Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gods, Generals, and Blood

Last night's film was the Civil War epic, "Gods and Generals", featuring Robert Duvall as Robert E. Lee. The film was a punishing 3.5 hours long, but featured excellent set piece battle scenes. (I'll admit I don't really understand people who choose to re-enact Civil War battles on weekends, but apparently hundreds of them were used for this film and really did a great deal to add to the realism of the fighting). The action covered three key battles--First Manassas (where "Stonewall" Jackson earned his nickname), Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, and drew heavily on the religious and fatalist worldview of the Confederate generals.

The film also drove home this point--we Northerners got screwed when it came to generals! Ambrose Burnside is accurately portrayed as an unimaginative moron, and Joseph Hooker comes across as a worthless tool. The historical record is no better--McClellan, McDowell, Fremont--each Northern general sucked! Meanwhile, the South gets brilliant soldiers like Lee, Jackson, and this guy who I wouldn't want to run into in a dark alley. The two best--or at least most celebrated--Union generals were a war criminal (William T. Sherman) and a nut who fed his men into a meat grinder (Grant--you could say Grant was ahead of his time, as his tactics were about as brilliant as those of the soulless WWI generals on the Western Front). This is exactly why an outnumbered and ill-equipped scrappy band of NASCAR ancestors was able to run circles around the U.S. Army for the better part of five years.

Next time it's only fair if the teams get to pick them.

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