DIRECTED BY RONALD F. MAXWELL
PRODUCED BY MOCTESUMA/ ROBERT KATZ
ESPARZA/ KATZ PRODUCTIONS
DIRECTED BY RONALD F. MAXWELL
PRODUCED BY MOCTESUMA/ ROBERT KATZ
ESPARZA/ KATZ PRODUCTIONS
Information from IMDb
The four and 1/4 hour depiction of the historical and personal events surrounding
and including the decisive American civil war battle features thousands of civil war
re-enactors marching over the exact ground that the federal army and the army of North Virginia
fought on. The defense of the Little Round Top and Pickett's Charge
are highlighted in the actual three day battle which is surrounded by the speeches
of the commanding officers and the personal reflections of the fighting men.
Based upon the novel 'The Killer Angels'. Written by Keith Loh
Tom Berenger ... Lt. Gen. James Longstree
Martin Sheen ... Gen. Robert E. Lee
Stephen Lang ... Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett
Jeff Daniels ... Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Richard Jordan ... Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead
Andrew Prine ... Brig. Gen. Richard B. Garnett
Cooper Huckabee ... Henry T. Harrison
Patrick Gorman ... Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood
Bo Brinkman ... Maj. Walter H. Taylor
James Lancaster ... Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle
William Morgan Sheppard ... Maj. Gen. Isaac R. Trimble / Narrator (as Morgan Sheppard)
Kieran Mulroney ... Maj. G. Moxley Sorrel
James Patrick Stuart ... Col. E. Porter Alexander (as Patrick Stuart)
Tim Ruddy ... Maj. Charles Marshall
Royce D. Applegate ... Brig. Gen. James L. Kemper
Ivan Kane ... Cap. Thomas J. Goree
Warren Burton ... Maj. Gen. Henry Heth
MacIntyre Dixon ... Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early
Joseph Fuqua ... Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart
Timothy Scott ... Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell (as Tim Scott)
George Lazenby ... Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew
Alex Harvey ... Maj. Hawkins
Charles Lester Kinsolving ... Brig. Gen. Willilam Barksdale
Ted Kozlosky ... Confederate Lieutenant
Henry Atterbury ... Lee's Aide
Graham Winton ... Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes
Curtis Bradford ... Another Officer (as Curtiss Bradford)
Daniel Chamblin ... Confederate Officer
Patrick Falci ... Lt. Gen. Ambose Powell Hill
Greg Ginther ... Rodes' Courier
George Heffner ... Another Officer
Tom Landon ... Texas Soldier #2
Trent Walker ... Rebel Prisoner (as Michael Tennessee Lee)
Rick Leisenring ... Confederate Voice
Steve Leone ... An Officer
Tom Mays ... Early's Courier
Frank McGurgan ... Old Sergeant
Peter Miller ... Pender's Courier
Arnold Nisley ... Sergeant
Ted Rebich ... Dr. Cullen
Curtis Utz ... Texas Soldier #1
C. George Werner ... Another Officer
Joe Ayer ... Banjo and Guitar Player
Eric Ayer ... Banjo and Guitar Player
Sam Elliott ... Brig. Gen. John Buford
C. Thomas Howell ... Lt. Thomas D. Chamberlain
Kevin Conway ... Sgt. 'Buster' Kilrain
Brian Mallon ... Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock
Buck Taylor ... Col. William Gamble
John Diehl ... Pvt. Bucklin
Joshua D. Maurer ... Col. James C. Rice (as Josh Mauer)
John Rothman ... Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds
Richard Anderson ... Maj. Gen. George G. Meade
Billy Campbell ... Lt. Pitzer (as William Campbell)
David Carpenter ... Col. Thomas C. Devin
Maxwell Caulfield ... Col. Strong Vincent
Donal Logue ... Capt. Ellis Spear
Dwier Brown ... Capt. Brewer
Herb Mitchell ... Sgt. Andrew J. Tozier
Emile O. Schmidt ... Brig. Gen. John Gibbon
Daniel Baumann ... Private #2
Ken Burns ... Hancock's Aide
Michael Callahan ... Bearded Man
Scott Allan Campbell ... Capt. Atherton W. Clark
David C. Cole ... Buford's Aide (as David Cole)
Mark Z. Danielewski ... Private
Brian James Egen ... Cocky Lieutenant (as Brian Egen)
Thomas Fife ... 2nd Maine Man (as Tom Fife)
David Fiske ... Courier
John Fitzpatrick ... Old 2nd Maine Man
Vee Gentile ... Private
Gary Gilmore ... Union Rider (Voice #1)
John Hadfield ... Vincent's Courier
John Heffron ... Sgt. Charles H. Veil
Conn Horgan ... Officer #1 (as Con Horgan)
Richard Kiester ... Devin's Aide
Matt Letscher ... Young 2nd Maine Man (as Matthew Letscher)
Robert Lucas ... Guard, 118th Pennsylvania
Reid MacLean ... Pvt. Jim Merrill
Jonathan Maxwell ... Pvt. Bill Merrill
