Gods and Generals (film)

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Gods and Generals is a 2003 film based on the novel of the same name by Jeffrey M. Shaara, depicting the first two years of the American Civil War up to the death of Stonewall Jackson in May 1863. It is a prequel to the 1993 film Gettysburg.

Directed and written by Ronald F. Maxwell.

Gen. Stonewall Jackson[edit]

  • [first address to his brigade, prior to First Manassas/Bull Run] Men of the Valley! Citizen soldiers! I am here at the order of General Robert E. Lee, commanding all Virginia forces. On April fifteenth of this year of our Lord, eighteen sixty-one, Simon Cameron, the Secretary of War of the United States, sent a telegram to our Governor, John Letcher, directing him to raise three regiments of infantry to be sent to assist in suppressing the Southern Confederacy. Governor Letcher's answer is well known to you, but perhaps not his words. His wire to Washington stated: "You have chosen to inaugurate civil war. And having done so, we will meet you in a spirit as determined as the Lincoln administration has exhibited toward the South." Few days later, the Virginia legistlature voted for secession. Just as we would not send any of our soldiers to march in other states and tyrannize other people, so will we never allow the armies of others to march into our state and tyrannize our people! Like many of you, indeed most of you, I've always been a Union man. It is not with joy or with a light heart that many of us have welcomed secession. Had our neighbors to the North practiced a less bellicose form of persuasion, this day might not have come, but that day has been thrust upon us, like it was thrust upon our ancestors! The Lincoln administration required us to raise three regiments; tell them we have done so! Dismissed!
  • [farewell address to the Stonewall Brigade, prior to Fredericksburg] Throughout the broad extent of the country through which you have marched, by your respect for the rights and property of others, you have always shown you are soldiers, not only to defend, but able and willing both to defend and protect. You have already won a brilliant reputation throughout the army of the whole Confederacy, and I trust in the future by your deeds in the field, and by the assistance of the same kind Providence who has hitherto favored our cause, you will win more victories, and add luster to the reputation you now enjoy. You've already gained a proud position in the future history of this, our Second War of Independence. I shall look with anxiety to your future movements, and I trust that whenever I shall hear of the First Brigade on the field of battle, it will be of still nobler deeds achieved and higher reputation won. [draws his sword and holds it up in salute] In the Army of the Shenandoah, you were the First Brigade! In the Army of the Potomac, you were the First Brigade! In the Second Corps of this army, you are the First Brigade! You are the First Brigade in the affections of your general, and I hope by your future deeds and bearing you will be handed down the posterity as the First Brigade in this, our Second War of Independence! Godspeed!
  • [last words - May 10, 1863] Let us cross over the river...and rest under the shade of the trees.

Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain[edit]

  • [at Fredericksburg, as the Army of the Potomac crosses the Rappahanock] In the Roman civil war, Julius Caesar knew he had to march on Rome itself, which no legion was permitted to do. Marcus Lucanus left us a chronicle of what happened. "How swiftly Caesar had surmounted the mighty Alps and in his mind conceived immense upheavals, coming war. When he reached the water of the little Rubicon, clearly to the leader through the murky night appeared a mighty image of his country in distress, grief in her face, her white hair streaming from her tower-crowned head, with tresses torn and shoulders bare, she stood before him and sighing said, 'Where further do you march? Where do you take my standards, warriors? If lawfully you come, if as citizens, this far only is allowed.' "Then trembling struck the leader's limbs, his hair grew stiff and weakness checked his progress, holding his feet at the rivers edge. At last he speaks, 'O Thunderer, surveying Rome's walls from the Tarpeian Rock. O Phrygian house gods of Iulus, Clan and Mystery of Quirinus who was carried off to heaven, O Jupiter of Latium seated in lofty Alda and Hearths of Vesta, O Rome, equal to the highest deity, favor my plans! Not with impious weapons do I pursue you. Here am I, Caesar, conqueror of land and sea, your own soldier, everywhere, now too, if I am permitted. The man who makes me your enemy, it is he who be the guilty one.' "Then he broke the barriers of war and through the swollen river swiftly took his standards. And Caesar crossed the flood and reached the opposite bank. From Hesperia's Forbidden Fields he took his stand and said, "Here I abandoned peace and desecrated law; fortune it is you I follow. Farewell to treaties. From now on war is our judge!'" [the Confederate cannons on Marye's Heights open fire] Hail Caesar! We who are about to die salute you!
  • [in winter quarters, to his brother Tom] War is a scourge, but so is slavery. It is the systematic coercion of one group of men over another. It has been around since the book of Genesis. It exists in every corner of the world, but that is no excuse for us to tolerate it here when we find it right in front of our very eyes in our own country. As God as my witness, there is no one I hold in my heart dearer than you. But if your life, or mine, is part of the price to end this curse and free the Negro, then let God's work be done.

