An Awesometalk With CLINT ROSS, director of the documentary “The Angel of Marye’s Heights”

June 26, 2010: Barry Cauchon 

Clint Ross, director of The Angel of Marye's Heights

 LINK TO AUDIO INTERVIEW: An Awesometalk With Clint Ross

 Running time: 25:28

 Recorded on June 7, 2010

 Hi all: On June 7, 2010, I had the pleasure of interviewing Clint Ross, the director of a new documentary called “The Angel of Marye’s Heights”. It is the story of Richard Kirkland, a Confederate soldier who participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862.

 The battle was fought between Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Major General Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Potomac in what has been described as one of the Civil War’s most ‘one sided battles’ ever fought. Lee held the high ground outside the city of Fredericksburg and Burnside, against all logical recommendations by his own officers, decided to send his troops across open fields in an attempt to attack the Confederate lines. It was a disaster resulting in a bloodbath. The Union forces suffered thousands of casualties as wave after wave of their soldiers succumbed to the immense fire power of the fortified Confederate army. It was a turkey shoot.

Because the fighting had been so intense, and the atmosphere still highly volatile, no Union attempt could be made to rescue their injured troops from the battlefield. As evening came, the wounded Union soldiers began crying for mercy from the Confederate side, asking for water, blankets and anything they could spare. No one could help. Throughout that night and the early hours of the following morning the cries of suffering continued, weighing heavily on the Confederate soldiers’ consciences. 

It was then, that Richard Kirkland, after getting permission from his commander, gathered canteens and supplies from his fellow soldiers and risked his life by stepping out onto the battlefield to tend to the wounded Union soldiers. Once the men in the Union lines realized that Kirkland was not out there to cause further harm to their men, but in fact, help them, the shooting stopped and they began cheering him on. The cheering was taken up by the Confederate soldiers as well. Kirkland made several trips to the injured soldiers that morning. And for a few short moments in time, humanity came to the battlefield. For his actions, Richard Kirkland was called the Angel of Marye’s Heights. 


Clint Ross, decided to tell Kirkland’s story while at the Savannah College of Art and Design. It turned out to be his  thesis film. He worked with Historian Michael Aubrecht and a very talented team to make the film into reality. It’s a piece they are all very proud of.

Historian Michael Aubrecht from "The Angel of Marye's Heights"

To learn more about Richard Kirkland and the film “The Angel of Marye’s Heights”, go to While there, be sure to check out the short teaser from the film as well as view their blog to get the most current updates. 

As of this writing, I’d like to bring you up to date on the film’s premiere as noted below. 

The movie premiere for The Angel of Marye’s Heights will be held on Saturday, July 24, at the Rappahannock Regional Library in historic downtown Fredericksburg from 6-9+pm. Open to the public. Film showing will begin at around 6:30. No one will be admitted entry during the 30-min. screening. Seating is for 200, so please arrive early. (Cast and
Crew will have reserve seating.)   Our program will also feature remarks from the director and producer, intro of present cast and crew, acknowledgements of donors, presentation of cast awards, Q&A. The after-party will include free food and refreshments, music, exhibits of local museums and re-enactors, as well as battlefield preservation groups.   This film was sponsored by the National Civil War Life Foundation and has been donated as a permanent exhibit at the Civil War Life Museum. Subsequent screenings tentatively planned for southern VA, GA, SC, and PA.  Proceeds benefit the film’s upcoming DVD production and distribution costs.

A scene from "The Angel of Marye's Heights"





I try to look at life this way, “when you’ve got nothing… you’ve got unlimited resources!!!” That is exactly what happened on this film… many a little made a lot… that’s why this is a “for everyone film”… it was made by those that care more about the story than about the potential money attached to it. We accomplished a beautiful film with the help of so many people. I could spend all day saying that  to everyone.

I just specially want to thank my fellow producer, Michael Aubrecht for all his hard work and dedication to this film. His knowledge and connections gave depth to this film.

My amazing animator Darrin Dick composed so many elements in the film and really created a solid brand that really captures the heart of the images associated with the “The Angel of Marye’s Heights.”

Zach Graber, a talented cinematographer literally translated my thoughts using the camera. His eye and professionalism shows in every scene.

Clayton De Wet, the location sound mixer virtually made for a seamless post-production process with sound design… it could not have been any better.

