This version of Gettysburg And Stories of Valor is a condensed version of the 180 minute, two-part Civil War Minutes III: Gettysburg And Stories of Valor narrated by Keith Carradine. This, the public television edition, runs 56 minutes and contains 12 selections from the full work.
Gettysburg And Stories of Valor is a series of snapshots of the participants in the battle of Gettysburg. This battle is probably the most famous and perhaps the most important conflict of the Civil War. It took place from July 1 through July 3, 1863, in Gettysburg Pennsylvania, a rural area of about 2400 people. It marked the first time that the Confederate army invaded the north.
If you are expecting to get a history lesson on the battle at Gettysburg and how it was fought, you will not. Gettysburg And Stories of Valor takes a look at specific moments and the people who participated in the battle. It would be like if you looked at a photograph of a particular moment during the war and said "What happened here?" That moment is explained — acknowledging the participants, the outcome, and some of the effects on the battle, and then off to the next snapshot.
Some of the snapshots include Confederate General Lewis Armistead who is seriously wounded and utters a Masonic distress call. Union soldiers recognize the phrase and come to his aid. He dies a few days later, but the spot is marked, and eventually a monument is erected to one of the "Bravest of the Brave."
Another moment is in the life of Private Will Mayo, who as a drummer boy also was a stretcher-bearer. Once the battle becomes too loud to hear the drums the drummer boys abandon their instruments and help the wounded. During the battle, Mayo was killed, but they found the drum upon which his name was written. The drum, featured in the segment, was returned to his family a couple of years later. Again, this is a snapshot of one person who had an impact on the battle. What struck me was that without the finding of this drum, Will Mayo may have been just one of the 7000 plus to be killed.
If you don't understand or get this treatment of the subject matter, Gettysburg And Stories of Valor will be confusing and hard to understand. There are times where it almost seems like we are rushing hither and thither with no specific goal. But that is the point when you look at a static moment in time like this; it consists of a lot of little time capsules that do not always form one seamless event. Personally I liked the treatment once I got use to the quick transitions.
Like I said earlier, if you are looking for a history of the Battle of Gettysburg, you won't find it here. What you will find is a series of individual personal histories of the people who took part in the war, and the effect that they had on the war, and the effect the war had on them.
The DVD has no real extras other than some trailers for Johnstown Flood, Shot to Pieces and Civil War Minutes – Confederate.