Mosby’s Marauders

March 29th, 2011

Mosby’s Marauders is a fictional film that came out in 1966 and was originally titled Willie and the Yank. The film is about a young member of Col. John S. Mosby’s men in northern Virginia who befriends a Union soldier that is stationed across the river from him. Throughout the film, the two help each other when one or the other gets in trouble. The film focuses on Mosby and his men planning and conducting a raid on thousands of northern troops in order to capture their general. They only have about 30 men but are still successful at sneaking in. During this raid, Willie’s Union friend sees them so Willie “takes him prisoner” but really just takes him to his nearby home where he falls in love with Willie’s cousin. The Union troops find out about the wedding planned between Willie’s cousin and his Union friend and decide to sneak in on it and capture all the Mosby men that are attending. Mosby is one step ahead, though, and captures them instead. He doesn’t capture Willie’s friend, though, and allows him to stay and get married.

While this film might be a bit over-dramatic, it offers great insight into perception of the Civil War in the 1960s. Unlike what we have discussed in class, African Americans are not portrayed differently in this film than they were before the Civil Rights movement. In fact, they aren’t portrayed at all. Perhaps this is Disney’s way of ignoring the issue. The movie is not really Lost Cause either, because Mosby’s men never really discuss the causes of the war or their reasons for fighting it. The North is not portrayed as being bad or cruel, just a little slow. Mosby is always portrayed as being more intelligent and cunning than them. In the end, this film actually resembles more of a Western than a Civil War movie but I think this also is telling of the period. In the 1960s, the Lost Cause narrative was fading in film and people were becoming more interested in the battle and individual soldiers. This film is definitely more oriented toward soldiers, and shows friendships between all different kinds, including across sides.

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