Gettysburg (1993)

R | 254 mins | Drama, Epic | 8 October 1993

Director:

Ronald F. Maxwell

Cinematographer:

Kees Van Oostrum

Editor:

Corky Ehlers

Production Designer:

Cary White

Production Company:

Turner Pictures
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HISTORY

Opening credits are superimposed over photographs and a map from the U.S. Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, accompanied by Morgan Sheppard’s voice-over narration: “In June 1863, after more than two years of bloody conflict, the Confederate army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee commanding, slips across the Potomac to begin the invasion of the North. It is an army of 70,000 men. They move slowly behind the Blue Ridge using the mountains to screen their movements. Their main objective is to draw the Union army out into the open where it can be destroyed. Late in June, the Union army of the Potomac, 80,000 men, turns north from Virginia to begin the great pursuit up the narrow roads across Maryland and into Pennsylvania. General Lee knows that a letter has been prepared by the Southern government—a letter which offers peace. It is to be placed on the desk of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, the day after Lee has destroyed the Army of the Potomac somewhere north of Washington.”
       The film’s epilogue displays photographs of each character and their real-life counterparts, accompanied by text that describes their respective fates following the Battle of Gettysburg: “Longstreet is wounded severely in 1864, but returns to remain Lee’s most dependable soldier. He dies in 1904 at the age of eighty-three.”; “After the first day, Buford’s shattered division was taken out of the front line and deployed to guard the supply trains for the duration of the battle.”; “That Autumn Buford is weakened by wounds and in December dies of pneumonia.”; “J. E. B. Stuart is mortally wounded at the battle of Yellow Tavern and dies on May 12, 1864 in ... More Less

