Ronald Maxwell's 1993 film "Gettysburg", based on the novel "The Killer Angels" by J. Michael Shaara, comprises of two video cassettes, being 234 minutes long. It is set from the afternoon/evening of June 30th, 1863, until the day after the Battle of Gettysburg, the 4th of July, 1863, ironically enough, "Independence Day". It is filmed on location at Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania.
When the video starts, the credits are played through on the screen. From the very beginning, we see that extra special care has been taken to match each main actor with the factual main character being portrayed. This is shown through first displaying an image of the actual soldier, and then smoothly substituting it with the image of the modelling actor dressed up as that soldier. Through this method, it is obvious from the very start, that attention-to-detail is being observed.
The actual film starts by bringing the audience up-to-date on events of the time. We hear that in June 1863, the Southern Confederate (Rebel) Army, 70,000 strong, under the leadership of General Robert Edward Lee, has slipped across the Potomac River to commence the invasion of the north. They have used the mountains for screening and their objective is to bring the Northern Union Army out into the open, prompting a battle. Meanwhile, the Union (Federal) Army, 80,000 strong, under the leadership of Major General George Gordon Meade is in pursuit, coming out of Maryland, and heading for Pennsylvania. This is all true-to-fact and narrated whilst being shown visually on the map which covers the screen.
The audience is then told, by the narrator, that General Lee knows a letter of peace has been prepared by the southern army to be placed on President Abraham Lincoln's desk upon the expected defeat of the Union Army. Again, this is factually correct.
The screen changes and we see "Tuesday June 30th 1863" appear. The scene shown after this zooms in on our first character, Henry T.