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Historian Garry Adelman has offered an analysis of a Civil War battle scene in the 2022 movie “Emancipation,” starring Will Smith. The film follows the story of a slave named Peter who fights against the white Americans who enslaved him. Adelman, an expert on Civil War history, highlighted certain aspects of the battle scene that he found to be historically accurate.
Adelman noted that the film’s portrayal of the Confederate fortifications at Port Hudson was impressive and accurately represented the challenging terrain. He mentioned that soldiers during the Civil War often used dirt and logs to create defensive positions, with head logs for protection while shooting. Soldiers also used their muskets as clubs in close combat situations, which was accurately depicted in the film. Adelman appreciated a moment in the scene where a soldier handed a pre-loaded gun to a comrade, a practice that was common during the Civil War, allowing for faster shooting.
Adelman mentioned that Will Smith’s character in the film is an amalgamation of two real-life figures: a Black soldier named Gordon, who self-emancipated, and a soldier named Whipped Peter. He confirmed that the story of these individuals is indeed true.
Overall, Adelman rated the accuracy of the battle scene a 6 out of 10, acknowledging that while some details were accurate, there were still elements that deviated from historical accuracy.