Civil War Pop’s Sad Commanders

Image result for stephen lang gettysburg

Reviewing Shenandoah made me realize something: wow, there are a lot of sad sack leaders in Civil War fiction. In that film, it was George Kennedy’s Colonel Fairchild. He only gets one scene but spends all of it in a seemingly deep state of depression. His tone is muted, his eyes are downcast, and his whole demeanor suggests he’s lost faith in the Union cause.

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Entry 15 (Part 3): In Praise of Gettysburg

Some of you thought I was too hard on Gettysburg, especially in my first post. I’ve often complained that historians judge historical films unfairly, and maybe I’ve been a little guilty of that–at least where Gettysburg‘s concerned. So, to make amends (and because I know you are all dying for even more Gettysburg content), here’s a list of things I like about the movie. Taken together, they show why I would still recommend the film, despite some of its historical problems. Read More

Entry 15 (Part 2): Is Gettysburg a Lost Cause Film?


“We should have freed the slaves, then fired on Fort Sumter.”

This is the line–spoken by Longstreet to Fremantle–that has haunted historians and fans of Gettysburg for 22 years. It’s built on so much faulty and potentially pro-Confederate history, some viewers see it as a clear sign Gettysburg is a Lost Cause film, plain and simple. Maxwell’s disastrous prequel, Gods and Generals, reinforced this view by depicting its Confederate characters through a clearly Lost Cause lens. It’s evident Gettysburg draws some of its inspiration from pro-Confederate myths, but I’ve always thought its overall approach to the Civil War is more nuanced. I kept this in mind during my recent viewing in an attempt to answer one of the central questions revolving around this movie: Is Gettysburg a Lost Cause film? Read More

Seriously Apple? No Confederate Flags in Video Games? (Updated)

Update: It looks like cooler heads may be prevailing and apparently Apple is working to restore some of its apps that use the flag “for educational or historical uses.” No news of Ultimate General: Gettysburg being restored as of yet. New of the game’s removal was surely responsible for the turnaround, as it went viral quickly and even Rolling Stone reported on it this morning. I’ll keep you posted as I hear more about it.

Update 2: Ultimate General: Gettysburg just announced on Facebook that it was able to negotiate with Apple and is now available again as an App, unchanged. Although Apple should never have pulled the game in the first place, I commend the company for recognizing the mistake and respecting Game-Labs’s artistic integrity.


Earlier today, Apple announced that it is no longer going to offer apps in its iOS store that feature the Confederate Battle Flag. I don’t know precisely how many apps this covers, but I do know that it includes Ultimate General: Gettysburg, which I reviewed on this site in February. According to the game’s developer Nick Thomadis, Apple will agree to restore the game if his company, Game-Labs, removes all Confederate flags. Thomadis refused and, although I support most of the efforts to remove Confederate iconography currently going on across the nation, I completely support Thomadis in this decision. Read More

Entry 15 (Part 1): Football Analysts and Generals

Gettysburg Movie Poster

Gettysburg. Written and directed by Ronald F. Maxwell. Based on the novel, The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara.

Release date: October 8, 1993.

As I mentioned in my last post, Gettysburg is kind of a big deal in the Civil War community. I first saw it long before I imagined becoming a professional historian, so my views on the film have evolved as I’ve learned more about the war. However, the aspect that stood out during my most recent viewing was one that hadn’t struck me before: for a movie that includes so much depiction of and talk about death, it’s remarkably bloodless. Combat scenes that seemed impressively realistic twenty years ago now play more like sterile pageants. Maybe I was naive back then, but this is not the same war I read and write about now. So I began to wonder, is Gettysburg one of the prime culprits in propagating the “football analyst school” of Civil War history?

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Gettysburg! Gettysburg!


Jeff Daniels reacts to my decision to devote two entire posts to Gettysburg.

Some of you likely noticed that Gettysburg will be the subject of my next review. For those who don’t know, this movie carries a significant amount of weight among historians and buffs–deservedly so or not. We’ve all seen it multiple times and have favorite lines (usually to mock, and usually by Sam Elliott) and lots of opinions.

It’s also super long.

Thus, after watching it for the first time in several years, I’ve decided to devote two entries to it, instead of my usual one. Each review will follow a different line of inquiry, since the film directly addresses my two favorite blog topics: the “football analyst school” and the Lost Cause. So, keep a clear eye me boyo, and join me for a thorough examination of how one of the Civil War’s best known modern films fits with the rest of Civil War pop culture. For those who think reading around 2,000 words on a Ted Turner film will leave them so very tired, just skip over these reviews, but stay tuned because I have an exciting guest post lined up for my next subject.

Entry 4: Digital War is Hell

Ultimate General: Gettysburg. Designed by Nick “Darth Mod” Thomadis and Ilias Georgopoulos.

Release Date: October 16, 2014

I’m only a little embarrassed to admit I’ve been playing historical video games for almost three decades. Games like Civilization, Defender of the Crown, and Panzer General actually inspired some of my initial interest in history. It’s difficult to pinpoint what I still like about them, but it’s nice to occasionally engage with history in an uncomplicated and less intellectual way. I came into history as a buff and I like briefly revisiting that mindset. The problem is there’s really no going back. My mind starts considering the historical implications of what I’m doing whether I want it to or not. This can just make a game seem like a dumb waste of time but sometimes it can even make me feel a little guilty, especially if its a Civil War game. Read More