329--Week 7 Questions/Comments

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1 Movie as secondary source about the past (What did it get right? What did it get wrong?)

a Right:

When Denzel Washington, as Private Trip, pulls off his shirt to receive his punishment after his apparent "desertion" the lash scars already on his back is what most, if not all, slaves had. It was rare that a slave did not feel the tip of a whip nor was it rare that a master or an overseer would use it or threaten to use it. -Lauren

The fact that the movie shows the black soldiers initially as manual laborers, as Dr. M said today in the lecture today, was accurate. The men were hauling logs, I believe, when the white troops passed them. Although the work was not what they wanted, it enabled more white soldiers to the battle front. Related to the black soldiers, the fact that Shaw was shown to work hard in order to get his men to the battlefield, was exactly what Shaw had to do. Arming black men was not a popular idea with white people on both sides of the war. -Lauren

To tag onto Lauren's comment a bit - I felt that the confrontation between white union soldiers and the 54th regiment was realistic, as well as the trouble that Shaw and company encountered in convincing the supplier to give them shoes etc. -Elle

This movie gets many small details right compared to previous movies i have seen. This is the first of the military movies I have seen in this class where the soldiers actually have to properly load and fire muskets, there were no women present in the hospital scene. It gives a lot of little historical details such as the proclamation of the south in regards to black soldiers and officers of black soldiers. It portrays properly that it did take a significant period of time before the black soldiers were actually allowed to participate in battle and that Gould had to push to get the regiment into combat duty. - Jonathan Bell

Although many think that the 54th MA was the first black regiment in the Civil War, as it is more symbolic and is the one Glory is all about, the filmmakers try to prevent that misperception. When Shaw meets Montgomery, he is asked something like, "you didn't think yours was the only colored regiment, did you?" and we learn that the 2d SC existed before the 54th MA did. -Whitney H.

Tagging onto Whitney's comment - I disagree that the film makers did other black regiments justice - they didn't acknowledge other blacks actually fighting, and they portrayed them as "chimps in uniform" or "children" in the scene where they ransack the town of the 'cessors. The movie seemed to make the 54th regiment the ONE exception to the rule and Shaw a great hero for respecting and believing in his black troops. - Elle

That's a very good point, Elle. It was portrayed very negatively. -Whitney

I am going to disagree with you two. The film says in the closing subtitles that more troops, 180,000 black men enlisting, were created after the Emancipation Proclamation. Suggesting that there were more Black troops and they certainly could have engaged in battle. The negative portrayal was not only cinematically beneficial, but it also helped tell a well-rounded history, and not simply glorify (pardon the word choice) the whole thing. The undisciplined troop spoke more to the white officers' views who commanded them rather than the quality of the enlisted men themselves. Shaw and the 54th, on the contrary, showed the positive results of black and white cooperation and respect. --Jackie Reed

I like that they brought up the fact that the union officers were appointed by social status. Shawl pretty much declares it in his letter when he said they made him captain of man who are older then him.-- Matt DeMarr

Glory is a great movie and one thing that really stood out to me was how accurately Shaw's post traumatic stress disorder was portrayed. Towards the beginning of the movie when Shaw returns to Boston and is talking to Thomas at the gathering with his family, a maid closes the window, which causes a loud BANG similar to a gunshot and Shaw jumps; showing how emotionally disturbed and on edge he is from having been to war. The disorder is also shown during the scene when the regiment first receive their guns and are pretending to fight one another, the look in Shaw's eyes and on his face it is evident that he is still coping with having been in battle and almost killed. Post traumatic stress was a very common repercussion of war that isn't always discussed so having it play a part in the film makes the movie, for me personally, more accurate. --Mallory C.

