of the same chaingang. [​IMG]
     
  5. Kiffin

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    Naw [​IMG] The Southern Government never owned slaves. Having Lincoln in chains would not be bad though. Good movie would be Lincoln on trial for war crimes that he committed by the his use of total war against the South plus his support of Kansas terrorist groups such as the Jayhawkers.
     
  6. LadyEagle

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    Yep, I'd change the ending, too - the South would win! LOL!

    [​IMG]

    God Bless DiXie. [​IMG]
     
  7. mioque

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    "Naw The Southern Government never owned slaves."
    They are prisonlaborers not slaves.

    There are many literary critics who consider being the writer of Uncle Tom's cabin a warcrime. ;)

    Anyhow, Kiffin&LadyEagle a description with a bit more depth than: 'DIXIE wins!!!!' would be nice.
     
  8. Dr. Bob

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    I love the teen book "Across Five Aprils", story of one young boy and his experience watching and ultimately participating in the war.

    I like that idea. One character and family-ties into the war.

    (As for Grant, I'd say I wouldn't spit on his grave, except that it isn't true . . )
     
  9. rsr

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    Now, Mioque, there you done and make me disagree with you (which I rarely do.)

    Half right. How was he a lousy battlefield commander? His greatest successes were as a battlefield commander: Shiloh, Chattanooga (theater commander, though), Vicksburg. He was cool under fire, relentlessly resourcesful.

    The fact that he realized he had advantages and exploited them is hardly to be denigrated. McClellan, brilliant organizer that he was, didn't possess that insight.

    As commander in chief he was a bit handicapped by politics; Meade was commander of the Army of the Potomac and Grant didn't like to interfere with his subordinates inordinately. (Thomas was an exception, which will be dealt with later.)

    Those who call Grant a "butcher" will be well advised to recall that R.E. Lee suffered proprortionately greater losses, which he could afford less than the Union.

    In addition to that, Grant realized that losses from disease and prolongation of hostilites were far greater than those from short-term battlefield casualties; every day that shortened the war shortened the roll of casualties, even if it meant immediate suffering.

    In the end, Grant created the modern American army, one based on standard training and doctrine and logistics, not individual valor.

    Now, an interesting story line might be Grant's antipathy for George Thomas, the Rock of Chickamauga, the general who annihilated the Army of Tennessee at Nashville after Grant had threatened to remove Thomas from command. It is one of Grant's unrelieved flaws that he never made amends for that blunder in judgment of character, and blunder he rarely made as a soldier but frequently as a politician and businessman.

    My own reading is that Grant, having sent Sherman to march to the sea, was terrified that Hood would cause trouble in Tennesse when Sherman was going the other direction and Grant would take the blame for reverses in the east. As it turned out, Thomas (and Hood) saved Grant's bacon.

    And, while it is true the south had a number of brilliant commanders, the most talented (with the obvious exceptions of A.S. Johnston, Joe Johnson, N.B. Forrest and others), the east was much richer, with the likes of Lee, Jackson, Longstreet and Stuart.

    The really interesting movie would be to take the cast of the Union western commanders and pit it the against the Confederate eastern commanders.

    And, as a footnote, Grant was indeed known as an expert horseman and might have well been a cavalry officer after West Point had he not lost his temper and abused a horse during an exercise at the military academy. It was a mistake he seldom made after that.
     
  10. mioque

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    :rolleyes:
    rsr, we are talking film, not reality.
    My cinematic version of Grant would for instance never in his entire life abuse a horse.

    It's all about the struggle between, noble (in both meanings of the word), Hollywoodstyle, chivalrous, semi-loner, American heroes (think Rambo meets sir Lancelot) and relatively normal, non-chivalrous, unheroic, people who defeat the heroes by using common sense, cooperation, sheer numbers and a special kind of determination coming from envy (how dare they be so much cooler than us).
     
  11. JGrubbs

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    Gettysburg by Newt Gingrich stands as the first book in a series to tell the story of how history could have unfolded, how a victory for Lee would have changed the destiny of the nation forever.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/031230935X/
     
  12. rsr

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    Think of the dramatic possibilities. The only thing young Grant really enjoyed was working with horses. He goes on to West Point, which he hated, and ruined his chance of being a cavalry officer by his rash act. You can include scenes where he looks at the war he's fighting and wish that he had Phil Sheridan's job or was duking it out with Forrest.
     

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