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The Civil War: Everything You Wanted to Know but Were too Afraid to Ask!

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18 hours ago, Mukremin said:


Thanks for clearing up mate, i appreciate it. Some good points there, although i cannot get into detail because i lack the historical knowledge about Gettysburg and the Civil War.

To me, the feeling what i had at the end was that Lee was responsible for the losses and failure that day along with the absence of Stuart and his Cavalry. It felt like Longstreet wanted to re-deploy and fight on better ground, so he confronted Lee several times in the movie about it.

Guess i will have to dive into the books :)

And that with the rifle, all good movies have that :D you have to have a sharp eye and knowledge to see that, i recognized some rifles because of Ultimate General game.


Alan C. Guezlo makes a pretty good argument that Stuart's absence was irrelevant. Cavalry was tasked with scouring enemy movements, not battle lines; that role was for scouts, which failed Lee at Gettysburg. Lee's plan, to fall upon the AoP Corps upon Corps occurred without Stuart, and there is no evidence that Lee would have acted any differently with him there. Lee came to blame Stuart only about a year after the battle. 

Yes! Dive into the books! :D Always the best answer! Stephen W. Sears writes well on the topic, though I think Alan Guezlo's recent book is better. I've only heard amazing things about Pfanz's two volume series on the 2nd day, but while I have one my shelf, I haven't gotten to it yet (have a few essay collections I want to nose through first). 

The rifle in question is a M1863 Remington Zouave. It was comissioned by the US ordinance department as a short pattern alternative to the M1861 Springfield. Despite being an excellent gun, the rifle was not ready until 1863, and by then, the Federal government had standardized the M1861 and the M1863 Springfields as its standard arm. As a result, the Zoauve was sequestered in amouries only for a emergency use, and was never actually issued. Thus, no soldier on either side ever actually wielded the rifle. 

At the birth of modern reenacting, a reenactor who wanted to use a Civil War musket had to procure an original, as there were, at that time, no reproductions available. The M1863 Zouave was highly available for this purpose, as they had languished in armouries for decades before being sold as commercial surplus. As such, they were numerous and in serviceable shape. Depsite their complete absence from the Civil War battlefield, their availability made them ubiquitious in reenactment. As firearm manufactures (Chiappa, Euro Arms, Miroku, Pedersoli, et cetera), entered the repro business, many began producing the Zoauve based on its popularity. In the 80s, the Zoauve was essentially banned for being so "farby" (anachronisitc). In response, repro companies began selling their Zoauves at lower prices. Zoauves still remain popular today with those who want a cheaper Civil War(ish) alternative. Hence, they remain ubiquitious, despite their total lack of military use during the war. They shouldn't ever be in Civil War films, but c'est la vie, everyone cuts corners ;).  
 

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On 1/1/2018 at 5:05 AM, Mukremin said:

I watched Gettysburg on Blu-Ray yesterday. What a great movie, i liked and enjoyed every second of it. This is the 10th time i watched it. The acting is great, Pickets charge, Armistead getting hit, Chamberlains bayonette charge.

Can someone explain what exactly are the historical errors? Minor or major issues?

Hi Mukremin,

A couple insights for the movie "Gettysburg" might be:

1. In my opinion, a better actor for General Lee would have been Sean Connery (instead of Martin Sheen), as GEN Lee had a presence about him that got everyone's attention.

2. In some scenes, the stunt men are semi-obvious as they are the ones with the rubber muskets that flex.  The 4,000 re-enactors all had real weapons and real bayonets - it was a real effort for us not to hurt each other.

3. The scenes showing us marching in Pickett's Charge from a start in front of the Spangler's woods thru the cannons - some of those (especially the film from a distance) were performed on the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park grounds on the actual ground that Pickett's Division marched over going toward what is now Business Route 15.  We were allowed by Park Rangers to only march halfway to Bus. 15 - although the first time, as we didn't know where to stop, we marched all the way to the picket fence on 15.  All the people who had parked along the road hoping to hear and see something, got a real thrill as 4,000 of us marched up in front of them - they were cheering - we reenactors were cheering - the Park Rangers were going nuts as they didn't want us to go that far!   :D    The next five times we marched that route, we were only allowed to go half way.

4. When the 23 cannons fired in unison to start the Pickett's Charge, the original intent was to film each cannon going off one-by-one, but each time they attempted it there was always one or two mis-fires, so the guy in charge in his frustration, ordered them to fire all at once.  This is a unique moment in the film and otherwise as none of the reenactor gun crews had EVER participated in an event where all 23 discharged simultaneously like this.  They, and we 4,000, were all duly impressed!

5. The scene where Pickett says to give him his glass (binoculars) - that red building is the Codori barn on the Park.

6. The scene where the Southerners go up to the stone wall - this wall was built up on site about 1-2 miles west of the National Battlefield Park.

7. A command of "Right Shoulder - Shift" was given as we were about to march.  This command is unfamiliar to today's military, but back then, one would maintain a good balance of one's musket on the collar bone.  As the soldier behind was to maintain a gap 13 inches behind the in front, in case of the front soldier bobbing or falling wounded or whatever,this would offer some protection from the bayonet to the guy behind

8. The spoken lines were from the book "The Killer Angels", as that was also the initial title of the movie until the marketers determined "Gettysburg" would be the best title.

