BEING THERE: Seven Score and Ten Years Ago

Public domain/Library Of Congress

THE GUARDIAN: July 1-3 marks the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, the battle that many historians cite as a key turning point in the US civil war, which left 50,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead on Pennsylvania farmland. In 1913, on the 50th anniversary of the battle, the same fields played host to the largest ever gathering of civil war veterans, where former soldiers from both sides – many in their 70s – returned to commemorate the war. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: It took no more than a few days after the Battle of Gettysburg for the men who had fought there to realize how important it had been. “The Battle of Gettysburg, like Waterloo, must stand conspicuous in the history of all ages,” wrote a staff officer, Frank Aretas Haskell, who himself would die less than a year later in a much less conspicuous battle at a place called Cold Harbor. And even by the most remote measure, Haskell was right.

For over a year before, the Confederate general Robert E. Lee and his homespun Army of Northern Virginia had defied every expectation, and routinely humiliated every thrust its opposite number, the Army of the Potomac, had made at the Confederacy’s vitals in Virginia. Union generals – George McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, Joe Hooker – had been installed, and just as readily removed, until by 1863, a soldier in the 16th North Carolina could boast that they were merely waiting for the Yankees “to put up another General for us to whip.” When instead it was the Confederates who were defeated at Gettysburg, the surprise was almost unbearable. “The campaign is a failure,” wrote one rebel officer to his sister on July 17, “and the worst failure that the South has ever made … and no blow since the fall of New Orleans has been so telling against us.”

And that was entirely apart from the actual blood bill Gettysburg demanded. Lee reported 2,592 Confederates killed, 12,700 wounded and 4,150 “captured or missing” – 20,451 casualties in all, out of the approximately 80,000 he had brought into Pennsylvania. Other estimates pegged the rebel losses at closer to 28,000. This meant that the Army of Northern Virginia suffered something comparable to 2 sinkings of the Titanic, the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 10 repetitions of the Great Blizzard of 1888 and 2 Pearl Harbors, combined. MORE

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. — Gettysburg Address, November 19th, 1863

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.

We all know part of the story: born poor in Indiana, the tall and wiry self-taught Lincoln became a lawyer, one-term U.S. Representative and then the President who presided over the Union Army during the Civil War. According to Grahame-Smith’s tale, this was all just a cover for Lincoln’s (played by Benjamin Walker) real mission: to wipe out the vampire cult that killed his mother. It is a worldwide conspiracy, and the vampire race is tied deeply to business of slavery and is aligned with the South to win the “War Between the States.” Well practiced with his silver axe and trained by a mysterious mentor Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper,) Lincoln unites the nation and kicks endless vampire ass. MORE