Brian Barkley’s “Warriors of Honor: The Faith and Legacies of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson,” provides a rare glimpse of two “masterful generals, brilliant strategists and, above all, faithful Christians.”
In it, Barkley takes aim at the common view of the war between the North and the South, focusing on two Confederate heroes who boldly gave glory to God as the source of their remarkable accomplishments.
Barkley’s previous documentary, enormously popular with WND readers, is “A Nation Adrift.” Taking viewers on an unforgettable journey “from Christopher Columbus to Jamestown, from Valley Forge to the Constitutional Convention, from the Civil War to the Industrial Revolution, from the First World War to the Stock Market Crash, from FDR to the present,” in 90 minutes Barkley shows evidence of “God’s sovereign hand” behind the history of the nation. This belief held by the Founding Fathers, Barkley shows, has eroded over the decades and is in need of revival “at this critical hour.”
With “Warriors of Honor,” Barkley once again boldly confronts the nation’s textbook makers, seeking this time to “set the record straight” on the War Between the States with a fact-filled visual venture into territory few filmmakers dare to visit.
Barkley says three years ago, while producing a video in Charlotte and Atlanta, many discussions arose that exemplified misconceptions he believes most Americans have about the causes of the war and the lives of Lee and Jackson.
“Many Southerners seemed frustrated that their story, the real story, had not yet been told,” he said.
He acknowledges recent books such as “The South Was Right” and “Southern By The Grace of God,” but saw no videos produced from the Southern viewpoint.
“After much prayer, I knew that this would be my next documentary,” he said.
Barkley contends that while most Americans believe Southerners fought to preserve slavery, the divide between North and South was much deeper.
“Two drastically different cultures had emerged on the American landscape,” the film’s narration says before issuing this warning: “A nation that is ignorant of its past is a nation that is ripe for deception and manipulation.”
Author and historian Steve Wilkins praises “Warriors” as a documentary that finally “is willing to speak plainly about the Christian faith of Jackson and Lee. It is a beautiful and accurate account of two great Southern leaders and of a war that forever changed our country.”
Prayer ‘natural as breathing’
While the first-run Hollywood drama “Gods and Generals” broke ground with its depiction of Lee and Jackson as devout Christians, Barkley sharpens the focus on their faith, depicting vignettes rarely if ever presented in America’s history classes.
We learn that Jackson, who “drew his inspiration from God and his faith in Jesus Christ more than anything else,” worried over the spiritual salvation of his men and welcomed the distribution of Bibles and tracts among them.
“He disliked both war and slavery,” the narrator says, “but he believed that God had ordained the Confederacy and that his duty was simple – to ensure the success of a sacred cause.”
Prayer, for Jackson, was as “natural as breathing,” the film shows.
One Union officer, amazed at the devotion the general cultivated, said, “Stonewall Jackson’s men will follow him to the devil, and he knows it.”
‘Work of grace’
Jackson’s superior officer, Robert E. Lee, was no less a man of God.
When asked at the beginning of the war how he could possibly overcome the North’s vast resources, the general said: “At present, I am not concerned with results. My reliance is in the help of God. God’s will ought to be our aim, and I am contented that his designs should be accomplished, not my own.”
Lee enthusiastically supported a “day of fasting, humiliation and prayer” – called for Aug. 21, 1863, by Confederate President Jefferson Davis – remarking that it resulted in a “work of grace among the troops.”
About 15,000 Southern soldiers made a “profession of faith in Jesus Christ” during that particular period, the film points out, “in a revival among the troops that continued to the end of war.” In all, approximately 150,000 Southern soldiers embraced the Christian faith during the four-year war.
Lee, the father, comes out in several glimpses of his family life, including a letter to comfort his wife upon the death of a grandchild and another to his son, whose wife had just died.
The general wrote of his deep anguish, but in a tenor of hope reminded his son that “link by link is the strong chain broken that binds us to Earth and smoothes our passage to another world.”
After the war, Lee’s legendary stature only grew.
An insurance company offered him its presidency at an annual salary of $10,000 just for the use of his name, assuring him he “need not perform any duties.”
But Lee declared his name was not for sale, declaring, “I cannot consent to receive pay for services I do not render.”
He later accepted $1,500 a year as president of Washington College in Lexington, Va., refusing to take any more than what the school could afford.
Recognizing his solemn responsibility for the lives of his students, he remarked once with deep emotion, “If only I could know that all the men in this college were good Christians, I should have nothing more to desire.”
When he died in 1870, the London Standard newspaper was among the many to lavish him with high praise, stating “truer greatness … the world has rarely, if ever, known.”
Barkley concludes with the remarkable first-hand account of a Union soldier’s encounter with Lee, a story of grace and strength, the filmmaker says, that exemplifies the general’s character better than any other.
The DVD version of “Warriors of Honor” offers three bonus segments: “Slavery,” “Sam Davis” and “The Palmyra Incident.”
In “Slavery,” Barkley, revealing his intent is not to whitewash the sins of either the South or the North, argues slaves were owned by a small fraction of the population and insists saving the institution was not the main reason Southern men fought.
“Sam Davis” tells the story of a young Confederate soldier who was captured by the Union as a spy and offered freedom if he would reveal the source of the information he carried. Davis refused, saying, “If I had a thousand lives I would lose them all here before I would betray a friend or be false to a duty.”
“Palmyra” tells of the 1862 incident in the Missouri town in which 10 prisoners were shot in retaliation for the alleged murder of a Union man.