Battlefield Guide Services

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Say What You Will About Gods and Generals... but this is one heck of a powerful seven minutes.

A very moving dramatization of the December 13 Union assault on the Sunken Road and Mayre's Heights at Fredericksburg.
Devoid of the oft implied partisan posturing critics have bemoaned about this film, this segment simply lays it out for what it was, and says it like it is.
Here, waves of men hurl themselves at a stationary foe. They walk into torrents of lead and iron.
When visiting the battlefield at Fredericksburg, keep these visuals in mind, for an expanding city has taken shape over the once open fields portrayed here. When you stop for gas and a snack at the 7-11 on Lafayette Boulevard, just a few blocks from the NPS Visitor Center, consider that you are finding your convenience on the very ground men hugged to save their lives. Does it humble you?


Todd Berkoff said...

Hi John. I appreciated this scene too, and the scene of the Irish Brigade's charge, complete with some actor portraying Lt. Col. St. Clair Mulholland of the 116th Pennsylvania. They even showed the crossing of the canal. However, my perennial pet peeve is the inaccurate portrayal of the effects of Civil War artillery. If Ron Maxwell can afford CGIing troops, he can certainly afford showing solid shot skipping along the ground bowling over men and showing shells bursting in the air. There were no mortars at F-burg which would case the ground to EXPLODE!! Sure, percussion fuses existed during the 1860s but were not common or reliable. Field artillery on both sides primarily used solid shot, shell, and case shot against massed infantry. The ground didn't explode. The only movie that I can think of that accurately portrays solid shot was The Patriot. I'm waiting for Hollywood to get it right again.

John Cummings said...

Hello Todd,
Around the one minute mark there are some distant air bursts. Having witnessed a live fire demo of CW cannon in 1990 I know what you mean about the skipping and slicing of shells along the ground surface. That is something to witness. And those were fired at half charges so they wouldn't go into the next county! I think that Maxwell was trying to be reserved with his degree of gore, just like John Wayne movies, all the glory without the guts. He did have quite a team of technical advisors on hand, so it must have been an issue of either going for the raw realism or appealing to a larger audience. A "Band of Brothers" style production is long overdue with CW genre films. Spotsylvania and the Bloody Angle would convey the real horror.