Blood & Fury: America's Civil War
Blood and Fury: America's Civil War is a six-part series from the American Heroes Channel that tell the stories of some of the biggest battles from the Civil War. Each episode accomplishes this by showing detailed re-enactments, weaving in commentary from historians, and focusing on individual accounts of the men who fought in these battles.
This is a clip about the elite soldiers that formed Berdan's Sharpshooters from Episode 4: Battle of Gettysburg. (YouTube: American Heroes Channel)
The emphasis on the individual is an incredibly powerful storytelling technique that helps to highlight the details of these larger than life battles.
One of the accounts that captured my attention the most was that of John Gregory Bishop Adams at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Fought from December 11-15, 1862, Fredericksburg was one of the costliest defeats for the Union Army during the entire war. Nearly 200,000 troops across both sides were engaged in this battle and the Union suffered close to 13,000 casualties.
This clip from Episode 3: Battle of Fredericksburg describes the harrowing circumstances faced by Union troops at Fredericksburg, Virginia. (YouTube: American Heroes Channel)
At Fredericksburg, John G.B. Adams was serving as a Second Lieutenant with the 19th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. He was one of the 18 Union soldiers to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle.
John G.B. Adams. (Photo: en.wikipedia.org)
According to his Medal of Honor citation, Adams, "Seized the 2 colors from the hands of a corporal and a lieutenant as they fell mortally wounded, and with a color in each hand advanced across the field to a point where the regiment was reformed on those colors."
Since other soldiers would look to the color bearer for direction on the battlefield, they easily became a top target during an engagement. (Photo: history net.com)
In the heat of battle, as men were falling one after the other, it's incredible to imagine Adams fearlessly picking up both the colors and leading his men forward. Examples of courage like this are made for the television screen and that is something that Blood and Fury: America's Civil War takes great advantage of.
John G.B. Adams was promoted to the rank of captain after the Battle of Fredericksburg. He would go on to fight at Chancellorsville and at Gettysburg where he suffered severe wounds. Adams was not sidelined forever by those injuries and after some time rejoined the fight to participate in the Battle of the Wilderness, Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, and the Battle of Cold Harbor.
The Battle of Cold Harbor by Kurz and Allison, 1888. (Photo: mrnussbaum.com)
Adams' entire regiment was captured at the Battle of Cold Harbor. He was held as a prisoner for nine months in multiple Confederate prisons ranging from Virginia to Georgia and South Carolina. It is written on mohconvention.com that, "He and other officers were used as human shields on Morris Island, South Carolina, to stop naval bombardment by the Union." Adams eventually escaped but was recaptured.
After the war, he held multiple posts and eventually was elected Sergeant at Arms for the Massachusetts legislature.
I might not have come across the story of John G.B. Adams had it not been for Blood and Fury: America's Civil War on the American Heroes Channel.
I would recommend this show to anyone who wants to hear the remarkable stories of ordinary Americans in the most important conflict in our nation's history.