04 - 4:58 - Lee declines
Maxwell................ This is Ron Maxwell, the writer, producer, director of Gods and Generals. And with me today are Keith Gibson, Director of Virginia Military Institute, Museum Operations...
Gibson................. Good to be with you, Ron.
Maxwell................ And James I. "Bud" Robertson, the allumnies distiguished professor at Virginia Tech.
Robertson............ Always a pleasure to be with you, Ron.
Maxwell................ The challenge in open a film is understanding that at one time, in one point of view, you're talking to an audience that is very sophisticated and very knowing. There are people who know more about the Civil War in this country than possibly any other epoch of American history. At the same time you have to speak to an audience that knows nothing about the Civil War, not only in this country, but in foreign countries. Because if people are lost, the drama will not work. You see the very part, the essential information in a very short amount of time to propell the drama. And it's gotta be factory-correct.
........................... So in the first scene we are thrust immediately into the dilemma of the war for most southerners - and Robert E. Lee embodies this person - which is a crisis of duty, a crisis of you must enconchious. He must choose between his duty and his alliegence and his oath to the United States of America, and - what we find out during the scene - a deeper duty and a deeper sense of alliegence and identity to his native state. This is essentially the drama of the Civil War, although people had different dramas and different conflicts, man by man, state by state. His is perhaps the architypial questian. It existed in out architype across time and space, but it also existed in the specificity of a Virginian in April 1861.
........................... So in this scene, when Preston P. Blair offers him a command of federal armies, Lee shares the difficulties that he has, that he would have by accepting such a position. Now we see a man in one moment turning his back on carrier, on furtune, on possibly fame, and on things that ment even more to him, which is oath and duty - turning his back on all that - an the love of a country, a love that he had for the United States of America - to go down a very perriless road, bat a road that he had to travel.
........................... That sets up not only his conflict, but the conflict of all the southerners you will meet in the film, and the conflict of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, the main protagonist of the film.
Robertson............ One must remember that when this film begins, war is a reality. We're not talking about the background of the war. War of a fact. And we have two very powerful men meeting in Washington. One was perhaps the most distinguished soldier on duty of that time, Robert E. Lee. I'm not dismissing Winfield Scott, of course. Scott was the General-in-chief, he was old an aged. But Lee is the most outstanding commander on duty.
........................... Many people will not recognize who Francis Blair was. In a phrase, he was the moust powerful men never elected President of the United States in this country. He had been in Andrew Jackson's other cabinet. He had switched parties and became very prominent as a democrat. In the late 1850ies he switched parties again. He's one of the closest things to a Premier Minister the United States has ever had. And in 1861 he has a son that is Postmaster General under Lincoln, he has a son that is gonne be a Union general. And he himself is the king-maker. And it was because of his close friendship over the years with Lee that Abraham Lincoln asked Mister Blair to undersee and to make the offer of on behalf of Lincoln for command.
05 - 8:46 - Professor Jackson
Gibson................. That scene immediately cuts to the home of another individual to be prominent in the story as it unfolds. It's a professor at a small military college in Virginia, the nation's first state-supported military college - the Virginia Military Institute. And we find Jackson in his classroom with his students, and on the blackboard behind Jackson, lots of the work was done by road-memory, and recitation on the board . These days it was the standard, unlike what you find in Professor Robertson's classroom in Tech today, a lot of interaction. But even the problem on the will give you an idea of the depth of detail that Ron is gone through to set the stage. Even the problem on the board on that scene is actually from one of Jackson's textbooks of the time.
Maxwell................ One of the departments that has to do a lot of research on their own is production design, and props. And one learns to expect that these departments are gonna get it right. Now everything has to run by the director. Everytime they have a pistol that's be given to a character, they have to get my approval first. But a lot or all these departments do their own research. The classroom was recreated as particullary as possible, the windows for instance match the windows on VMI inside looking out, and part of that is to recreate the physical environment of those people.
06 - 10:09 - Secession
Gibson................. In the Lexington scene, or I say, in the Lexington setting, Jackson has a kind of hard winding talk with an unidentified gentleman. That man was his first father-in-law, elevant Doctor George Junkin, who was president of Washington College, a very strong Unionist. And when the Confederate flag was waved over Washington College, Doctor Junkin resigned and went home to Pennsylvania. And he was so embittered, that after he crossed the Potomac River, he whiped his feet of to get the last spectacles of dirt of secessionist Virginia from his feet.
Robertson............ That relationship that Bud's referring to between the stovepiped hat Doctor Junkin and Professor Jackson is multi-dimensional. He was his father-in-law, it was a father-in-law talking, but he was a spiritual advisor. Even before he was Jacksons father-and son-in-law, he had sought guidance in the Presperitanian church with Doctor Junkin at Washington College. And on of those individuals that raises the secessionist flag over Doctor Junkin's school - although Doctor Junkin himself may have never known this, was his own grandson, Willy Preston. He was one of those rebellious young students he could no longer restrain.
07 - 11:10 - Virginia Convention
Robertson............ Then in the scene on the Virginia Secession Convention, one has to remember what motivated that convention. There are four volumes if minutes of that convention. If anyone ever has insomnia, start reading these minutes. They put you to sleep, just to have this 152 men talking endlessly. What you find surprising is the absence of the word "slavery", What you find equally surprising is the presence of the word "coercion", which takes us back to a second reason for the Civil War. Slavery is undoubtely a primary cause, but souvereignty has a lot to do with it. Where did the ultimate power of this nation lie? The founding fathers hoped, time would settle it. But by 1860 there were many who believed, souvereignty still lay with the states, who after all existed first. There were those of course who believed that souvereignty lay with the nation. And so in the Virginia Secession Convention the arguments came over: if war comes, does the Federal gouvernment have the right to walk over out land to put down this uprising by southern citizens? Does the Federal government have the right to coerce the states. And it was Lincoln's call for 75.000 volunteers, a clear expression of coercion, that led Virginia right out of the Union.
Gibson................. John Janney, who is the speaker of that particular convention, who startes the scene - every word that he speakes in that scene is from the record. And in that introduction of Robert E. Lee, he makes reference to the fact that he was among the Unionists who resisted secession, but that he can no longer resist it because of the bellicaussity of their former compatriots, their former fellow citizens north the Mason-Dixon Line.
Robertson............ It's a little bit different definition perhaps we tend to assume in our generation today what it ment to be an Unionist or states rights. You could be a Unionist, that is against secession, and still be fundamentally adhered to your state. And so many Virginians found themselves - that was their dilemma - that's where they found themselves.
Gibson................. I was going to add a point about John Janney, which I think it overwrites so much of the scenes in the Virginia secession. He was a quaker. And yet he would ultimately vote for secession, and war.
10 - 16:50 - Jackson receives orders
Maxwell................ On the street in Lexington, that is Jackson's house. We cleared the cars away. And in the background we digitally enhanced a view of what VMI would have looked like in the background. It's a little bit sceward from the historical reallity. You can't really see VMI from that vantage point of you're standing in the street. But we wanted to make a visual statement that right away connects Jackson's house with VMI. In fact the proximity is very similar in the way it's laid out.
........................... We could not use the actual Jackson house for various reasons, which is today a museum. But we decorated the house. Again the production designers recreated the interior very, very similar to the way Jackson's house would have been decorated.
Robertson............ This scene was shock to most moviegoers. This is the first shock that they get. Because the moment Jackson announces that he's leaving for war, he immediately goes to the bible, and he immediately begins to pray. It shocks those people who do not know Jackson. It wouldn't shock me at all. His faith was very, very simple. Where else did he have to turn by a correct crisis but to God. This scene sets the stage for the entire portrayal of Jackson. You know, you are dealing with a very devote and simple man from this point on, which is quite contrary to the verdict of history up to this point.