Opening credits are superimposed over photographs and a map from the U.S. Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, accompanied by Morgan Sheppard’s voice-over narration: “In June 1863, after more than two years of bloody conflict, the Confederate army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee commanding, slips across the Potomac to begin the invasion of the North. It is an army of 70,000 men. They move slowly behind the Blue Ridge using the mountains to screen their movements. Their main objective is to draw the Union army out into the open where it can be destroyed. Late in June, the Union army of the Potomac, 80,000 men, turns north from Virginia to begin the great pursuit up the narrow roads across Maryland and into Pennsylvania. General Lee knows that a letter has been prepared by the Southern government—a letter which offers peace. It is to be placed on the desk of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, the day after Lee has destroyed the Army of the Potomac somewhere north of Washington.”
       The film’s epilogue displays photographs of each character and their real-life counterparts, accompanied by text that describes their respective fates following the Battle of Gettysburg: “Longstreet is wounded severely in 1864, but returns to remain Lee’s most dependable soldier. He dies in 1904 at the age of eighty-three.”; “After the first day, Buford’s shattered division was taken out of the front line and deployed to guard the supply trains for the duration of the battle.”; “That Autumn Buford is weakened by wounds and in December dies of pneumonia.”; “J. E. B. Stuart is mortally wounded at the battle of Yellow Tavern and dies on May 12, 1864 in Richmond.”; “Harrison survives the charge and the battle. After the war, he returns to the stage to play Shakespeare.”; “Pickett’s Division is virtually destroyed. He survives the war to great glory, but broods on the loss until his dying day.”; “Hancock survives the wound at Gettysburg. In 1880 he runs for the presidency on the Democratic ticket, loses to Garfield and retires from public life.”; “Union soldiers carry Armistead to a field hospital where he dies two days later. The package given to Longstreet for Myra Hancock contained his personal bible.”; “After Gettysburg, Chamberlain is wounded six times and rises to the rank of Major General. For his day at Little Round Top, he receives the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is elected Governor of Maine for four terms and later serves as President of Bowdoin College. He dies in 1914 at the age of eighty-three.”; “Lee serves until the end of the war, almost two years later. He dies in 1870, perhaps the most beloved general in American history.”; and, “Thus ended the clash at Gettysburg, the biggest and bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil. Combined losses from both armies exceeded 53,000. The decisive battle sought by Lee had ended in failure, but the spirit of the Southern army was far from broken, and the war would rage on for two more devastating years.”
       On 29 Jun 1978, HR announced that the Visualscope Television division of Reeves Teletape had acquired motion picture rights to Michael Shaara’s 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. Civil War novel, The Killer Angels. A few years later, however, the 18 Feb 1981 HR reported that director Ronald F. Maxwell had acquired the property and hired Shaara to adapt the screenplay for his company, Ronwell Productions. While Maxwell receives sole writing credit on the final film, the 22 Aug 1990 Var indicated that they may have collaborated before Shaara’s death in 1988. According to a 5 Oct 1993 LAT article, Maxwell persuaded Polygram Pictures to option his 400-page script. Although Robert Duvall and William Hurt considered starring, Polygram soon went bankrupt, and Maxwell spent the next several years pitching the property to “every Hollywood studio executive who sat behind a desk.” The filmmaker recounted how they all shied away from the concept, citing its lack of female characters, non-commercial subject matter, and the notable box-office failure of other “epic” historical dramas, Heaven’s Gate (1980, see entry) and Revolution (1985, see entry). As a result, Maxwell briefly considered hiring a foreign director to generate more appeal, but ultimately decided that only an American director would be appropriate to represent such an important part of U.S. history. During this time, Duvall attracted the interest of Kevin Costner, but Costner became unavailable once production began on Dances With Wolves (1990, see entry). Items in the 11 Aug 1989 and 24 Aug 1989 HR announced the attachment of independent production company BIMA Entertainment and its chairman, William Bronstein. Although BIMA reportedly held a casting call at the Battle of Monocacy Civil War reenactment in Frederick, MD, the company is not credited onscreen and its continued involvement in the production remains undetermined.