The movie also used one quote that we talked about during class. One of the white Union soldiers made a comment about the 54th MA when they first assembled, and he said something along the lines of how the black soldiers were even more useless than a hog, because you at least eat a hog, you can't eat a black person. By using an actual quote from the time period shows that the writers really did their research. ~Katherine Stinson~

I liked how the movie included black culture. As Shaw is narrating his letters he is saying how he "doesn't get the black people" and how they behave. I don't think this is out of anger but because he feels that in order to successfully lead an army, he needs to understand his troops (this comes into play when he punishes Denzel's character, as discussed above). Furthermore, before the final battle scene at Fort Wagner, the movie shows a touching scene as the soldiers are singing in prayer, preparing for battle. - David F

I think one of the things the movie does best is show the overall treatment of blacks by the North. In the movie, they are discriminated against by receiving lesser pay and are slow to be provided with supplies. They are not allowed into battle and left to dig trenches and work as manual laborers. They are also mistreated and mocked by some unenthusiastic racist Northerners. As time passes, however, their discipline becomes clear, and they are allowed into battle where they prove their capabilities. The Northerners grow to respect the blacks and see them as actual people. The movie also does a fair job in expressing blacks’ reasons for volunteering. Their desire to prove themselves as equal to whites and fight for their people’s freedom is very clear. I think Glory accurately depicts black regiments and their impact on blacks and Northerners in a larger historical context. At the very least, the larger historical picture is represented better in this movie than in Amistad, which tried to play the trial off as more important than it really was. --Taylor Brann

Another thing the movie does especially well is the battle scenes. It is quite clear that the tactics used by the Union and Confederate armies don’t match up to the technology they are using, resulting in terrible casualties and horrific injuries. The small glimpse of hospitals is pretty gruesome and accurate, especially the unsanitary conditions and the amputation scene. Also, in the movie, Shaw seems to suffer from a bit of PTSD, which wasn’t uncommon for Civil War soldiers, though it certainly wasn’t diagnosed as PTSD until Vietnam. --Taylor Brann

I too was impressed at the horrific depiction of the hospital scenes. It was essentially an updated version of the one from Gone with the Wind. It was loud, there were shortages of chloroform and nearly everyone in the hospital left without a limb. I was also struck by the subtle play to the lack of understanding of cleanliness when one of the surgeons dropped a knife into a basin full of bloody water. No wonder disease was such a killer! Also, I thought that depiction of the strategies being behind the times was evident both at the beginning and ending of the movie. In the beginning at Antietam Shaw and his men slowly march into established confederate positions only to be mowed down. Also one can not help to take the final scene as being mildly absurd. Not because of poor acting, but because that was the type of thing that really happened in the Civil War. Men were sent straight into the teeth of enemy lines and fortifications with little hope of success (much like Fredericksburg, Pickett's Charge etc.). This is reinforced in the final text letting you know that half of the regiment was killed and that the attack on the fort was a failure.- Bryan Mull

Also, you gotta love the reference to the battle of Fredericksburg. Go Mary Wash!- Bryan Mull

I agree with Elle on the filmmakers not portraying other black troops fighting. It showed that the 54th was the only black group that was capable of fighting the war. There were other black troops that fought just as well. –Ashley Scutari

The Civil War is, understandably, a divisive issue. Glory portrayed the racism that existed in the Union army. It is easy to assume that the victorious Union army fought for equality and justice for all, fundamental American values, but it does a disservice to both sides to ignore the racism and prejudice that pervaded American culture at this time. It is so easy to view the North as completely just and egalitarian and the South as oppressive and racist. I think that Glory’s greatest strength is that it recognizes the prejudice that existed on both sides of the war. – Sarah Richardson

I do think it is important that that the movie showed the racism of the North and illustrate that the North was not all about equality for all. – Wesley Weeks

I think the reason Glory did such a good job at portraying history accurately was due to the sources the filmmakers chose to use. The very opening of the movie stated that the events depicted in the movie were derived from Shaw's personal correspondence - a filmmaker using primary sources is very impressive. At the end of the movie, 2 other works were cited as sources for the film, which I assume to be monographs written by historians. For these reasons, perhaps this is why Glory is considerably more historically accurate than its Civil War counterpart, Gone with the Wind - a movie based on a historical romance novel. ~Juliann

