The Blue and the Gray (1982 )

 

 

 

 

Director:     Andrew V. McLaglen.

Starring:     Stacy Keach (Jonas Steele),  John Hammond (John Geyser),  Lloyd Bridges (Ben Geyser),  Rory Calhoun (Gen. George Meade),  Colleen Dewhurst (Maggie Geyser),  Warren Oates (Preacher / Maj. Welles),  Geraldine Page (Mrs. Lovelace),  Rip Torn (Gen. Ulysses S. Grant),  Robert Vaughn (Sen. Reynolds),  Sterling Hayden (John Brown),  Paul Winfield (Jonathan Henry),  Gregory Peck (Abraham Lincoln). 

the families of two brothers divided between the North and the South fight for different sides

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

 

Disc 1. 

Virginia 1859.  The Geyser family is working on the farm.  Luke is the youngest and Matt is the eldest. Close to Matt's age is Mark.  While everyone works son John makes drawings of the work in progress.  Ben Geyser is the farm of the boys.  John goes to visit the black man Jonathan who lives in a cabin on the Geyser land.  Jonathan is busy making dishes with his kiln.  He shows John a beautiful pot he has made for Miss Hattie, a black woman he likes.  John says it has been harder lately to sell his goods because of John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry.  More white people are scared of him now.  John goes with Jonathan to give the pot to Miss Hattie. 

John returns home.  There is his sister Emmy and his mother, Maggie Geyser.  The men are there too.  John's brothers criticize him for not working on the farm.  But John doesn't want to be a farmer.  He wants go go up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to get himself on the newspaper there.  His Uncle Jacob will help him.  Father is doubtful about letting John go because they need all the farm labor they can get.  But Mother sticks up for her son.  She believes he has real talent and should have a chance to find out.  John says he will go for a trial period of six months.  If he doesn't get established by then, he will return home. 

Everyone says good-bye as John rides off.  He arrives in Gettysburg and stops at the Gettysburg Chronicle.  Uncle Jacob is happy to see him, but says he can't afford to hire him as a full-time newspaper artist.  He claims that the business operates almost at a loss.  John says he will work cheap.  Uncle Jacob sees a chance at a real bargain and hires him only at $3.00 dollars per week.  His first assignment is to get up to Charlestown (now in West Virginia) to the trial of John Brown.  Uncle wants John to get a portrait of the rebel. 

John is drawing in the court room as Judge Richard Parker takes the stand.  One of the men who John is drawing seems to be uncomfortable at being put on paper.  Yesterday Brown was found guilty and today he is sentenced to death.  After court is over John goes to the Charlestown Inn.  There the man in court who John was drawing speaks to him.  He says his named is Jonas Steele and he would like to look at his drawings.  John lets him look through the drawings.  He finds a drawing with him in it and asks John not to put his likeness in his newspaper.  He says he can't afford to let people know that he was at the trial.  John makes Jonas happy when he draws a full beard on the drawing of Jonas. 

John attends the hanging.  John Brown says from the gallows:  "A man couldn't have asked for a prettier day."  Jonas is also at the hanging.  They ride together to Gettysburg.  As they approach the home of Uncle Jacob, the call goes out:  "John's here!"  Aunt Evelyn welcomes John and Jonas to their home and agrees to put up Jonas for the night.  Alone Mary (washing her hair) runs into Jonas in his long johns.  They both start laughing at the situation.  Mary seems to take a real liking to Jonas. 

John speaks with Uncle Jacob.  He learns that his drawings have already been printed and they are the talk of the town.  Later his wife asks Uncle Jacob:  "How can you take advantage of the boy?"  Maggie Geyser is Aunt Evelyn's sister.  Evelyn forces her husband to pay John $5.00 dollars a week. 

John entertains his young cousins with tales of John Brown along with his drawings of the man.    He quotes the man:  "There will be wailings and lamentations in a million homes and grief and sorrow will stay with every family in the land."  At bed time Mary shows Jonas to his room.  She asks him if he is coming back to Gettysburg.  He answers:  "I'd like to, Mam."  Mary adds:  "Then make it happen.  It's important to me." 

