12 thoughts on “Gettysburg Extended: Bobby Lee’s Not So Hard War

  1. Noma July 3, 2011 / 9:55 pm

    Just wondering, is there any basis in fact for this little conversation? Or is this just Jeff Shara catering to a Lost Cause audience? (My biggest question in this movie is: Is there any basis in fact for Longstreet saying, “We should have freed the slaves *before* we seceded, then the British would have helped us out”?)

    I wonder if that Lee’s concern for the civilian population in this script might be a response to General Orders No. 3, issued by Ulysses S. Grant “the Butcher”:


    Head Quarters Dist of Cairo
    Cairo Ill. January 13. 1862

    General Order No. 3

    During the absence of the Expedition now starting upon soil hitherto occupied almost solely by the Rebel Army, and where it is a fair inference that every stranger met is our enemy, the following orders will be observed.

    Troops, in marching, will be kept in the ranks, Company officers being held strictly accountable of all stragglers from their Companies.

    No firing will be allowed in camp or on the march, not strictly required in the performance of duty.

    Whilst in Camp, no permits will be granted to officers or soldiers to leave their regimental grounds, and all violations of this order must be promptly and summarily punished.

    Disrepute having been brought upon our brave soldiers by the bad conduct of some of their numbers, showing on all occations, when marching through territory occupied by sympathisers of the enemy, a total disregard of rights of citizens, and being guilty of wanton destruction of private property the Genl. commanding desires and intends to enforce a change in this respect.

    Interpreting Confiscation Acts by troops themselves, has a demoralizing effect, weakens them in exact proportion to the demoralization and makes open and armed enemies of many who, from opposite treatment would become friends or at worst non-combatants.

    It is orded, therefore that the severest punishment, be inflicted upon every soldier, who is guilty of taking or dstroying private property, and any commissioned officer guilty of like conduct, or of countenancing it shall be deprived of his sword and expelled from the camp, not to be permitted to return.

    On the march, Cavalry Advance guards will be well thrown out, also flank guards of Cavalry or Infantry when practicable.

    A rear guard of Infantry will be required to see that no teams, baggage or disabled soldiers are left behind.

    It will be the duty of Company Commanders to see that rolls of their Companies are called immediatly upon going into camp each day and every member accounted for

    By order

    U.S. Grant Brig. Gen’l Comdg.

    • Ray O'Hara July 3, 2011 / 11:15 pm

      “Just wondering, is there any basis in fact for this little conversation? Or is this just Jeff Shara catering to a Lost Cause audience? (My biggest question in this movie is: Is there any basis in fact for Longstreet saying, “We should have freed the slaves *before* we seceded, then the British would have helped us out”

      I can find no record of it and I doubt Longstreet was so clueless as to not realize that freeing the slaves rather mooted the point of secession.

      The complaint the Slave-o-crats had with the Republicans was they thought that they were going to ban slavery

      a reading of the CSA Constitution shows “States Rights” was not their cause as the CSA Constitution forbids the states from abolishing slavery or from not allowing a slave owner from another state from settling there with his slaves.

    • Andy Hall July 5, 2011 / 8:03 am

      Lee did issues orders to his army to respect private property, but that was widely ignored, and the seizure of African Americans — both slave and free-born — took place at all levels. One of Lee’s division commanders, Lafayette McLaws, wrote his wife”

      It is reported that our army will will not be allowed to plunder and rob in Pennsylvania, which is all very well, but it would be better not to publish it as we have received provocation enough to burn and take and destroy, property of all kids and even the men, women & children along out whole border.

      In every instance where we have even threatened retaliation, the enemy have given [way]—I am strongly in favor of trying it the very first chance we get.

      Even Longstreet acknowledged the practice of seizing civilians and accommodated it. In sending orders to George Pickett, whose corps was bringing up the rear of the army, Longstreet, writing through his adjutant, G. Moxley Sorrel, sent word on July 1—the day the two armies first engaged each other—to move his troops toward Gettysburg. In closing he added, “the captured contrabands had better be brought along with you for further disposition.”