What is there to say about this one? It's a fantastic movie front to back. The story, characters, and treatment of the historical events are all, in my mind, perfectly accurate. The racism never seems overly exaggerated, nor undercut in its nature. The treatment of blacks both by whites and other blacks all seemed to be very true, preventing the filmmakers from turning the black characters into a minstrel show, and preventing the white characters from treating them too harshly. Honestly, when a movie gets it as "right" as Glory did, there's not much you can say that hasn't already been said. --Cash.

b Inaccurate/issues:

One thing I noticed was when it came time to get paid and all the black soldiers refused because they were going to be paid less than regular white soldiers. Didn't they get paid the right amount until almost the end of the war so wouldn't it have been foolish of them to refuse to take the money especially since a lot of them needed whatever money they could get. Also would the officers have done the same thing to show support of the black soldiers. - Christine W.

Even though refusal of pay by already poverty stricken black folk does not seem very pragmatic to us, according to the primary sources, the refusal of pay actually did occur, as did the officers' participation in it. The letter written by Gooding to Lincoln expresses the concern black soldiers had for achieving equal pay, and it also cites that many black soldiers had gone 18 months or longer without any pay at all. ~Juliann

The one thing that really bothers me in this movie is the cliche characterization of characters. You have the traditional scene of one soldier who dislikes another soldier only to be saved by that soldier in the end. You also have the 1 wise reliable soldier (the non commissioned officer). The movie really focuses on just a few cast members and does not really give you the true composition of the army such as there were several prominent black abolitionists fighting in the 54th when the movie only portrays just one. - Jonathan Bell

Did anybody else notice how perfect the feet of the dead men on the beach were? Pretty good healing after nasty feet from not having had boots. -Whitney H.

So, just like in Amistad a different character was used when the historical character would have been perfectly acceptable. In class, we learned that General Benjamin Butler created the idea of the contraband. If you can recall from the movie, Colonel James Montgomery conveniently created the idea of the contraband. I think it's a tad ridiculous that they changed the actual figure for this one in order to, in my opinion, create a villain. The contrabands were also then shown in a beyond negative light, acting as Col. Montgomery called them, "little monkey children." I'm also seeing a pattern of villains burning down homes for no reason. --Kelly Wuyscik

In contrast to Kelly's last point: But Union troops did burn down Southern plantation homes and so forth, it was common amongst white troops too. --Jackie Reed

In class we learned that in the North there were many different perspectives that dictated how Lincoln would respond to slavery and the treatment of blacks. I feel as though the movie did not show the balancing act at all. The movie showed tolerant whites and racist whites, it did not discuss Northern Democrats, the zealots of abolition, or President Lincoln’s strategic approach to emancipation. – Jason Ward

There was no emphasis on restoring the union like we discussed in class. – Jason Ward

Well, I don't really think that was a priority of the movie or necessary with its themes Jason. But, they did allude to the problems in that area when Brodrick and D. Washington have their heart-to-heart. Denzel says nobody's gonna win. And Matt naively says, someone has to win. And then Denzel goes into the hypothetical future and asks rhetorically if African Americans have any hope of winning in either case. But within this dramatic moment, we see the Northern upper-crust perspective of winning a war and bringing the union back together, North and South under one great nation, but it is obvious this is going to be very hard even if the Union does win. --Jackie Reed

Would the union army ransack and burn a village in the south regardless of political allegiance? – Jason Ward

Runaway slaves were not discussed, or at least not properly. Yes, men like trip were runaways, as were many of the other men, but because there was no mention of runaways “not making it” the viewer is led to believe that all slaves who escaped to the North were somehow in a safe haven. Where was the sad reality of the fugitive slave act? – Jason Ward

Was the fugitive slave act in effect at this point? After all, runaway slaves could easily say that their masters were confederate conspirators against the union, a statement that would free them in the union's eyes. The slaves also had a few laws protecting them from the fugitive slave act, such as one passed in March 1862, Confiscation Acts, and fragmented versions of preliminary emancipation. --James D.

