Being a history buff . . . and a fan of the television adaptation of John Jakes' "North and South" Trilogy, I had decided to list below, some of the historical inaccuracies that I had discovered in the television miniseries:
“NORTH AND SOUTH" TRILOGY - INACCURACIES
1. George and Orry's journey to West Point - I could be mistaken, but I thought most cadets who traveled to West Point from New York City, did so by a steamer up the Hudson River in the mid-1800s.
2. Orry's sword duel w/Bent - I realize many of you found it exciting, but
after asking around, I discovered that it is impossible for someone with Orry's difficulties in studies to be an excellent swordsman. Actually, someone like Bent should have kicked his butt.
3. Ulysses Grant did not graduate from West Point two years ahead of George and Orry (as indicated in ”NORTH AND SOUTH: BOOK II”). He graduated three years before them in 1843.
4. The Mains should not have been at Mont Royal during the summers of 1844, 1846 or 1854. Summertime was considered fever season in the South Carolina low country. South Carolinians planters usually vacationed in the upcountry or somewhere else - preferably at Newport Island.
5. When Virgilia made the "slave bordellos" reference in her speech during the abolitionist meeting in Philadelphia, she had been very close to the truth, despite Orry's reaction. Due to a Federal law that forbade the import of African slaves in 1808, prosperous slave owners like Tillet Main encouraged their slaves to breed. Female slaves were encouraged to breed by the age fourteen.
6. Fredrick Douglass never referred to God in his speeches. A bitter encounter with the clergy in Maryland erased any religious fevor that he had.
7. Robert Guilliame was too old to be playing Fredrick Douglass in 1848. During that year, Douglass was only 30 years old. Guilliame was at least 56 or 57 years old when he appeared in ”NORTH AND SOUTH: BOOK I”.
8. The song, "Dixie", was written by a Northerner in 1859 and became popular throughout the South in 1860. When James Huntoon sung it at a rally in New Orleans, he may have sung it a year or two early.
9. Orry had been premature in referring to John Brown as insane in December 1859. The abolitionist was never considered insane until the 1890s, when the "Lost Cause" myth became very popular.
10. Contrary to the miniseries, Major Robert Anderson was not in his mid to late 30s – the age of actor James Rebhorn, who portrayed the officer when the miniseries was filmed - around the winter of 1860-61. He was at least 55 years old.
11. Hiram Burdan, commander of the Sharpshooters, was not the stickler as portrayed by Kurtwood Smith in the miniseries. In fact, he was not a very good commander and left the Sharpshooters sometime in early 1864.
12. Lincoln had never made a comment about suggesting his other commanders drink the same brand of whiskey as Grant.
13. Although he remained sober throughout most of the war, Grant did go on an alcoholic bender sometime during the Vicksburg siege – May to July 1863.
14. West Point never held a ball for its graduates during the mid-1800s. The graduating class usually went to the Astor House in New York City for a graduation supper.
15. Generals Grant and Sherman had met President Lincoln a few weeks
before the war ended, they met on a James River steamboat around City Point, Virginia. They did not meet on the field, with General Sheridan, as indicated in "BOOK II".
16. William Stills had been 34-36 years old during the winter of 1855/56. The actor who portrayed him in ”BOOK I”, the late Ron O'Neal, was at least 47 years old at the time of the miniseries’ production.
If you can find any further discrepancies, please let me know.