Christmas 1860.  John comes home from Gettysburg to visit his family. Matt and Mark are in the uniforms of the Virginia militia.  Also there is Lester Bedell, Emmy's fiancÚ from Vicksburg, Mississippi.  They are all happy to see John.  John tells them that he sold some drawings to Harper's Weekly.  He also tells everyone the news that South Carolina has succeeded.  They speculate if war will come.  Lester asks Mary if ,because of the war, they should postpone the marriage until he can deliver the things he had promised her.  She says "No".  They marry.  At the ceremony Mark Geyser tries to get a kiss from a girl by saying he will die on the battlefield.  Luke tries the same scheme. 

Men with torches come to talk to Ben.  The local sheriff says that the Gault Brothers (slave catchers) tracked some runaway slaves to the cabin on Geyser land where Jonathan lives.  The older sons and Ben go with the sheriff to get Jonathan to surrender the slaves to the Gault brothers without violence.  When they get to the cabin and Jonathan and the two slaves come outside, the man known as the Preacher says that they will take the slaves, but will hang Jonathan.  John grabs a shotgun in an attempt to prevent them for hanging his friend Jonathan.  One of his brothers, however, knocks John down and out.  Father justifies the blow by saying that his brother saved him from getting into a lot of trouble.  The cabin is set afire.  John sees his friend hanging from a tree.

Miss Hattie buries Jonathan.  Mother tries to comfort her.  Father and sons asks John to stay on the farm with them.  John doesn't want to.  He says:  "I'll never wear that uniform" referring to the Confederate uniform.  He goes on to say that the land is not sacred soil:  "Not to me, not anymore!"  John leaves for Gettysburg. 

John draws Abraham Lincoln and his wife posing from the back of a caboose at a place called Leman Place.  John is surprised to see that Jonas is there with Lincoln.  After the Lincolns return inside Jonas says hello to John.  He tells John that the President wants to see him.  Lincoln tells John that there is no photo of his wife and him together, and no drawing.  He asks to see the drawing.  Lincoln recognizes a southern accent and John tells him that he is from Virginia, but quickly adds:  "I'll not fight for the south."  Local resident Mary is also at the station and she gets a very brief period of time with Jonas.  They say hello and she wants to know why he hasn't returned yet.  He promises her will get back to Gettysburg. 

Gettysburg 1861.  A sign over the local parade says:  "76,000 volunteers wanted" for the Union army that is.  The under-aged James Hale, John's cousin, signs up to join the army.  He swears that he is over 18 years of age, although he is much younger. 

Jonas visits Mary at her school house.  She is the school teacher there.  He had a bad dream about her so he was staying away because he did not want any harm to come to her.  She promises him that she is perfectly healthy.  They kiss.  The Hale boys have enlisted in the army.  They go through their basic military training.  A slow fellow named Mooney almost kills the sergeant when he mistakenly leaves his ramrod inside the musket barrel.  James Hale comes down with bad stomach pains.  John takes him to the local infirmary. 

John speaks with war correspondent H. W. Arbuthnot.  The man gives John his press credentials.  Then Jonas shows up.  John tells him that he does not know how to go about being a war correspondent.  Jonas says that he is under General McDowell, who commands the Union troops around Washington, D.C.  John immediately asks:  "Can I ride with you?"  Since Jonas is going to act as a scout, he says John can tag along.  John is very grateful for the favor. 

At night John and Jonas visit James Hale in the infirmary.  The doctor says the young boy is dying of galloping dysentery.  While John and Jonas visit with James, he dies. 

The news is that the Union army is heading down Warrington Turnpike to a place at a stream called Bull Run.  Southern generals Beauregard (with 20-25,000 men) and Johnson (with 12,000 men) are in the area there.  Jonas tells John to keep an eye on a stone bridge where the Warrington Turnpike crosses Bull Run.  That will be a focal point of any action in the area.  Jonas and John head out on the scouting expedition.   At night they watch the southern campfires.  Three hours before dawn Jonas leaves to give in his report.  Johns stays.  In the morning he makes some drawings of an artillery unit.  Jonas comes to see him and tells him that the action so far has just been a feint.  They watch as a group of senators, congressmen and their wives arrive in their fancy dress and fancy coaches with handsome horses to watch the action.  While John stays with the artillery for a while, Matt and Mark Geyser are working with the Confederate artillery. 

