A couple of weeks ago the History Channel had their Civil War week, which featured several great documentaries on the subject. I couldn’t watch them all as they aired so I saved them on the DVR. I finally got around to watching some of it last week and finished the rest of them over the weekend.

The book I’m writing takes place not long after the Civil War, so each of these programs gave me inspiration and details I can use in the story. Civil War Journal had some wonderful material on what the day to day life was like for soldiers on both sides. Lee & Grant had important background on the lives of these leaders and insights into their command styles, but the program I enjoyed most was Gettysburg.

Gettysburg was produced by Tony and Ridley Scott and features a crazy amount of special effects.

I’m not entirely sold on their us of Placebo’s cover of “Running up that Hill” in the promos. I like the song, the commercial is intriguing, but I go back and forth about whether the song is the best fit for a civil war documentary.

This program gave me some really good items to add as background material, including some great illustrations of how certain weapons worked. There was a part that showed the ins and outs of cannons and their ammunition that really helped me out.

I’ve read some reviews of Gettysburg that suggest it isn’t an accurate portrayal of the events and people, but as source material and inspiration, I found it invaluable.

I wasn’t aware of the Union soldier Rufus Dawes. A good portion of Gettysburg was about him and his contribution to various victories throughout the battle and his efforts before the battle of Gettysburg itself. This was one criticism I heard in several reviews of the program – his contributions were either exaggerated or overemphasized. I’m not a historian and can’t debate the historical accuracy of it, but I found the actor that portrayed Dawes to be compelling to watch and found his story to be exciting.

So, at a time when I should have been writing, I was spending hours watching Civil War programs. I honestly felt bad that I wasn’t writing, but the ideas and information I gained were truly worth it. In fact, I may have come up with way too much stuff to try to use in my book. Nice problem to have, I guess! I suppose I save it for the sequel!