Gibson................. And when Thomas' young bride here for about three years takes over that passage and knows it word for word - she has memorized it herself -, keep in mind that she's the product of a fine Prespetarian home as well. She's the daughter of a Prespetarian minister. And this was the way they were communicating intimately in that scene. It was natural for them to. And we know it played out much in the way Ron has conveyed to us in the film, because Mary Anna, the lady set in there, sold us so. That's what they did.
27 - 38:18 - Battle of Manassas
Maxwell................ The two things you gotta do in any battle simultaniously is to create the chaos, madness and frenzy, death and destruction and mayhem of war, and at the same time do the exact opposit, which is to never confuse the audience, never leave them in a confused state and in other words track the battle. So the audience of the film knows exactly who is where when. Because if you become confused as an audience, confusion is followed by indifference, and you won't be able to track the story. And yet if you go too far in going to make it neat, you loose the reality of the conflict, which is the famous Bull Run clause which is up as it is, which is, that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy - except may be the latest one in Iraq did. But with that exception aside, and so once the first volleys fired, things shift and change. And that's really where the leadership on the ground comes in, the leadership of non-commissioned officers and lieutenants and captains, where a whole battle could turn on the deads of patoons or at a regimental level. And at the Battle of First Manassas of course in one respect it turns on the brigade level in this particular sector of the battle around the first Virginia brigade.
Gibson................. I think in this first battle what becomes obvious whas the outset how personal leadership was. This is Jackson's battle. It is not someone sitting on the computer keyboarding and tapping out numbers, none, it's a personal kind of thing. And it's Jackson standing firm. He's standing firm, so his men stand firm. It is Bernard Bee, who's Brigade is falling apart, and Bee rides up to Jackson - and Bee and Jackson were old friends, Bee had been ahead one year at West Point, so they had known each other for at least three years at the academy and certainly in Mexico as well, so they were old friends - and Bee was trying get Jackson to help him rally his brigade.
........................... Now there are some cynics in this negativation that we live who claim that Bee's statement was ment negatively, that he was ciritizising Jackson for just standing there, doing nothing. Which is inaim. In Battle you don't rally troops by saying negative things. You rally troops by saying: Look what he's is doing. Let us do the same. And it's rather tragic - and I believe the movie shows Bee getting shot - but Bee sufferd a mortal wound just moments after he had given Jackson his famous nickname, and he would die the next day in the little old cabin which had been his headquaters on the field.
........................... And from the very first battle you see, you's looking at individual leadership, which is what the Civil War was all about. This is why the emphasis throughout this movie has to be the individuals Lee, Jackson and Josh Chamberlain. Again that's a great testamonium to Ron Maxwell.
Maxwell................ In this particular sector of the battle - because we don't claim or pretend to show the whole battle of First Manassas, which went on for a couple of days and over a vast area with tens of thousands of men - this is the sector where the first Virginia brigade came in on the second day and turns the tide - and you see in a suborder attack initiated by the 33rd Virginia regiment, they were in blue uniforms.
........................... Once again we're talking about production design, costumes design, and the research to do on the look of the movie. Because on-one again would know how long the war would last, most of these Confederate units coming at the battlefields were wearing their militia uniforms. You see some of the militia dating back to the colonial period, some militia uniforms dating back to the war of 1812. Some of the muskets some were carrying were really antiques.
........................... There was nothing yet regularized. This all followed the battle of First Manassas.
........................... And part of the confusion of that day was that you had southerners fighting in blue, and of course the northern armies were wearing the blue. You see Thomas Jonathan Jackson in this scene wearing his blue VMI uniform. And then some of the confusion was extended to the flags. There was no uniformity in the flags, and then the new Confederate flags were also the same tricolor of red, white and blue. And when the breeze wasn't filling them out, you couldn't tell who's flag it was. This ended up in some mistakes on both sides, but especially around the Yankees, around Rickett's batteries, who made a fatal hesitation, because they weren's sure if Yankees were advancing on them of Confederates were advancing on them. They were in fact Confederates.
........................... But this suborder attack, the first charge of the 33rd under Colonel Cummings, which is repulsed by the Federals, you see one of the people who breaks out at the beginning and says, "Let's go whipp'em"is none other tham Charlie Norris, a VMI cadett.
Robertson............ Jackson's brigade, initially known as the 1st Brigade of Virginia, became of course the famous "Stonewall Brigade". And it had a very unique consistency to it. It was composed of five regiments from the Shenandoah Valley, stretching from Winchester all the way south up to the little town of Marion in south-western Virginia. And it was a unique brigade in that the brigade came from valley folk, and valley folk were large families, very large families. And you may find four, five brothers, a father and a son, or cousins in there, all in that brigade. And after a while it really became known as a cousin rout rather than a brigade, you saw your kindfolk anywhere.
........................... But it would have a double-stagging effekt on families with the casualties it suffered. Some six thousand men would serve in that brigade, the "Stonewall Brigade". At the end 210 were left, none of them above the rank of captain. We have a county seat in Virginia calles Fishing Swirl. You may remember the families been killed in this war, so that Fishing Swirl ceased to exist.
........................... This again goes back to this family influence and this localism with all of these regiments being raised in Jackson's brigade in his own beloved valley. And so he had a very close kindship with these men.
........................... The winning of Jackson was indeen factual. Just before his brigade charged he was strucked in the left hand by a minie ball. Fortunally the ball was spent. Because had it been fired at close range, the ball had shattered his hand, left even he'd lost that limb. But as it was, the ball struck his hand, it broke the middle finger. And this gave him quite a bit of discomfort for several weeks thereafter. What you see in the film is holding his hand aloft, doing that for two reasons, one to control the bleeding, one to control pain as much as he could. There were no drugs to administer, they were short of valium to pain.
Gibson................. You know there was another wound that Jackson sustained that day, that he writes to his wife about the day following the battle. Jackson wrote that "her" coat, that blue VMI professor's uniform, "her" coat has sustained a wound in the right hip. But he did not feel that it was mortal and that his stewart in fact is repairing it at the very moment. That coat remains a part of the VMI museum collection today, and the wound is still very evident as battlefield repair as there. The wardrobe department came to VMI and studied all of these pieces, so there can be replicated that environment of authenticity for the scenes we are seeing now.
Maxwell................ The Battle of First Manassas in this film, as well as the other battles in this film - the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Chancellorsville - were filmed in detail the way they happened. What I mean by that is, there is nothing generic about an Civil War battle. No two battles go forth the same way, the terrain was different, the people were different, the climate was different, the topography was different, their objectives were different.
........................... So you can't film any two battles the same way. And even though just in segments of the battle - where with Jackson and the 1st Virginia Brigade at Manassas, where with Chamberlain and the 20th Maine going up the hill at Marye's Heights, where with Jackson at the Battle of Chancellorsville - within those sectory in the battle, things are recreated in great detail in the proper sequence. And in many cases what people said was remembered and written in diaries immediately afterwords or immediately after the war.
........................... So that in First Manassas, not just what Bee says "There stands Jackson line an stonewall", but also Jackson's lines, when he finally issues the charge and says "Yell like furies". This isn't an invention of the film maker. This is what he said. In that scene there in fact, a battlefield, a major battle is concerned - it may have been heard elsewhere throught the south - that's the first major battle where the infamous or famous rebel yell is heard, I'm sure to terrorize the enemy as well as to ensturbe courage and fortitude among the soldiers who were in a charge, in an bayonet charge.
........................... Jackson understood that the war had to be fought at close quarters, with the bayonet. That's as close as you can get. That's as intimate as you can get. Just before he leads the attack, that's the attack that routs the Federals from Rickett's batteries and turns the tide, he sais "give them the bayonet". And so this becomes the motive through the film, and it's almost a metaphore for his harshness, for his determination to win, and in deed for his ruthlessness.