Barry McEvoy ... 2nd Maine Soldier
Scott Mehaffey ... Lieutenant, Buford's Staff
Mark Moses ... Sgt. Owen
Russel Starlin ... Officer #2
Leonard Termo ... Cpl. George F. Estabrook
Frank Moseley ... Soldier #1 20th Maine
Brian Resh ... Soldier #2 20th Maine
Lawrence Sangi ... Soldier #3 20th Maine
Michael Phillips ... Soldier #4 20th Maine
Adam Brandy ... Soldier #5 20th Maine
Sandy Mitchell ... Fiddle and Guitar Player
John Durant ... Fiddle and Guitar Player
Olivia Maxwell ... Taneytown Girl
Darryl Wharton ... Escaped Slave
Rami Rivera Frankl ... Rebel Soldier (uncredited)
Kevin R. Hershberger ... Confederate Soldier (uncredited)
Robert Lee Hodge ... Confederate Soldier (uncredited)
Alec Holmes ... Confederate Soldier (uncredited)
Jay Lance ... Confederate Soldier (uncredited)
Bruce Lindsay ... Confederate / Union Soldier (uncredited)
Brian Pohanka ... Brig. Gen. Alexander Stewart Webb (uncredited)
Alejandro de Quesada ... Union Soldier (uncredited)
Ken DeSoto Ramoz ... Confederate Soldier (uncredited)
Ted Turner ... Col. Waller T. Patton (uncredited)
Moctesuma Esparza .... producer
Robert Katz .... producer
Nick Lombardo .... co-producer
Sandy Martin .... associate producer
Michael Shaara (novel "The Killer Angels")
Ronald F. Maxwell (screenplay)
Kees Van Oostrum
Composer Randy Edelman was initially not interested in the project because of the massive amount of music he would have to write for the film's original six hour length (when it was meant to be a mini-series). However, says Edelman, "I saw the faces of these officers, at the beginning of it, and it completely turned me on. I knew I was going to have to do it."
Except for the professional actors, this movie featured over 13,000 volunteer Civil War re-enactors who paid their own way, provided their own props and uniforms and fought the battles presented on screen using the same tactics as were current at the time.
Martin Sheen's role in the movie as General Lee was at one time slated for William Hurt, who bailed on the project when the studio financing the film at the time went broke. Tommy Lee Jones was approached, but could not take it because his schedule was filled. Robert Duvall was the next most likely candidate, having approached the producers and done research on the role, Virginia accent and all, until Martin Sheen signed on a sudden last-minute deal.
Final film of Richard Jordan, who died of a brain tumor five weeks before the film's premier. His memorial was held in Los Angeles on the same day the film opened in Gettysburg.
While Robert Duvall was replaced by Martin Sheen to play Gen. Robert E. Lee at the last minute, he plays Lee in the prequel, Gods and Generals.
Martin Sheen was a nearly last-minute replacement to play the role of Gen. Robert E. Lee, after production delays and scheduling complications forced out other actors including Robert Duvall. Director Ronald F. Maxwell said in interviews he was grateful to Sheen not only for accepting the part and doing such a great job, but for being a total gentleman about the situation.
Original working title was "The Killer Angels." Test audiences thought the movie was about motocycle gangs and thus it was changed to its broader, current title.
From the first ideas and story drafts, to the final editing and post production, almost 15 years of work went into the making of this film.
The scene where Tom Chamberlain converses with the Confederate POWs is adapted from the painting "Prisoners at the Front" by Winslow Homer, a sepia-toned shot of which is also included in the opening credits, although the Union officer depicted in the painting is actually Brig. Gen. Francis C. Barlow.
Charles Lester Kinsolving who plays General Barksdale, is actually a descendant of the General.
Stephen Lang, who played Gen. George Pickett, was thrown from his horse while filming the Pickett's Charge sequence. This was included in the film.
When Pickett tells Armistead that he cannot order Garnett not to make the charge, he is alluding to the fact that at Kernstown (1862), when the Virginians were still under command of Stonewall Jackson, Garnett had been threatened by Jackson with court martial for cowardice and dereliction of duty and only Jackson's death stopped the court martial. Pickett and Armistead as Virginians and friends of Garnett would have known that, hence Pickett's unwillingness to order Garnett to stay behind.