The action heats up.  The rebs defend a house on a hill.  Malachy Hale is very scared.  After a while, he breaks and runs.  The order is given:  "Bugler, sound the retreat!"  The old woman who owns the white house on the hill remains in the house.  Two Union cannon balls land on the house causing extensive damage.  John sees hundreds of men running for their lives.  Among them is Malachy.  He shouts for Malachy to stop, but the frightened man just keeps on going.  A Confederate shell goes off near a carriage carrying some high-level persons.  One man is killed, but another (a high ranking military man) is able to get up.  John figures he will help the woman laying helpless on the ground, but instead of helping, the man runs for his life.  John rushes over to save the woman.  He gets her up and walks her to a hospital wagon.  He puts her inside with the wounded, attaches his horse to the wagon and pulls it back to camp.  John gets her, Kathy,  to act like a nurse and she seems to really take to the idea.  She even tears up her expensive gown to use as bandages for the wounded.  After the battle Jonas investigates the house on the hill.  One of the many dead laying on the ground is the old woman who owned the house. 

Following the battle, the Union troops are told they will now be under George B. McClellan.  He will get the men into shape and they will win glory rather than suffer more defeats.  Malachy is very nervous when at formation the next morning he sees Private Lawrence Jones tied to a pole with a sign around his neck saying Coward.  He watches as the young fellow is denounced and then branded with the letter "C" on his left check.  Lawrence is also dismissed from the army of the United States. 

John travels to Washington D.C. to see Miss Kathy Reynolds.  At her home he meets her dad.  He tells John that all interviews and drawings will be done at his office.  John has to explain that he is not here to see him, but rather his daughter.  It takes him a while, but the father finally gives him his permission, but adds:  "Just don't make it a habit."  Kathy greets John and she introduces him to a lot of Washington swells.  She has two suitors there, one of whom, Von Ziller, is a German count as well as a military officer.  Both men take John to task for "forcing" a lady to look at naked men.  Now she wants to be a nurse.  John supports Kathy's interest.  This makes the German very angry and he starts criticizing John for being from the south.  John strikes back by rat-finking on Von Ziller.  The German was the military man who ran away rather than try to save Kathy when the cannonball overturned her carriage.  This so insults Von Ziller that he slaps John's face with his gloves.  John hits the man in the face, knocking him down. 

Jonas is with Lincoln and Mr. Spencer testing a Spencer repeating rifle.  Lincoln fires the weapon and then asks Jonas, an expert marksman, to fire it.  Jonas tells Lincoln that the weapon seems sturdy and can reliably be fired at a very fast rate.  Lincoln tells Mr. Spencer that he will put in a good report for the rifle.  Lincoln then talks to Jonas about his upcoming marriage to Mary.  He can't attend the wedding, but he wants to give him a wedding present.  Lincoln adds that if Mary doesn't like the wedding gift, assure her that it may very well save her husband's life in battle.  The President hands the repeating rifle to Jonas.   

May 1862, the Peninsula Campaign.  The slave catcher known as Preacher is now Major Wells.  He sees Union troops approaching his position.  He commands the artillery to fire on the Yankees.  The Union troops have to take cover.  The sergeant tells Malchy that all they have to do is march 50 miles and take Richmond.  Then the war is over.  The Yankees use a hot air balloon to report back on Rebel positions and gun emplacements.  Major Wells tells the artillery to fire in a certain sector.  When the balloon comes near the artillery position they set the cannon at full elevation and try to knock the balloon out of the sky.  They keep missing.  The Major decides on one more volley, but at this time Union artillery starts dropping shells on their position.  The Major's son is killed. 

Mary marries Jonas.  John gives them miniature portraits of each other.  The couple is very pleased with the gifts.  The married couple ride to their new home, a farm house. 

Jake Hale is on guard duty.  He hears a grunt of pain.  He goes to find out what happened.  He finds the slow fellow, Mooney, dead.  Jake looks around and shoots at a rider.  The rider, however, turns out to be Jonas.  He returns to tell Jake that he was a little reckless.  Jake shows him the dead Mooney.  Jonas examines the body and says it looks like he was killed by a saber wound to the head.  Jonas says that this is murder and has nothing to do with the war itself.  He  looks around for the killer.  He sees a man heading across to the rebel lines and uses his repeating rifle to shoot at him, but the man gets away. 