........................... In don't know these departing from extablished strategies, the bayonet was a shock weapon. In terms of percentages - Bud might correct me if I'm might remember this right - in terms of percentages it's way down on the scale by one might find to be expected to be wounded. The reason for that is, if you saw several thousands individuals running at you with this tiny little metal things, chances are, by the time they got there, you would be gone. So it was a psychological weapon, and a very potent one that Jackson understood.
28 - 48:51 - Quiet battlefield
Gibson................. This scene, that we're experiancing the aftermath of the battlefield, it well illustrates Bud's comment about Jackson finding piece in the church. This thing that this orphan at seven years of age, always struggling about wanting to know, to be able to predict or to feel comfortable with the future, his religion gave him that comfort. And here he is going back to that. His staff member asks him, "How can you be so calm out here?" And Jackson reflects him, "Well, my God tells me I can be as calm on the battlefield as in the bed." But then he makes that poiniant line, "We must never forget these men." There will be many more to follow, but we must never forget these men.
Robertson............ Now, that scene was like many viewers as anti-climatic. It should it, it's a beautiful scene. And Ron is incorporated so much into it. When Jackson rides over the field, he doesn't turn his back on what has happened. He rides over the field where many died. And as Keith points out, he makes it clear: we have lost these men, but we shall never forget them. And I think this is extremely poiniant.
........................... And the final think I think about that scene is just so fabulous, it's in the background it's clouding up and the thunder is sounding. And it's going to rain. And that's so true, that is not poetic license. After so many major battles in the Civil War it starts to rain. But dramatically here at Manassas, where he's won that great victory, suddenly it's clouding up and rain is coming, and God is gonna wash the earth and get ready for the next one.
Maxwell................ Of course we shot that in dusk, knowing we wanna get the effect, the somber poiniant effect, you could get it at dusk. But just like the very last day of filming on the battle of Gettysburg, where we had to do the shot with the embrace of the two brothers, we had the most spectecular sunset of the summer of 1992. We had just the most ideal condition what came late that afternoon. It's called the twilight hour, anyone who knows about film-making. But the twilight hour is not an hour, it less then an hour. And you got like two takes to the most to get those shots. And we were - shall I use the word - blessed, blessed as we were to get that final shot an First Manassas so as we were over the final shot at the film at Gettysburg.
34 - 58:27 - Jim Lewis, the cook
Robertson............ Two aspects of this scene appealed to me very, very strongly. One is Jackson's faintnent that he did not like the name "Stonewall". That is true. He did not like the name "Stonewall", because he didn't think he deserved it. He thought that the name should apply to his men. Ironically enough, his own men never called him "Stonewall", they used the more affectionate term "Old Jack" to him.
........................... Secondly is Jim Lewis in this scene. It is the introduction of Lewis, the second time we see a slave in this movie. Lewis has come to Jackson. He is a slave, but this still does not denegrate the fact that he is from Lexington, that he is part of Lexington society, that he is a Virginian in his own mind. And very early in his conversation with General Jackson here, Jim Lewis says, "Lexington is my home, same as you, General." And I find that very, very remarkable in a film like this, because it immediately tells you, Jim Lewis and Thomas Jackson are from the same country. They may have different social standings, but they have the same degree of patriotism.
........................... Jim Lewis was probably in his mid-fifties at this time, and he was a slave to am man who had leased him to Jackson. Jim Lewis was not a free man my any means. But Jim Lewis forms a deep affection for Jackson. And so much so, that I think it is most appropriate that in fact and in film it is Jim Lewis who leads Little Sorrel at the funeral. He is right behind the casket with Jackson's horse.
Gibson................. A great position of honor, that's an excellent point to make.
........................... It's so interesting in this scene also, that these two men shake hands at the beginning of the scene. Now they salute one another. And it's indicative of the change of relationship over that scene, this new relationship that exists between them, that will have to carry them throughout the rest of their time that they're going to have together. Because Jackson's gonna rely enormously on Jim to keep his personal life in the field intact.
36 - 1:00:44 - Wishing a child
Gibson........................ A very dramatic part in this scene I think is when Jackson and Anna begin to discuss children. Again we must remember that the death had come to Jackson over and over again. His first wife had died in childbirth after fourteen months of marriage. And they had already lost a child, Mary Graham, who died in his arms just days after it was born. And now Jackson is beginning to question God's judgement, will they ever have a child. And even he's a great general, he's a household world, rapidly becoming so in Virginia at least, he still longs for that child that he can love. And Anna asures him that God's will would give them another child. This is totally moving, and I think it completely resolves any presumed sexuality one might attach to this scene.
Maxwell...................... Again we're being exposed in this scene to Jackson, a man we think to know so much about, that we don't give a lot of time thinking about Jackson the man, the family, the husband, the father. One thing that is evated him his entire life is family. And here he is confronted with it in this particular scene. Just a year earlier from the time this scene is portraying, as Bud pointed out, they're lost their first child, Mary Graham. And Jackson summized it's because we loved her too much. Do here he is in this dilemma. Do we dare bring another child in the world and run the risk of loving her too much and bringing God's... It's his quandry. And Mary Anna asures him it's one they can resolve with God's help.
..................................... In the scene first prior to First Manassas, Jackson prays for understanding and compassion, for strength, for guidance, and also part of the prays is a letting-go, releasing himself again formally to the hands of God. But in that prayer he mentions the fact that it's his wife's birthday, it's Anna's birthday. It's also the sabbath. Is was owes perticularily about breaking the commandmend of honoring the sabbath, keeping that day holy while engaging in warfare. But he understood, this is the way it's gonna be, he's gonna surrender to it. He couldn't control the time and place they're gonna meet the Federal armies.
..................................... But that echo of her birthday runds through the film. And the scene starts with Anna musing that it's a good thing the battle starts on her birthday, and he can's imagine why, and she says, "because that way in our old days you never forget it."
..................................... Yes, it's an act of imagination to write that dialogue, but you can only write it if you'd done the research. You can't invent that much you know it was on her birthday and that it would mean something to both of them.
Gibson........................ Those types of things you know are very important to wifes that husbands remember their birthday, and any tool to help us do that is appreciated.
61 - 1:15:58 - Prayers in the night
Robertson............ Many viewer will say, this is the most dramatic scene in the entire movie, when Jackson and Jim Lewis discuss God, discuss slavery, discuss their states, discuss themselves. Again Ron has been a genius here at motivating this conversation between them. Back in Winchester when Jackson first met Jim Lewis, Jim starts off saying, "Lexington is my home like your's is, General." And then at the beginning of this conversation, Jim Lewis makes reference to "this old Virginia man," talking about himself, which shows that his roots were in Virginia as much as Jackson's.
........................... Jackson's feelings about slavery were so simple that peope do not understand them, and they come forward, I think, very very brilliantly in this scene. Jackson believed that God had ordained slavery for reasons no man could question, and therefor man had to endure slavery, one cannot go against God's will. I'm sure there're probably critics who'll say, Jackson ducks the issue toward the end of this conversaion. He does not. Jackson prayes and says to God, "show us the way, and we will follow." He's apealling to God to help ending the system.
........................... And then toward the very end of the scene, Jackson says to Jim Lewis, "some day your people will be free." He was absolutely confident with this, which again shows that, in this war the southerners are not fighting to preserve slavery as much as they are fighting to preserve their homeland, their way of life - the thing for which American boys had alway fought. And this scene, I think, so beautifully displays all of those feelings.