       With no firm producing deal or starring commitments in place, Maxwell decided to move the project to television. In an interview with the 19-25 LA Village View, Maxwell explained his reluctance to do this stemmed from the trend in which television networks “trivialized” historical subjects by presenting them as “soap operas,” as had been done with The Blue and the Gray (CBS, 14—17 Nov 1982) and North and South (ABC, 3 Nov 1985; 4 May 1986; 27 Feb 1994). Only ABC expressed interest, but the beginning of the Gulf War and poor ratings of the 1991 television miniseries Son of the Morning Star prompted the network to cancel development. Duvall also dropped out, citing his preference for feature film roles after completing the Home Box Office (HBO) production of Stalin (1992).
       In Mar 1991, Maxwell and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentarian Ken Burns attended the Producers Guild of America Awards, where they convinced media mogul and Civil War enthusiast Ted Turner to produce the project, now titled Gettysburg, for his basic cable station, Turner Network Television (TNT), with Maxwell as director. Robert Duvall again turned down the role of Confederate General “Robert E. Lee,” which was then offered to Albert Finney, George C. Scott, and finally, Martin Sheen. Ken Burns appears in the role of “Hancock’s aide,” while Turner has an uncredited cameo as a member of the Confederate infantry.
       According to a 26 Nov 1993 LA Weekly column, costume designer Michael T. Boyd researched military uniforms at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Although most of the several thousand Civil War reenactors who volunteered to appear in the film brought their own uniforms, the wardrobe department dressed more than 256 cast members, 200 background actors, and stuntmen each day. After reading the script to ensure the story was an authentic depiction of the events, the U.S. Park Service granted the production special permission to film battle sequences at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, PA. Additional scenes were shot around Adams County. Production began in Jul 1992, and costs totaled $13 million.
       Despite the intention to air Gettysburg as a TNT television miniseries, dailies footage convinced Turner to give the film a theatrical release through New Line Cinema, which Turner Broadcasting later acquired in 1994. As a result, Maxwell was able to shoot his original screenplay as it was before edits were made to allow for commercial breaks. Turner spent an additional $7 million on post-production, which included a 70mm blow-up and sound remixes for both the Dolby Stereo Spectral Recording and DTS sound systems. According to the 12 Jul 1993 and 17 Aug 1993 DV, New Line hosted the first of three successful test screenings in the Scottsdale-Phoenix, AZ area.
       Although the film was scheduled to play at the Montreal and Boston Film Festivals, the 1 Oct 1993 HR and publicity materials in AMPAS library files indicate that the U.S. gala premiere took place 4 Oct 1993 at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. Additional screenings were held 5-7 Oct 1993 at Symphony Hall in Atlanta, GA; the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City; the DGA Theatre in Los Angeles, CA; followed by a local community screening in Gettysburg, as thanks to those who helped work on the film.
       An 8 Oct 1993 HR article stated that Gettysburg opened that day in 124 theaters, roughly 15-18% of which were 70mm engagements. Because of the extended running time and intermission, theater owners were limited to only two screenings per day, but hoped to recoup rental costs with increased concession sales. New Line booked venues in most major cities, as well as several smaller towns across New England and the South that held particular “Civil War significance.”
       The film was well received by critics, and the 10 Jan 1994 Var reported a box-office gross of $12 million. Turner spent $2.5 million marketing the film’s 16 Mar 1994 home video release, which preceded its six-hour TNT broadcast in Jun 1994.
       Several contemporary sources listed varying running times for the theatrical release, all of which exceeded four hours. The DVD viewed for this record was 254 minutes, and a 271-minute “Director’s Cut” was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2011, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War on 12 Apr 1861.
       In 2003, Turner and Warner Bros. reteamed with Maxwell to produce a prequel, Gods and Generals (see entry), based on the 1996 novel of the same name written by Shaara’s son, Jeffrey. Several actors also returned, including Jeff Daniels and Stephen Lang, while Robert Duvall replaced Martin Sheen as Robert E. Lee, the role he repeatedly turned down in Gettysburg.
