Did Lynchburg Not Have a Slave and Free Black Population?

Looks like the folks at Historic Sandusky in Lynchburg, Virginia have produced a quality film on the battle of Lynchburg.  It is scheduled to premier in May, but they have released a two-minute trailer, which you can view here.  Like I said, I was impressed with the quality, but I was struck by the failure to include one black face in the trailer.  Hunter’s Raid had profound implications for the area’s slave population, including Lynchburg.  In 1860 the free black population of the city was around 3,000 and included a few hundred free blacks.  [I highly recommend the book, Free Blacks of Lynchburg, 1805-1865 by Ted Delaney and Phillip W. Rhodes.]

Perhaps the film does include a dramatization of what Hunter’s Raid meant to the black population, but to not include anything in the trailer may leave the impression that the film is only being marketed to one segment of the population.  Look very closely, however, and you will see a “black Confederate” soldier at the 1:27 mark.  I do like the burning homes and the Union soldier with the torch in hand at the very end..

9 responses... add one

Wow! True, there are limits to what can be in a two-minute trailer, but it is devoid of any context for the Union actions.

I don’t want to make too much of it. Still, a carefully edited trailer does give you an opportunity to share the theme and overall scope of the movie.

It also gives you some idea of the audience that they are trying to attract.

There is not, apparently, a limit to the number of errors which can be represented in a 2-minute trailer, though. In theory there should be: call it a Schweikart radius….

I got a chance to view bits and pieces of the film in January but again it was bits and pieces.

I can only say that I was asked to participate to give credit to Lynchburg’s black population but unfortunately the timing and my schedule were always in conflict.

Kevin-

That is a valid point. We do depict a number of African-Americans in the documentary, however none of those shots made it into the preview. If I had the time, I would adjust the preview to show that. I have not yet found that the black population had much of a role other than helping to dig trenches (both with and against their will), and hunkering down when the attcks came. The first hand accounts show that the Union soldiers during this raid were as likely to burn or loot a black family’s home as readily as a white family.

As for the Black Confederate, that gentlemen is depicting one of the many blacks who accompanied the Confederate Armies, some as cooks, some as servants, some as teamsters. They men often wore the clothing available to them which included Confederate uniforms. We are not portraying him as a Confederate soldier however, this piece has no interest in the debate over whether or not Blacks served as regular Confederate soldiers.

One of the most difficult things to do in the museum field is to tell the difficult stories of slavery. Professional seminars and conferences are devoted to this topic. One of things that makes it even more difficult is when white Americans attempt to tell these stories.

Hunter’s Raid was a horrible chapter of the Civil War. In general, Hunter’s Raid does not depict Union forces in a particularly good light, so be prepared to be upset if you dislike anything pro-Southern. The purpose of this documentary is not to validate or excuse or justify the actions of either side. Both North and South had/have plenty of sins to atone for.

This is a story of a region of Virginia during a specific time. It is based on the words of people that experienced it (North & South). It was an time of suffering & hardship for nearly all. It is inevitable that people today will search for , and insert, all kinds of modern agendas and prejudices. It is human nature. In the end, not everyone can, or will, be pleased.

Greg Starbuck
Director
Hunter’s Raid: The Battle for Lynchburg

Em- Actually you are in the movie via Brad Graham footage, and Hodge footage from our Lynchburg Civil War Days. Great shot of you carding wool.

Greg,

I appreciate the response. My comments were based on the trailer and I look forward to seeing the full version. I am more than willing to review it on the blog if that is of any interest to you.

You said: “Hunter’s Raid was a horrible chapter of the Civil War. In general, Hunter’s Raid does not depict Union forces in a particularly good light, so be prepared to be upset if you dislike anything pro-Southern. The purpose of this documentary is not to validate or excuse or justify the actions of either side. Both North and South had/have plenty of sins to atone for.”

I am fairly well versed on the history of the military campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley. As far as my bias all I can say is that I hope the film is based on solid research. I have no interest as a historian excusing or validating anything.

Thanks

Kevin-

Yes, please do review the film (actually its a video).

As for research, we pulled every eyewitness account we could find, including Hunter & his top Generals, Early & his top Generals, Union rank & file, Confederate rank & file, and civilian men & women. Nearly 100 diaries, letters, and memoir accounts of the raid. Of course the challenge is in presenting the material, not all of it can be used in so short a video.

Greg Starbuck

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