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HISTORY or HOLLYWOOD: Glory

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  • HISTORY or HOLLYWOOD: Glory



    1. Robert Gould Shaw was the son of upper class Massachusetts abolitionists. HISTORY

    2. Shaw was wounded leading a charge at the Battle of Antietam. HISTYWOOD Shaw’s unit saw little action in the battle and he participated in no charge. He was wounded in the neck by a spent ball.

    3. The Governor of Massachusetts offered command of the 54th to Shaw at an upper crust get-together. HOLLYWOOD Gov. Andrew offered the command through a letter delivered by Shaw’s father while he was in camp. Shaw refused at first and then reconsidered over night. The movie accurately portrays the role of Frederick Douglass in encouraging the experiment.

    4. The unit included runaway slaves. HOLLYWOOD The unit was recruited from freed blacks so it is highly unlikely a Trip type of individual would have been in it.

    5. The Confederate government issued a proclamation threatening to enslave any black soldier captured in a Yankee uniform and execute any of their white officers. HISTORY There was such a proclamation. Threats of Northern reprisals kept the proclamation from being carried out.

    6. The unit refused to accept its pay to protest it being less than what white soldiers were paid. HISTYWOOD True, except that Shaw initiated the protest instead of jumping on board.

    7. After training, the 54th had a parade through Boston. HISTORY The parade was witnessed by Gov. Andrew, the Shaws, Douglass, and John Greenleaf Whittier.

    8. The 54th was sent to occupied South Carolina where its first action was the sacking of Darien, Ga. HISTORY The raid was accurately portrayed with Col. Montgomery ordering his contraband troops and Shaw’s men to ransack the village and set it afire. The 54th did reluctantly participate. Montgomery was a sincere abolitionist who believed the secessionists needed to be punished.

    9. Their first battle was at James Island against Confederate cavalry and then infantry. HISTYWOOD The 54th did not initiate the action. It was a rearguard action to rescue a white unit that was retreating. They did fight well.

    10. Shaw volunteered for the assault on Fort Wagner and Thomas volunteered to pick up the flag should it fall. HISTYWOOD Gen. Strong asked Shaw to lead the attack and then asked who would pick up the flag. Shaw volunteered to carry the flag.

    11. The 54th charged along the shoreline, took refuge in the dunes, and then continued the charge after dark. HISTYWOOD The environment is authentic and the fort is well re-created, but the attack started after dusk and was not interrupted. The fort was surrounded by a moat with stakes in it.

    12. Shaw was killed climbing the rampart. HISTYWOOD Shaw was actually shot on the parapet and fell into the fort. Several of his men went in after the body and died with him. The flag was planted on the rampart by a William Carney who survived the battle with several wounds and managed to get the flag back to camp. He was awarded the Medal of Honor (37 years later).

    13. Shaw’s second in command led a small group into the interior of the fort. HOLLYWOOD None of the unit got that far. Shaw’s exec was a Norwood Hallowell. He was wounded in the groin before reaching the crest. Forbes was not based on him. In fact, only Shaw is based on an actual member of the unit.

    14. Shaw was buried with his men. HISTORY This was done to dishonor him. His parents refused the chance to reinter his body after the war.

    VERDICT: "Glory" does tweak history for entertainment purposes, but the discrepancies are minor and necessary to advance the worthy themes of the film. As a history teacher, I find the inaccuracies acceptable considering that the story of Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts needed to be told and deserved a wide audience.

  • #2
    Another thing I heard was that the attack on the fort in the film was done in the opposite direction (instead of left to right in the movie but rather right to left).

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    • #3
      What is hardly ever mentioned is that White unit the 54th argued with was behind them at Fort Wagner. A number of the 54th fell face to the fort with bullets in their backs.

      Each Union state had quotas they were assigned to fill to furnish soldiers for the Army. The quotas did not say what race the men had to be. The raising of Black Regiments allowed some Northern states to avoid drafting Whites. Bounties just were not attracting as many men as they once did.

      I find it ironic as well that few people know that Union officers raised Black units in Louisiana before Massachusetts did. The 1st Corps d'Afrique was formed by some of the members of the former Freemen of Color Battalion in New Orleans. Both of these units had Black Officers. When Nate Banks arrived he made it a priority to get rid of these officers. The few that stayed on died attacking a Bluff at Port Hudson.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dunnigan View Post
        Another thing I heard was that the attack on the fort in the film was done in the opposite direction (instead of left to right in the movie but rather right to left).
        True, but I deemed that fact to be unworthy of inclusion.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
          What is hardly ever mentioned is that White unit the 54th argued with was behind them at Fort Wagner. A number of the 54th fell face to the fort with bullets in their backs.

          Each Union state had quotas they were assigned to fill to furnish soldiers for the Army. The quotas did not say what race the men had to be. The raising of Black Regiments allowed some Northern states to avoid drafting Whites. Bounties just were not attracting as many men as they once did.

          I find it ironic as well that few people know that Union officers raised Black units in Louisiana before Massachusetts did. The 1st Corps d'Afrique was formed by some of the members of the former Freemen of Color Battalion in New Orleans. Both of these units had Black Officers. When Nate Banks arrived he made it a priority to get rid of these officers. The few that stayed on died attacking a Bluff at Port Hudson.

          Pruitt
          Thanks for the input. I did not find any reference to intentional friendly fire in my research. I am not saying you are incorrect, but it sounds like an urban myth. If you think about it, it would not make sense for you to help the unit ahead of you fail in an assault that you will have to follow up on. However, racism does cause people to do things that are irrational.

          The movie sort of implies that the 54th was the first, but commendably never states that as a fact. Being from La. (like you), I was aware of the use of black troops in the Port Hudson campaign. That would not have made for a smashing Hollywood movie, unfortunately.

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          • #6
            Thank you for the clarification. Upon seeing the film, I wondered why the climatic frontal attack upon the forts was apparently undertaken in broad daylight. (point 11).
            "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
            Samuel Johnson.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
              What is hardly ever mentioned is that White unit the 54th argued with was behind them at Fort Wagner. A number of the 54th fell face to the fort with bullets in their backs.
              War never changes.

              You want to be very careful about getting into pissing contests with other units/individuals before going into combat.
              Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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              • #8
                Another excellent article Buff! Good work.
                A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pirateship1982 View Post
                  Another excellent article Buff! Good work.
                  Thanks. What film would you like next?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How about "The Outlaw Josie Wales"?

                    Pruitt
                    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Or Ride With The Devil.
                      "War is sorrowful, but there is one thing infinitely more horrible than the worst horrors of war, and that is the feeling that nothing is worth fighting for..."
                      -- Harper's Weekly, December 31, 1864

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                      • #12
                        Great job, I love "Glory".

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by warmoviebuff View Post
                          Thanks. What film would you like next?
                          How about Sergeant York?
                          A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

                          Comment

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