Well, the trailer for the pilot episode of Amazon’s “Point of Honor” is available and its even worse than first thought. It looks like a movie version of a Don Troiani Mort Kunstler painting. It is worth emphasizing that in light of recent Hollywood releases “Point of Honor” is an outlier given the narrative’s emphasis on distancing slavery from its main characters. Certainly, the success of “Twelve Years a Slave” demonstrated that the movie-going public can handle an honest portrayal of some of the harshest realities of American slavery and the master-slave relationship. Even Ron Maxwell has been able to push the envelope of the traditional Civil War story with “Copperheads.”
Are there any examples of a West Point cadet renouncing the institution of slavery at the beginning of the war and then fighting for the Confederacy? I honestly don’t know.
This pilot episode appears to be so cliche ridden and so poorly conceived that there is a chance that it never sees the light of day. Judge for yourself.
I do enjoy perusing the Confederate Heritage Facebook pages. The topic of black Confederates is a favorite among these folks. Many of the images and other references are new to me, but more importantly their handling of this “evidence” serves as a reminder of just how incapable some people are in applying even the most rudimentary skills of interpretation. Instead, as can be seen in the comments section, these postings do little more than offer reassurance to the true believers and reinforce a strict us v. them mentality.
A number of my friends on Facebook are sharing a pic of the new release by Don Troiani. This new watercolor of a private in the 4th United States Colored Troop is, if I am not mistaken, Troiani’s first stand alone black soldier since his 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry print, which was done a number of years ago. I absolutely love it and I am very close to clicking the “Pay Now” button at my PayPal account. Than again, my birthday is coming up soon and my wife is always looking for that perfect gift that shows her undying love for me.
Before moving to Boston I owned a fairly large collection of framed Troiani prints. Unfortunately, I knew I wouldn’t have room in my new library/office and I couldn’t bear keeping them in the basement so I sold them. I still have a giclee edition of “Mahone’s Charge” which is featured on the cover of my book as well as two regimental prints.
It is hard not to see this new release as a direct result of the popularity of Spielberg’s Lincoln and the broader emphasis on the history of black Union soldiers during the Sesquicentennial. We shall see if it sells.
I think Gary Gallagher makes a pretty good case for why black soldiers were not present at the Grand Review in Washington D.C. in May 1865. He argues that their absence had little to do with scheming politicians and military brass, who hoped to keep it an all-white affair. The parade was made up primarily of units that were in the process of being demobilized. Since black units were raised later in the war they remained stationed in various parts of the South.
In contrast, black troops under Edward O.C. Ord’s command were at Appomattox Court House in April 1865. Anyone who has read William Marvel’s books on the march out of the Petersburg trenches and surrender knows that these units were kept in camp behind their white comrades once the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered. Before the surrender ceremony on April 12 these men were ordered away from Appomattox. Marvel suggests that this was done “for the sake of serenity.” That seems like a reasonable explanation.
One wonders how their presence might have shaped an account of a salute that may or may not have taken place.
Update – 06/26/11: All of the Prints Have Been Sold.
I am putting up for sale my collection of framed Don Troiani Civil War prints, which I’ve been collecting since 2000. All of them were purchased through an authorized Troiani dealer in Fredercksburg, Virginia and include certificates of authenticity. I am going to include an asking price, but please feel free to make an offer. This is your chance to own your favorite Troiani print at a reasonable price. I will take photographs of specific prints if interested, but they are all in superb condition. Note: Click the status report link for the print’s current value.