The scene where the 20th Maine reaches the summit was actually filmed on Little Round Top. The actor with the binoculars behind them is playing General Gouverneur Warren, who was not on Little Round Top at the time the 20th Maine moved into position. The man is in the same pose as the famous Warren statue and is blocking the camera from seeing the actual statue which is right behind him. Warren is credited with having seen the Confederates under John Bell Hood massing in the woods across from Little Round Top before the battle started, and sent an officer to find reinforcements. The officer Warren sent for help was Lieutenant Washington Roebling, who later built the Brooklyn Bridge.
There were actually 3 Chamberlain brothers at Gettysburg although only two are in the film. Brother John Chamberlain was a Doctor who had come down to visit his brothers Joshua and Thomas. When Lee invaded Pennsylvania John stayed with the 20th Maine to help. He treated the wounded of the 20th Maine on Little Round Top as well as helping afterwards at various field hospitals. The line in the film "Split up, another close one like that and it could be a bad day for mother" was actually said by J L Chamberlain to his brothers John and Tom. A shell had exploded in the trees over their heads as they climbed up Little Round Top together giving them a rather close call.
George Lazenby insisted that he have a real beard instead of a fake one for his role as Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew in the film. So his scene was not shot until he had grown a full beard.
Lee usually wore a plain uniform with three stars on the collar because he disliked the heavily braided uniforms worn by most Confederate generals. The three stars in the Confederate army indicated the rank of Colonel (Lee's rank when he resigned from the US Army). Confederate generals wore wreathed stars on their collars and their rank was indicated by the number of stripes in the braid on their sleeve. Notice that Longstreet and others all have the collar stars (1 large and 2 small) but the other generals have varying numbers of stripes in their braiding. In fact, a couple of the Brigadiers only wear the collar tabs. No one knows why Lee insisted on wearing this uniform with the improper rank. He did occasionally wear the proper uniform; most notably when he surrendered to Grant at Appomattox.
One re-enactor died during the filming of the movie. He suffered a mild heart attack during the shooting of Pickett's Charge, and was brought to a local hospital. When he sufficiently recovered, Ted Turner brought him back to the set in his personal limo to watch shooting of the film. Sadly, the man died several days later.
An exterior model of the Lutheran Theological Seminary had to be built by the film's construction crew due to the modern buildings surrounding the real one. This "fake" one is seen in the wide-range shots, and cost about $40,000 to build. The actual Lutheran Theological Seminary is only seen in one, very carefully angled shot, when Buford is writing the message to General Reynolds the night before the battle.
The final scene of the movie, when Tom and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain are reunited on the battlefield as the sun goes down, was the final scene to be filmed, a rare occurance for a motion picture. It took aprox. one dozen takes to shoot.
The film's producers have gone on record saying this movie was going to be produced and aired by ABC as a TV movie back in 1991; when the lousy ratings for the Custer epic Son of the Morning Star came in, a skittish ABC promptly pulled the plug on the initial deal.
Due to the film's running time of four hours and eight minutes, theaters were limited throughout its theatrical run to only two screenings of the show a day, usually at 1pm and 7pm. This makes the fact that the film cracked the weekly Top Ten box office even more impressive (it debuted at Spot #10). In its opening weekend, it made more money in limited release than the #1 film at the box office, Demolition Man did in wide release.
The film originally had a different ending that was in the screenplay and shooting script. In it, following the Chamberlain brother's embrace, Harrison stands on Seminary Ridge surveying the destruction left from Pickett's Charge and quotes a line from Shakespeare's play the Tempest: "We are such stuff as dreams are made of. And our little life is rounded with the sleep." Harrison then mounts his horse and rides off into the night. From there, the final titles began. The scene was never filmed.
Many scenes were filmed or in the daily shooting script but not used in the final print: among them, there is a scene after General Reynolds death where his body is carried by stretcher through the Union lines by his staff. They pass by a stunned General Buford on horseback who pauses to watch it go by, before turning his attention back to the raging front line. This was filmed but eventually deleted. The raw footage can be found on the DVD version.
Tom Berenger has often cited this as being one of his favorite pieces of work, as well as the film he's watched the most out of all of his other movies.
Nearly all of the battle sequences of the First Day (Heth's men deploying into line, exchanging fire only yards in front of Buford's troopers, the artillery explosions, etc.) were filmed entirely by the movie's Second Unit. The First Unit and much of the production staff were several miles away filming the Little Round Top sequences.
Tom Berenger was so fond of his role as General James Longstreet, he later opened up a restaurant/nightclub in downtown Wilmington NC called "Longstreet's Irish Pub" which is still in business today.
