To mark the 25th Anniversary of Ken Burns’ magnificent film The Civil War, PBS is rebroadcasting over five nights, Sept. 7 – 11, 2015, at 9PM ET, a fully re-mastered HD edition of this amazing film, which, to this day, is the highest rated PBS series ever broadcast having attracted nearly 39 million viewers when first broadcast in September 1990.
In addition, on August 11th, PBS will broadcast a new special that tells the story behind the award-winning series and its impact on the viewing audience and documentary film production. The special features interviews with Ken Burns, writer Geoffrey Ward, co-writer and co-producer Ric Burns, and others. Sam Waterston, who is the voice of Lincoln in the film, is the host of the special.
Great documentary film-making is evergreen as the re-broadcast of this seminal film will show.
Following the completion of the research and story development phase of the project, we have been quietly working behind the scenes to complete the fund raising needed to finish production of the film.
While this effort has been moving slowly, all of our partners have remained steadfast in their support and belief in No More Gallant a Deed. For this we are thankful.
On the promising news front, we have been invited by Representative Dean Urdahl, Chairman of the Legacy Fund Committee of the Minnesota State Legislature, to present our project to the full committee for their consideration as part of the 2015 legislative session’s allocation of Legacy Funds.
The legislative process is a slow one that won’t be complete until the session ends in May.
This past Tuesday, July 2, Bill Semans and I went to Cannon Falls, Minnesota to attend a ceremony commemorating Col. William Colvill and the First Minnesota Regiment 150 years almost to the hour of the First’s famous charge during the Battle of Gettysburg.
It was a beautiful, early evening when the crowd of a few hundred were treated to a presentation of arms by members of the Minnesota National Guard, a wreath laying ceremony at Col. Colvill’s grave, and the playing of taps as the sun hung low on the horizon.
On Sunday, June 30 our production team attended the Minnesota Twins game at Target Field. During the pre-game program saluting veterans of all branches of the service, a short piece was run on the 40 foot wide video screen promoting our film. Thanks to the Minnesota National Guard for giving us the screen time.
Also this week, I received a call from the great-great grandson of Henry D. O’Brien of the First Minnesota, an early Congressional Medal of Honor winner. It is always rewarding to hear from relatives of veterans of the First. Henry is this week’s profiled soldier.
This Sunday, No More Gallant a Deed will be featured as part of a Minnesota National Guard ceremony preceding the Twins game at Target Field.
First Minnesota Films wants to thank the Minnesota National Guard and the Minnesota Twins for bringing our film No More Gallant a Deed to the attention of thousands of Minnesotans.
Below is the short promotional video for the film and transcript from the ceremony:
Ladies and gentlemen, in 1861, when President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to support the Union Army in battle, Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey was the first to tender troops from his state. It took less than two weeks to obtain 1,009 volunteers to answer the call. Thus, the First Minnesota entered into military service. July 2nd will mark 150 years since the First Minnesota fought at Gettysburg which significantly impacted the Union being able to win the war. To capture this history, producer Jeff Hohman and his team are producing a documentary to record the lives of these citizen soldiers. Please direct your attention to the video board for a short piece.
In our office is a forty foot long, eight foot high, white sheetrock wall on which the film is being storyboarded.
A month ago or so, we began bringing visitors in to see the wall, currently filled with the Battle of Gettysburg section. While we expected a reaction to the accumulated images, we did not expect the response from the array of grainy photocopies to be so emotional. Some have been moved to tears standing before the wall. This speaks to the fundamental power of the story of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Regiment and why we are making this film.
Recently I had occasion to visit La Crosse, Wisconsin. An evening soiree on behalf of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy was held on sightseeing pontoon boat. We left from Levee Park in downtown La Crosse and wandered amongst the backwater islands and sand dunes near La Crosse.
La Crosse’s Levee Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead the Younger in the early 1900’s. His father, Frederick Law Olmstead the Elder, designed Central Park. Go to Wikipedia and read about the two Olmsteads and imagine what America would be like without the influence of their landscape contributions.
Last week, Bill Semans, Director of No More Gallant a Deed, and I travelled to Rochester and Winona to speak to their Civil War Roundtables. We had a terrific time. Both groups were energetic and engaged. They asked many good questions about the project both in terms of its subject matter and how we plan on telling this rich and dramatic story.
We spoke in Rochester on Wednesday night and Winona on Thursday. Since it is a short trip between these two Southeastern Minnesota cities, we took our time and made a side trip to see the Pickwick Mill located in Pickwick, Minnesota which was named after Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. The mill ground grain for the Union Army. Later, we drove past the Bunnell House, a Civil War era home located in Homer, Minnesota.
It was a time before newsreels. It was a time before the 24-hour news cycle. There were no battlefield photos from previous wars to be seen. It was a time before the photographs of World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam had seared images of war’s cruelty on the public mind.
The great mass of people didn’t know the reality of war. Everyone knew someone who had died violently because work was dangerous. People died of disease and epidemics because medicine was inadequate. Women often died in childbirth. But no one had ever seen death on the scale that the big battles of the Civil War were about to reveal. No one. Not ever.
Following the completion of the research and story development phase of the project, we have been quietly working behind the scenes to complete the fund raising needed to finish production of the film.More »
Edward Bassett was just 19 when he was mustered into Company G of the 1st Minnesota on April 29, 1861 as a private. His family moved west, settling in Morristown, Minnesota in the south central part of the state.More »
Mathew Marvin was born on September 21, 1838 in Connaston, New York. In 1859 at the age of 19, Matthew moved to Winona, Minnesota where he worked as a clerk for J. J. Randall & Co, a leather goods store. More »
Samuel was born in Brookline, Vermont on April 30, 1830. Upon reaching his majority, he travelled quite extensively and worked at a variety of occupations before purchasing a farm near Winona, Minnesota in the fall of 1856. More »
In Washington, Governor Alexander Ramsey pledges 1000 Minnesota troops to President Lincoln, the first troops pledged.
President Lincoln calls for 75,000 troops.
The ten companies of the 1st Minnesota report to Fort Snelling.
The 1st leaves for Washington D.C., arriving on June 26.
The 1st sees combat at the Battle of Bull Run. One of the last regiments to leave the battlefield, the 1st suffered the highest casualties of any Union regiment with 48 killed, 83 wounded, 23 wounded and missing, and 30 missing.
The 1st is lightly engaged at the Battle of Ball's Bluff.
Co-Producer of the feature film, Herman USA, distributed worldwide in more than 30 countries. Jeff is also the Co-Producer of the World War II documentary series, The American Hero, recipient of eleven major national documentary film awards, including two Telly Awards as Best Documentary Film of the Year.
Writer and producer of the play Exit Strategy which received critical acclaim in both Minneapolis and Los Angeles. Bill also co-produced, directed and wrote the feature film, Herman USA, as well as produced the award-winning World War II documentary series, The American Hero. He also produced Fighter Aces of World War II, the 1988 Military Video of the Year, as well as Ladies Sing the Blues, nominated in 1989 as Best Long Form Music Video of the Year.
Author of The Last Full Measure and recently retired President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Former Vice-President Walter Mondale
Senior Fellow at the Humphrey Institute and partner at Dorsey Whitney law firm, is a special advisor to the project.
Former District U.S. Attorney General and great-great-grandson of Christopher Heffelfinger, an officer in the 1st, is also a special advisor to the project and a member of the recently appointed Governor’s Civil War Commemoration Task Force.