       End credits state: “Filmed on actual locations at Gettysburg National Military Park and Adams County, Pennsylvania”; “Special thanks to the National Park Service, without whose help this picture would not have been possible: Jose A. Cisneros, Superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park; Joe Bowden, Film Liaison; Laurie E. Coughlan, Interpretation and Visitor Services”; “Special thanks to: Tony May, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, Pennsylvania Governor’s Office; Ted Hanson, Director Pennsylvania Film Bureau; Terry Punt, Pennsylvania State Senator; Kenneth J. Cole, Pennsylvania State Representative; Margaret Weaver, Executive Director, Gettysburg-Adam’s County Chamber of Commerce; Gettysburg Travel Council; James W. Bigham; James Bratner; Mark Bream; Charles and Carol Buckley, Cashtown Inn; Nancy Bushey; Terry Daley; Glenn Hartzell, Adams County Historical Society; Dana Heim; Don Johnson; Dennis Kern; Don Patterson; John Pullen, Author of The 20th Maine; Lou Reda; Gar and Velda Royer; Art L. Snyder; Jay Wolf; Don and Bill Yingling; The Association for Preservation of Civil War Sites; Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, Inc.; The Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia; Emory University, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Special Collections Department; Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, Jack M. Stover, Esq.; Tony Strickland/Strickland Enterprises; Cellular One of York; Coca Cola; Flohr’s Parsonage; Gettysburg Hospital”; “Animal action was monitored by The American Humane Association and The Humane Society of Carroll County”; and, “This Film is Dedicated to the Memory of Michael Shaara and Richard Jordan.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1993.
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Daily Variety
17 Aug 1993.
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Daily Variety
4 Oct 1993.
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Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1978.
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Hollywood Reporter
18 Feb 1981.
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Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 1989.
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Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 1989.
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Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1993
p. 3, 32.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1993
p. 10, 29.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1993
p. 10, 32.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 1993.
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LA Village View
19-25 Nov 1993
p. 11.
LA Weekly
26 Nov 1993.
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Los Angeles Times
5 Oct 1993
Section F, p. 1, 9.
Los Angeles Times
8 Oct 1993
Calendar, p. 6.
New York Times
8 Oct 1993
Section C, p. 16.
Variety
22 Aug 1990
p. 20, 30.
Variety
4 Oct 1993
p. 37.
Variety
10 Jan 1994.
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CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Special appearance by
as General John Buford
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Turner Pictures Presents
A Mace Neufeld/Robert Rehme Presentation of
An Esparza/Katz Production
A Film by Ronald F. Maxwell
Produced in association with Tristar Television, Inc.
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
Key addl 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
1st asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam loader
Cam loader
"B" cam op
"B" cam asst
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Still photog
Dir of photog, 2d unit
"B" cam op, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
Best boy grip, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Elec, 2d unit
Addl cam op, 2d unit
Addl cam op, 2d unit
Asst cam, 2d unit
Flycam op, 2d unit
Flycam op, 2d unit
Grip and lighting equip by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Storyboard artist
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
1st asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
TNT dir of post prod
Post prod supv
Post prod asst ed
Post prod asst
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
On set dresser
Swing gang set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Prop asst
3d asst prop
Const coord
Const foreman
Scenic artist
Painter
Painter
Props, 2d unit
Prop asst, 2d unit
Prop gunpowder asst, 2d unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Asst cost des
Key set costumer
Costumer
Seamstress
MUSIC
Mus supv
Scoring mixer
Scoring mixer
Mus score rec at
Mus ed
Assoc mus and film ed
Loc mus rec
Civil War military mus
Civil War military mus
Civil War military mus
Civil War military mus
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cableman
Sd mixer, 2d unit
Boom op, 2d unit
Post prod services by, Signet Sound Studios
Post prod services by
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sr sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd eff ed
Dial/ADR ed
Dial/ADR ed
Asst dial ed
Asst dial ed
Asst dial ed
Signet Sound post coord
ADR ed
Foley mixer
Foley walker
Foley walker
Foley facility
Dolby Stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff key
Spec eff key
Spec eff key
Spec eff key
Spec eff key
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Visual eff by
Opticals by
Main title seq des by