What about the Southern perspective? We did not hear from Southern unionists, slave holders, or slaves currently in bondage. Without these perspectives being represented the reality of the immense struggle for union and emancipation is distorted. - Jason Ward

One thing I noticed was in the beginning of the movie when all the black soldiers have just enlisted and are getting organized was how they were all told to report to the officers according to what it said on their muster sheets. Weren't most blacks illiterate at this time, and therefore not able to report to their officers? The movie showed this not being a problem for them. ~Katherine Stinson~

I actually have a question. In the movie, Shaw has to essentially blackmail the General in order to get the orders to let his men fight in a battle. Did Shaw really have to pull strings in order to get his men out there? Or was this all for dramatic effect? I mean, it definitely emphasized how difficult it was for black soldiers to originally see a battlefield, but I felt like this was a bit extreme. --Kelly Wuyscik

I have a series of somewhat small nitpicks that I’ll just group together in one paragraph of whining. Wasn’t the 54th Regiment made up mostly of free black men from Massachusetts? Aside from Thomas, basically all of the men shown seemed to have once been slaves. On Colonel Montgomery, as far as I understand, he was a staunch abolitionist, so I find it unlikely that he would consider the men under his command apelike simpletons. For that matter, would abolitionist Colonel Shaw have supported whipping a “deserter” like a slave driver would? There’s also the small issue of the living situation. According to one of the readings, the men were in barracks, not the tents shown in the movie. In the battle at Fort Wagner, one of the readings states that it was Shaw who actually picked up the flag and charged, only to be shot once in the chest. Assuming this is an accurate account, the movie didn’t quite follow along with that either. --Taylor Brann

I may be wrong but in the first battle scene with the 54th they went from being bayonet-less and firing to then meeting the confederate charge with one of their own, bayonets fixed. I thought it was strange seeing as how otherwise they were pretty good about showing the multi-step process of loading and firing. -Bryan Mull

I agree with Christine’s question; did the white soldiers support the black soldiers by refusing to receive pay if both races didn’t receive the same amount? –Ashley Scutari

I felt that the black soldiers were very stereotypical. While yes there were a variety of characters, they all seemed to follow some kind of stereotype. - Kellye Sorber

In "Reel History", we're told that the 54th was actually made up of free blacks, not former slaves, but I suppose we would have lost a lot of the angry-black-guy storylines and the very emotional whipping scene. He does note that a lot of black soldiers who fought were former slaves.. just not those who manned the 54th. --Amanda Russell

I will say the movie portrayed the confederates very stereotypically. They all looked like they could be members of the Charlie Daniels Band or Lynard Skynard. – Wesley Weeks

Glory treats the 54th throughout the movie as the first group of former slaves and free black men to fight in the Civil War. There is no mention of precedent for its formation outside of the interactions with the other black regiment. We know the 54th was not the first black regiment formed, nor the first group in combat, especially considering the sailors engaged in naval combat... The creation of Cpl. Thomas Searles character is equally problematic. He seems to be there only to create the extra drama of a friend of Shaw's in the unit. If the film producers wanted to communicate the experience of a Northern, educated black man in the regiment, introducing Douglass' sons would have been far more interesting. - JT Newcomb

2 Film's relationship to current scholarship or to primary sources from the time

The scenes with the battle for the fort seemed to be pretty accurate based on the letters we read from James Henry Gooding. He even talked about how Shaw was buried in the same mass grave as the black soldiers. He also mentioned they were raising money to dig Shaw up and give him a proper burial, did that ever happen? - Christine W.

