Saturday, October 08, 2022

How historically accurate was the Twilight Zone episode entitled --Long Live Walter Jameson --?

The Twilight Zone episode entitled --Long Live Walter Jameson -- first aired March 18, 1960, as events marking the Civil War Centennial were beginning.

Much is made of a diary entry dated September 11, 1864, which purports to show how evil General Sherman was. At that time Atlanta had surrendered but the burning of Atlanta (by Sherman's troops) would not occur for more than one month.

Another significant date, in November, 1864, marked a significant bettle in which Spencer rifles were employed.

From todayinGeorgiasHistory

September 2, 1864 - Atlanta

“Atlanta is ours, and fairly won”: the immortal words of General William T. Sherman when he captured Atlanta on this date in 1864. Sherman had taken the Deep South’s major manufacturing center and railroad hub, a huge loss for the Confederacy. Unwilling to attack Atlanta’s strong defenses, U.S. forces swept west and south around the city. At Jonesboro they cut the last railroad supplying Atlanta, forcing General John Bell Hood’s Confederates to abandon the city. Atlantans who remained were rudely awakened that morning by the apocalyptic explosions of Hood’s ammunition train being blown up by Confederates—a scene immortalized 75 years later in “Gone with the Wind.” Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to Sherman in a formal note, saying, “The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands.” The 2nd Massachusetts Regiment reached downtown first and raised the American flag over City Hall.

[The point being that the fire in September 1864 was created by Confederate general Hood and not by Union general Sherman.]

from AtlantaMagazine

The city of Atlanta, after the war is lost, is sentimentalized almost as a shrine to a lost cause and to a people’s determination never to give in. Scarlett returns to the city, which bumed 130 years ago, on Nov. 14, 1864, to find it in ruins and filled with Yankees and Negroes. ” ‘They burned you,’ she thought, ‘and they laid you flat. But they didn’t lick you. You’ll grow back just as big and sassy as you used to be!’ ” If ever a line of dialogue was written to be used through the ages by the chamber of commerce, this is one. It has ended up in prologues, poems, pamphlets, preachments and prayers and engraved in stone.


November 15, 1864 - William T. Sherman departs Atlanta on the March to the Sea, leaving Atlanta in ruins

As to the battle in November 1864, note

“Harvest of Death”: The Battle of Griswoldville

During the entire march [Sherman's march to the sea], there were only two set battles: the Battle of Griswoldville, and, at the end of the march, the capture of Ft. McAllister. The first of those battles, Griswoldville, occurred 150 years ago, Nov. 22, about ten miles away from Macon, Georgia. (...) By this point in the war, many Federal soldiers had saved their money and bought their own, non-regulation repeating rifles. The Spencer Rifle was in plenty of Federal hands at Griswoldville and those rifles would even the playing field.(...) As the Union soldiers policed the battlefield, they were horrified at the results. These men were veterans of many of Sherman’s campaigns, and they had seen their fair share of battlegrounds, but Griswoldville was different. One account wrote, “Old grey-haired and weakly looking men and little boys not over fifteen years old, lay dead or writhing in pain.” In front of the 100th Indiana, Theodore Upson wrote that “It was a terrible sight…We moved a few bodies, and there was a boy with a broken arm and leg—just a boy 14 years old; and beside him, cold in death, lay his Father, two brothers, and an Uncle. It was a harvest of death.”


An Overview of The Battle of Griswoldville, Georgia, November 22, 1864

In seven ill-fated charges Confederate forces hammered away at the Federal line on the high ground and would have probably broken the line had it not have been for the fact that this relatively inexperienced, though gallant, Southern force faced veteran Union soldiers armed with the new Spencer repeating rifle.



General Sherman and Miss Scarlett: The Historical Accuracy of the Civil War Section of GONE WITH THE WIND

by one gillianren

including text:

According to Mitchell herself, she didn’t realize until she was ten that the South had lost. (LHJ) She took the stories of her childhood and historical research and created an image of the South that has endured for over sixty years. But how much historical research is apparent in her work? Mitchell claimed once to be able to provide four historical sources for every line of nonfiction in the book, yet many historians downplay the accuracy of Gone With the Wind. Despite this, it has become nearly impossible in this country to discuss the Civil War without a mention of Mitchell’s epic. Therefore, it is important to examine the book’s Civil War passages and analyze its accuracy. Is the pooh-poohing of the critics merely snobbery? Or, rather, did Mitchell, an avid Civil War researcher, ignore and alter those facts that did not suit her story? This paper will attempt to make a judgement. While Gone With the Wind also covers Reconstruction, this paper will not. For one thing, the Battle of Atlanta is a bulky enough topic on its own, and for another, Mitchell’s writing was biased by the historians of the time, most of whom used the facts their own way. One cannot expect a book written by a Southerner, published in 1936, to be an entirely accurate portrayal of Reconstruction, an event twisted by Southern historians almost as soon as it was over. The Civil War will do nicely, and Reconstruction will be left for another time. (...)

After Kennesaw Mountain, Johnston is replaced with John Bell hood. Here, another of Mitchell’s errors is easily attributable to the scholars of her time. She claims that the army cried out for “Old Joe,” but in reality, equal numbers trusted Hood as a commander. However, many works of “real” historians claimed the same thing in the 1920s, the time during which Mitchell was researching her book. (It is also probable that Johnston never said, “I can hold Atlanta forever!” as Mitchell has him saying twice.) (WST, 343) In direct agreement with Mitchell’s stance is that taken by an early Civil War historian, William Swinton, who in 1867, just three years after the events of the Battle of Atlanta, published The Twelve Decisive Battles of the War: a history of the Eastern and Western campaigns, in relation to the actions that decided their issue. In it, he writes one of the most poetic condemnations of Hood possible. “One such mysterious blow to the Confederacy was that by which Johnston was removed from its Western army at the moment when he was most needful for its salvation, kept from command till an intervening general had ruined and disintegrated it and then gravely restored to the leadership of its pitiful fragments.” (405) Now, with Georgia being sliced apart by Sherman’s invading army, rumours begin to fly about the Home Guard, Georgia’s state militia, being called out to aid the failing army of Hood. In fact, it is possible that Hood relied on this hope, the hope of “Joe Brown’s Pets.” The Home Guard was made up of men too old and boys too young to fight, as well as those just cowardly enough to want an excuse to avoid active duty but just patriotic enough to want a uniform. It was a well-established fact that Brown had all but promised his militia that it would never fight. (...) he last able-bodied man in town able to help Scarlett, it seems, is Rhett Butler. Rhett’s horse and carriage have been taken by the army as an ambulance. It is almost certain that such a thing would happen. Rhett steals an army horse from the corral, as well as a wagon, and hurries to Scarlett. As they flee Atlanta, they see the last of the Confederate army in full retreat. They see the burning of the cars of ammunition. “‘Have a good look at them,’ came Rhett’s gibing voice, ‘so you can tell your grandchildren you saw the rear guard of the Glorious Cause in retreat.'”


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