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No. 3, February 2000
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Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.


Gettysburg: The bloodiest battle of the Civil War
The film by Ronald F. Maxwell with Tom Berenger, Martin Sheen, et al.
Book your hotel in Gettysburg, PA. Get the DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.de or citydisc Schweiz. The 1993-movie Gettysburg is based on the 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. Get the book from Amazon.com, Amazon Canada or Amazon.de.
 
For America, the Civil War remains by far the bloodiest conflict ever. Over 600,000 Americans died, more than in all other wars with US-soldiers involved combined. During the Civil War, the battle that cost most lives was the one near Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863): about 165,000 troops from both sides were involved. The Confederacy lost about 20,000 and the Union about 23,000 men. Thousands were wounded. The Unionist troops under the command of General George Meade were victorious, but missed the chance to pursue the Conferates in order to make the battle decisive. Still, Gettysburg was a preliminary decision in the Civil War that ended two years later.
 
After the election of Abraham Lincoln as 16th President of the United States in 1860, the leader of the Southern Democrats, Jefferson Davis, was at the forefront of a movement that lead to the division of America. The Southern States elected him as their president in reaction to Lincoln's program that foresaw the end of slavery. "Honest Abe's" political agenda would have meant the end of the Southern plantation system as it had existed up to then, relying heavily on the workforce of negro slaves.
 
The military leader of the Northern States, General Ulysses S. Grant, had been a pupil at West Point (against his will) and taken part in the Mexican war. He later became President of the United States (1869-77). The military leader of the Southern States, General Robert E. Lee had pursued a military career like his father and was after the Civil War one of the few leaders to serve a two years prison sentence.
 
The two capitals, Washington and Richmond, were only separated by 200 miles. In that region, most of the fighting took place. In 1862, the Southern armies had won several battles. The final decision in favour of the Unionists came only with victories by the Generals Grant and Sherman in 1865. It was due to the Northern superiority in resources and soldiers.
 
The 1993-movie Gettysburg was based on the 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. The movie stars Jeff Daniels (Col. Joshua Chamberlain), Martin Sheen (Gen Robert E. Lee), Tom Berenger (Lt. Gen. James Longstreet), Kevin Conway (Sgt. "Buster" Kilrain), C. Thomas Howell (Lt. Thomas D. Chamberlain), Richard Jordan (Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead), Royce D. Applegate (Brig. Gen. James L. Kemper), Maxwell Caulfield (Col. Strong Vincent), Stephen Lang (Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett), Sam Elliott (Brig. Gen. John Buford), Richard Anderson (Gen. George Gordon Meade), Ted Turner (Lt. Col. W.T. Patton) and many more. All in all, there are over one hundred speaking parts. The film was shot at the original scenes with more than 13,000 extras. Gettysburg tries to follow the historical events, shows the horrors of war as well as for instance the conflicts of strategy the Southerners should follow. No great movie but a four-hour film that tries to be fair to both camps, avoiding a black and white picture of the historical drama.
 

 

 
 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 3, February 2000
Deutsche Ausgabe  Archiv  Kunst  Film  Musik  Geschichte  Politik  Lebensart  Reisen
English edition  Archives  Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Lifestyle  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.