The next day the Union troops rush across the river in an attack on the Confederate line.  They get across the river and continue fighting, but the Union loses a lot of men and Malachy gets scared again and runs.  Malachy jumps into a ravine to hide and finds he is face to face with a Confederate soldier.  Malachy points his rifle at the enemy and pulls the trigger.  Click.  The rifle is not loaded.  Now it's Malachy's turn to be very frightened as the Confederate soldier points his rifle at him.  The man pulls the triggere but his rifle does not fire either.  The two then race to load their weapons.  They are both so nervous that the Confederate drops his bullet and Malachy drops his firing cap.  So they grab their rifles to strike each other with the rifle butts.  As they both prepare to strike the other, they stop.  Neither wants to hurt the other.  They start talking to each other and learn they are both running away.  They don't even know whose territory they are in: Yank or Reb.  The Rebel says that they'd shoot them for not shooting each other.  The Reb is from Mississippi.  They come to an agreement:  whoever's side wins the skirmish will take the other as his prisoner.  The Yanks win, so the Reb surrenders to Malachy.  Malachy starts marching his prisoner back.  He runs into a Confederate soldier who says that his unit is so busted up that they want to surrender to Malachy.  So Malachy winds up bringing a bunch of prisoners back to the Union encampment.  For his "bravery" Malachy is written up for a citation and is promoted to the rank of corporal. 

Soldiers swim in the river.  John draws a picture on this theme.  The Rebs send over a little boat with Virginia tobacco.  They want coffee in exchange.  The Yanks send coffee over to them.  John entitles his drawing:  "All's Well on the Chikahominy."  John Geyser and his two cousins Jake and Malachy Hale receive a note from Luke Geyser.  The note tells them to meet him at the river at a certain time of night.  The guys show up, Luke picks them up in a boat and they row to the over side of the river where they go to a barn dance.  The Yanks are allowed to dance with no interference in a big group of Confederate soldiers.  But then a Confederate officers comes in shouting:  "What the hell are these Yankees doing here?"  Luke explains that they are his relatives.  The officer doesn't care.  He tells the sergeant:  "They're prisoners of war."  Luke gets scared and shouts:  "I gave my word."  He promised to return them safe and sound back to their lines. And a southerner's word is good as gold, comments Luke.  The officer then has a talk with his sergeant.  The sergeant tells him:  "If you want your men behind you, I'd back down, Sir."  The officer comes back and yells:  "Get these damn Yankees back to where they belong!"

 

Disc 2. 

The officer gives Luke and Bear 30 days fatigue duty, but there is a way out.  Major Fairbanks needs some volunteers for the Confederate Balloon Corps.  So the two volunteer.  Luke goes up in the balloon with the Major, while Bear handles the ropes.  Up high Luke is happy to report that the Yanks are retreating.  But they are soon taking flak from Union artillery.  The Major receives a nasty wound.  The next balloon observation is manned by Luke and his buddy.  McClellan has fallen back to the James River.  Then suddenly the man in control of the ropes losses control of the windlass.  The main rope runs out and the balloon is set adrift.  The fellows are heading over to the James River and Yankee territory.  They release some gas to bring themselves back to the ground.  Bear is shot from the ground by a Union soldier.  The balloon lands in a field.  Bear dies of his wound.  The Yankees capture Luke as he lays over Bear's body. 

Victory at Antietam (or Sharpsburg) leads to Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves in the slave states.  John returns from Antietam.  He visits Kathy.  Her father is back in Boston, while she's a full-time nurse at Georgetown Hospital.  Kathy puts John up in the guest room.  At night John has terrible night mares.  His shouts bring Kathy to his room to comfort him.  She looks through his drawings from the recent battle.  The drawings of the aftermath of the battle are horrifying with the many dead in all kinds of twisted positions on the ground.  No wonder John is having nightmares. 

Vicksburg 1863.  The city is under near constant bombardment.  Matthew visits a very pregnant Emmy in Vicksburg.  She tells him that Luke is in prison in Maryland.  Matthew mentions their brother John but Emmy only says that John is a traitor and not part of the family.  Lester, her husband, is doing just fine.  He's trading with the Federals.  This shocks Matthew, but Emmy comes quickly to her husband's defense saying that Lester buys critical supplies such as medicine for the people of Vicksburg. While Matthew is visiting, a wounded Lester is brought into the house.  A Union gun boat shelled and sank Lester's ship.  They put Lester in a buggy and Emmy takes off like a mad woman to the hospital.  