Tom Berenger formed his own production company, First Corps Endeavors, with producer William MacDonald (it operated from 1995 to 1997). It was named as a tribute to Gen. Longstreet's command, a role Berenger often cites as closest to his heart.
Opened in only 124 theaters in the USA on October 8th, 1993. Strong reviews and word of mouth doubled it to 248 theaters at its widest release.
The scene where soldiers from the 14th Brooklyn (the red-legged infantrymen) gather over the corpse of Gen. Reynolds came about mostly thanks to director of photography Kees Van Oostrum. Having grown weary of shooting so much "blue and gray", he was attracted to the unit of soldiers decked out in richer colors.
Most of the interior tent scenes that were supposed to be taking place at night were actually shot during the day - the tents were set up under specially built aluminum structures that blocked out the sun and allowed easy access to outlets and generators.
In a rare departure from his rigid authentic style, director Ronald F. Maxwell had the Col. Fremantle character wear a bright red uniform and carry a cup of tea. He did this so the audience wouldn't be confused; Fremantle's actual British uniform would have been dark blue and similar to that of a Union officer. The real Fremantle never wore a uniform during his American trip; he was dressed in the civilian clothes the character wears during the poker game on the first night.
Few of the ground explosions made any real noise when detonated for fear of startling the horses that were all over the set and injuring their riders; most of the sound was added in post-production. The ASPCA later praised the film in their annual report for going out of their way on behalf of the animals.
Due to safety concerns most of the artillery pieces on the set fired only one quarter rounds, which is why so few of the guns in the movie ever recoil upon firing.
Sam Elliott was so in character on the set that a production assistant was sent out ahead of him in between takes to warn the re-enactors being used as extras that he only responded to salutes and would address individuals by their rank.
Conceived and filmed as a TV miniseries for Ted Turner cable network, TNT. Turner, upon viewing portions of the film in post-production, realized he had something bigger than a TV series and made the decision to release it theatrically before editing was completed. New Line Cinema became the distributor.
Due to the length of the film (4 hours and 8 minutes, not including a 10 minute intermission), most theaters opted not to show any trailers of other movies.
Towards the end of the intermission during its theatrical run, theaters had the lights half-dimmed and the track "Killer Angels" from Randy Edelman's score played. This was conceived by the filmmakers as a way to help bring the audience back to the film's setting and tone.
The scenes in the cupola of the Lutheran Theological Seminary with Buford and his staff were mostly filmed on ground level. It was actually serving as a gazebo in a nearby resident's yard when it was spotted by the film's set design/props department. They rented it, adjusted it to a nearly identical carbon copy of the real cupola (which still sits atop the real Lutheran Theological Seminary) and returned it to the family upon completion of filming.
C. Thomas Howell attempted to grow in his own beard for the film. However, there simply wasn't enough time for him to sport an accurate representation of Tom Chamberlain's daunting facial hair.
The Confederate officer Col. Chamberlain guns down with his pistol during Little Round Top (right before he sends Tom to plug the hole in the line) is the film's prop master, Kelly Farrah.
Was the first theatrical release for Turner Pictures.
The production company threw a "block party" in downtown Gettysburg for the locals when filming was completed to thank the area for the summer-long filming in and around the town.
The actor who played Gen. Gibbon (who speaks to Sam Elliott's character outdoors at dusk following the first day of battle) is Emile O. Schmidt, then professor and head of the theatre department at nearby Gettysburg College.
The film's US television debut on TNT in June 1994 attracted the largest viewership ever for a movie broadcast on basic cable: more than 23 million people watched part or all of the two-night broadcast.
During the film Stephen Lang lost his tobacco pouch, which was part of his uniform and one of the Confederate re-enactors gave him his as a replacement.
In scenes involving the 20th Maine you sometimes see the soldiers with a red mark/badge on either the uniforms or on top of their hats. It is the shape of a Maltese Cross and it was the symbol representing the 5th Corps of the Union Army of the Potomac of which the 20th Maine was a part of. Soldiers from different corps would have worn different badges. Within each corps each division was identified by the color of the badge. First division units wore red, second division wore white and third division wore blue.
The scene shortly before Pickett's charge where Lee is cheered by the troops was impromptu. Some of the supporting cast had organized a 'Thank you' for Martin Sheen, and the reenactors ran out cheering for him. When the film of this incident was looked over it was dubbed over with troops yelling 'Lee' rather than 'Sheen' and added to the film.
At the September 1993 press (and other invitees) screening for the film in NYC, a real-life incident recalling Citizen Kane occurred: at the end of the film the audience was silent, until after nearly a minute Martin Sheen began applauding all by himself, with other attendees gradually joining in - just like Charles Foster Kane attempted to do for his hapless opera singer protegee Susan Alexander Kane (played by Dorothy Comingore) in the classic film.