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Key makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Key hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Makeup, 2d unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Exec in charge of prod
VP finance/Exec in charge of prod
Prod legal counsel
Head wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Unit mgr
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Unit pub
Casting asst
Scr supv
Prod coord
Los Angeles coord
Asst to Mr. Katz & Mr. Esparza
Asst to Mr. Maxwell
Asst prod accountant
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Dailies runner
Dailies runner
Dailies runner
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
On set historical adv
Historical adv
Military choreog
Historical script reviewer
Gettysburg College
Historical script reviewer
Virginia Military Institute
Historical script reviewer
A.P.C.W.S.
Re-enactor coord
Re-enactor coord
Re-enactor coord
Asst re-enactor coord
Asst re-enactor coord
Asst re-enactor coord
Asst re-enactor coord
Asst re-enactor coord
Asst re-enactor coord
Asst re-enactor coord
Re-enactor corps commander: Confederate
Re-enactor corps commander: Confederate
Re-enactor corps commander: Federal
Re-enactor corps commander: Federal
Re-enactor camp mgr
Action re-enactor
Action re-enactor
Action re-enactor
Action re-enactor
Action re-enactor
Action re-enactor
Action re-enactor
Action re-enactor
Action re-enactor
Action re-enactor
Artillery commander
Cavalry commander
Asst cavalry coord
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
Corps background wrangler
D.V.M.
Corps background wrangler
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation dispatcher
Transportation co-capt
Talent driver
Talent driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Chief of security
Medical coord
Dialect coach
Chef
Asst chef
Prep cook
Craft services
Craft services
Craft services
Re-enactor catering
Re-enactor catering
Scr supv, 2d unit
Key prod asst, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
ADR voice casting, Loop Du Jour
ADR voice casting
Participating re-enactor unit
Participating re-enactor unit
Participating re-enactor unit
Participating re-enactor unit
Participating re-enactor unit
Participating re-enactor unit
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STAND INS
Stunt coord
Utility stuntman
Utility stuntman
Utility stuntman
Utility stuntman
Utility stuntman
Utility stuntman
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Utility stuntman
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Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Prints and col by
70mm prints by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (New York, 1974).
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 October 1993
Premiere Information:
Washington, D.C. premiere: 4 October 1993
New York City premiere: 6 October 1993
Los Angeles premiere: 7 October 1993
Los Angeles and New York openings: 8 October 1993
Production Date:
began July 1992
Copyright Claimant:
Turner Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
9 December 1993
Copyright Number:
PA678197
Physical Properties:
Sound
DTS in selected theatres; Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo SR™ in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras & Lenses
Duration(in mins):
254
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32600
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On Tuesday, June 30, 1863, during the third summer of the U.S. Civil War, actor-turned-Confederate scout Henry T. Harrison warns Lieutenant General James “Peter” Longstreet that the 80,000-member Union cavalry is marching toward the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania. The news concerns both Longstreet and General Robert E. Lee, who relied on tips from their informant, Major General J. E. B. Stuart, who is nowhere to be found. Since their men are spread thin across the region, they decide to converge on the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Near Union Mills, Maryland, 20th Maine Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a former schoolteacher, learns that the recently promoted Major General George G. Meade has sent him 120 mutineers who quit the army out of loyalty to the Second Maine unit, which disbanded. Although Chamberlain has been given permission to shoot the men if they resist orders, he kindly offers them food instead. The mutineers’ elected spokesman, Private Joseph Bucklin, expresses the group’s grievances over the war and incompetent officers. Chamberlain addresses their concerns, but promotes the value of freedom and insists he will be personally grateful for their cooperation, since he believes the impending battle will be a turning point in the war. As a result of his passion, all but six of the men agree to fight for Chamberlain’s unit as they lead the march toward Gettysburg. Meanwhile, Union Brigadier General John Buford inspects a large grassy field outside Gettysburg and plans his defense for when Lee’s army arrives from Cashtown. The next morning, July 1, 1863, Lee requests Longstreet hold back once the battle begins, for fear of losing one of his most reliable commanders. As a Confederate brigade ... +


