Sunday, October 27, 2019

Ancestors of Two Twentieth-Century Hollywood Influences Clash in Antietam's Cornfield

     Some of the most popular movies portraying the Civil War appeared on the big screen in the era before and during the centennial anniversary of the conflict. Two of those films include Gone with the Wind (1939), based on Margaret Mitchell's novel published three years earlier, and Shenandoah (1965), starring Jimmy Stewart. Both films portray Southern families caught up in the Civil War and how the war affected immensely affected their lives. It should come as no surprise that two of the leading hands in these films, which shaped people's perceptions of the Civil War for years to come, likely drew inspiration from their grandfathers, both of whom served in the war.
Sgt. Russell Crawford Mitchell (left) and his granddaughter Margaret Mitchell (right)

     While filmmakers adapted Mitchell's literature into a film, by creating the story she did, Mitchell's fingerprints are all over the screen version of Gone with the Wind. Mitchell grew up hearing and feeling war stories from her grandfather, Sgt. Russell Crawford Mitchell of the 1st Texas Infantry. Russell was born and raised in Georgia but moved to Texas a couple of years prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Mitchell supported secession and raised a company of Texans to fight in the war. His company voted to enter the scene of war in Missouri. Mitchell, however, "believed the big fighting would be" in Virginia and so resigned his command and joined Company I of the 1st Texas.(1)