Look for “The Battle of Little Sayler’s Creek” – Next air date on The Documentary Channel Dec 20th at 3:00am (ET) Check local times or set DVR to record. Follow #BLSC on Twitter.

Here’s an excerpt from Cynthia Fuchs’ review on The Documentary Channel’s Memorial Day Marathon – Read full article here: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/159112-documentaries-for-memorial-day/

“…Battle of Little Sayler’s Creek offers a series of interviews with re-enactors, dressed in Confederate and Union costumes, describing both the historical figures’ experiences and their own, how they endure physical hardships an imagine psychological ones. Sometimes these difficulties have to do with philosophy (“I have a few times portrayed a Confederate soldier,” notes one player, “And I just didn’t feel comfortable doing it”) and sometimes with some very basic logistics, as when Surgeon Major James Mills explains the rudimentary nature of medicine at the time, the lack of instruments, and yes, the prevalence of amputation: the film doesn’t linger on these disturbing aspects of reenactments, but Mills makes sure you’re aware of the pain endured.Image

The documentary does include some observations regarding the politics of the war, including both sides of the argument over what the South was fighting for (state’s rights or slavery), a young woman playing a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to fight (“As long as I keep my mouth shut, they cant tell”), a first-time black re-enactor’s self-description (“I think its gonna be fun because I get to ride horses, which is a thing I love to do”) and an admittedly subjective overview offered by Wendy Lee Oliver, the president of the Sayler’s Creek Reenactment and Preservation Committee. The event regularly brings tears to her eyes, she says: “I know how General Lee felt,” she adds, concerning what “we down here in the South call… the war of Northern Aggression.”

As Battle of Little Sayler’s Creek cuts from interviews to battle scenes, it suggests both the participants’ investments and how they might look from another perspective, not exactly skeptical, but not wholly devoted to the war as a cause, either, whether as a fixed history or as a political identity marker…”

Cynthia Fuchs is director of Film & Media Studies and Associate Professor of English, Film & Video Studies, African and African American Studies, Sport & American Culture, at George Mason University.

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