On Tuesday, June 30, 1863, during the third summer of the U.S. Civil War, actor-turned-Confederate scout Henry T. Harrison warns Lieutenant General James “Peter” Longstreet that the 80,000-member Union cavalry is marching toward the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania. The news concerns both Longstreet and General Robert E. Lee, who relied on tips from their informant, Major General J. E. B. Stuart, who is nowhere to be found. Since their men are spread thin across the region, they decide to converge on the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Near Union Mills, Maryland, 20th Maine Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a former schoolteacher, learns that the recently promoted Major General George G. Meade has sent him 120 mutineers who quit the army out of loyalty to the Second Maine unit, which disbanded. Although Chamberlain has been given permission to shoot the men if they resist orders, he kindly offers them food instead. The mutineers’ elected spokesman, Private Joseph Bucklin, expresses the group’s grievances over the war and incompetent officers. Chamberlain addresses their concerns, but promotes the value of freedom and insists he will be personally grateful for their cooperation, since he believes the impending battle will be a turning point in the war. As a result of his passion, all but six of the men agree to fight for Chamberlain’s unit as they lead the march toward Gettysburg. Meanwhile, Union Brigadier General John Buford inspects a large grassy field outside Gettysburg and plans his defense for when Lee’s army arrives from Cashtown. The next morning, July 1, 1863, Lee requests Longstreet hold back once the battle begins, for fear of losing one of his most reliable commanders. As a Confederate brigade enters the field, Buford’s men hold their position until Major General John F. Reynolds arrives. Outside the city, Confederate units under Major General Henry Heth face unexpected losses as the Union infantry gathers around the city, prompting Lee to order a full-scale attack. Reynolds dies in the crossfire, and as the Union begins to recede, Lee orders his men to stake claim to a nearby hill. Longstreet suggests they re-deploy and lead the enemy further south toward Washington, D.C., but Lee desires to attack as soon as Meade arrives. Along the river, Chamberlain takes in a runaway slave, leading to a discussion with Sergeant Buster Kilrain about their shared hope for equality among men. That night, Confederate Major General George E. Pickett meets Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Fremantle, a British military attaché, and Pickett’s men explain they fight the war to achieve the freedom to govern their own states. At nightfall, Buford confers with Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, who laments Reynolds’s death and his former friendship with the Virginian Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead, now a rival serving as leader of Pickett’s brigade. At the Confederates’ headquarters on Seminary Ridge, Major General Isaac R. Trimble asks to be reassigned after entering into a disagreement with Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell over the occupation of the empty hill. Because Ewell hesitated, the Confederates will now have to fight for the position. Lee refuses to release Trimble, and instead orders him to oversee the charge. At daybreak, Union Major General George G. Meade finally arrives at Gettysburg with several thousand troops, and Lee pushes Longstreet, Ewell, and Heth to attack before the enemy creates a blockade that will cut off the Confederates’ route home. With Pickett still a day’s march from the battlefield, Major General John Bell “Sam” Hood is sent to guard a rocky hill that Lee believes will offer his troops an advantage. Before battle, Arthur Fremantle observes that although Union and Confederate soldiers fight on opposing sides, they all share the same ancestry, customs, and culture. Longstreet speculates that the British will never ally with a pro-slavery Confederacy, and admits they should have freed the slaves before engaging in battle at Fort Sumter. While perusing the area, Hood protests his orders due to the vulnerability of his hilltop post, but Longstreet commands him to follow through as planned. Chamberlain’s regiment is stationed below the summit, making them the final and most critical line of Union defense. As Confederates storm the rocky hillside, the last remaining mutineers join the fight, and Chamberlain’s men hold strong against several enemy regiments. Buster Kilrain is among those severely wounded, and Chamberlain’s younger brother, Lieutenant Thomas D. Chamberlain, narrowly misses being shot. Expecting the Confederates to be exhausted, Chamberlain orders his remaining troops to charge down the hill with fixed bayonets. When the siege is over, Chamberlain is lauded for his services defending the hill known as Little Round Top, and leads his men toward their next post on the adjacent bluff. Longstreet surveys the injured, including Hood, and assigns Henry Harrison to scout the Union’s rightward position and condition in the aftermath of the attack. That night, Longstreet listens as Virginia General Armistead reflects on his friendship with Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, commander of the opposing army. Armistead fears they may encounter one another on the battlefield, and asks Longstreet to deliver a package to Hancock’s wife if he should be killed. Meanwhile, Lee reprimands J. E. B. Stuart, who failed to report the enemy’s whereabouts before Harrison’s arrival. On the morning of Friday, July 3, 1863, Longstreet worries that the damage has been too great for his troops to face the enemy in an open field. Lee theorizes that because the Union has reinforced its flanks, Longstreet can initiate an attack up the center. Although Longstreet remains skeptical, Lee reiterates his complete trust in the officer’s abilities. Meanwhile, a courier informs Chamberlain that his unit has been relieved and must relocate to the center of the battlefield to rest. Longstreet demonstrates Lee’s attack strategy for Pickett, Trimble, and Brigadier General J. Johnston Pettigrew. Harrison asks Longstreet for a musket so he may join the fight. The officer attempts to dissuade him by describing the bleakness of their chances, but Harrison insists. Across the field, Hancock compliments Chamberlain for his bravado on Little Round Top, and speaks sadly of his friendship with Armistead. Just then, Chamberlain’s brother Thomas arrives to inform him that Kilrain succumbed to his wounds. Although the Union does not expect the fighting to begin until the following day, the Confederate artillery fires cannon rounds, which damage Union weaponry but also deplete the Confederates’ supply of ammunition. Regardless, Longstreet has no choice but to send Pickett and Armistead to prepare their men to charge. With rousing cries of, “For Virginia!” Armistead and the brigades march onto field. As they attempt to cross the fence in the middle of the clearing, the Union armies open fire. Despite Armistead’s spirited run leading his men toward the enemy, the Confederates suffer staggering losses, including Pickett’s entire division. As he lay dying of a gunshot wound, Armistead is devastated to learn that his friend Hancock has also been injured, and asks a Union soldier to send his regrets. Lee takes responsibility for the defeat, and privately weeps for the death and destruction he has brought upon his men. He suggests they retreat toward Virginia, but vows to continue to fight as long as the war persists. Meanwhile, Chamberlain and his brother reunite on the battlefield in a tearful embrace. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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