23 July 2010

Believing In Angels

For those of you in the Fredericksburg area, I suggest you take the time to go and see "The Angel of Marye's Heights." Fellow blogger Michaeal Aubrecht has co-produced this film and based on information Michael has shared with me about the film, I'm fairly confident that Michael's efforts have produced a project worthy of your time. The film will be premiered for the public this Saturday, July 24, 2010. 6-9 PM at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, 1201 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, Virginia. I've also arranged a screening at Liberty University for this September which will benefit the National Civil War Chaplains Museum.

Despite what appears to me to be a manufactured controversey about the story and film, there's no reason to suggest or believe the event which this film explores didn't happen or, that it has been grossly exagerrated or influenced so some could "choose to remember our Civil War" a certain- assumedly inaccurate - "way". Frankly, that sounds more like psychotherapy than historical analysis to a simple buff like me. Like most stories that are handed down through first hand oral accounts, there are things we don't know and, like much of our history, it is left up to historians and researchers to do their best, using the information available, to "fill in the blanks." As NPS historian, Mac Wyckoff pointed out:

"It is significant that not a single member of the 2nd South Carolina challenged the veracity of the story which became quiet well known in South Carolina by 1900. Kershaw was a prominent figure in South Carolina politcs after the war so had naturally developed some political opponents. Not one of them challenged Kerhaw’s statement about the Kirkland incident."

It would appear to me the criticism over how the story is presented by Aubrecht's production is a bit premature, since those criticizing it haven't even seen it.


Michael Aubrecht said...

Thank you Richard for the endorsement and post. What I find ironic about this whole ‘controversy’ is that we specifically focus on the very things we are being prematurely criticized for ignoring.

In great detail, we present how John Brown’s raid ignited an abolitionist movement that challenged the institution of slavery and led to secession in Kirkland’s home state of SC, how doomed the Federal assault was before it even began (using 3D animation that immerses the viewer down onto the field), how devastated the town of Fredericksburg was (with photographs of the massive damage), how horrific the field near the sunken road looked (with a dramatic recreation) and we also deal with the conflicted hypocrisy of Kirkland as a killer and a compassionate man. We add how the Battle of Fredericksburg did nothing for either side except cause death and destruction and how Kirkland’s act may be the only thing we have to redeem or learn from it.

This film is anything but celebratory in regards to the war although we do give Kirkland credit for his act and for doing the right thing. If anything I thought our ‘critics’ would be pleasantly surprised with how much time and attention was spent to present a fair and balanced view of the war. We wrote and rewrote sections again and again. However, this is par for the course for those who criticize things without ever reading or seeing them. It makes their point useless as its based on pure speculation. Its called ‘agenda-driven history’ as it is manufactured by an individual to specifically reinforce their point and it’s a farce. I would call them arrogant and foolish but they are already proving that on their own.

Thanks again. I can’t wait to share this with you at the Liberty University screening.

BorderRuffian said...

Strange how Those People will nit-pick this one incident...yet advance some of the biggest myths (real myths) of the Civil War-

500,000 Southern Unionists

All-Volunteer USCT

etc etc...

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


"What I find ironic about this whole ‘controversy’ is that we specifically focus on the very things we are being prematurely criticized for ignoring."

Déjà vu - been there, done that. I experienced the exact same thing with my book. 99% of the criticisms over my book for "overlooking" or "ignoring" certain facts were addressed head on in the book, which leads me to believe the critic(s) either:

a. Didn't read the book
b. Have an agenda

I'm looking forward to seeing the film.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


You have your myth, I have mine.


Michael Aubrecht said...

Richard, I would also like to add that our 'perennial critic' has yet to produce anything for us to critique in return such as a book or a film. You and I have 9 books and 2 movies between us. When the time comes to examine his contribution, I may actually look at it before making a comment. :)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"I may actually look at it before making a comment."

What a novel idea. ;o)

13thBama said...


Must you provide a link to the Civil War Historians version of the Huffington Post? I hate to think you might be adding traffic to that site. :)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B - KL often reciprocates, so I don't mind. I believe in getting both sides of the story.

markerhunter said...

What ticked me, and prompted me to comment there, was the flippant way he referred to the physical and psychological effects of the war. In one breath he described how cold and cruel war is (making the broad brush swipe that the Confederates had no trouble sleeping with the deeds they'd done), then in the next he equates those horrors to the soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan. As if the soldier is afflicted with some terrible, hideous disease due to his/her service.

This is one of the reasons I am skeptical of "soldier studies" in general. One can easily make wild assumptions about soldiers based on their service, and they will pass the common sense test. Yet it takes some real digging to honestly and accurately understand that service.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hi Craig. Yeah, he totally lost me on that line of reasoning. I wanted to comment more on the "We don’t need more of this, we need less of it" but chose not to. It just smacks of elitism to me. I don't know, maybe I'm hyper-sensitive to that, but that is just the way it struck me. Much of it comes across, at least to me, as what I once heard Bob Krick describe as "psycho-babble" history.

Thanks for taking the time to weigh in.

Kevin said...

Hey Richard, good luck keeping cool this weekend. It's going to be a hot one in our neck of the woods.

Kevin at Civil War Memory

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Kevin - yes, typical for July in Virginia. It's so hot the chickens are laying hard boiled eggs.

Brian W. Schoeneman said...

What I find most interesting about KL's take is that he's advancing a "absence of evidence is evidence of absence" argument, which is clearly a logical fallacy. Yet that doesn't stop him from making it.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing the film.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


No, it doesn't. Kevin has had a rather long running feud with Michael and I believe he let his personal feelings/agenda cloud his judgment on this post. Nothing new, but I wasn't the only one to notice this time that his remarks were way off.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Brian - BTW, thanks for commenting. Yes, do see the film. If you can't make the July date, come to Liberty in September. Would love to meet you.

Jimmy Price said...

Pardon the intrusion, Gents, but BorderRuffian made an allusion about an alleged “myth” that all members of the United States Colored Troops were not, in fact, volunteers.

As someone who spends a good deal of time researching USCTs, I would love to see a further explication of this insinuation.

While I realize that this is not the proper place for such an exchange, I invite anyone with evidence to comment on my blog.

Take care,

Jimmy Price

Mark Snell said...


More than two decades ago when I was researching my MA thesis, I found quite a few black men from York, PA, who had been conscripted into the Union army. If not assigned to the USCTs, where would they go? I'm not siding with the guy who won't use his real name (even though I really did go to school in Missouri, where the border ruffians called home), I am just curious as to what units the conscripted black men would be assigned.

Mark Snell

Jimmy Price said...

Hi Mark,

I’ve come across plenty of incidents in which African Americans were conscripted as well. Lorenzo Thomas was a big culprit in addition to corrupt recruiters who would sign blacks up for service and then take their bounties. Still, the evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of black troops were volunteers. My concern was over who exactly was saying that USCTs were all volunteers in the first place. All of the major histories – Cornish, Glatthaar, and Trudeau – discuss conscription when it happened, so I’m not sure where the big conspiracy is coming from. It just seemed like a straw man to me, but I’m still willing to look at BorderRuffian’s evidence if he’s willing to share.

Sorry for intruding AGAIN, Richard :-)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


No intrusion. Do feel free to carry on the discussion.