OF THE ANGEL OF MARYE’S HEIGHTS
“The Angel of Marye’s Heights,” a dramatic 30-min. documentary about the life of Richard Kirkland, a Confederate soldier who risked his own life to bring comfort to wounded Federal soldiers at the Battle of Fredericksburg premiered in Fredericksburg, VA on July 24, 2010.
The event was held at the Rappahannock Regional Library Theater, just a few miles from the very spot where Kirkland’s act of mercy took place. The 3+ hour party was hosted by the National Civil War Life Foundation and promoted by The Free Lance-Star newspaper. Following the opening, the film was added to the collection at the Civil War Life Museum and will show there daily.
The doors to the RRL Theater opened at 6:00 and by 6:15, the entire seating area and standing room were filled to capacity. A second, unplanned showing had to be added as the theater was forced to close its doors to those still waiting outside. In addition to the screening, a short program was presented in which NCWLF director Terry Thomann, AMH director and producer Clint Ross and producer Michael Aubrecht spoke about the project from their respective views.
The cast and crew were then recognized along with the donors who helped to fund the project. Each cast member was presented with an actual brick from the home of Richard Kirkland. A slide show featuring behind the scenes photography ran in the background and movie posters and Will White’s theme song CDs were available for sale.
In an effort to showcase Fredericksburg’s local and at times endangered history, the premiere hosted exhibits from local preservationist groups including the National Civil War Life Foundation, Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield, Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields, and the 13th VA, a re-enactor unit. Each group added to the theme of the evening and was able to share their respective missions with the crowd.
A film crew from Heritage Media LLC who produces the show “History Scene” taped the event and Civil War News magazine covered it as well. The first showing audience was estimated at 200+. Admission, refreshments and exhibits were free, with a suggested donation of $5 going towards the anticipated production costs of the film’s DVD.
During a post-screening interview Clint Ross presented his thoughts on the movie. “I want our film to do for Kirkland’s story what Felix DeWeldon’s monument did for it,” he said. “This film is a form of living history.” Producer Michael Aubrecht added, “This is a great story that resonates beyond the confines of the Fredericksburg Battlefield.”
Several local historians were in attendance including Jane Conner, author of Birthstone of the White House and Capitol and Sinners, Saints, & Soldiers in Civil War Stafford. When asked her opinion she said "This film was a poignant, inspiring portrayal of an unassuming hero. It made a touching Civil War story leap from the pages of history and come alive." Scott Eyestone, director and editor of the Civil War Fredericksburg: Then & Now DVD said the movie was "A great Civil War story brilliantly crafted. The use of animation augmenting the experts was superb."
Below are captured moments from the post-screening presentations and premiere party. Photos courtesy of Kathleen Warren
Attending cast (left to right),
Clint Ross, Donald Pfanz, Richard Warren II,
Director and producer Clint Ross addressing the crowd following the film’s screening
Producer Michael Aubrecht interviewing members of the 13th-Virginia re-enactors for video spots
Richard Warren II, aka “young Richard Kirkland,” with his diorama display at the donor table.