While at the hospital, Emmy gives birth to a son.  She shows the baby to her husband.  He tells her that he is not going to do any more trading.  It's just too dangerous.  But Emmy wants him to continue trading.  She likes the beautiful things that she has gained from the lucrative trade.  A cannon ball hits the hospital killing Lester and almost everyone else on his ward. 

May 1863.  Jonas is visiting Mary.  His leave has been canceled and the Rebs are not far from their home.  Jonas tells his wife to stay down in the cellar with plenty of water and food.  Jonas is given command of the work train that will proceed ahead of a convoy of five trains.  They are to clear any obstacles from the tracks and fight any potential ambushes.  This is necessary because Maryland is very sympathetic to the Reb cause.  Some Confederate soldiers set fire to one end of a railway bridge.  When Jonas and his men arrive at the bridge and proceed to fight the fire they are ambushed by soldiers and civilians.  Jonas and Sgt. O'Toole are able to get behind the civilians and open up on them.  The civilians have to skedaddle.

Units of Confederate and Union cavalry are headed for a clash very close to Mary's home.  Mary can hear the fighting from the cellar.  Then she hears someone making noise in her house.  She goes up to see and finds a badly wounded confederate soldier in her kitchen.  He threatens to shoot, but it is obvious to Mary that the man with his head wound cannot see her.  When she talks he is so happy to hear the voice of a woman instead of a man.  He asks her for some water.  When she brings the water for him he soon dies.  Mary walks around the kitchen near the window and she is hit in the back with a bullet coming through the window.  She quickly dies. 

Westminister, Maryland.  Supplies are flowing into the railway station.  There are a lot of wagons there to pick up the supplies.  Suddenly Jonas senses something wrong.  He races home.  When he comes in he sees a despondent Uncle Jacob and Aunt Evelyn sitting in the kitchen saying nothing.  He finds Mary in a half open coffin.  He cries:  "Mary!  Mary!  Forgive me, Mary!"

Lincoln gives his Gettysburg Address following the end of the Battle of Gettysburg, the "turning point" of the war in favor of the North. 

Gunboats are still firing on Vicksburg on the Mississippi River in the state of Mississippi.  It has now been a month of bombardment and the city still hangs on.  John goes to the Union front line to ask to speak to Confederate soldier Matt Geyser.  The meeting is arranged between the informal spokesmen for the men in the trenches.  A cease-fire is called and the two brothers meet between the very close trenches.  Matt says that Lester is dead and their sister had a baby boy named Jesse.  He adds that she is probably starving.  John asks and gets Emmy's address from Matt.  Matthew says that he is sorry for calling John a traitor.  The men embrace each other. 

It's the opinion of the Union that Vicksburg is near its end.  John asks for permission to go to the other side of the river to see his sister in Vicksburg.  John goes with the smuggler into Vicksburg.  A horse rider is stopped by a cannonball explosion.  His horse is badly hurt so he shoots the horse in the head.  As soon as the man starts walking away, hungry people rush over to the horse to get their share of horse meat.  A woman approaches the area in a fancy hoop dress and John tries to stop her so that she won't get hurt in the area.  The woman accuses him of trying to cheat her out of her share of horse meat.  He lets her go get her meat.  Afterwards, the woman takes John to the Bedell house.  Emmy is not thee.  The woman tells him that Emmy is living in the caves.  John goes there and finds Emmy.  She holds a gun on him and threatens to shoot him.  John is able to pick up the baby, but Emmy quickly takes Jesse away from John.  John drop the food he brought on the bed and leaves. 

Vicksburg has surrendered.  And in come the Yankees. 

Jonas and John ride together.  John notices how quiet Jonas is and says it's been a year since Mary was killed.  Jonas is obviously still grieving.  They find another case of the murder of a Union soldiers from a saber wound to the head with the victim being tied to a tree like Mooney was.  John introduces Jonas to Fred Harrison.  Fred tells the men that they are constantly keeping the pressure on the Rebs.  Sherman is marching through Georgia.  Butler is in the south threatening Richmond.  And their Army of the Potomac is fighting General Lee and his Virginians in the area known as the Wilderness for its great forests.  Fred is very confident that they will beat Lee.  But Jonas is cautious about the sly fox Lee saying:  "When did Lee do what we expected him to do?" 