Gibson................. This is not a dialogue based on a memoir or letter or diary. On the other hand, it's such a natural thing to imagine Jackson and Jim Lewis praying together. Jackson had prayed with black men numerous times in his life, in the orchestration in the sunday school classes that he had been for the parts of the blacks in Lexington for years prior to the war. Even after the war began, he continued to be solicicous of how the black sunday schools goes, he sends funds to make sure it's operational. So it's a very natural thing to have occurred to Jackson, to take that moment and pause, and come together as they do in the scene.
Maxwell................ The other thing of the thing as the part of Jim Lewis, is that Jim Lewis takes a chance, an enormous act of faith in not only his God, the protection that God would give him, but in his faith in the man he's coming to know, who he also is convinced his personal relationship with God. Because it's Jim Lewis who provokes the question, "how is it, Lord, that some good Christian people can tolerate the black brothers in slavery?" He provokes it.
........................... Now, some may say that's a very daring thing for a servant to bring up with a Confederate general. But it's there because he feel's he's able to. At that moment, he's not just Jackson, the General of a whole corps by this point that's on the way to Fredericksburg. But he's a man he's come to know because he's attending to, he's been with him. He's seen Jackson two, three, four times a day go down on his knees and pray. He's come to know the man, he feels safe, that he can bring this up with him.
........................... We know, it's almost a cliché, brother against brother, that whites were conflicted. But it has not been talked about much, certainly not in the popular culture, is that African Americans were also conflicted. It was not a simple issue. Because they were conflicted, they were living in a real place, in a real context with the real neighbours, with the real friends, with the real families. And we live our lives als human beings in the context of real places. We don't live our lives on idealogical dimension. Some might be ideological, most people don't. The're trying to get by from day to day, traying to survive, trying to protect their families, and get by with as much dignity as possible.
........................... And these African Americans, black with white brothers and sisters, were in a tough, tough position. Nobody was confused about the desire to be free. But the same time they live in the conext of a society where they're not free. And they don't know when they're gonna be free. And they gotta survive.
........................... Now, some people might see this film and say, "where are the blacks being flogged? Where are they in chains? Where are they on auction block?" These things happened. These things must be told. They must be known. But it isn't this film. That was not what Jackson was about. That was not what the Beal family was about. That was not what Robert E. Lee was about in the contect of the story. That's another story that needs to be told. And its understanding the complexity of this horrible position these people were in is to understand the totality of the difficulty and the challenges of this whole generation lived through black and white, north and south.
68 - 1:34:52 - A strong line
Maxwell................ One of the things you see in the scene where the general staff, the Confederate staff is around Lee, is how well prepared the Confederacy is in this particular battle. They had a few weeks by this time to really get it together. And they talk about a road that had been dug behind all the entrenchments, the fact that they're fortified, all the guns were in place. They are in a very formidable position. Very important to know this for the audience, to realize, that Burnside, just as General Hancock fortold, will send them on a fool varrant - in a way that will be mirrored six months later at Gettysburg in fact in reverse, when Lee sends the Confederates against nearly equally fortified positions on Cemetery Hill against massed artillery and massed infantry behind a stone wall. And this is a course of death and winner.
........................... But another scene you see in the scene, this scene immediately follows the sacking of Fredericksburg, which adds a very important emotional component. Because not only are they these kind of hard warriors by this point by Summer of '62 and determined to win in fighting a hard war. But as if they needed it, they'd just seen a horrible display of a lack of discipline, when some units of Federal troops had ransacked and sacked the city, and distroyed it, and burned houses and looted it, and sent the frew remaining citizens who remained there scaring out, fighting for their lives.
........................... So if they needed anymore motivation, those undisciplined troops gave it to them. And anthough it's not stated prosane in the film, you get the feeling in a sequence of shots, that these Confederate soldiers are not gonna let anybody in blue get up this hill, that's it's gonna be a bloody encounter.
Gibson................. Ron was mentioning how well the Confederates were prepared for this oncoming battle. It was a gift given to them by the federal command, those weeks of delay. Because the Union commander simply didn't feel that he was empowerd to deviate from that well-thoughtout paper plan that had been developed in Washington. Flexibility is a holemark of successful armies. We'd seen that demonstrated in our own times just recently. And that comes across in this scene, that inflexibility will lead to great problems to the Federal army as they make that commitment to cross their Rubicon.
69 - 1:37:01 - Battle of Fredericksburg
Maxwell................ About 104 years after the Roman civil war, that was conducted between Pompeius, Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, Lucanus, the great latin epic poet, writes an account of that called "The Civilli Bellum." And when I was doing the research for this scene, where General Burnsode sends his divisions across the Rappahannock on pontoon bridges, I couldn't help but get this feeling that we're been here before. You can't read any history without this feeling we'd been here before. And we're probably been here again. And the place where we were before was in face Caesar crossing the Rubicon.
........................... 'Cause it wasn't just an army crossing any ol' river. It was a special, it ever had a significance. Because it marked the boundary of the imperial, the republican Rome. And the legions were supposed to fight external to the republic. They were not to, they were forbidden from entering Rome. And Caesar was breaching this trust by crossing the army back into republican Rome. That marked a watershed in Roman history.
........................... In a fact, even though the war has been going on for a few years and other rivers had been breached, starting with the Potomac, the parallelty to Lucanus was too good to pass up here. Because in fact, it's a very significant river. The Yankees are again crossing it for - what they saw certainly - greater purposes. That's what they saw in their minds and in Lincoln's eyes, and the Union high-command is the greater good. They in fact were invading a town of their own people what they by their own admission would consider fellow American citizens, for the whole war was to preserve the union from the Yankee point of view. So they're invading, attacking and besieging a town of fellow citizen in the same way that Caesar did in the Roman civil war.
........................... And it was the perfect thing i felt to put in in the mouth of a professor of classic literature and rhetoric, a man who'd studied public speeking, very aware of uses of language. Too that Joshua Chamberlain would remember, that he would remember the way I was remembering as a scipt writer, that he would remember this, and he would recite.
........................... So again, this is - shall we say - flight of fancy imagination, but one that I think it fits the people and the time and the place, so that Joshoa Lawrence Chamberlain quotes from Lucanus this specific event, Caesar crossing the Rubicon, while we're seeing the images of the various divisions crossing the Rappahannock.
78 - 2:09:14 - Return the fire
Robertson............ I think, in this sequence there are three things that stand out for me. One, both sides could stop this great battle at night time to look at a natural wonder, the aurora borealis. I not sure many Americans had ever seen the autora borealis with it's spectacular. And it brought this war to a halt, as soldiers north and south looked to God's wonders.
Gibson................. That is a very rare occurance for our latitude here in Virginia. It does not happen routinely. The fact that it happened on that particular night on that particular time must have been a message to many of those brave men laying on that field that night, that God was looking down on them.
Maxwell................ Aurora boralis, like everything else in this movie, really happened. It is so startling, that a frew people who had seen the film approaced me and said, "you made that up in you, of course. How ordatious to make something up with that extraordinary, that both armies saw." It happened, it's been widely commented on by the people who were there. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain writes about it in his reminescences.
........................... But again, even though it happened, even though it's real, as I said earlier, it also works in the methaphysical round, in the "ghost round" that Shakespeare employed so often, in the Scottish Play, in Hamlet, in many other works - certainly in Julius Caesar, when Brutus is visited by the ghost of Julius Caesar, and Julius Caesar early is visited by the preminissions of witches who haunt MacBeth. And all throughout Julius Caesar, in the opening scenes of Julius Caesar there are references to strange storms and strange events, and things were flying about them, and things that had never been seen in nature before. There are omens of things.
........................... And so here we have this, another natural event, which is what Shakespeare was writing about in his plays, what Lucanus talks about in "Civilli Bellum" in extensively much more than I have Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain quoting. These natural events seem super-natural when they're put super-emposed on events in the human world. And they are in fact regarded as axe of the Gods.
