…that’s just made for blogging fodder. If you follow the ACW blogs, then chances are you’re already aware of it. If you don’t follow them—or comics, movies, and the careers of high-ranking Confederates who served in the Western Theater—then here’s the situation:
In 1864, Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne proposed that slaves be enlisted into the Confederate armed forces, in exchange for their freedom. The scheme went nowhere, and Cleburne lost his life at Franklin. About a century and a half later, Cleburne’s scheme became the basis of a graphic novel, which added more fuel to the ever-popular black Confederate controversy. Now a film project based on the comic is in the works.
You’ve got the intersection of the past with popular media, memory, race, and myth—all of it steeped in controversy and played out within the context of a developing news story. This’ll keep us history bloggers stocked with material for months.
Country singer, SCV member, and Civil War aficionado Trace Adkins is slated to play Nathan Bedford Forrest. A quick Google search turns up this item from the Civil War Preservation Trust, reporting that Adkins was also a spokesperson at a CWPT news conference a couple of years ago. Here’s an excerpt:
Joining Lighthizer at the news conference announcing the report was country music star Trace Adkins, whose great-great-grandfather served in the 31st Louisiana Infantry before being wounded and taken prisoner at Vicksburg, Miss. Adkins, an avid student of history said, ‘I’ve been a Civil War enthusiast all my life. When I visited the battlefield in Vicksburg and stood in a trench where my great-great-granddaddy stood, tears came to my eyes. As a father of five, I believe it is critical that I protect a legacy that belongs not just to my family but to our entire nation.’
I haven’t read the graphic novel yet, so I don’t know how it handles the contentious issue of race in the Civil War. If the film makes it to the screen, it may well turn out to be a complete historical travesty that perpetuates one of the most irritating myths of the entire war.
On the plus side, though, I think Adkins could do a pretty credible Forrest, with his imposing frame and unaffected drawl. He’s also survived a nasty gunshot wound, something Forrest also pulled off in 1862. That’s the acting equivalent of hardcore reenacting, I suppose.