Jake and Malachy Hale and their unit is being approached by Major Wells's troops, of which Mark Geyser is one.  Jonas rides up to the Yankee troops and tells them that the Rebs are coming.  The men prepare for battle.  Jonas goes on to tell General Grant about the troop movement.  Grant observes that it appears that Griffin has run into Ewell's entire corps.  Sgt O'Toole leads his men forward  and are met with a wall of fire from the Confederates.  The Sergeant is killed.  Malachy as corporal tells everyone to fall back.  Now it is the turn of the Confederates to attack the remainder of the Union troops.  And they met a fusillade of bullets.  Mark is badly wounded.  A fellow soldier puts him behind a stump for protection and then falls back with the others.  The area catches fire and the men have to move out to keep from getting trapped in the fires.  Mark is stranded and left behind.  John comes looking for survivors of the battle.  Mark yells to him, but John can't get to him because of the fire around him.  While John thinks of what to do, a huge burning tree falls right onto Mark instantly killing him.

Jonas tracks the murderer.  He sees a man hacking away at the Union wounded on the battlefield.  As he walks his way toward the killer, a confederate soldier tells him that there is some man killing the wounded on the battlefield.  The killer turns out to be Major Wells.  He attacks Jonas and almost succeeds in killing him.  The crazy man shouts:  "No bullet will stop the work of God!"  That's when Jonas shoots the man dead. 

Jonas has a very bad saber wound that looks infected.  While laying in bed he decides to look at John's most recent drawings.  The drawings are of a very morbid nature.  When John awakens Jonas tells him:  "You have seen too many men die.  . . . You care too much."  John responds with:  "You hate too much."  John helps put Jonas into a hospital wagon to be take him to Fredericksburg.  The wound has definitely become infected.  At the hospital Kathy recognizes Jonas as John's friend. Jonas has his right arm amputated and Kathy takes care of him.  Jonas starts hallucinating and thinks Kathy is Mary.  Kathy tries to tell him she is Kathy not Mary, but finally gives up and just pretends she is Mary.  Jonas asks Mary for a kiss and Kathy kisses him.  And wouldn't you know it.  John and the head nurse show up just at this time.  John virtually runs away.  Kathy asks the head nurse to stop him, but the head nurse says:  "I don't think I should." 

Returning home, John sees Matt.  He learns that Luke is being held at Point Lookout, Maryland.  Matt says that Mark is missing at the Wilderness.  John tells him:  "He's dead, Matt!"  John walks to the farm house to see his sister and father.  Emmy shouts out:  "Pa, we have a visitor.  The traitor!"  When dad comes out he tells John:  "You don't belong here."  His father's attitude changes as soon as John tells him Mark is dead.  John has brought a small package of Mark's ashes from the battlefield.  Dad and Emmy cry over the loss of Mark. 

A group of Confederate cavalry ride up to the house.  There are two Yankee regiments on the road and the battle will start shortly.  The Confederate officer tells Ben Geyser to get his family out of there.  They refuse to go.  So the officer gives them some rifles to defend themselves.  He asks John if he wants one and John refuses.  This shocks the family further as Matt says:  "John!  You won't even defend your own family?"  The soldiers, along with Matt and Dad, use the front yard stone wall as their defensive position.  The foolish Union cavalry get off their horses in a huge field and start to approach the stone wall.  This kind of frontal attack usually proves murderous for the attackers.  Three Union cavalry sneak up from behind and get into the farm house.  They grab Mother Geyser.  John comes to the rescue.  He grabs Emmy's pistol from her and dispatches the Union men one, two, three in quick succession.  Filled with adrenalin, John gets on the defensive line with Matt and his father.  In the fight, Matt is hit and dies.  The Union cavalry retreats. 

The family attends the funerals for Matt and Mark.   The remnants of the Confederate cavalry show up shortly after the end of the ceremony and shoot their weapons into the air to honor the fallen.  Jonas hears the shots and comes riding up.  He is relieved that it is a funeral and not a fire fight.  Jonas tells John that Mary saved him in the hospital.  She told him that it was not his time to go.  She was right there just when he needed her.  Mary even gave him a kiss.  John is shocked to hear this and says:  "That was the kiss I saw?"  Yep.  Jonas tells John that Kathy is working at Georgetown Hospital.  John doesn't know what to say to her.  Jonas says:  "Plead insanity!"

