The “To Appomattox” Blog: One-Year Anniversary Retrospective!

“Wow!” That is the first thing that comes to mind when looking at the date on the calendar: August 25th. It was a year ago today that Greg Caggiano and myself started the blog together. We were writing on the miniseries on our separate blogs together, and Greg came up with the idea to just marshal our creative talents together and devote it to a blog concerned with the series. Of course, we both agreed that the blog should not come to be unless the series’ writer and executive producer, Michael Frost Beckner, gave us his blessing. Even though we were not going to be officially connected with the series, we still wanted to be sure he was okay with it. When Mr. Beckner gave his consent, I e-mailed Greg. Before I knew it, the blog was up and running. With that, our venture into the world of To Appomattox/Grant vs. Lee began!

Where the magic happens!

Greg eventually had to move on to other things. But he did send in this piece for the article:

It’s hard to believe that it has already been one year since Steven Hancock and I started the unofficial fan blog for the To Appomattox mini-series. Just a year ago today, the two of us had hopes of pooling our resources (I was blogging about it on my site, while Steve was doing it on his Civil War Diary) to create a blog where coverage could be contained to one place. We soon approached the “father” of the project, screenwriter and executive producer Michael Frost Beckner, and told him of our idea, and he gave us his full blessings. It was truly a wonderful experience, in getting to talk to so many great people, including interviewing Beckner himself (in addition to having him contribute a ghost story for my blog’s October “Haunted History” series), as well as historians/advisers J. David Petruzzi and Cary Eberly, and the actor playing Gen. Charles F. Smith, the always-wonderful and passionate Patrick Gorman.

I was pretty upset when I announced I would be leaving the site, because I had so much on my plate, including balancing school and work along with official coverage of another Civil War film, now titled Copperhead: The War at Home. Still, it is nice to look back on this past year to see how much both the series and blog have evolved. The project, it appears, is getting much closer to production, something we have all been waiting for. Perhaps, most importantly, the process which has undergone to get this mini-series from page-to-screen, should serve as a lesson to all students of film, because it shows just how much work and how long it takes for something of this magnitude to get done. We must all tip our hats to the perseverance of Mr. Beckner and all those working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure this stays very much alive.

For me, the experience Greg gave above is reciprocated. I have had the chance to do some great things I had not had the chance to do. Mainly, I have had the opportunity to interview some of the historical advisers that have given their time and effort to the project. I first did an interview with Gordon C. Rhea, who is one of the chief authorities of the Overland Campaign. Abraham Lincoln is one of the historical figures who features prominently in the series, and it was a great honor to interview Dr. Ronald C. White, Jr., one of the foremost Lincoln scholars in the country. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview John Michael Priest, one of the leading experts on the 1862 Maryland Campaign and the battle of Antietam. Having the chance to correspond with these historians was a real honor, and gave me a chance to ask some serious questions about the events to be depicted in the series.

It’s also been exciting to write different kinds of articles. Under our Opinion Section, we’ve gotten to write about various types of subjects, such as what actors we’d like to see portraying specific figures in the series. We’ve also written about the casting choices that have been made, and why certain actors were perfect for the roles. I’ve also had a chance to write at length about the miniseries format, and why it is ripe for rediscovery, thanks in part to the success of the History Channel miniseries Hatfields & McCoys (Which stars Bill Paxton, who shall portray Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in the series). We’ve also tackled a series of opinion articles called “What We Want to See,” where we’ve looked at what we would like to see in terms of the battle sequences, characterization and storytelling elements of the show. And we’ve also discussed the importance this series has in terms of educating people, both young and old, about the American Civil War, and why it is important to understand the events of this time.

Grant vs. Lee will be a historical miniseries, and we’ve had a chance to discuss the people and events in our series of Historical Articles. Here’ we have looked at the many historical figures who shall play an important role in the series, such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and many others who fought for the Blue and the Gray. We’ve also looked at some of the important battles of the war that will be depicted in the series, including the Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and the Battle of the Crater. And we’ve also explored how the war affects the human being, and how it can impact a life for the rest of their days.

But probably the most important part of the blog’s existence is presenting any News Updates about the series. Whether discussing the latest casting news, or any other announcements that come from the production team, this blog has been the go-to place to get the latest updates regarding the series. And we’ve been very busy with this section recently, especially in the recent involvement in the presentation video prepared to show network executives at the upcoming meeting, where fans of the series were encouraged to take part and lend their voice to support the program.

Overall, we have enjoyed presenting these articles to you for your knowledge and enjoyment. Greg and I both appreciate the support, and we have had great success with the blog. In the year since we started, we have had over 31,000 views on this site. And this is all before production has really gotten going on the series! Your enthusiasm for the project has shown through the success of the blog, and we both thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

So, here is to one year come to pass! And with production on the series set to commence very soon, you can rest assure that we will be getting doubly busy here in the weeks to come! In the year ahead, we shall continue to cover news, history, and many other things connected to Grant vs. Lee. And you can still count on us to keep you all in the loop when big things happen in regards to the series!

Thanks again for your support! God bless you all!

For more information on Grant vs. Lee, visit the Official Website, the official and fan site pages on Facebook, and the IMDb page for further news and updates.

About Steven Hancock

I am an avid student of American and World History, with a particular interest in the American Civil War. I am currently a student at American Public University, working toward a Master's Degree in United States History. I am also a Civil War Reenactor, donning the uniform of the common Union and Confederate soldier at reenactments throughout the year.
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5 Responses to The “To Appomattox” Blog: One-Year Anniversary Retrospective!

  1. Pingback: Blogging “To Appomattox”: A One Year Retrospective « From New York to San Francisco

  2. mrpog1934 says:

    Steven,

    You and Greg have certainly supplied a passionate and interesting blog and your on-going support of TO APPOMATTOX/Grant vs. Lee is absolutely excellent. Thank you, so much, for your doing this. I’ll certainly share this with all my Civil War friends everywhere and especially on Facebook. Keep up the great work.

    Patrick Gorman
    a/k/a John Bell Hood
    a/k/a C. F. Smith

    • Thank you for those kind words, Patrick. And thanks for getting word out about the blog, and the series. The passion Greg and I have for this subject came from seeing “Gettysburg” when we were younger. The battle scenes were big and exciting, but the characters, and the actors that played them (Including your fantastic turn as General Hood), are what really got me fascinated in the Civil War era. Film has the power to transport us back into the past, and show us what these people were like, and why they chose to fight for the cause they believed was just. With “To Appomattox/Grant vs. Lee,” the cast and crew have an enormous opportunity to give future generations something that will inspire them to learn, and to relive what our ancestors did a hundred and fifty years ago. I wish you and the rest of the cast and crew Godspeed on this great and exciting endeavor!

  3. Kim says:

    I have been so excited for “To Appomattox” to premier. I love history and especially the era of The War Between The States. I read both fiction and no fictional accounts of the war. I have a favorite author who has written some very good fiction, Gilbert Morris.
    I’m a Southern Girl, or a GRITS… Girl raised in the south, so naturally my hero, the greatest general ever, General Rober E Lee.
    I’m from Monroe, Louisiana, I’ve visited Vicsburg many times, and have read the monuments, and the accounts on what went in there.
    It amazes me, how people can just pass through their daily and not have a cluse as to
    what took place on those bluffs above the Mississippi. I hope that your series will touch on this siege, as it was one of Gen. Grants haredwst worked for victories.

  4. Kim says:

    Please pardon my misspellings and bad grammar in my previous post. I’m doing this on my I phone, it did not allow me to verify everything before I hit post.

    Sorry,
    Kim

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