In Gooding's first letter, he discusses how being a soldier was a better job than any one African-American could hope to perform at this time, since the other jobs involved tasks that could be performed by white men and women themselves. The men in "Glory" don't act as if being a soldier is a job, they seem to take it as a given, but it does echo the sentiment in the letter of the importance of serving "to make themselves a people." --Amanda Russell

From Gooding's letters of the spring of 1863, he expresses disappointment at the small numbers of "colored" men volunteering for the 54th MA Regt., from first in March when there were not enough for a company, less than half a regiment in a month, and that that it was not filled until May. However, Glory gives us the impression that as soon as the call for "colored" men was put forth, enough enlisted to fill a regiment. This seems to be for the effect of making the 54th look even more heroic, with all its troops willing to sacrifice for their freedom and country from the very start, rather than gradually recruiting enough over more than two months. -Whitney H.

The Colors: in Gooding's June 20 letter, he describes the attack on Ft. Wagner, including that Shaw took up the State colors after the first bearer was killed on the parapet, and that once he was killed a Sgt. Carney saved the colors, and even said the flag never touched the ground. Yet the movie portrays it very differently! Not only do we see both the US and the regimental flag on the ground when the 54th is taking cover behind a dune once the battle starts, but then we see Shaw assessing the situation and the US flag on the ground in front of him. Ironically, once he and the colorer-bearer get up and the latter is shot, Shaw, rather than pick up the colors, surges on, is shot, and dies falling onto the fallen colors! I don't know why it wouldn't have been heroic to show Shaw carrying the colors AND dying on them. After Denzel unsuccessfully tries to rescue the flag, we see both flags conspicuously in the picture gaining ground until the end, all the while both fully intact. The filmmakers took license in order to show the character of Private Trip, who has a change of heart and will carry the colors after all. And what can be more symbolic than for Old Glory to always be seen and to make it as far as the farthest soldier onto the fort? -Whitney H.

In the readings it mentioned how great the regiment was discipline wise and were great with marching etc... I felt that the movie correctly portrayed how quickly they learned the discipline of military stuffs as was mentioned in the readings --Ashley Wilkins

The reading “Retaliation in Camp” with Halton and Union troops stated that the colored troops would still fight for the government even though the government didn’t want them. I think the movie portrays this well when Colonel Shaw read the paper stating that if blacks are found on Union lines they could be killed or brought back to their masters and that if the Union leaders were commanding the black troops they also could be tried and killed. All the colored men stayed and were still risking their lives to fight; even the white majors and colonels stayed such as Shaw and Forbes. –Ashley Scutari

-The letter did seem a little extreme, but keep in mind it was from the Confederate Congress. How would Union officers be treated if captured while commanding white troops and how would this action play out in the prisoner of war exchange? Union officers risked their lives commanding black troops, but in the realm of war, were they not already risking their lives in general? Does it really matter what color troops they were commanding once they entered the battlefield?

-Also, I think the Union government did want the slaves as black troops. The Union needed laborers, thus the contraband of runaway slaves was a good source put to use beginning with sticking them in the navy, putting them to work on the grounds, and eventually, once they were skilled, placing them into combat. Eventually viewed as good fighters, the Union began to recruit blacks from the north and south for the war effort, at the same time ultimately weakening the south by removing their labor. After all, what else would the Union do with about a quarter of the southern black population that carried a hint of hatred against confederates?-James Drury

When reading Gooding's letters, he mentions the sacking and burning of Darien by Colonel Montgomery and his 2nd SC regiment, which was depicted in the movie. In the letter, the attack on Darien was depicted as barbaric and extreme, with a footnote sighting the Shaw himself was very disappointed in how Montgomery handled his troops during this attack, how he felt the 2nd SC had gone too far for personal gain, rather than furthering the cause of the Union. This interpretation was depicted in the movie when Montgomery orders Shaw to have the 54th contribute to the destruction of the town by burning down the mansions and Shaw tries to refuse on moral principles, before Montgomery pulls rank. ~Juliann

3 Movie as primary source about makers/time/setting/genre

This is a bit cheeky, but this movie shows the popular white male actors of the 1980s, Ferris Bueller (Broderick) and Westley (Elwes) of the Princess Bride. -Lauren

...As well as the popular black male actors of the last 20 years, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. -Whitney H.