      The seizure of African Americans was often done under the premise of recovering “stolen property” — i.e., runaway slaves — but in practice the ANV rounded up any and all African Americans they could, and decided arbitrarily what to be done with them. A letter written in camp by Col. William S. Christian describes one such incident:

      No houses were searched and robbed, like our houses were done, by the Yankees. Pigs, chickens, geese, etc., are finding their way into our camp; it can’t be prevented, and I can’t think it ought to be. We must show them something of war. I have sent out to-day to get a good horse; I have no scruples about that, as they have taken mine. We took a lot of negroes [sic.] yesterday. I was offered my choice, but as I could not get them back home I would not take them. In fact, my humanity revolted at taking the poor devils away from their homes.

      They were so scared that I turned them all loose. I dined yesterday with two old maids. They treated me very well, and seemed greatly in favor of peace. I have had a great deal of fun since I have been here.

      So yes, there were instructions from lee to honor personal property, but practice was very different.

      • Noma July 5, 2011 / 1:29 pm

        This certainly underscores Brooks’s point that it was only white families that were to be conciliated, if at all.

  2. TF Smith July 4, 2011 / 9:55 am

    This is the kind of material that led me to actually compliment the History Channel’s “Gettysburg” docudrama for actually including the ANV’s enslavement of AAs in Pennsylvania; like I said, it is the first time I have ever seen it in a “popular” documentary.

    Be interesting to see this sort of treatment of Fort Pillow.

    Actually, I wonder if anyone in Hwood would consider a historically accurate remake of Uncle Tom’s Cabin..

    • Noma July 5, 2011 / 2:16 pm

      That could be an amazing performance.

      From the 6th floor of our building at Bowdoin, we can look out and see the First Parish Church, where Harriet Beecher Stowe had her vision of Uncle Tom. In the summer, we host the Maine State Music Theater, which several years ago put on a production of “The King and I,” complete with the highly stylized play-within-a-play of “The Small House of Uncle Thomas.”

      Setting aside the play’s own problems with racial stereotyping, I’ve often wondered what Stowe would think, if she could look 150 years forward and see this stylized, re-revolutionized, Anglo-Asiatic interpretation of her vision — only 200 feet away from her church pew.

      Anyway, it would be quite fascinating to see a production of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” featuring a strong, philosophical, non-obsequious Uncle Tom. I’d like to see it, too.

      • TF Smith July 5, 2011 / 2:35 pm

        What was the quote – “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!”

        Seems like it might be worth considering – and it would put a lot of the LC manure into perspective…


      • Andy Hall July 5, 2011 / 8:33 pm

        You’re probably familiar with A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but many people are not. It’s a compilation of news clippings, letters, reports, legal documents and other material that she used in working on the novel, that she published in response to accusations that the earlier work exaggerated reality or was made up from whole cloth. It’s an important work in its own right and deserves to be better known.

        • Noma July 6, 2011 / 1:38 pm

          thanks for the reference!

          “In fictitious writing, it is possible to find refuge from the hard and the terrible, by inventing scenes and characters of a more pleasing nature. No such resource is open in a work of fact; and the subject of this work is one on which the truth, if told at all, must needs be very dreadful. There is no bright side to slavery, as such.

          “Those scenes which are made bright by the generosity and kindness of masters and mistresses, would be brighter still if the element of slavery were withdrawn. There is nothing picturesque or beautiful, in the family attachment of old servants, which is not to be found in countries where these servants are legally free. The tenants on an English estate are often more fond and faithful than if they were slaves. Slavery, therefore, is not the element which forms the picturesque and beautiful of Southern life. What is peculiar to slavery, and distinguishes it from free servitude, is evil, and only evil, and that continually…”

          A nice rebuke for the Lost Causers: “There is no bright side of slavery.”

  3. William July 4, 2011 / 3:09 pm

    Actually Mr. Simpson I heard no mention of the “white” population of Adams County. Or was that your addition ?


    • Brooks D. Simpson July 4, 2011 / 3:19 pm

      It is fair to say that Lee had no desire to concilate the black population of Adams County, unless you count kidnapping as a form of conciliation.

  4. Corey Meyer July 4, 2011 / 8:52 pm

    Ok here is a funny side story to these scene. I was dating a girl in college and she had cousins in and around Gettysburg. While the movie was playing in the background one day she looked up and said…hey, I know that horse…it’s Tanara. Go figure, the horse they used for Traveler was a local horse that belonged to my girlfriends family and she had ridden this horse all over the battlefield many times.

    Small world I guess…even for a horse.

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