Uncle Ed's Reviews

Being a Camp Adjutant, I've had to do a lot of reading, viewing and evaluation... I figured I should start putting my 2 cents worth of think out there of others to think about to see if I am that far off the target at times.  :)

I will be posting my SHORT reviews of Books, Movies, and anything I think might help someone better understand the world of the 1860's.
I am going to try to allows comments and discussion on these posts but be forewarned, if it get personal or off topic I WILL rein it in.

Going to try doing this in an "Announcement" format and if it doesn't work we will make adjustments as needed.

"The Field of Lost Shoes" DVD

posted Jun 1, 2017, 7:56 AM by Edward Georgen   [ updated Jun 1, 2017, 7:56 AM ]

The Battle of New Market, what a deep story to bury yourself in for a few hours!

Put yourself in the shoes of former US Vice President Breckinridge. What do you do? Outgunned, outmanned. 

Of course Hollywood (weird in my book) didn't get behind this movie! Even with the odd few minutes at the beginning that were added to make the story more socially acceptable in today's PC Culture...  We are too overly sensitive.

The movie does a great job of laying the foundations of the characters. You will genuinely like the young men. Remember the movie makes them look older, but these young men were early teens. Thrust into battle beside hardened Veterans who thought very little of the young'ens...

The movie does a very good job of keeping the modern out of the camera, but for those of us who have a bit more than a cliff-notes understanding of the times and the places the OOPS jump out at us. But, still that is okay in this movie.

The scenes thru field glasses were terrible on my HD tv. When I used my projector to throw this movie up on a BIG concrete wall it was even worse. Honestly, they should have saved those dollars and put them to scenes of the troops moving that folks could SEE and figure out what was happening. 

The acting is very good!

I know it seems like he hams it up a bit but the actor who plays the Rat blew me away. I had no clue Luke Dunphy (Nolan Gould) could really act! He did a great job overall. A few of the looks of terror in his eyes during the battle scenes looked like he WAS afraid but determined. My hat is off to this young man, I pray he has a bright future! 

Filling the shoes of John C Breckinridge would be tough for ANY actor. He was definitely a man of his times. But Jason Isaacs does a decent job. It appears he did some research into the former VP and tried to put some feeling into the lines he spoke. 

Keith David performed yet another work of art bring the Old Judge to life. Of course most of the life he has in this film is made up. The best, and only, period source about Old Judge I can find is in the book "The End of An Era" by John Sergeant Wise, yes the Son of the Governor portrayed in this film and the lead role since the movie follows his growth. 

John Sergeant Wise describes Old Judge as follows:
Judge was a wonderful old negro; he had been there many years. In appearance, he was a black Sancho Panza, fat and puffing and jolly; he was a darkey of moods. Sometimes his mood was religious, sometimes it was profane; but, whether the one or the other, he was always amusing.

Out of the first introduction grew a long friendship with Judge, and when he confronted St. Peter, the pile of bread stacked up against him in Heaven must have been tremendous; for every cadet who was at Lexington in the thirty years of his stewardship received from him at least ten loaves stolen from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Bless his hot, jolly, fat, black, flour-smirched, roguish memory! His portrait, with his baker’s cap jauntily tipped, now adorns the cadet mess-hall in the company of generals and other distinguished departed.

But let's get out of the weeds and back to generalizations. I don't want to fill out too much of the story as I truly want you to see this movie! Then I want you to pick up a book or two about this event.

The biggest take away is this, its a movie.
The event did happen. The Cadets DID save the day at New Market.
It did happen nearly as described. Yes, they DID storm across the field and do what others thought could not be done.
Did all the sideline "stuff" take place? Maybe. Maybe not.

The part that sent chills down my spine, the ending. Modern Day. 

Search Youtube for VMI + New Market. Watch the tradition continue. Listen to the Cadets read the names. Watch the Cadets of today charge across the New Market Battlefield as they did in 1864.

History is real folks. 