There is only one line in the entire 261 minute film spoken by a female. "I thought the war was in Virginia", was said by the director's daughter, Olivia Maxwell. Ms. Maxwell appeared as a young Marylander beside the road as the Army of the Potomac marched towards Gettysburg. The taunting of the marching troops reflects the fact that pro-Confederate sentiment was strong in Maryland and the state remained in the Union only because Lincoln placed it under virtual military occupation and suspended habeas corpus. Had Maryland seceded, Washington D.C. would have been completely surrounded by Confederate territory.
At 271 minutes, this is officially the longest American film ever made.
Sam Elliott is the only principal actor in the film who wears a worn and faded uniform. When he was issued a brand new uniform for the film, he called costume expert Luster Bayless and asked for instructions to properly age his uniform. This process he carried out personally in his motel bathroom.
All bugle calls heard on the soundtrack were played by Sergeant First Class Duncan C. MacQueen of the New Jersey Army National Guard, who also played General Buford's bugler. At the time of filming, SFC MacQueen was a member of both the Civil War reenactment group for the 1st New Jersey Cavalry and the actual NJARNG unit (at the time, designated the 102nd Armor).
Ronald F. Maxwell tried for nearly 15 years to get this film made. By the time he had succeeded, author Michael Shaara had died. Maxwell met with his son Jeff Shaara during production and convinced him to carry on his father's work, which he did by writing a prequel, Gods and Generals, and a sequel, The Last Full Measure. The former was actually turned into the film Gods and Generals by Maxwell. The younger Shaara has also used his father's historical fiction approach to the American Revolution, the Mexican-American War, and both World Wars.
This is not the first war picture for either Martin Sheen or Tom Berenger. They have both appeared in films about the Vietnam War. Sheen appeared in Apocalypse Now, opposite Robert Duvall, who went on to replace him as Lee in Gods and Generals. Berenger appeared in Platoon, opposite Martin's son, Charlie Sheen.
The production team received the news of Richard Jordan's death while they were editing his character's death scene.
"REMO" logo on the drum skins.
Obvious statue of (filming time) Governor Warren on Little Round Top.
When Longstreet is conferring with Hood before the Devil's Den assault, a paved road is visible behind Longstreet.
In one of the sequences in front of a farmhouse, an air conditioning unit is clearly visible.
At the end of the fight for Devil's Den, a paved road is clearly seen to the right of the frame.
In the scene where many confederate soldiers are cheering and shaking General Lee's hand while he is on horseback, one man clearly has a tan line from a wristwatch.
During Lee's planning session at the beginning of the second day he makes reference to a map which looks inconsistent with the poor quality of battlefield maps of the day. Of particular note are the neatly printed double lines of red rectangles representing the position of the Confederate troops (this is a convention still seen today which originated with maps produced for printed works during the war). There was no time during a battle for such neat printing, and such markings would deface a map, making is less usable in the future.
The scene between Generals Armistead and Longstreet regarding Armistead communicating with Union General Hancock must have been fabricated for the viewer. Everything in the conversation would have been common knowledge for senior Confederate officers. While not an everyday occurrence, senior officers did corresponded with "enemy" friends, and knew what ranks and commands they held.
During the early stage of the battle, looking down the hill towards the advancing Confederate's, and appearing from left to right, a white van is seen going along the road at speed.
The British observer, Colonel Freemantle, apparently quotes the line from Alice In Wonderland, "...off with their heads!", which was published in 1865, 2 years after the battle.
During one of the early "marching" scenes prior to the beginning of the battle, a soldier is seen pounding a drum. When he pounds the drum, however, no noise is heard.
In his speech to the mutineers of the 2nd Maine, Colonel Chamberlain talks of "an army out to set men free". At that time a clear majority of the soldiers in the Army of the Potomac and the Union cause in general would have taken serious exception to that statement. The Union troops were out to restore the union, not to end slavery. While there were many people who saw the war as a chance to free the slaves, that was not the goal of the troops. This feeling was strong enough that Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation almost caused a mutiny in many Union regiments. The feelings expressed by Colonel Chamberlain are as much modern revisionist history than fact, but are what is now expected.
All throughout the Charge on Little Round Top, Col. Chamberlain has a pistol in his left hand but as soon as he confronts the confederate officer that wants to take him prisoner the pistol is gone from his hand
When Colonel Chamberlain is 'shot' at Little Round Top, he lets go of his sword, and it ends up between his arms but not held. The next shot shows him with the sword held in his right hand, stretched out to the side.