Gen. Robert E. Lee[edit]

  • It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.
  • [to artillerist E. Porter Alexander, at Fredericksburg] Colonel Alexander, Federal troops amassed across that river are watching us prepare for them. If I were General Burnside, I would not attack here. I'd move back upstream, come across from above us. But Burnside is not a man with the luxury of flexibility. He's being pushed from behind by loud voices in Washington, by newspapers who demand quick action. No, we're here, and so he will attack us here.
  • [after Jackson's wounding] He's lost his left arm...I've lost my right.

Col. Adelbert Ames[edit]

  • This is a hell of a regiment.
  • [instructing Chamberlain on troop movements] Line of battle consists of two lines of men, one behind the other, so that while one line fires, the other reloads. Behind them is a line of file closers - lieutenants and sergeants. But two lines make a regiment unwieldy on the move, so we need to switch to column of fours. We need to be able to change from column of fours into line of battle and back again quickly. It is not difficult to move from line of battle to column of fours. It is much harder to move from column of fours into line of battle, and if we're called upon to make that move, it will be when we're under fire. I'm sure you can understand, Colonel, how important it is that these moves are learned so thoroughly that the men could perform them in their sleep.
  • [at Fredericksburg] 20th Maine to the front!


[April 1861 - Col. Robert E. Lee is summoned to the home of Francis P. Blair in Washington, D.C.]
Blair: Allow me to get to the point, sir. I have been authorized by President Lincoln himself, with the full blessing of the War Department, to offer you full command of the Army with the rank of major general, this army being raised to quell this rebellion, and of course to preserve the Union.
Lee: I assume this army is to be used to invade those areas to eliminate the rebellion by force?
Blair: Yes, sir. The federal government has been challenged by these rebels, who have been most effective in changing the sentiments of various state legislatures, challenging our Constitution, and challenging our central government. The attack on Fort Sumter cannot be ignored.
Lee: General, my home is right there across the Potomac; why, you can see Arlington House from your front door. My family is spread all over this part of Virginia. If you invade the South, your enemy territory will be there right across that river.
Blair: Well, sir, there is no great outcry for secession in Virginia. It's not a foregone conclusion that Virginia, or Tennessee, or Arkansas, or Kentucky will join the rebellion.
Lee: My friend, may I humbly submit that you're mistaken about Virginia...as you know, the legislature is convening in Richmond this very day to discuss the very issue of secession. Now, perhaps you know their mind better than they themselves. And I regret to say that the President's hasty calling-up of seventy-five thousand...volunteers...to subdue the rebellion in the cotton states has done nothing to ameliorate the crisis; it has only deepened it.
Blair: I trust you're not being too hasty yourself, Colonel. This is a great opportunity for you to serve your country.
Lee: My country, Mr. Blair? I never thought I'd live to see the day that the President of the United States would raise an army to invade his own country. No, Mr. Blair. I cannot lead it; I will not lead it.

[First meeting between Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, spring 1861]
Jackson: I understand from your record that you are West Point, class of '54. Served since in the cavalry, Fort Clark, Texas. Operations against Apache, Comanche. Most impressive, you are a native Virginian.
Stuart: Fought with Longstreet and Ewell, sir. Nasty business. Merciless climate. Glad to be home, sir. The Apache were defending their homes, as we will be defending ours. If we fight as well as the Apache, I pity the Yankee invader.
Jackson: Colonel Stuart, if I had my way, we would show no quarter to the enemy, no more than the redskins showed your troopers. The black flag, sir. If the North triumphs, it is not alone the destruction of our property; it is the prelude to anarchy, infidelity, the ultimate loss of free and responsible government on this continent. It is the triumph of commerce - the banks, factories. We should meet the Federal invader on the outer verge of just and right defense, and raise at once the black flag. No quarter to the violators of our homes and firesides! Our political leadership in Richmond is too timid to face the reality of this coming war; they should look to the Bible. It is full of such wars. Only the black flag will bring the North to its senses and rapidly end the war.
Stuart: Well, Colonel...one way or the other, the South will give them a warm reception.