...And the last thing that Denzel ever did right in his career. -Cash.

The argument where Morgan verbal owns Denzel is very interesting to the time period and the present. The N-word is discussed and Morgan Freeman says "the only N---- here is you" to Denzel. It is dealing with a perception of black people by whites and blacks themselves that is super relevant today. Morgan calls Denzel out on his anger and hatred and callousness toward everybody, telling him basically that he just hates himself. Using the N-word is debated amongst blacks, some for it, taking it back, others against it, saying it is self-deprecating, like in this case with Denzel's character. Most of these themey, dramatic, pointed moments in the film are kind of cheesey, but this scene was amazing and very effective.--Jackie Reed

4 Public reaction/impact

Glory seemed to generally be received well by the public. It has been dubbed as the most "technically realistic and memorable Civil War reenactment." Denzel Washington received his first Oscar in the Supporting Actor category. Glory could be argued for in being the best film of the year (it wasn't nominated for Best Picture), but if you look at the films it would have to compete against - Born on the Fourth of July, Driving Miss Daisy (the winner), and Field of Dreams - it would be a tough argument. The other movies mentioned also dealt with the themes of War and Racism (except for Field of Dreams), something Glory needed to combine. You would think with the star power the film had (Matthew Broderick/Ferris Bueller and Morgan Freeman, who ended up being nominated for Lead Actor for Driving Miss Daisy) that it should have gotten more recognition by the public. Or, maybe this movie should be one for historians to claim and praise for themselves. - David F.

5 Other movies/questions of style/framing/storyline

I thought it was interesting how all of the black lead characters seemed stereotypical. There was the runaway black always angry and looking for a fight, the free educated black man, the former slave who is uneducated, and the wise old black man that no one really knows much about but who seems to be very worldly. Everyone else is just an extra with little or no lines. - Christine W.

The stutter really got to me - I felt like some of the stereotypes hindered the films purpose of glorifying the dedicated soldiers, and actually made me think of mammy and sissy from Gone with the Wind. -Elle

Well, there is just no pleasing you, is there? I personally thought the movie was one of the first examples in this class that showed a well-rounded, diverse group of people in one particular place and time period. There was minimal stock character presence or cheap stereotyping. And really, do people have to get uppity every time a minority is portrayed as a villain, or as stupid, or as handicapped, or as ignorant, or as poor...? White dudes get portrayed in these ways too in movies. In fact, some white dudes in this movie fall into one or more of the previously mentioned qualities! --Jackie Reed

Characterization is something that bothers me with this movie. The movie really focuses on just a few characters ignoring pretty much everyone else. The confederates who were the enemies were never really characterized as anything more than fodder. While I suppose this is better than characterizing characters in a stereotypical or false way it really limits the scope of history this movie presents. The movie is show entirely through a few member of the 54th division and ends up giving a really limited scope causing the movie to miss out on presenting a broader picture of what was going on during the time. - Jonathan Bell

One thing about the stereotype that amuses me is that once the 54th is in SC, a slave is talking to the Northern, educated, "Snowflake" Thomas, and he needs the wise old Freeman to interpret the dialect for him! But maybe I just like that because I like linguistics. -Whitney H.

While watching Glory, I couldn't help but notice that the music sounded familiar. It sounded very similar to the music in Apollo 13. I did some investigation (thanks to IMDB) and discovered that both movies have the same musical composer. While I do think the composer could have been a little more original in Apollo 13, since this movie came out first, they're still great songs. This is just something I found pretty interesting. --Mallory C.

