A Great Historical Film Commemorating the Battle of Gettysburg

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Ronald F. Maxwell’s 1993 production of Gettysburg

On the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of July, 1863, the Northern Union Army and the Southern Confederate Army met on on the field of Gettysburg, engaging in one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, indeed of any war. The battle lasted three days, and cost between 46,000 and 51,000 lives. Perhaps the finest film commemorating these fallen soldiers is the 1993 production of Gettysburg in which Jeff Daniels gives a rare performance as Congressional medal of honor winner Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Chamberlain’s citation reads, “Rank and organization: Colonel, 20th Maine Infantry. Place and date: At Gettysburg, Pa., 2 July 1863. Entered service at: Brunswick, Maine. Born: 8 September 1828, Brewer Maine. Date of issue: 11 August 1893. Citation: Daring heroism and great tenacity in holding his position on the Little Round Top against repeated assaults, and carrying the advance position on the Great Round Top.”

Gettysburg also does a fine job commemorating another Medal of Honor winner, Andrew J. Tozier, portrayed by Herb Mitchel. Tozier’s citation reads, “Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company I, 20th Maine Infantry. Place and date: At Gettysburg, Pa., 2 July 1863. Entered service at: Plymouth, Maine. Birth: Monmouth, Maine. Date of issue: 13 August 1898. Citation: At the crisis of the engagement this soldier, a color bearer, stood alone in an advanced position, the regiment having been borne back, and defended his colors with musket and ammunition picked up at his feet.” Tozier’s actions in the film are not given as much screen time as those of Chamberlain; however, it is nice to see this hero commemorated even in a small way.

The movie Gettysburg was adapted from Michael Shaara’s pulitzer prize winning novel The Killer Angels, and the script follows his research faithfully. The result is a mixture of heart wrenching personal stories and intensely accurate battle scenes. Warning, the film is nearly four and a half hours long. However, its lenght only adds the feeling of being in the middle of one of the most devastating battles in history. If you want to get a real feeling for this legendary moment, Gettysburg will transport you there.

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