Saturday, November 2, 2013

Movie Review: ****^Gettysburg (1993)

Third Day, Highest Point of the Confederacy

This movie fascinates and delights me.   I think it is the courage of the people who actually participated in these events that comes through.  It was produced by Ted Turner, and is based on the novel by "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara.  It shows the battle in general, but focuses on the stand on Little Round Top by Colonel Chamberlain (Jeff Bridges) and his men.  However the movie shows all three days of Gettysburg, and the heroics of Little Round Top was day two.  It starts showing how the skirmish got started, with General Buford's (Sam Elliott) cavalry defending Seminary Ridge.  Had that first day ended differently, this battle would have played out differently. 
The battle of the second day focused on the wings, Little Round Top to the South, and Cemetery Hill to the North. Chamberlain was order to fight to the last.  After withstanding three or four assaults, the were out of ammunition.  Instead of retreating, Chamberlain ordered a charge.  This confused the Confederates enough that the were easily captured, often by men with no ammunition.
The Confederacy was unable to turn either flank, so the third day saw a full out attack on the middle, General George E Pickett leading the charge.  Pickett's charge was subject to over a mile of area where they were subject to canon fire from several different directions.  There were also obstacles which slowed them down. General Lee had hoped the Federals had spread too thin.  He was wrong.  General Longstreet  argued for a different strategy all day.  Picket and his forces were ordered to attack.  After they were repulsed, Lee asked Pickett to see to his division.  His response, "I have no division."  They had been beaten, badly. Lee, who was the best general of the war, had asked too much this day.  The Confederacy would be allowed to escape across the Potomac, because of the hesitancy of General George Meade, General in command of the Union Forces.  But the Confederacy would be on the defensive from this time to the conclusion of the war.

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