........................... Now when Jeff Shaara wrote the book and I asked him, why did he title it "Gods and Generals", he meant, that different soldiers would look upon their leaders simetomes as more than generals, as if they were gods.
........................... I took that concept and I put by own interpretation on it, which is that, yes we had a Christian god in this film very prominently, because he is the god that most of these characters believe in genually and sincerely and pray to this god throughout the film. But then there are these other things that relate to a pre-christian world, which Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain recites to when he quotes Lucanus, Lucanus talking about Jupiter and Sumson, and basically Nepton and the pre-christian dieties. And then it also works in the sense of "axe of God", or axe of the super-natural, like this aurora borealis.
........................... So again, it's another example of something that really happened but is used as a device, as a dramatic device which keeps the film on two playings simultaneously. I reallize, it's the high-wire act, but to keep in the real world of the 1860th civil war and to keep in on an almoust grand stage at the same time.
80 - 2:12:08 - Order to retreat
Robertson............ The second thing that impressed me in this segment is the retreat of the Union army. It's very, very dramatic, primarily becaus we Americans are so ill-equipped in retreating. We're so unfamilliar with defeat. And I think Ron scores high here for just having these men walk away. If you had dialogue, any conversation, it would be lost. It would shatter the whole moment. But these soldiers are going back in solemn defeat. And it's very moving because American society is not accustomed to it.
Maxwell................ The story has advanced with images like what we are looking at now, the Federal retreat from Fredericksburg. And the story conveyed to the stories of the score through John Frizzell and Randy Edelman's exquissedly fragile treatment of an orchestra, weaving the subtext of what's in their hearts as the Federals retreat and the Confederates regain posession of Fredericksburg. There's nothing triumph in here. Yes, they'd won one of the greatest Confederate victories of the Civil War, but nobody behaving triumphally. It's a very somber moment.
Robertson............ Thirdly I think, like Ron said a frew momenta ago, there's no hurra'ing, there's no shouting and celebrating over victory. Lee is quietly dignified in victory. And that too is true, and it points out the drama of the elder. And in deed it was Lee who makes that famous statement at that great slaughter at Fredericksburg, "It is well that war is so terrible, or else wo should grow to fond of it." And that too explains the emotions in Lee during the moment.
84 - 2:13:46 - Yankees everywhere
Gibson................. The scene with this wonderful character, this citizen of Fredericksburg looking up at General Lee whom we assume he recognizes, is the great image there. It underscores the difficulties, the human suffering the civilians endured in this urban warfare, which is what in fact that battle was. It wasn't fought out on someone's farm of three or four thousand acres. It was fought in the streets. And this man is testimony that speeking for many people from Fredericksburg, I'm sure, after that battle, the disorientation and confusion that this elderly gentleman is reflecting there. He has a pointiant message for General Lee, who is very incomfortable, I think, about what they have wrought on these people.
85 - 2:15:04 - Letter from Lincoln
Maxwell................ A few days after the retreat from Fredericksburg, the Federal army regrouped at Stoneman Switch, not too far northeast of Fredericksburg, where they had a big base-camp. And they in face went into winter-quaters there and spend January, February, part of March. This scene, which is still in December 1862, Ames is reading an order, reading a report. And again this report is forbade him word for word from President Abraham Lincoln, where Lincoln is congratulating them, among other things how low the casualty rate was. And of course, Kilrain, being who he is - I used him as the foil to make the satanic commentary - "compared to what" are these low casualties? And he mentiones three of the greatest military catastrophies he could have been aware of at that time in military history.
113 - 2:52:38 - Stealth march
Robertson............ I think that it's both natural and well that the movie climaxes with the battle of Chancellorsville, because that battle witnessed one of the greatest flank movement in military history.This was not Thomas Jackson's first flank march by any means, but certainly was his biggest, it was the most climactic, the most brilliant of all. It started just before dawn and it took his men twelve miles. You can't say over roads they'd pass. There were woods, they were crossing fields, much like pilgrimgs they were steeling their way around the right flank of the Union army. And after they'd marched all day long, one stop for water, no stop to meal or food, after they had marched all day long, around 5:15 in the afternoon - the sun is not setting, but it is beginning to head toward the west - then Jackson launches this major offensive. And for three hours it was an incredible achievement on the part of the Confederacy. It broke the Union life-line, they drove the Union army three miles in the course of three hours. Three miles they drove the Union army back.
........................... And I would like to correct a myth, that'd long persisted on the Union side of the battle at Chancellorsville. Jackson's men hit the eleventh corps. The eleventh corps did not fall to pieces. Those men fell back grudgingly, and the casual details, the casual figures make it quite plain, that they lost about 2,000 men putting up a fight on that retreat. It was just Jackson's force was so overwhelming, it hitted with such momentum at no regular corps in the Union army could have stood up for it. The eleventh corps certainly does not deserve the poor press it got afterwards.
Gibson................. Bud pointed that out, but it wasn't necessarily a kick-walk für Jackson's troops there. Even though they would have preferred they'd been eating dinner, as many in the eleventh corps were preparing to do, this is what they were faced from instead. In this whole scene they were watching, it geows with this - Ron has been talking about - epic nature of the film and other models that may have been drawn from this. And you can hear Wagner's "The Valkyries" here building up this emotion as the scene unfolds with these thousands and thousands of Confederates, this whole wing of Lee's army, that has available to in here, waiting for their moment.
........................... And as they are organizing themselves here, waiting to receive that command, Jackson is going to move forward with his staff on the horses. And as they come out of this wooded area, it almost takes your breath away to look beyond Jackson. Because you're focused, because of the camera angle been selected, is on Jackson. But then suddenly you realize that the line just extends on beyond horizon, thousands and thousands of men in unison, storming out. And it's shocking to see it, to imagine what it would have been if you would have been with General Howard there, receiving that line.
Robertson............ There was no way for Ron to stage this, but at first incling, the Union army had the sense there was something wrong when animals came running through. Deer and rabbits came dashing through the Federal camps. Well, the Federal soldiers totally unsuspecting anything thought it was time to have a shoot-out. And there were many reaching for their guns to shoot animals, wenn suddenly and literally all hell broke loose around them.
Gibson................. Also I'm so pleased , but surprised that Keith picked up and mentioned the situation with Howard's corps. Cause you see in the film, when Jackson's corps hits the yankees, as quick as they can they form a battle line. They're doing it almost instinctivly, they're doing it at the Lieutenant / Captain-level. There are nor orders from on high. They're just forming battle lines, getting of one or two volleys, and then falling back. They're fighting all the way back. And the Confederates are taking casualties all the way in. It's a rout, bat they're not running away. We don't see the complete collapse until the later scene when they're running past Hooker's headquaters in the old Chancellor's house. This was a kind of stampede. But in the early contact, Howard's corps puts up the bravest fight they possiblly can.
Robertson............ Yeah, I think the eleventh corps line did... it broke, but it never shattered. He was falling back in pieces, trying to put up a fight. But Jackson's got a one mile wide line. And they're just sweeping around everybody. Where would be one little pocket of resistance to build up, it would be overrun, and another line would mop up behind them.
........................... Prior to the charge, viewers may miss a very dramatic thing Jackson said. He was sitting on his horse with with General Robert Rodes, and he looks around and what he sees among his officer corps are a dozen or more former VMI cadetts and of VMI faculty. And it is then that he makes the wonderful statement, "The institute will be heard from today." It's a beautiful figure and deserved to the soul of the Virginia Military Institute.
Gibson................. Of couse, "Stonewall" was still a professor. When he storms out with his entire corps that late afternoon, he is still a professor of VMI and has the intention to return there after the war.