Nazar Loun, a very hands on camera operator combined skills with Zach and maintained a solid look through out the film… what a hard working guy.

Kevin Erhard came on board in the latter half of the post production process and really helped me find the heart beat of TAMH. I went to him for this purpose because Kevin has a sixth sense of story structure and character development. Thanks Kevin for helping me tell Kirkland’s story in a poetic way.

Chris Campbell for all his long nights and dedication to the finishing of this film. What an incredible job with sound design and coming in the fourth quarter and scoring this last minute touchdown. What a hard worker. Thanks for your patience Chris!

I’d also like to thank Kathleen Warren and the Warren family for all their encouragement and patience with me. I always felt they were behind me 100%. It is my prayer that I can repay their hospitality one day. I aspire to our level of dedication to family and friends.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my wonderful wife Lizzie. The queen of patience and the love of my life. I could not have made this film without her sacrifice and patience regarding my time and energy.

There are so many others I could thank and I promise I will get around to it!

Thank you.

Clint Ross


1. Did you know … that during the years of the Civil War (1861 – 1865) the Atlantic hurricane seasons were very weak. Only a handful of hurricanes and tropical storms were recorded from each year, and from those, very few made landfall. However, in early November, 1861, a hurricane did hit the east coast of the United States that directly affected the Civil War. Known as the “Expedition Hurricane”, the storm began as a tropical storm on November 1, 1861 in the southeast Gulf of Mexico, moved across Florida and up the east coast. It reached hurricane strength (Category 1) on November 2nd, hitting the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the day before weakening to a tropical storm by nightfall.

Continuing northward, the storm made landfall in Massachusetts on November 3rd and eventually lost strength throughout the rest of that day.







11/01/1861 6:00AM

25.5° N

82.1° W

Tropical Storm


11/01/1861 12:00PM

27.2° N

81.1° W

Tropical Storm


11/01/1861 6:00PM

29.2° N

80.1° W

Tropical Storm


11/02/1861 12:00AM

31.2° N

78.6° W

Category 1


11/02/1861 6:00AM

33.2° N

77.3° W

Category 1


11/02/1861 12:00PM

35.2° N

76.3° W

Category 1


11/02/1861 6:00PM

37.0° N

75.0° W

Tropical Storm


11/03/1861 12:00AM

38.7° N

73.8° W

Tropical Storm


11/03/1861 6:00AM

40.3° N

72.8° W

Tropical Storm


11/03/1861 12:00PM

42.0° N

71.5° W

Tropical Storm


11/03/1861 6:00PM

44.0° N

70.0° W

Tropical Storm










Source: State Climate Office of North Carolina

The reason the hurricane was known as the “Expedition Hurricane”, was because the Union had launched the largest fleet of warships and transports ever assembled (over 75 ships and 12,000 soldiers) on October 29, 1861. It was known as the Port Royal Expedition and was intended to set up a naval blockade at Port Royal, South Carolina. However, when the expedition encountered the hurricane on November 2nd off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC, the fleet was scattered and three ships were sunk. Eventually the expedition regrouped and one by one, arrived at Port Royal. On November 7, 1861 a short battle ensued between the fleet and the two forts guarding the port; Fort Beauregard and Fort Walker. The fleet was overpowering and the battle was easily won by the Union.

For more on the Port Royal Expedition, refer to:


A letter from Gustavus V. Fox to Abraham Lincoln (Naval Affairs) on Tuesday, November 05, 1861 alludes to the storm that hit the Union naval fleet. This is from the Library of Congress web site. See link below.


Navy Dept.

Nov. 5th 61


A telegraph from Balt. this morning to the Dept. announces that the fleet were seen 30 miles north of Charleston Sat. night. One of the transports had ret. suffering slightly from some cause. We have no information that the gale was severe with them on the contrary all seemed right Sat. night.


Most sincerely

G. V. Fox


2. Did you know … that horses suffered heavy casualties during the Civil War. The armies used horses to not only act as heroic steeds for the Cavalry, but also to transport men, supplies, artillery and equipment. In the Battle of Gettysburg, it is estimated that over 3000 horses were killed during the three day confrontation!