There can't be two sunsets between June 30, 1863 and July 1, 1863.
General Garnett's position when Longstreet introduces Pickett's men to Col. Freemantle.
The length of Longstreet's cigar while conferring with his artillery officer.
In the scene between Major Walter H. Taylor and General Lee at midnight July 3rd, Major Taylor's rank insignia changes to two stars (Lieutenant Colonel). In earlier scenes he wore only one star (Major).
General Longstreet's shifting beard.
When General Longstreet arrives at Lee's headquarters after the battle on July 2nd, General "Jeb" Stuart is seen arriving at the headquarters at the same time. Longstreet's attack did not finish until almost 6:30 p.m. Stuart arrived in Gettysburg at around noon.
While Gen. Longstreet is talking to Col. Alexander Porter during the bombardment of Cemetery Ridge on July 3rd, we see over Longstreet's shoulder a Rebel gun emplacement hit and a Confederate gunner is thrown over the earthworks from the explosion. The camera turns to Col. Porter for a brief second then comes back to Longstreet. The same gun is shown intact, not yet hit, and the wounded Confederate gone from the scene.
During the first sequences of shots of General John Buford (played by Sam Elliott) arriving at Gettysburg, his pipe shifts from his mouth between shots. More specifically, he removes his pipe to speak; then the pipe is back in his mouth; and finally he replaces his pipe in his mouth. Comments have also been made about smoke appearing from below Buford's pipe in this scene. While this does happen, that smoke is coming from behind him and is clearly not associated with his pipe.
At the start of the film and through the first day (July 1) JL Chamberlin wears the shoulder straps of a Lt. Col. (silver oak leaves). But on the second day (and until the end) he wears the shoulder straps of a full Colonel (eagles), a rank he received 5/20/63.
As General Longstreet gives battle instructions to his division commanders (Pickett, Peddigrew and Trimble), General Pickett is seen holding flowers that appear and disappear throughout the scene.
When Reynold is first seen, he has 3 men riding with him, but when he pulls up at the seminary he has 6.
During the beginning of the Confederate cannonade at the outset of "Pickett's Charge", Gen. Meade's headquarters is shown as being hit by a cannonball. In a later shot, the house is still completely intact.
Before Picket's Charge, Armistead tells Garnett that he cannot ride into battle because he "will be the perfect target". However, other brigade commanders and their staffs are shown riding in the charge. While Armistead's statement is correct (officers on horseback suffered a disproportionally large percentage of casualties), it is inconsistent with what is shown later.
During the up-close battle of Little Round Top, featuring Chamberlain and his Union 20th Maine and the Confederate Alabamians down the summit, a gray haired & bearded Confederate Sgt is seen felled by a bullet fired by Union Sgt. "Buster" Kilrain. Later in the battle, that same Confederate Sgt. is seen unhurt and charging up the hill just right before the main mêlée-scene.
When Tom Chamberlain is talking to the captured Confederates, one of them says he is a Tennessean from Archer's Brigade of Heth's division. He then says he was captured in the railroad cut west of Gettysburg. The Confederates in the railroad cut were actually Mississippians from Davis's brigade of the same division. The Tennesseeans would have been fighting in McPherson's Woods, half a mile away.
Before the July 2 fighting, Lee meets outdoors with several Confederate generals, clearing saying "good morning." One of the generals present is Heth. Heth was knocked unconscious during the afternoon fighting on July 1. He would not have been at a meeting of generals on the morning of July 2. In reality he was still unconscious at that time. (In the scene, his head is wrapped, which at least notes the wound he received).
The remnants of the 2nd Maine were not transferred to the 20th Maine just before the battle of Gettysburg. This actually occurred some six weeks earlier, in mid-May 1863.
Early in the fight by Buford's cavalry the camera pans past a U.S. flag behind a group of cavalry men. This is odd, as cavalry did not normally carry a full sized U.S. flag. Further, the flag itself is the size carried by infantry, not the smaller cavalry standard.
In the film, Moxley Sorrell holds the rank of major. During the war Major Sorrell was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on June 18, 1863, 13 days before the battle of Gettysburg.
In the film, Harrison is said to be an actor, when in fact the real Harrison was not an actor. It is said that the mistake (not only in this film but in other works as well) comes from an incident where one of Harrison's friend bet him $50.00 that he would not walk on stage during a performance of a play in Richmond. Harrison did indeed walk across the stage interrupting the play and walked away $50.00 richer
Ted Turner, aged 55, portrays a clean-shaven Col. Waller T. Patton. However, Patton was about 28 years old on July 3rd, 1863, and sported a full beard. Also, Patton is depicted as being mortally wounded by a rifleman's bullet at the climax of the charge. In fact, the only wound he received was from artillery shrapnel to his face, which eventually killed him on July 21st.
