I don't often compare my school years with that of my children, but I've often felt like I got "cheated" out of learning enough American History. Every year, my classes started the year studying explorers and early American settlements. We moved on to the Revolutionary War, but seldom got any further before the school year was over. The next year, we started over with Columbus, Coronado, de Soto, etc. It wasn't until I was a junior in high school that we finally studied the Civil War. (One of these days, I'll have to share some funny years ago stories about my lack of Civil War knowledge.) As luck would have it, I married a Civil War buff and gave birth to a child who also enjoys studying the Civil War.
When New Liberty Videos offered to let us review one of their Christian DVDS, I was drawn to the one about the Civil War. Warriors of Honor: The Faith and Legacies of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson tells the story of two of the most famous Confederate generals with special emphasis to their Christian character.
I was actually taking quite a big chance by choosing a Civil War film with the intentions of sharing it with Addison. She's studied the Civil War far more than I have, and she has rather strong opinions. Most importantly, she has very little patience for historical accounts of the Civil War that maintain southern troops were merely fighting for slavery. The causes of the Civil War are far too complex to be boiled down to a simple slavery issue. I promised her that this movie was going to show a different perspective, a perspective that was more respectful of the southern soldiers and their motives than some other historical accounts she has encountered.
Warriors of Honor does a fabulous job of showing the Civil War from the southern perspective. It walks through the battles with concise summaries and tracks the entire war from the view of two of the most prominent Confederate generals -- General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and General Robert E. Lee. It also gives considerable background information on both of them. In fact, Addison commented at one point that this movie was more a biography of the two generals than an analysis of Civil War issues.
Particular emphasis was placed on their faith in God and how it played out in their entire lives. For instance, General Jackson was very involved in his local church and held worship services for his troops while away from home. The story of Robert E. Lee doesn't end with his surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, but continues to show how he spent the rest of his life working at Washington University (now Washington and Lee). One of his greatest accomplishments there was the building of a chapel for the students.
I enjoyed the way that the filmmakers incorporated so many historical photographs in the documentary. Instead of using live actors to represent Jackson and Lee, still photographs were shown. This technique seemed to make the whole story seem more historically true than if I had been watching a reenactment. (Reenactors are used to effectively show troop movements during battle scenes, but they represent the troops as a whole and not individual officers.)
Addison wished that the film delved a little more deeply into the causes of the Civil War. It did a good job of illustrating that southern soldiers were fighting for far more than just slavery, but it never clearly spelled out what they were fighting for. That said, she was impressed with the way they covered the battles. It gave enough information to convey the troop movements and logistics, but it was concise enough to keep her attention. It was also a refreshing change to see the entire war talked about from the southern perspective when so much of our current history is told solely from the side of the victor.
We highly recommend this film as an addition to any Civil War study or to anyone who has an interest in the Civil War.
Warriors of Honor by New Liberty Videos is available for $19.95. The DVD is 80 minutes long and includes 20 additional minutes of bonus features. It does not have a MPAA movie rating, but it seems appropriate for a general audience. We found no objectionable material, but it may not hold the interest of young children. Viewers should be aware that much of the film is spent talking about the generals' Christian faith; it is not a religiously-neutral production.