So for my ratings:
The Field of Lost Shoes DVD
Watch ability9/10
Attention to detail8/10
Thought provoking9/10
Buy it New or UsedNew, its a keeper
Overall8/10

What would you do if in his shoes?

posted May 10, 2017, 4:15 PM by Edward Georgen   [ updated May 10, 2017, 4:32 PM ]

Jack Hinson's One-Man War, A Civil War Sniper by Thomas McKenney

To sum up this story, WOW! Makes you think, "What would I do?"

When I was young I had heard tales about a Father who went out for revenge against the Yankees, but I never did hear much beyond that. Of course I was a teen, fresh into reenacting and a certain little blonde haired girl... I didn't think much about the mystery back then...  And the years slowly passed.

Now fast forward to my moving to Kentucky. We live near LBL so being a "history nerd" as some lovingly call me, I happened upon the tale again exploring LBL with my Son. But the details I could get from the Parks Folks was sketchy to say the least and they couldn't back up any of what they were saying with anything beyond "so and so said". My appetite was up! I had to find out more!!!

I happened upon this book while doing a web search and immediately snatched it up (I paid way too much for it but wanted it then and there.)

So order a copy, (click the title above to go right to it at Amazon) get in your comfy reading chair and have at it! Have a nice cold drink handy too.

The book flows like you are standing in the wings watching it unfold. The author does a good job filling in details that help the story move along and not just a timeline in words. He states himself that he had to take some literary license to make the story flow, BUT all the facts are there. He did his research well! 

Yes, at times it goes seem to get bogged down in details, but soldier thru those bits. Those details help reveal the story as you go along. 

If you can get over to the Southern end of LBL just North of Dover and get a feel for how the land dips and flows it will give you an idea of the terrain them folks lived with. Also remember that the rivers were untamed back then so what you see along them now was WELL above water back then except for flood stages...  

One prime example is Fort Henry, back then it was built too close to the river and the rising water played heavily in its fall. Now the location of Fort Henry is underwater... What if the Fort was built back from the bank a bit more and did not flood? Could that have changed the outcome of the War? What if Fort Heiman on the opposite shore was completed and manned? Could that have been enough to keep the Federal Forces out of Tennessee long enough for Lincoln to stop pushing for war???

You will also be able to see how knowing the land played well to Johns survival. He know the area like the back of his hand. He knew the people as family. Using this knowledge of the land and its people you can easily see how John avoid patrols hunting for him and entire units of men (100+) out hunting for him.

I bet you see I love to play "What if?" a lot.  :)  And this book fueled that train of thinking for me BIG TIME!

But back to John Hinson, yes John Hinson was his name. Not Jack...

The author does a decent job of painting a picture that I believe is rather accurate. The character interactions are not forced or unbelievable. He has woven the facts and family stories well into the characters.

Would I like to have read more on the interactions with the Generals on both sides? Yes. But that would have taken away from the factual aspect of the book.

Would I like to have read more on the interactions between John and his People? Heck yes! I have long held that the treatment depicted by hollyweird and tv is NOT what it was like. Do yourself a favor and go to the Library of Congress and listen to the "slave narratives".  

If I have one complaint about the book, it would be the story after the war seemed rushed. The author went from sometimes too much detail to just enough to get facts across. Fleshing out Johns later years would have taken some away from my fascination with "What if" but I don't think it would have hurt to fill in the story a bit more.

This book fueled my wanting to know more about John so much I set my sights on doing a first person impression of John for our Camp education efforts. Even followed in Johns steps and had a rifle custom built as close to his as I could get.

How far would YOU go to avenge two of your sons deaths? In similar circumstances I can tell ya this old boy would be about the same...

So for my ratings:
  Jack Hinson's One-Man War, A Civil War Sniper by Thomas McKenney
Readability8/10
Attention to detail8/10
Thought provoking9/10
Buy it New or UsedNew, its a keeper
Overall8/10

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