In the opening sequence, dated "June 30, 1863", Harrison spots Federal cavalry and reports to Longstreet and Lee in daylight later that day. In fact, Harrison spotted them on June 28, and reported to Longstreet and Lee during the night of June 28-29.
On the evening of June 30th, as Buford considers his options for the next morning, Col. Devin reminds him that he had held 6 hours against Longstreet at Thoroughfare Gap. However, neither Buford nor any of the men under his command had been present at Thoroughfare Gap.
General Kemper mentions to Col. Freemantle that Longstreet lost all three of his children to scarlet fever. He also say the youngest was ten years old. In reality Longstreet had four children, three of whom died. The youngest was one year old. His oldest son, Garland, was thirteen years old at the time but survived the illness. They died in January 1862.
Throughout the first third of the film, General Buford is depicted riding on a bay horse. At Gettysburg, Buford rode his favorite mount Grey Eagle, an old, large white horse.
Before the 20th Maine starts to march Captain Spear is seen smoking a pipe. The pipe is a Peterson System pipe, which was not made until 1894
At the climax of the 20th Maine's counterattack on Little Round Top, a Confederate officer nearly shoots Col. Chamberlain with his pistol, a British-made Kerr revolver. While this incident did occur, Chamberlain specifically stated in his memoirs that the Rebel carried a "big Navy revolver," which the Kerr was not.
In some shots of Buford's cavalry fighting on the first day, regular Union infantry with full-length rifles can be seen fighting alongside them. This is inaccurate, as at the time, no infantry units had arrived. The filmmakers most likely inserted extras in infantry uniforms to cover for a shortage of cavalry reenactors.
Prior to Pickett's Charge, Longstreet (Berenger) is giving orders to Pickett, Pettigrew and Trimble. He is drawing a diagram in the dirt outlining the intended position and movement of the troops. The orders for Pickett division of three brigades on the right wing was correct, but on the left wing of the attack, he has the brigades of Trimble's division in the lead with Pettigrew's brigades in the rear in support of the attack. In fact, it was the reverse. Pettigrew's division led the left wing of the "charge" while Trimble's brigades were in the rear in support of Pettigrew
When General Longstreet tells Cooper Huckabee what will happen during Picket's Charge, he describes artillery canister fire as consisting of bits of shrapnel. Canister and shrapnel were two completely different things, and Longstreet would never have confused them (the confusion is a modern product where "shrapnel" has taken on a number of imprecise meanings). Canister is a bag or tin of lead balls which when fired from a cannot act like projectiles from a large shotgun. Shrapnel is smaller balls packed into an explosive shell where the balls are scattered when the shell explodes.
During Lee's meeting with General Heath at the beginning of the battle, General Heath reports; "the infantry is the First Corps, the black hats." The statement implies that the nickname "the black hats" belonged to the First Corp. It did not. "The black hats" was the common name for the Iron Brigade which was assigned as the I Brigade, I Division, I Corps; it was not the nickname of the entire corps. The Iron Brigade was very well known to Southern commanders, and such an error would be highly unlikely.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs
The object in the background of the long shot of the Pickett's Charge scene is actually a flag (the so-called "Second National" or "Stainless Banner" of the Confederacy) being carried by a mounted bearer. Because it is white with a dark canton and being moved at a gallop it looks - from a distance - like the outline of a van moving at automobile speeds.
In Pickett's Charge, the film has General Garnett say the famous line, "Give them the cold steel, boys!" In real life, it was General Armistead who said it just before leading his men over the stone wall. However, "Give Them the Cold Steel" was a common expression used by those leading bayonet charges throughout the Civil War. While it is not disputed that General Armistead instructed his men to "Give Them the Cold Steel" as they approached the high water mark, it is very likely that the phrase was heard throughout the battle from other commanders and prior to July 3, 1863.
After the first day of the battle General Hancock's character tells General Buford's character that he had sent the killed General Reynold's body to "his folks in Lancaster" and that Buford should write them a letter to which Buford agreed. Reynold's mother and father died in 1843 and 1853 respectively. However, as used in the scene, "folks" may refer to any family members, not just parents.
During a scene in the Confederate camp, the generals are debating Darwin. General Pickett states that he refuses to believe that man descended from apes as Darwin has postulated. Darwin's "The Descent of Man" which theorizes on the ape-like origins of the human species was published in 1871 and wouldn't have been debated in 1863. However, Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" was published in 1859 and had engendered considerable scientific and religious debate in the early 1860s. Though Darwin had explicitly avoided dealing with human evolution in the "Origin...", the debate did not avoid the subject. It is quite possible that educated people would have been aware of this controversy in 1863.