........................... Of course, the reason this moment takes place, and the reason Howard is there, his corps is there, is because Hooker has performed his own what he thought to be a flanking movement. Hooker had left Burnside's main army back around Fredericksburg, gone up the river further, crossed there over fords, and establishes themselves to what he thought to the rear of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
........................... Lee will out-general them here in a brilliant stroke of being aggresive, taking the huge risk of subdividing his army in the face of a superior enemy. Lee had already left a part of his army to face the Federal command under Sedgwick back in Fredericksburg. Now Lee will once again - under Lee and Jackson coming to an agreement about this - Lee will once again subdivide his army. And Jackson makes that brilliant march - not completely secretive. Union forces detected them as they were making their movement through the way and in face skirmished with them - thinking however, misreading, what that movemant was about - thinking perhaps that Lee in fact was leaving the battlefield, heading off to some safer location. That was not how the game would be played out in a matter of a few hours.
........................... Jackson was particularily sensitive to understanding the terrain that he was on. If he couldn't have a custom-made map like he had had in the Shenandoah Valley, giving him a powerful secret weappon, he would seek out well-informed local polits. And in this instance we see him seeking that out. Where are the roads? How can we get to where we need to be? And relying to someone he has great confidence in, Referend Lacy to have a family member that can do that for him. So Jackson has an intelligence of the road system and the country site that was not being shared, or not being enjoyed by the Union command on the particular sector of the battlefield.
Robertson............ Certainly he learned the value of artillery, certainly he learned the value of flank attacks in the Mexican war. And his experience there, in my own thinkling, is more valuable to him than what he learned in West Point, where he studied just basic textbooks.But in think, Jackson also posessed intuitive genius, just something put into him, and it made him a great general that he was. But secrecy and swiftness were the great keywords, and nothing exemplifies that more than the twelve mile march he made on Saturday, May 2nd, to reach the position to launch that late afternoon attack.
Gibson................. This regards for himself because of his reliance on God taking care of that day - Jackson's perception, God knew how this play was going to end - Jackson's role was to conduct his character through it.
Robertson............ Keith is exactly correct on this because by the night of May 2nd, Jackson made some incredible mistakes. Darkness is coming, you go into camp, you check your losses, you stabilize your line. But Jackson, he walts to launch an night-attack. Night-attacks did non exist in that time. No army made night-attacks.
........................... Secondly he wants to make sure he knows where he's going. So he himself is going out to reconnoiter. Lieutenant Generals don't go out to reconnoiter. You send a private, you send a cavalry man or someone out there to do this work for you. And Jackson does this thing why? Because he feels God is about to reward Them with great victory. He sees Chancellorsville - at least in my estimation - as Armageddon. This is a populous mount. Now we're on the verge of the great decisive victory that God is about to give us to end this war, and we can go home in piece.
........................... And so he makes this mistakes because of his eagerness, because of his deep burning desire to keep the attack going to make it the decisive victory that he is convinced it will be.
Gibson................. Part of his military genius that Bud links to, I think, if we can call it genius, is that element of audacity that Jackson and Lee are called upon, compelled to use it. It's one of the tools as the underdogs here have to resort to. Back Jackson is an... it may be inappropriate to think about him as a military innovator. He did some innovation with the artillery. He used some rapidly moving artillery to support the infantry in Mexico, called "flying artillery". But he is really a student. He is a student of military history, studies Napoleon, had great admiration for him. He understandes the gains of Napoleon's tactics, his successful flanking movements - striking your enemy where he is the weakest and you're the strongest - and he just falls back on those fundamental things and uses them over and over, but always with this compelling audacity. The Union commanders couldn't imagine Jackson doing something like this, because it seemed inappropriate. But for Jackson, God would determine if it was inappropriate in the ultimate reckonry.
Robertson............ For Jackson's Union counterparts the things that Jackson may resort to might seem imappropriate, but for Jackson it wasn't a matter of inappropriateness or acceptability. God will be the final judge of that.
Gibson................. This scene, where Jackson has his confrontation with A. P. Hill, this is a scene, I think, that gives us a fresh insight into Jackson the tactical battle commander. Here he has one of the subordinants thriving up, A. P. Hill, and Jackson tells him what he wants to do, and Hill begins to find... "Perhaps we need to discuss this, General," so you might hear Hill saying. "Let's come to some happy compromise." Jackson won't have any of it. He's made his mind, he's determined. He knows what needs to be done. In fact, he sends a captain - I believe, he brings up - to make sure that Hill would carry out his command, a captain to assist him in doing that. Keith Boswell.
........................... Boswell doesn't have very long to live, as it plays out. But he's going to do as General Jackson has ordered.
........................... Early in the war, Jackson confided to one of his subordinants this very concept of... "If you can get into or break the moral commitment of the enemy, it created a perception to your forces as inpenetrable, that they will begin to believe that, and do a lot of the work for you.
Robertson............ Jackson commented once earlier in the war that his secret was succes in verge to mistify the enemy. And then you manouver yourself to a weak point of the enemy. And then you attack. And then you don't go merely for victory. You go for destruction. And this kind of audacity was unknown in American military history at that point, while you play the game of wars as chess. While you move your pieces, you check-mate the king, and it's not much blood on the board. But Jackson is playing checkers. And in checkers, you clean the board of your opponent. And I see what makes that kind of judgement in an attack.
........................... As Keith so well points out, Jackson had an audacity, as did Lee. That confounded commanders for a long time.
Gibson................. That's a great way of thinking of it. To Jackson it's not a chess game, almost he thought, Jackson was playing checkers. That's a great way of thinking of it.
Robertson............ Jackson was never content with defeat, it had do be destruction. Much of how he felt at Chancellorsville almost goes back to his original feeling at the outset of the war. He actually advocated what we call the black-flag-policy. Under the black-flag-policy you take no prisoners, you kill them all.
........................... Where did he get this from? Was it Dschingis Khan, or...? No, that spread out the Old Testament. If you read Joshuah and the account against Jericho, if you interprete the Old Testament scriptures literally, Joshuah took the city and killed every man, woman and child in the town in the name of God.
........................... Jackson thought, this is the way the Civil War should be fought, and perhaps it it had been resolved, might have won. But of course it could not have been fought that way. But I think again at Chancellorsville you see this intensity come out, "we got them on the run, let's don't let'em up, let's go for the kill."
Gibson................. No Federal officer would have accused Jackson not biting by the rules of war. He didn't execute federal prisoners. The conditions for prisoners on both sides were horrific by the time they were in prison camps. But no prisoners were summarily executed as a matter of policy by the Federal army of the Confederate army.
Robertson............ And to take that one step further, it was Stonewall Jackson who initiated the regulation that captured surgeons, once they've commited their medical duties, were allowed to back into their own lines unmolested. This is Stonewall Jackson. He made a distinctivness between war and civility. And war is total, and in civility you be lean.
........................... And this is the cause I've always thought of Jackson as really having a two-headed religous feeling, a feeling shared by many Evangelicals today. On the one hand he could fight with Old-Testament fury, in order to attain New-Testament faith. There were several wittnesses seeing that. The bible isn't devided to Old Testament / New Testament to the Presbeterian.
Gibson................. In fact, in flesh and blood he's a ninteenth century man, but in intellect and his faith he's a sixteenth century man. He's right there with Martin Luther, Calvin, and on the eve of the thirty-years war. That's how I see him.
Robertson............ I never thought Jackson a Presbeterian. I think he's a Calvinist, from the beginning to the end.
Gibson................. A good point.
115 - 3:04:38 - Friendly fire
Robertson............ Much controversy used to surround the fatal wounding of Stonewall Jackson. But by the weight of evidence has accumulated now, there's really not a lot of controversy you can attach to it, leaving out the Union, firering did the 18th North Carolina. Nobody knew it in the Rebel lines, knew it it was Jackson. There had been a couple of recent studies in which someone is released with these Confederates just getting back with Jackson for hard times he influcted on them.