As it pertains to War Movie Scores, when I was typing one of my posts the Gettysburg Theme by John Williams came on my ipod. I love the music in that movie, and I love that movie. I say this because after this week we leave the Civil War era and I wanted to acknowledge it. I suppose this is a question more directed at Dr. McClurken but open to anyone, how does that movie rank in terms of historical accuracy? - Jason Ward

Jason, if you ever get a chance to read Killer Angels, DO SO IMMEDIATELY. They are both fantastic, near-perfect reports on how the battle went. Having taken several Gettysburg tours, and written even more papers on the topic, I can tell you; they got it right. -Cash.

At the beginning there was a scene with Union troops playing baseball, would they have played baseball during the war at their camps? Also, later in the film I noticed the golden eagle statue on the top of the flap poles, was the eagle already adopted as the nation's symbol? If so, was it already being used and displayed on flags as such?--Ashley Wilkins

I asked this in my blog, but I'm going to ask it here too. Wasn't flogging actually illegal in the US Military before the Civil War? I thought you couldn't whip in the Army anymore but they obviously punished Trip in that fashion. I could be wrong though. --Kelly Wuyscik

Did blacks really treat each other differently based upon education? -- Kellye Sorber

Ashley, baseball as a sport is cited as being played as early as the 1830s. It's not unlikely that the Americans would have developed their own version of cricket as early as this point. - Sarah Richardson

As to the stereotypes, I wanted to quote Toplin, since I think he said it pretty well. "Glory... focus[ed] on a group of black soldiers that included a gung-ho intellectual, a surly rebel who learned to be a team player, an older father figure, and a stuttering former slave." To be fair, I will say that these stereotypes had to have their basis in something.. or perhaps that's all of the Hollywood movies I've seen that have convinced me that these characters could sometimes be real. --Amanda Russell

6 Overall

I loved the symbolism at the end with Denzel Washington hugging Matthew Broderick after they're thrown into the heap of dead bodies. --Mallory C.

I just have to say, especially since we're not having class tomorrow, I can't stand Matthew Broderick's little goatee-like thing. I think just the mustache would have sufficed. --Kelly Wuyscik

Before they go into Battle Shaw asks who will bear the colors if they are to fall, Thomas says that he will. When the colors do fall in battle, Thomas and Trip look at one another and Thomas gives Trip a look that says "well, I'm not going to pick them up" so Trip gallantly recovers them. Thomas is portrayed as a coward who would not live up to his word, fight heroically for his country, or avenge the death of Shaw who had treated him with nothing but fairness (even though it is understandable if Thomas felt slighted by that treatment). The fact that Trip takes the colors shows that a former slave who had every reason to resent whites, was so inspired by the promise of winning the war and gaining equality that he would die for the cause. – Jason Ward

The first time I saw this movie was in middle school. We had to watch this movie and Gettysburg (pending parental permission of course) in our lessons on the Civil War. I find it interesting remembering that much of what I took to know about the war in regards to slavery came from this movie up until high school. For those who haven't really studied the Civil War, movies like this may be all that they have to go on.-Bryan Mull

I noticed that the other black regiments wore red paints instead of the blue ones is that used to dissern the regiments apart or was that a common thing in the union forces?-- Matt DeMarr

I remember loving this movie in 7th grade when I first saw it. I have to say now, after a more in depth education on the civil war, I don't really like it as much. It just doesn't have the same meaning that it used to hold. - Kellye Sorber

Matt-- I don't know about the 2nd SC in particular, but in the Civil War it was not uncommon for there to be some regiments with different uniforms, either Confederate or Union. Early in the war (1861), Union units did not all receive the same uniform--it tended to be whatever the government could get for them, being a variety of mostly blue, navy, and gray in different items (Confederates being equally varied and often making their own at that point). There were a number of "Zouave" regiments (originally French ones, but by the Civil War they were more varied and numerous) that were known to have their uniforms, usually of North African (e.g. Moroccan) influence, often incorporating red for trim, pants, or fezes, and different articles such as loose pants instead of trousers, with lighter materials than wool, for ease of movement and comfort in the heat. [source: background knowledge and wikipedia.] -Whitney H.