It is a little known historical and cinematogriphal fact the John Ford directed only one Motion Picture using the civil WaWar and John Wayne.
It was the "Horse Soldiers" of 1958 if I am correct. Fred will Corect me if I am wrong in any event.
The photography and the "equestrian skills" of the "stunt and extras" was superb and the actors and extras, to add to it all, well very well mounted.
This was also the only time William Holden appeared, to my knowledge, with William Holden playing the part of the redoubtabtle medic who rejoined to Wayne's character when asked what trouble he was stirring up now: "Your soldiers are digging the latrines upstream of the camp, how would you like your coffee to taste in the morning?"
A once inconic but now almost forgotten tennis Great Althea Gibson Played the irrepressible personal servant of the one "noble lady" taken prisoner taken in the raid.
The movie had a fairly solid base in reality.
The Union Army of the West (as opposed to the Army of the Potomac, which stayed close to home, and for good reason) was bogging down in their attmept to take Vicksburg,
Thus the Ist Cavalry Brigade of the First Cavalry Division Of the Union Army 16th Army Corps was tasked to harass and or destroy rail junctions and other routes of communication and supply feeding Vicksburg.
A Colonel by the name of Benjamin H. Grierson, who had turned down and West Point education and had a real aversion to horses was in charge of the raid which was to run from Tennessee deep into Missipppi in early 1863 before Grant's forces had truly been deployed to attack the "Gibraltar of the Missipppi".
From the military History Quarterly: "Grierson ----led ---1700 horsemen (from Tennesee, I Believe, the article omits this piece of information) '-----with no hopre of support----"---marauding (ing) the entiore length of the lions dens, tearing down telegraph line and tearing up railroad tracks, destroying militry and goverment buildings, living off the land and generally confounding the South citizenry and Army-------"
In the Motion picture the troopers repeated Sheridan's tactics in his ride to the sea two years later by heating real tracks in the center and wrapping the whte hot middles around trees.
this was important as it was not possible to repair rail sections thus damged, and replacement was not Something the south could Easily accomplish.
Although the characters in the Movie talk much about Andersonville, the commentars on TCM correctly, I believe, noted the the infamous prison camp did not exist at the time of the raid.
It is alleged in the quarterly that "-----confederate forces were so disconcerted by the raid that-----slithered more than 600 miles through Mississippi------that Grant was able to shuttle 23,000 troops across the Missippippi----" to positions south of Vicksburg . Enabling the encirclement, siege and, for the South, near fatal fall of the City to Northern forces.
Grant telegraphed Lincoln: "mother of waters flows unfetterred to the sea".
Well, that was his opinion, I guess.
A few notes: at the time of the making of the movie there existed a dearth of trained re-enactors-so Trapdoor Springfields were used in the film.
Ford was clever enough not to focus on the actions of the weapons. When the 'trapdoors" were closed, the breech loading rifles were almost indistinguishable from a muzzle loadeer.
I had a chance visit to the town hall of Wakefield Mass, which had , at the time, an indoorr set of tablets naming the civil war dead. I do not remeber to much detail from the said tablets except to say that I was struck by the youth of the lost soldiers and the high percentage of them who did perish in Andersonville.
"All Enlightenment Gratefully Accepted"