Golden Thread Twenty-five Years Ago: My Brush With Glory!

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bdtex

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Burning "Darien"

View attachment 31619

At last we were about finished with dreary Readville, below, and the drab "slave clothes" and could get our men back into uniform and out "campaigning" again! St. Patrick's Day and that following we went northwest of Savannah about twenty miles or so to a crossroads community that had been selected to be our Darien set. Of course this wasn't the real Darien, but a small community with relatively widely-spaced homes of varying ages and styles. Between the existing structures the set construction crew had built several false-front structures that were to be burned, including the ship chandler's warehouse, cotton warehouse, and homes. When the time came the local volunteer fire department was standing by to make sure there were no unfortunate accidents and were paid for their time and presence by the production company.

View attachment 31617

It had once again turned warm and sunny and we sweltered in our uniforms in the unaccustomed but welcome heat of the day. Another new element appeared at this time in the shape of Colonel Montgomery and his 1st South Carlina Colored Infantry who were intended to be an undisciplined bunch of hooligans and ruffians. Unfortunately some of these extras probably fit into that category for real since they had had less time before the camera as members of some of the deep background companies or the 54th. Another reenacting friend of mine, Scott Swenson, had only recently arrived from Texas to participate and because he hadn't been seen on camera before was chosen to be an officer of the 1st S. C. as seen in my photos above and below.

View attachment 31618
One unfortunate "casualty" of filming here was an original Civil War-surplus artillery shell jacket that had been issued to one of the men of the 1st S.C.; throughout the course of the day you could watch the 125-year-old seams disintegrate. I saw another of these jackets lying in a ditch beside the buses that had brought us out to the set where another of the irresponsible extras had likely dumped it because it was too hot to wear! ( Fortunately that one was quickly "rescued". ) My friend Mike Boyd had tried to protect the originals in the wardrobe warehouse but somehow these two had wound up being issued anyway.

One aspect we were concerned about at this time was again the negativity of the script and its possible effect on our "soldiers", containing as it did the shooting of the 1st S. C. corporal ( played by Bob Minor, the head of the stunts department ) and the notorious "N****r soldiers! N****r soldiers!" line. Again we were unprepared for this dialogue and hoped there would be no repercussions from it, coming as it did soon after the scene we'd filmed where Denzel is whipped. Fortunately I don't remember any ill effects but we increasingly felt realistically uncomfortable in our positions as U.S.C.T. officers!
I blew it. I channel surfed when I got home and saw that Glory was on tonight. Can't make myself not watch it when it's on. First time I turned my tv on in weeks. I saw you. :D
 

bdtex

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Remembering Brian Pohanka


Pohanka was one of those unable to remain for the entire shoot but came for the larger scenes, particularly those involving reenactors. Like Dale Fetzer he was a member of the 5th N. Y. Zouaves reenactment unit so they were well-known to each other; indeed Fetzer later hired him as his collaborator "running" the reenactors for Gettysburg. In Glory for the assault on Battery Wagner Pohanka served as a major in the 54th leading the front battalion and may be visible on the extreme right front of the first rank of men. ( In the photo below he and Sergeant Bill Gwaltney are circled in red at the head of the battalion as it marches by the right flank on the beach away from the incoming tide. ) He was also involved in staging the parade sequence filmed in the old warehouse district of Savannah I've already discussed here.

View attachment 32107
I was just fixing to post that I thought I also saw him at the end when they begin charging at the double quick on Fort Wagner.
 
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bdtex

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Not really, although you are right, that's a welcomed side effect. Although the monument discussion is an important one, necessary and interesting to read, we are here to discuss so many more aspects of the Civil War...

No, I was more thinking in the way of "Golden Thread" ...
Featured thread material if James N. adds the shareable tag too. I always forget to do that.
 
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James N.

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Bringing this thread up again for a reason...
Featured thread material if James N. adds the shareable tag too. I always forget to do that.
Absolutely should be a "Golden Thread" Just spent the whole morning reading it, great stuff.
Really great story. Please keep em coming.
This is one of the best threads on the site.

Thanks for bringing it up !
If @ami is willing, then it will be one. I have already nominated it.
Thank you all for your kind comments and support - though I'm not sure what @bdtex means by shareable tag!?
 
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bdtex

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James N.

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Morgan Freeman in Glory.jpg


It seems The Civil War Monitor Magazine has a story in this month's issue about the relationship between movies, novels, and history (in which Glory is used as a negative example of containing quite a few factual errors) using a few stills from the movie including this one I had never seen before in its uncropped version. At far left is an actor I mentioned in my narrative, Abdul Salaam El Razzac who was a Black Muslim who Dale Fetzer worried about when he saw the name on the call sheet, but who turned out to be a very likeable and agreeable fellow. He was one of two or three black actors who had small parts (with dialog) as members of the 54th. I don't know what ultimately became of him, but I subsequently saw him in another film or two.

More interesting perhaps, however, was the fellow to the immediate right of Morgan whose name I never knew - he was an extra who appeared infrequently and was therefore not a member of the background company. His presence in the finished film, particularly during the Battery Wagner assault, caused some viewers to think we had "padded" the ranks with white reenactors! As can be seen here, that wasn't the case, but he stood out among the ranks! When I taught I found that persons of color with such complexions were often given the nickname Red - for obvious reasons! - and I think this was the case here as well.
 
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civilken

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what a incredible story and what' a incredible life you have lived I am literally in or of all the things you have done thank you for the hard work on one of the best Civil War movies ever made and thank you for the story.
 

James N.

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How in the world could they use Glory as a negative. How many people other than die hard historians knew the whole story of the 54th before Glory. I know I didn't.
Most of the comments (about both Glory and also Stephen Spielberg's more recent Lincoln) dealt with writing the scripts so as to distort certain facts for dramatic purposes, such as the whipping of Trip in the one and any Connecticut Representatives voting against the 13th Amendment in the other.

what a incredible story and what' a incredible life you have lived I am literally in or of all the things you have done thank you for the hard work on one of the best Civil War movies ever made and thank you for the story.
My thanks for your thanks!
 
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