9. I was "recruited" for the film by my brother to march with his unit, the 116th Pennsylvania, during Pickett's Charge Week.  For the two days I participated, we wore Southern gray as the "galvanized" 116th "Virginia".  I had been attending school at the US Army War College during two weeks in July, and the local TV news was always showing clips of the filming that was leading up to Pickett's Charge Week in August.

10. In this stunt scene (below) used in Pickett's Charge, on extreme right with full face was the personnel manager for Hershey Park, next to the left is a tall 116th reenactor whose name I forget, next and shorter is my brother, and next to him with the flat hat is me (25 years ago in 1992). It is a memorable moment in my life, and this scene played at about 3/4 speed was used in TNT's TV and theater commercials.

capture(7).thumb.png.792f4a51af0bc91097a50cda993442d3.png

 

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On 3/9/2017 at 11:18 AM, Kiefer Cain said:

With a sweeping generalization... could it be said that Country/rural brigades were (are ;)) better soldiers/fighters than their populous urban counterparts?  Was it not for the rural troops of the North, would most battles have been decided by the 'country' heavy brigades of the south... haven't been in a Civil War book for the better part of ten years, but I always got that distinct impression?  Were Wisconsin/Minnesota/Michigan troops, Vermonters and Mainers the backbone of the Northern army? 

The whole "yeoman" soldier thing is a myth. Some of the best regiments on both sides came from cities (the 20th Massachusetts were a regiment of boys who'd never seen a ploughshare, and you did not want to face them in a battle). The overwhelming majority of both armies were rural, and its important to note that while the New England states were industrializing, they were still mostly rural. No evidence has ever demonstrated that rural boys fought any better then their urban counter parts. Experience was what made excellent combat regiments. 

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5 hours ago, Gael said:

Hi Mukremin,

A couple insights for the movie "Gettysburg" might be:

1. In my opinion, a better actor for General Lee would have been Sean Connery (instead of Martin Sheen), as GEN Lee had a presence about him that got everyone's attention.

2. In some scenes, the stunt men are semi-obvious as they are the ones with the rubber muskets that flex.  The 4,000 re-enactors all had real weapons and real bayonets - it was a real effort for us not to hurt each other.

3. The scenes showing us marching in Pickett's Charge from a start in front of the Spangler's woods thru the cannons - some of those (especially the film from a distance) were performed on the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park grounds on the actual ground that Pickett's Division marched over going toward what is now Business Route 15.  We were allowed by Park Rangers to only march halfway to Bus. 15 - although the first time, as we didn't know where to stop, we marched all the way to the picket fence on 15.  All the people who had parked along the road hoping to hear and see something, got a real thrill as 4,000 of us marched up in front of them - they were cheering - we reenactors were cheering - the Park Rangers were going nuts as they didn't want us to go that far!   :D    The next five times we marched that route, we were only allowed to go half way.

4. When the 23 cannons fired in unison to start the Pickett's Charge, the original intent was to film each cannon going off one-by-one, but each time they attempted it there was always one or two mis-fires, so the guy in charge in his frustration, ordered them to fire all at once.  This is a unique moment in the film and otherwise as none of the reenactor gun crews had EVER participated in an event where all 23 discharged simultaneously like this.  They, and we 4,000, were all duly impressed!

5. The scene where Pickett says to give him his glass (binoculars) - that red building is the Codori barn on the Park.

6. The scene where the Southerners go up to the stone wall - this wall was built up on site about 1-2 miles west of the National Battlefield Park.

7. A command of "Right Shoulder - Shift" was given as we were about to march.  This command is unfamiliar to today's military, but back then, one would maintain a good balance of one's musket on the collar bone.  As the soldier behind was to maintain a gap 13 inches behind the in front, in case of the front soldier bobbing or falling wounded or whatever,this would offer some protection from the bayonet to the guy behind

8. The spoken lines were from the book "The Killer Angels", as that was also the initial title of the movie until the marketers determined "Gettysburg" would be the best title.

9. I was "recruited" for the film by my brother to march with his unit, the 116th Pennsylvania, during Pickett's Charge Week.  For the two days I participated, we wore Southern gray as the "galvanized" 116th "Virginia".  I had been attending school at the US Army War College during two weeks in July, and the local TV news was always showing clips of the filming that was leading up to Pickett's Charge Week in August.

10. In this stunt scene (below) used in Pickett's Charge, on extreme right with full face was the personnel manager for Hershey Park, next to the left is a tall 116th reenactor whose name I forget, next and shorter is my brother, and next to him with the flat hat is me (25 years ago in 1992). It is a memorable moment in my life, and this scene played at about 3/4 speed was used in TNT's TV and theater commercials.

capture(7).thumb.png.792f4a51af0bc91097a50cda993442d3.png

 

What?? Oh my God, this is so cool. Thank you sir for sharing! Never knew i would meet one of the reenactors! Watching the charge on tv is amazing. Must have been awesome, thrilling and sad to march that very same spot.. thank you for this insight information :)

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My knowledge of the ACW is minuscule, so I don't have any pertinent questions to ask about it directly, but I am a bit curious about one of the effects, namely the census effects on the freeing of the slaves. Taken at face value, the effect of making all the slaves count as 1 whole person in the census after the war vs. 3/5 of a person prior to the war, did the Southern states actually gain representation in Congress due to a rise in the census following the war? Is it even possible to tell, since losses in the war and after, migration to some degree, etc would warp the numbers?

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