[20th Maine training camp, summer 1862; Lt. Col. Chamberlain emerges from his tent]
Kilrain: Mornin' to ya, sir. Colonel Ames sent me to get ya. Thought you'd be needin' a drop o' this. [offers Chamberlain a mug of coffee]
Chamberlain: [gratefully] Oh, thank you. Uh...
Kilrain: Kilrain, sir, Sergeant Kilrain. Glad to be of service. You know, Colonel...the boys, well...we've been watchin' you, sir. That we have. You've learned fast. It's becomin' a pleasure to serve under ya.
Chamberlain: Yes, well, thank you. Are you a veteran, Sergeant?
Kilrain: Aye, sir. I suppose you could say that. Did me duty in the regular army for a while. Did the great long walk with General Scott down south of the Rio Grande.
Chamberlain: Some of the men you fought with in Mexico are on the other side. Almost all of their generals.
Kilrain: Oh, it gets worse than generals, Colonel. Some o' the lads that I left Ireland with are on the other side as well. Imagine that. We left together to escape a tyranny... and end up shootin' at one another in the land of the free.
Chamberlain: I, too, have friends on the other side, Sergeant. And enemies.
Kilrain: Yes, sir. No shortage of enemies, that's for sure.

[December 1862 - Union headquarters, Falmouth, Virginia]
Couch: Excuse us, General Burnside, General Hancock has some information you may find useful.
Burnside: Yes, General Hancock, a pleasure. Sumner, come, we have visitors!
Couch: Sir, General Hancock reports the river can be forded a short way up stream. There'd be no difficulty crossing. With your permission, we can move right away.
Burnside: General Hancock, I certainly appreciate your efforts at reconnaissance, but this possibility has been considered... and rejected. The pontoons will be here any time now, and then we'll be able to cross not only the men, but the wagons and supplies as well. It would be foolhardy to send the men without the wagons, without the big guns-
Hancock: Excuse me, General, but am I correct in my observation that there's little force opposing us across the river?
Burnside: Yes, General, you are absolutely correct. For once, we seem to have caught old Bobby Lee by surprise.
Hancock: Well then, sir, if I may suggest...isn't it possible General Lee's moving this way? Certainly he's aware of our intentions. If we could occupy the town with infantry, it would make our job much easier when the bridges do arrive, sir.
Burnside: Yes, General, but that's risky, I'm afraid. Those men could be cut off. In this weather? My Lord! It snows one day, melts the next! The river could rise unexpectedly. It would be best, I assure you, if we wait until the entire army could cross together.
Hancock: General Burnside, if we don't cross the river very soon, I'm confident General Lee will make every effort to stop us. He's not going to let us move toward Richmond unopposed. Where are General Jackson's forces now? [increasingly animatedly] Shouldn't we make some attempt to occupy Fredericksburg and possibly the heights beyond now, while we have it for the taking?
Couch: [puts his hand on Hancock's shoulder to calm him] Please...allow me, sir, to at least send General Hancock's division across the river. Surely they can carry enough supplies with them, and the artillery from this side can protect them against any advance by Lee.
Burnside: Gentlemen...we will cross this river when the bridges arrive, and not before. You must understand, I do not have the luxury of deviating from the larger plan. The President has approved my strategy, and I shall stick to it! Once this army is across the river, we will advance on Richmond in force. We must not allow him the luxury of attacking us as divided and separated units, as he has done in the past, and I will not make the same mistakes as my predecessors. So no, General Hancock. You will hold your division on this side of the river until the pontoons are in place and the entire army crosses together. An irresistible, impregnable force.

[Hancock looks over a map of the Fredericksburg area with Couch]
Hancock: They've occupied all the buildings along the riverfront. Our boys will be lining up those pontoon bridges under a hail of lead. Once across, the rebs are sure to make us pay for every block. Beyond the town is the canal, which cuts across this open field - a field we'll have to cross to reach their entrenchments on Marye's Heights. [sarcastically] Another difficult obstacle in the face of artillery fire.
Couch: Down to our left, we could push through. Turn Jackson's lines, push him back, trap Longstreet on top of the hill, surround him. It's possible.
Hancock: Turn Jackson's lines? No, General, we'll meet them head-on...and it'll be a bloody mess. We'll march up to that hill over there, and we'll eat their artillery fire all the way across this field.
Hancock: [moves away from the table, sits down and pulls out a cigar] But the important thing is, we'll be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and say, "We're good soldiers. We did what we were told." And if we're not successful, you can say, "Well, it was a good plan, but there were contingencies." And you, General, can go back to your hometown and tell the families of your men, "They died doing their duty."
Couch: The rebs have fortified the high ground up river, and anyway, there are strong currents and obstacles to a crossing there. Below Fredericksburg, the river's too wide, and our earliest forces are clear down to Port Royal. Fredericksburg is now the only place we can cross. If Burnside doesn't cross here, he might as well resign.
Hancock: That wily gray fox has outmanuevered our command again...and there's going to be hell to pay.


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