My hell week at work ended on Thursday night, but I spent pretty much the whole day Friday with a couple of my friends who were attending. We went sightseeing down the Civil War Trails, visiting the battlefields of Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Courthouse, with a side trip to downtown Orange and Charlottesville. The exhibits were fascinating, especially the film we saw at the Chancellorsville exhibit. There is a Fredericksburg center as well, which I will try to visit at some point in the next few weeks when time allows. I think I have a yen to start doing some reading on the Civil War to try and make sense of the military movement and strategies involved, with which I’ve always been fascinated but, frankly, perplexed.
I had the idea (probably not a very original one) that the life of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson would make a phenomenal biopic screenplay. I even thought through a little of the structure and some of the broad strokes of the themes and character arc. I may get a couple biographies and devote a little time to this pet project over the summer. I would be surprised if such a screenplay would attract much attention. Thanks to the success of the PC movement in Hollywood, Jackson is demonized since he came from the evil slaveholding South. This, despite the fact that he arose from a life of poverty and tragedy to graduate from West Point and become a brilliant military leader, a devoted husband and father, and one of the most important and recognized figures in American history.
While I certainly abhor the idea of slavery, and I’m glad the Union won in the end, people are a product of their time. To judge Jackson against the standards of 21st century America, 50 years after the civil rights movement, is the height of ludicrousness. I think it would be a great and worthy challenge as a writer to try and make him a heroic and sympathetic character without regard to his cause, while not whitewashing the fact that he shared it.