........................... That's simply absurd. Yet after set the stage. Jackson had ridden over to the Union lines. He varied his return path enough, so he did non retrace his steps. He came in from another sector. Here are soldiers who have marched twelve miles, who fought for three and a half hours, they're all but up on their feet. Suddenly they hear horsemen coming from the direction of the Union line It was natural to assume, they were Union cavalry.
........................... And so, always taught, shoot first and ask questions later, they opened fire. And unfortionately they opened fire at range of about 75 yards, it was almoust a can't-miss. And several men went down, several men were killed, and numbered men were wounded, and Jackson was among those wounded.
........................... He was actually struck three times. A bullet went in below his elbow, passed through the arm, came out of the arm. Another bullet did lodge in his right hand, broke two fingers, and the bullet itself is lodged against the back of the skin. But it was the third shot that proved the most troublesome, indeed it proved mortal in the final. It struck his left arm, three inches below the shoulder. It shattered the bone, nerves, everything.
........................... One must remember, too, when he was struck all three time by 69 caliber round ball, it makes a grisly wound. And though the other two wounds were not that serious to one that shattered the arm, they ultimately prove fatal.
Gibson................. The 18th North Carolina, that Bud was referring to, that was in that section of the line that the fatal volley fired, is a part of a brigade being commanded by a fellow named James Lane, who in fact is a VMI graduate and one of those early students. He had shared time there with Jackson.
Robertson............ The 18th North Carolina never got over what happened. It bruted over it. Many of them had sort of a death wish after they just flung themselves into the battle to avenge to just what they had done. Major John Barley, according to Wilmington newspaper who issued the order to fire, never got over to what he had done. And he died at a very young age in 1866. And by family tradition he died on broken heart. He had shot Stonewall Jackson.
........................... I found in looking over tension records in the North Carolina state, the former war archives, I think it was three differnistencies, where these old veterans of the 18th North Carolina began to muse on it after the war. The mind plays funny tricks on us. And each one of these three veterans, these three survivors came to the conlusion that it was his bullet that inflicted the fatal wound. And all three of them commited suicide. They just could not live with that presume to guilt that they had. It was a terrible thing that they had. And the 18th North Carolina payed dearly for what they did in this terms of their own sacrifice.
........................... Jackson could not blame them. He did not blame them für what they had done, nor could anyone else. It was just one of those accidents of war. And many nowerdays students know, that friendly fire was quite common in the Civil War. A number of General officers were killed, including Albert Sidney Johnston, whom Jefferson Davis regarded the be the best general he had, was killed at Shiloh in 1862, shot by his own men. Turner Ashby, Jackson's great horse leader was shot by his own men. Friedly fire in all that smoke and confusion was quite often.
118 - 3:11:35 - Battle report to the bed
Maxwell................ Earlier, we talked about the two things you have to achieve in a battle as a atter of account, the chaos, that carnage, and at the same time, the clarity what's going on, the specificity of the tactics and who's moving where. Part of the challenge is to convey the destruction of the human body, the violence on human body, that happenes to a body as the steel balls hit you, or if a cannon ball hit you, or if there is an explosion nearby - the different ways a human body was torn up by this munitions. That happened and it cannot be ignored. But the most important thing for me is the loss if life, the loss of a particular person, the fact that a person is here one minute, gone the next, the death of peope we've come to know. And by extension, they become almost metaphorous for the many hundrets of thousands who have died in the war.
........................... When I was finishing the film, one of my collegues looked at it and said, "Do you know, it's taking too long for Jackson to die. You know, he's just one man, after all. There were 625.000 people died, so why did you make such a big deal about him?" Well, it's because, through him we see, we feel this 625.000 who died. We must take time with the individual death to feel. Otherwhise they're just numbers. 625.000 times that happened, maybe not over a period of ten days of dying of phemonia and feaver, maybe violently and all the sudden. But is must show.
........................... Another reason we take time with that scene is, because methaprorically it's over for the Confederacy. Now they don't know it at the time, cause Confederates fight for another two years, genetically, heroiacally and desperately. But looking back, it was certainly a moment where things changed radically, and many if not most of the people in the south new it. They mourned about death in a huge funeral in Richmond, preceding the one we show in the film at Lexington. Everybody turned out for it. It was - if I'm not mistaken - the biggest funeral since George Washington, and the next biggest one would be Abraham Lincoln.
........................... There was a sense that things have been shaken up badly though. Metaphorically there's more than a man dying in that moment.
120 - 3:14:03 - A sweet sour surprise
Robertson............ Civil War medicine is one of my special fields of study. And maybe a little confusion is over Jackson's turmoiled illness. The bullet wounds didn't get him, the amputation didn't get him, pneumonia got him. In those days, physicians could detect all the signs of pneumonia very, very easily. The problem was, they didn't have a clue what to do for it.
........................... Why Jackson got pneumonia, is controversional, you can argue it to dooms day. There are many who say, in one of the two drops from the litter in this weather - they dropped him twice accidently - that he may have appunctiored a lung, why others could say that the cold, wet compresses he insisted to be put on his chest for relieve may have caused it. Some medical people and eye whitnesses agree with them say with it, amenia caused it. Be bled pretty steadily for about four hours. And thereafter for a day or two he got a relieve from adrennum, and when the adrennum goes he got nothing left. His constitution was just zapp, which opened the door for pneumonia. And it would be pneumonia that would ultimately take his life a week after the wounding.
........................... Jackson, like so many people of the nineteenth century were so concerned about health. Because if they got sick, and medical training at that day was so primitive, that sometimes you were better off to take care of yourself. And so people tended to nurse themselves. Jackson was convinced that time or another that one of his organs was malfunctioning, and he treated himself. He was one of that individuals that came to believe very heavlly in hyper therapy, water treatment, that the spas were goot for you. And he went annually in the summertime in his Lexington years to spash around in the spas, which physicians say, "well, maybe it doesn't do you any good, but if you think it does, it probably does to you some good." Jackson was convinced it did make him feel batter, and it probably did.
........................... But you can't accuse Jackson of quackery any more than you can accuse anyone of them that day of quackery. They all had special feelings and very little knowledge of what to do about illness. And so they began to treat themselves.
123 - 3:16:37 - To be prepared
Maxwell................ Anna is derived as a character from her own words upon in a large measure, and also from her description in Bud's book, the biography of Jackson. And much of the final scene between them is as it actually happened. Again the whole discussion we had about the death, about being translated, which is metaphysical a calvinist, biblical language, it belongs to this people. They speak it as naturally as a conversation we would have today about the wheather. It is nothing imposed or artificial about it. She is preparing him and he is preparing him himself to be translated into paradise, to be as he says before this day is over.
........................... It's hard for her to say it, because she doesn't want to let go, not more than any wife that ever lived wants to let go, weather they believe in God or not. But her faith gets her and him through this at this point. The inevidable is here, she just heard what the doctor said, he is dying. She's a hard woman, she's a compassionate woman, but she's not a fool. And she's gonna prepare him, she says, "he must know, we must tell him". She's not gonna lie to him, she's not gonna keep the truth from him. And they confront it together with their shared faith.
........................... And it's something they's been dreading like all the couples in the Civil War. They don't wanna it happen to them, but they also realize it could happen. And remember the scene that they had together in the bed, he doubts that anything can go their way. And it's her in that scene that gets him strength, reminds him again in that scene that it's not just a judging God, the Old Testament God, but a loving God from the New Testament. She reminds him, and he needs to be reminded in that moment.