Bad news arrives.  While Luke and the other prisoners were being transported to Elmira, New York there was a horrific derailment of their train.  Many were killed and many badly wounded.  Emmy starts packing her bags to head up to the prison in Elmira.  John wants to go with her but she refuses.  Then Jonas says that he has a better way.  He is the chief investigator for the committee on the conduct of the war.  He thinks he can get an order of release for Luke.  Jonas convinces Emmy to go with John up to Elmira, while he works in Washington, D.C. getting the release order.  Emmy agrees.

September 1864.  Elmira Prison.  Luke is doing very badly and his ward mates think he will die soon.  Emmy and John arrive at the prison.  After some initial resistance, they get permission to give their large box of clothes and other items to prisoner Luke Geyser.  But then the orderly sees Emmy stick a gun in with the clothes.  The officer in charge is called.  He says it looks like they have uncovered an escape plot.  He tells the orderly to fetch the prisoner.  He tells John and Emmy:  "You both are under arrest." 

Jonas and Kathy arrive by coach.  Jonas has a release order for prisoner Luke Geyser.  He keeps on badgering the officer until he bamboozles the confused man into giving him not only the prisoner, but John and Emmy too.  Later Jonas asks Emmy why she didn't wait for him.  She says:  "I didn't believe you about the order."  John and Kathy ride together with Luke.  John tells her that Jonas told him to plead insanity to her.  Instead of pleading insanity, he asks her:  "Kathy will you marry me?"  "Uh-huh" she says.  They kiss.

Jonas visits John and Kathy.  Grant has captured Petersburg and Richmond.  Jonas suggests that John come with him to make his drawings.  John doesn't really want to leave Kathy, but Kathy virtually forces him to go.  They head to Appomattox Court House.  There they see Fred Harrison who tells them that Lee and Grant are discussing the terms of surrender of the Confederate army under Lee.  Lee comes out of the farm house.  John starts sketching him.  Grant and his officers come out of the house onto the porch.  Lee and the Union men tip their hats to each other. 

Lee tells his own men:  "Yes, my men.  You are surrendered."  Some of the men want to fight on, but Lee says he will not lead them to fruitless slaughter.  Grant sends an aide to telegraph Stanton about what has happened.  And he gives the order for the artillery men to stop the cannon salutes.  He does not want to make the Southerners feel that the Union soldiers are rubbing it in. Jonas and John think about those loved ones they lost:  Sgt. O'Toole, James and Mary Holt, and Mark and Matthew Geyser. 

At night Jonas has a dream about Lincoln being assassinated.  When he wakes up he tells John:  "Lincoln's in danger.  He has to be warned."  They both ride to Washington D.C.  The President is said to be watching a play at Ford's Theatre.  Jonas and John arrive just a bit too late.  The President has been shot in the head and the wound is mortal.  All anyone can do is wait. 

In the house across the street, Mrs. Lincoln cries over her dying husband.  They take her out of the room.  The doctor examines Lincoln and announces to those assembled in the room:  "The President is dead!"  Secretary of War Stanton, John and Jonas come in to find Lincoln dead.  Stanton says:  "Now he belongs to the ages." 

John and Kathy marry at the Geyser farm house.  Now John uses a camera to catch the faces of his extended family.  The Holts and the Geysers along with Kathy and Jonas all have their picture taken by a man acting under orders from John as to when to take the picture.  The picture is taken. 

 

My wife commented that it was a good story.  It's kind of a poor man's "Gone with the Wind" but not just dealing with the fate of one southern family, but of two related families, one from the north and one from the south:  the Holts and the Geysers.  And I think it was a pretty good story.  By adding characters with crucial jobs (such as Jonas the scout and John Geyser as war artist) the story goes to many of the key battles of the Civil War:   Bull Run, Peninsula Campaign, Gettysburg, Vicksburg and the Wilderness.  It's a soap opera to a certain extent in that it follows a substantial number of people over a long period of time to show their different fates.  But that's not necessarily a bad thing, although there are a lot of negative connotations to the term "soap opera". 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)