Thursday, July 14, 2011

“To Appomattox” Shaping Up To Be A Great Series

Some of you may recall two posts that I wrote last November and April about the upcoming miniseries event To Appomattox. In both of those posts I revealed my concerns about the lack of an African American presence and my fears that USCTs would be left out of the story entirely. While both of those posts came across as critical and even sparked the ire of producer Michael Frost Beckner, what I failed to communicate adequately was that I have been in this film’s corner rooting for them from the very start – with the proviso that they strive to “get things right.” Well, I can now confidently say that the producers are doing a whole heck of a lot to “get things right.”

First, they have assembled a powerhouse of historical advisors such as Ed Bearss, D. Scott Hartwig, Edward Longacre, John Marszelak, John Michael Priest, J.D. Petruzzi, Gordon Rhea, and Dr. Ronald C. White (and that’s not even all of them – see here for the completer list). With such an all-star team advising the producers, it’s hard to see how there will be any glaring errors or cringe-worthy moments a la the Scott brothers’ recent Gettysburg escapade.

Also, Mr. Beckner was kind enough to share with me that there will indeed be a USCT presence in the film. The story of Captain Andre Cailloux of the 1st Louisiana Native Guard (later the 73rd USCT) who was killed at Port Hudson on May 27, 1863 will be featured in the film as well as a portrayal of the Battle of the Crater that centers on the story of the USCTs in Ferrero’s’ 4th Division. And while I hemmed and hawed about Trace Adkins being involved in the film, I was interested to see that he’s playing John Gregg (whose men defended New Market Heights). Perhaps I can hold out hope that New Market Heights will somehow make it into the film – after all, I hear there’s a great book coming out on the topic…

The miniseries is set to debut during the summer of 2013 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and I guess you can say that I’m on the bandwagon now. If I learn more about how much screen time is allotted to USCTs I will certainly pass it on.


  1. Though not a cynic, I have low expectations of this event and of the willingness of the producers to bring anything provocative to the small screen, nor do I expect anything other than the comfortable relics of folklore; a mystical Lee and Jackson, a drunken Grant, an inept McClellan, and everyone involved in the production falling all over themselves to distance human chattel slavery as the root cause of the proceedings. I also fully expect "shoes" to be touted as the reason for the meeting of the armies at Gettysburg.

    In short, I expect the producers will make every effort to give their audience continued folkloric comfort, while insuring that advertisers need fear little in the way of controversy.

    This is, after all, popular entertainment.

    I will be happy to be wrong on this one.

  2. Hey Mannie!

    Yes, you're absolutely wrong :)

    Seriously, none of those caricatures are in this at all. If you were able to see the script, I think you'd be pleasantly surprised. Lee and Jackson are VERY human and very fallible, and this is the most objective treatment of Grant I have ever seen. And no, the word "shoes" doesn't appear anywhere in any of the episodes... I made sure of that! :)

    The production is gritty, brash, tender, and very humanistic. In short, it has become the most accurate portrayal of these figures (both iconic and unknown) I ever thought possible.

    Give it a chance, Manfredo, and see what you think once it's out.