Gettysburg 1863

Gettysburg 1863

But battle was not only the cause of death for horses. As with soldiers, a high percentage of deaths was attributed to disease, exhaustion and at times, starvation. According to the article “The Horse In the Civil War” written by Deborah Grace, “Despite the thousands of horses killed or wounded in battle, the highest number were lost to disease or exhaustion. The Tenth Massachusetts Battery lost 157 horses between October 18, 1862, and April 9, 1865. Out of these horses, 112 died from disease. Forty-five of these succumbed to glanders. Glanders, a highly contagious disease that affects the skin, nasal passages, and respiratory tracts of a horse, was most widespread. Another forty-five horses from the same battery were lost to fatigue; they simply became too exhausted to work and were put to death”. This short article is fascinating and I recommend it highly. Link to:


3. Did you know … that, according to estimates, there were about 280,000 Federal deserters from the Union military and another 110,000 deserters from the Confederate ranks. All told, about 11% of the entire military forces from both North and South deserted. Although the punishment for desertion could be as severe as death by firing squad (or hanging if the offence involved treason or other henous crime), it was left to the discretion of the court martial to determine. According to Florida Reenactors Online, “Approximately 500 soldiers (north and south combined) were executed for capital crimes. The Union army’s records show that they executed 267 men. This included 147 deserters, 67 murderers, 19 mutineers, 23 rapists and 11 others for various crimes”.

Execution of Deserter by firing squad

Execution of Deserter by firing squad

For more information on Civil War desertion and other offenses and punishments during the Civil War, please read “Crimes and Punishments in the Civil War (Parts 1 and 2) – Crimes and Offenses”, see the two links below.




If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 


DID YOU KNOW (Part 9) Abraham Lincoln

According to Philip B. Kunhardt Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt in Lincoln, An Illustrated Biography, two interesting facts are mentioned.

1. Did you know … that with the Civil War raging in the United States, and popularity for that war waning severely, the Union needed a way of getting more men to join the army. On March 3, 1863 Lincoln signed into law the United States’ first true Federal military draft. The Confederacy had implemented conscription one year earlier on April 16, 1862 and so the Union followed suit about one year later. Other presidents, such as James Madison, had attempted this during the American Revolutionary War but were unsuccessful. Lincoln’s new law applied to men of ages twenty to forty-five. Not surprisingly, this law was not received well and resulted in various demonstrations in most Northern states and a series of very violent and well publicized riots in New York City from July 11 to 13, 1863. For more on the New York Draft Riots of 1863 refer to the following links.


2. Did you know …that Lincoln was the first President to proclaim Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Everyone knows the story of the first Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and the Indians in 1621. The event was celebrated sporadically over the years but never as a full blown official holiday. Then in October, 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared “that the last Thursday of November shall be set aside to as a day of thanksgiving, family gatherings and celebrations.”

At the writer adds to this story.

“Every president since Lincoln has also declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. In 1941 Congress set the national holiday of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of every November. This reversed a decision by President Roosevelt to celebrate Thanksgiving on the third Thursday of November to give people more time to shop for Christmas.” 

Book Recommendation:

I have many books on Mr. Lincoln and the Civil War. With the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday coming up, you can be assured that there are many new books presently in the works for release in 2009. However, one book that I wish to recommend is the one I mentioned earlier. Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography, written by Philip B. Kunhardt Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt. This is an easy read, filled with well researched material and hundreds of photographs. The authors and designers of this book did a wonderful job in organizing this material so that it is easy to follow. I revert back to this volume time and time again. I recommend that you add this book to your library soon.

Lincoln: An Illustrated Biographyby Philip B. Kunhardt Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt. Originally published in 1992 by Knopf, New York. Reprinted in 1999 by Garmercy Books (an imprint of Random House Value Publishing, Inc., New York by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN: 0-517-20715-X.

An Illustrated Biography




To see the entire series, click here “SUMMARY OF THE “DID YOU KNOW” ABRAHAM LINCOLN SERIES (Parts 1-15)”         



If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by three Lincoln experts:


“An Awesometalk With” ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the ‘Abraham Lincoln Research Site’ (posted on December 30, 2008)


“An Awesometalk With” DR. THOMAS SCHWARTZ, Illinois State Historian (posted on December 08, 2008)


“An Awesometalk With” HAROLD HOLZER, Lincoln Scholar (posted on November 10, 2008)