I just spent 45 min replying and (I guess) I wasn't signed in.
Here goes again.
The series will be something similar to BAND OF BROS meets JOHN ADAMS. What I mean by that is each episode will by primarily character drama (a la ADAMS) with about 15-20 mins battle (BoB). The reason is that full accuracy will be dramatized in the battle sequences and by virtue of the carnage even 15 mins will be difficult to watch.
The dramatic "spine" if you will is Grant's memoir--the 8 episodes begin with his entry to West Point and proceed through his funeral. That, however, makes up a "half" of the portrayed action. The other half is the war in the East before Grant arrives.
My bonafides--if you will... From the beginning of this undertaking (13 Episodes before I discovered there was no network appetite), I was mentored by John Simon (founder of the Ulysses Grant Association and original editor of the Grant Papers). After John's death, and after the series reduced to 8 episodes, Dr. John Marszalek (biographer of Sherman and Halleck) vetted every line of every script for accuracy. I am indebted to both these mighty scholars.
The director I have hired, Mikael Salomon won the Director Emmy for BAND OF BROTHERS, did ROME and beyond his other Emmy noms, is an Academy Award nominated cinematographer for Cameron, Spielberg, and Ron Howard. He will shoot this perfectly.
West Point has come on board with our sound department. All weapons and loads--minie balls, solid and cased shot, cannister--will be fired and recorded "live."
We will film interiors in Canada, but all exteriors--troop movements, battles, encampments--will be shot in PA and NC.
My intention in posting here comes from my understanding that I have taken upon my shoulders a task much greater than one man can accomplish. This series will be made. If it is great, it will not be done again... If I fail it also will not be done again. It is upon my shoulders not only to have the drama, the dialogue of every scene correct, but EVERYTHING the audience sees.
West Point and the Gettysburg Foundation have come forward in a big way to make sure uniforms, flags, Corps patches on caps, etc. will be historically accurate. I worry, however, when I recreat Pickett's Charge--how do I get the "left oblique" correct? How, at Spotslyvania will Lee's breastworks be accurate?
The Cornfield at Antietam? The Bloody Lane?
I hold so much responsibilty and if I don't do it right... I fail every one of us.
GETTYSBURG and GODS AND GENERALS are wonderful--because they do it--but they're so flawed.
We have a chance with TO APPOMATTOX and it must be PERFECT. We owe it to our ancestors; we owe it to our country...
In the coming weeks and months, I ardently hope, I can rely on the expertise that I know runs to the depth of truth on this site for advice and guidance. I'm sorry that I am bound by my network to keep my scripts confidential. I'm confident, though, that here if I have a specific question one of my scripts confronts me with...well, you'll know what I'm talking about when I outline the situation.
Best regards and God bless you all for being here,
As far as documents, paperwork and writing materials that are painfully well researched, I recommend Mr. Bob Sullivan of Sullivan Press. (www.sullivanpress.com); E-mail: [email protected]
Michael A. Schaffner, of the Yahoo Group called "ScrivenersMess" is an accomplished re-enactor dedicated to authenticity of clerk impressions, to which would be present in any headquarters, writing orders by hand for Grant, Grant's staff and his headquarters. I am under the impression that Mr. Schaffner is well connected to other clerk/staff re-enactors to which one may have a portable press to which would have been present in Grant's headquarters as well as printing the documents for the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. Yahoo Group is free to join. Mr. Sullivan as well as other well known historians are members of this Yahoo Group.
Third U.S. Infantry Reenactors are well connected, to which might be helpful in any re-enactment advice. They have been extremely helpful to me.
Historian Kim B. Holien, at Fort Meyer, (Arlington) Virginia is extremely detailed as far as historically correct and, has been a re-enactor for many years. Wrote a detailed account of "Balls Bluff." Not only did he include the battle but the collateral effects, after affects to include Congressional involvements. You are welcomed to write him at P.O. Box 22485, Alexandria, Virginia 22304. He has been featured on PBS in regard to historical matters. His hand made kepi is featured in the movie "Gettysburg" on Major Sorrel. It is my understanding that Mr. Holien coordinated big re-enactment events, been a member of the re-enactment community for over 30+ years, historian for the U.S. Army for over 30 years and author. He is picky about details too.
Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., was where General Grant when in town made his headquarters. The room number and other information might be available. The present Willard Hotel is a replacement of the Civil War version of the Willard. However, their archival photographs and perhaps interior room of Grant's room might be worthy of the 'set' wherever you choose to create it. In addition as President, Grant used the Willard's lobby to meet individuals and the believed source of 'lobbyist' was coined from this.
President Grant was alleged to be a frequent visitor to the Clifton Hotel. (In the town of Clifton, Virginia - Fairfax, County. The hotel survives and turned into a dining place however, there are some historical buildings there remaining, along an active railroad track.
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum cooperated with the making of the movie "Gods and Generals." They ran the train in Baltimore Maryland area however, more importantly used historically authentic locomotives and cars/coaches.
Actor Robert Duvall, to whom played General Lee in "Gods and General" is also a Virginia resident. He has blood ties to the Lee family on his mother's side. He has also been most active in efforts to save the battlefields around Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania and The Wilderness. In makeup as Lee, he is darn scary close to General Lee's death mask. Mr. Duvall is spoken with great respects around Virginia's re-enactment community as he has been so giving in many ways, to include adding the Lee family little known quirks and private inter-family knowledge. Regardless, if he is used or not--his historical investment into these areas is beyond personal but, professional as well.
President Lincoln's presentation of the commission to the rank of Lieutenant-General, was made in a surprisingly plain manner. It was written in script on plain paper and not on a certificate. So, this must have been hastily done by the Executive Mansion's 'in house calligrapher.' I did research as to whom wrote this certificate however, the Chief Calligrapher to the White House (a term not used during the Lincoln Administrative or some time to follow), could not proffer a name of who wrote Lieutenant-General Grant's commission. Copy of said commission is online access at the U.S. Library of Congress' web site and on the Executive Mansion's stationary.
The best ever book I found on military placements at the battle of Gettysburg, was in the book called "Great Maps of the Civil War," to which the interior panorama map of the battlefield of Gettysburg made by General G. Warren (Engineer), signed by General Meade and other generals involved, is the most accurate map I personally have seen. Our "Gettysburg" forum may be worthwhile to look through.
Another valuable resource is the authentic and 113 year old book "Under Both Flags," [Graham 1869], where there are some photographs there that have unique views. U.S. Army Military Archives in Pennsylvania, has at least three copies. In this book, is a chapter on the eulogy proffered by Colonel Marshall (former staff of General Lee). It is the only documentation of Marshall's participation at General Grant's funeral service. [ "Colonel Charles Marshall's Eulogy of General Grant"; Page 128-130, with Col. Charles Marshall's photograph at the time]
Anderson, Nancy Scott The generals : Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee New York, Wings Books, 1994
Badeau, Adam Military history of Ulysses S. Grant, from April, 1861 to April, 1865 New York, 1868-1881
Dana, Charles A The life of Ulysses S. Grant : general of the armies of the United States Springfield MA, Gurdon Bill & Co., 1868
Lewis, Lloyd Captain Sam Grant Boston, Little, Brown, 1950
Is there a source available that goes into visual and specific detail on all the many flags, how they appeared how many would be in a line of battle, which ones, etc. I have a creeping suspicion that say with Gettysburg and Gods and Generals they just scratched the surface and the flags are under represented.