........................... And here again, she is with great difficulty overcoming her own sense of loss and not wanting to let go of him from the world, preparing him. So she comes across I think the way she was, a woman of immense strength. And as we know, she never remarried, and she became the great revered widow of the Confeceracy.
124 - 3:19:32 - Lee can't accept the fact
Robertson............ Unquestionally, the most dramatic scene in the movie for Lee is when Chaplan Lacey comes to tell him that Jackson will not live through the day. And he asked Lee if he would go to see Jackson. And some viewers may not realize what was behind Lee's saying "no".
........................... First of all, Lee never liked confrontation. And secondly he has a battle going on. He's trying to get the Union army out of his land, he's trying to get his own army back into shape. And I don't think, Lee's emotions would have allowed him to go see his dying friend. Lee - I think - compensated for that refusal, when he says to Chaplan Lacey something to the effect, "last night I prayed as I have never prayed in my life." He was praying for Jackson to make it, and he realizes that he can't. And in deed, after Jackson's death, one of the first reactions General Lee made to it was to send his wife a note, in which he said, "I don't know how to replace him." And I don't think he ever did replace him.
........................... And that is why I think Chancellorsville may well be the opening scene of the Appomattox Campaign. Because with Jackson gone, Lee has lost his mobility. He's lost his fast running-back who can circle the end and run for a touch-down. He's not there anymore. And thus, reduced from having mobility, Lee must now wage to stand up with a much heavier opponent. It's a fight he can't win. And it all began at a dark Saturday night at Chancellorsville.
Gibson................. I mean, it's historically obvious that Lee never finds a replacement, but I think, Lee knew that as seen as he was told of Jackson's death, that his role, Lee's role has changed know, because "I'm not gonna find another corps commander that can carry that burden, carry that weight in." For the remainder of the war, we see Lee becoming more and more burdened with that almost exclusively.
Robertson............ He felt miserably at Gettysburg. Because he just didn't have the "Jackson" there, who could have seized Culps Hill, who could have attack Cemetery Ridge on time.
Gibson................. Reversing opportunities, that just pop up on battlefields, this was one of Jackson's great talents.
125 - 3:21:13 - General Jackson dies
Maxwell................ This is perhaps the strongest example of Lee, of a duel I was referring to earlier, of a real man in a real context in a real place, with those people were in the room, Power and Lewis and Anna, and the dying words of his, the final dying words, "let's cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees," - perhaps the most famous quote from the Civil War.
........................... But what's before, we knew he was delirious, we know he shouted orders, and some of that specific orders Bud has in his book, in his biography. But I built on that, so that he goes through a whole sequence of talking to his men, so that you see in the final moment before he crosses that river, he becomes General Jackson again. He's back on the battlefield.
........................... As a matter of fact, in one version we mixed the sound of battle back in there, behind him we heard gun fire and explosions, he was back. But then we decided not to do it, in the experimentation of post-production, just leave it to him on the stage, alone at that moment. He's transitioning from the real world to the immortal world, he is collecting imagination now.
........................... But there it is, there it is, the real man dying in one time and place, but also becoming at that moment le legend that he had become, and becoming a humanic character in that final moment.
Robertson............ We live in an age of unusally dying numner of "Tom's", so let me comment on the dying words. Anna Morrison Jackson heard them, who is his wife, her honesty is unimpeachable. Doctor Hunter McGuire, one of the finest physicians of the nineteenth century, heard them. James Power Smith, one of his staff officers, who became an emiment Presbeterian minister, heard them. There's just no question, that the words were said. And they are deeply embedded in history, and you can't change them. They have become, as Ron said, perhaps the most famous phrase to comment on that war as a single phrase. And it a accuracy is unimpeachable.
Gibson................. Final words, that we have recorded of individuals from the Civil War, hawking back to some biblical quotes, some classical quotations. Because that was what was still back their in your minds. If you're dying, you're not probably come up there with something particularily brilliant and fresh, but you're going to fall back to that has kept you throughout all those years, and as Bud so eloquently writes in his book, "where is this place Jackson is returning to from that moment?" It's that childhood where he were, he would rest in the shade of the trees. Literally now he's returning to that place.
126 - 3:23:54 - Back home in Lexington
Gibson................. One the war began, when he leaves on that Sunday on April 17th 1861 he never returns in life again to his home. It's only in death that Jackson returns. And we see that carried out here.
Robertson............ Again to show the racial issue that was involved, that you simpley can't reduce it to black and white, Jim Lewis, the faithful slave, was given a position of honor in that funeral-by, leading Little Sorrel immediately behind Jackson's casket. It didn't had to be that way, there were others who could have done it, and people would have said that was so apropriate. But Jim Lewis did it, and many people said that was so apropriate.
Gibson................. The cadetts were in a very unusial configuration there. They're at "reversed arms", a manner of carrying their weapons that was reserved for periods of mourning. And that's the unusual display that they're showing us there.
128 - 3:25:22 - Conclusion
Maxwell................ The influences of this film are not just other films. Certainly I am influenced by other films, because in a war that is very visually oriented, and I enjoyed many of the great films that have been made in the last hundred years and endured many of the horrible films that have been made in the last hundred years. But there are other references.
........................... We chose to embrace the epic form. The epic form has less to do with history of cinema, more to do with the history of Greek play writers, more to do withe the history of the other Roman epic writers. Epic form exists, it is there for us to enjoy, to embrace, to study, and these are the influences on this film.
........................... This is not is why to say we are in the same leagues, probably not to the height of arrogance, but it is to admit that we're are influenced by these generations and generations of writers and thinkers and artists. And when you're dealing with the civil war, the American Civil War as a grovidale set, and others have repeated, the Civil War is the American illiate. If it isn't the Civil War, what is it?
........................... It exists on it own factural terrain with real people. And a film maker must deal with real people. But it also exists in the mythic imagination. So that Jackson is not just a school teacher from Lexington who rises to great military prominence, and where the circumstances call upon his gifts which he is able to display with formidable talent, and he's able to enlist a devotion from fighting soldiers such as no other general perhaps exeeded in military history.
........................... It's not just this man, but it's also our killies. He exists in our mythic imagination as someone who must die, he's pre-destined to die, he must die at the hands of his own men. It all must happen this way because because it's written in mythology before he lived his life.
........................... And so, to make this film and ignore Homer, and ignore all the great creators of the epic over the centuries, is really to empoverish the story, because it has this dimension to it. So we searched for a way to tell it, at one time grounded in reallity, certainly grounded in emotional reallity - scene by scene by scene actors had to play real people and real emotional moments - but in the same time living in a universal epic dimension.
........................... That's what we tried to do, and that's in fact what we did do, whether people respond to it or not of course is in the eye of the beholder.
129 - Credits
Gibson................. This is James Robertson again. I really appreciate Ron Maxwell asking me to be part of this movie, and part of this commentary. And it's a pleasure to make this fact available to those who purchase the DVD of a great movie.
Robertson............ Well, it's been a pleasure to be involved in a project. But now that it's done and now that we sat and watched it again and had this discussion together, it's been an enriching experience. Thank you, Ron, to make this possible, and for Bud for always adding insight into this ventures.
Maxwell................ Thank you, Bud, and thank you, Keith, for joining me for this commentary.
........................... One of the things that I enjoy of making both these movies, and hopefully "Last Full Measure", is that my views and my understanding of the Civil War has never remained constant or stagnend. It has changed from day to day, week to week, year to year over the now 25 years of pleasured work on these pictures. I know to keep changing, I know to keep evolving, because of the schoolarship that continues, because of the questions we seek to ask. And keep reminded, that the role of film as I see it, the film that influenced me in my life, are not the films what tried to answer questions, but the films which posts questions.
........................... I hope, that "Gods and Generals" poses some many questions, little ones, little size ones, some very big ones, that we go grapple with and contemplate in the coming times.