Buford was, in fact, ordered to the left. He wasn't sent away from the battlefield until late morning on July 2. The first evening of the battle, when Buford meets Hancock in the command post, Hancock mentions that Buford's cavalry will be pulled from the line and moved to cover the left against CSA cavalry. This is inaccurate factually (Buford's badly-mauled cavalry was pulled back to guard supply lines behind Union lines for the rest of the battle) as well as nonsensical - the CSA cavalry was on the REBEL left (the Union RIGHT).
At the beginning of the Battle of Little Round Top, the first three Confederate charges appear to start with the same scene of Confederates attacking uphill out of a dense woods into a less densely wooded area with small clearings, and no bodies in view, even though every charge resulted in a Confederate retreat with many bodies left scattered everywhere behind them. However, the Confederate charges were successively moving further to the 20th Maine's left, probing for their flank, and each charge would have been over new ground over which they had not yet fought and suffered casualties.
When General John Reynolds arrives at Seminary Hill, his corps HQ flag has a trifoliated cross as the corps device. Reynolds was commander of the 1st Corps, the device of which was a circle. The trifoliated cross was the symbol of the 18th Corps, which was in the Carolinas at the time of the battle. -- Actually, the flag carried with General Reynolds is correct. The divisions of I Corps (but not the Corps itself) were identified by three differently colored flags with circles. The only flag associated with I Corps was the "Headquarters I Corp Guidon", used with the Corps commanding officer, and it is that which is shown (the same guidon was carried by all Union Corps commanders, with only a change in number). The flag carried by the 2nd Division of XVIII Corps is somewhat similar but is a flag, not a guidon. Also, the correct term for the heraldic charge used is a cross botonny (or bottony depending on the reference).
General Longstreet misspeaks says to the British Colonel Freemantle "You English had your own civil war, didn't you?". The English Civil war was an American one as well. Virginia and a few other colonies were already established. Many Britons migrated to America to leave behind the carnage of the war and its aftermath just as many Union and Confederate soldiers migrated to the American West to start fresh after the American Civil war. However, while true, few Americans of the 19th century would have been familiar with this, and would have seen the English Civil War as a solely English affair.
The battle of Little Round top takes place on the hot afternoon of July 2. Yet after the battle, as Chamberlain speaks to the wounded Sergeant Kilrain, you can see the actor's breath as "Kilrain" speaks his lines, evidence that the air was much colder than on a July afternoon. The same thing occurs later in the film when a messenger climbs Big Round Top to speak with Chamberlain. The messenger is breathing heavily, and the vapor of his breath is visible.
Near the end of the charge down Little Round Top a Union Soldier is visible on the right side of the screen with a bayonet bent at a 90 degree angle.
In the final scenes of Picketts Charge, the wires that pull the men who are blown backwards by the cannon are visible, as well as the harnesses they are wearing
As Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is walking past the violins on his way to go talk to confederate captives, a contrail from a jet is clearly visible in the sky above.
When General Reynolds is hit by the rebel sharpshooter, he falls from his horse onto his back. A soldier rushes to his side and cradles Reynolds' head with his left hand. A blood pack is clearly visible in the soldier's hand. The soldier moves his hand back, and a minute later his hand is shown with blood on it.
In the scene in which Longstreet arrives at Lee's headquarters on the afternoon of the first day, shadows from the stage lights can be seen on the wall of the farmhouse, cast by a light source off camera to the left. The position of the sun is to the right of the scene, however, and natural shadows can be seen, cast right to left.
On the first day, Heth's Division formed on Herr's ridge and advanced in line of battle toward Buford's troopers, not deployed 50 yards in front of Buford. However, the realities of filming required that the units be positioned much closer to each other to be seen in the same picture, plus, one effect of long range lenses is to foreshorten distances, making things look closer together than they really are.
Wristwatch suntan lines on left wrist of Confederate soldier when he shakes hands with the mounted Gen. Lee.
Longstreet informs Pickett of the July 3 attack in the morning, and yet the sun is in the western sky.
While Lee and Longstreet are walking up the path to Lee's Headquarters, in between the two buildings in the shot, the paved road is clearly visible along the ground.
When Lee is shaking hands with his troops, one of them turns his head and looks into the camera - twice.
Adams County, Pennsylvania, USA
Cashtown Inn - 1325 Old Route 30, Cashtown, Pennsylvania, USA
Gettysburg National Military Park - 97 Taneytown Road, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Yingling Farm - Pumping Station Road, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA
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