History of the World According to the Movies: Part 36 – The American Revolution

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Of course, I couldn’t do a post on the American Revolution without posting a picture from the 2000 film The Patriot in which Mel Gibson plays a simple family man who kicks Great Britain’s ass and all the British soldiers are stand-ins for the Nazis. This movie covers the Revolutionary War in the South which is much more complicated and brutal than the movie portrays. Also, there’s no way Mel Gibson’s character would have black workers toiling at his plantation. That’s just not possible. Not to mention, Banastre Tarleton and Lord Cornwallis weren’t that bad guys either.

Anyone who lives in the United States knows that the American Revolution is a pivotal point in American history, even though it’s not as important anywhere else. Of course, if you want to know why we entered into this war with Great Britain, look no further than the French and Indian War which the colonists fought on the British side so some of them could move out west to places like Pittsburgh or some where. I mean if the French won, I would’ve written this article in French and be a Canadian citizen. Still, after the war ended in 1763, Indian Wars against Pontiac led to the Prohibition line of 1763 across the Appalachian Mountains. Then you have Britain in debt which led to the Stamp Act, Townsend Acts, Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and before you know it, the shot heard around the world at Lexington and Concord. Thus, the American Revolution has begun which leads to other events like The Battle of Bunker Hill (should be the Battle of Breed’s Hill), the Declaration of Independence, Washington Crossing the Delaware, Saratoga, Valley Forge, and finally Cornwallis’ Surrender at Yorktown. There are quite a few movies made in this time, which have quite a few historical errors in them of which I shall list.

Road to Revolution:

The American Revolution was fought over taxes. (It was fought over being taxed but without being able to send representative to Parliament. However, little did they know about how many people were unrepresented in Britain. Also, they didn’t like being treated as a colony.)

The Liberty Tree was full of leaves during the Boston Tea Party. (The Boston Tea Party took place in December.)

Paul Revere shouted “The redcoats are coming!” during his ride. (He said “The regulars are coming!” which doesn’t seem to have the same gist to it. Also, he wasn’t the only rider and didn’t make it to Concord.)

The American Revolution:

George Washington:

George Washington was pessimistic about his army’s progress by the spring of 1776. (Actually he was a little more hopeful. Despondence didn’t set in until seven weeks after the Declaration of Independence came out.)

Benjamin Tallmadge:

Major Benjamin Tallmadge and Major John Andre had a long and deep friendship. (Yes, they had some kind of friendship but it wasn’t for the longer term. Also, Andre knew he was a goner anyway. Still, Tallmadge did nothing to save Andre’s life nor did Andre save Tallmadge’s. Not to mention, Tallmadge was never a spy out of uniform and was much more ruthless nor was above employing brutal methods to accomplish his own ends unlike his expy in The Scarlet Coat.)

Francis Marion:

Francis Marion was a forward-thinking family man during the Revolution who defeats countless Brits single-handedly. (In reality, Francis Marion was a slave-owning serial rapist who didn’t get married until after the war {to his cousin} and he also killed Cherokees for fun. In Hollywood terms, this would make the real Francis Marion truly undesirable for any Hollywood film adaptation because who wants to see a movie where the hero rapes his slaves and takes great sport in killing Indians? As for defeating countless Brits singlehandedly, how can you manage that with a musket? Also, why would any Southern man hire black workers for wages? That’s as impossible as them working voluntarily. How could a black person voluntarily work on a South Carolina plantation during the American Revolution, really?)

Henry Lee:

Henry Lee was known as “Lighthorse Harry” Lee throughout the American Revolution. (He didn’t get the nickname until 1778.)

The Mohawk Valley:

Fighting in the Mohawk Valley was mostly Indians vs. settlers. (The British soldiers played a much bigger role. Also, the Continental Army and local militias raided and destroyed Iroquois settlements in the region. So maybe the Iroquois had some reason to get pissed off and attack settlers.)

The Battle of Oriskany was an American victory. (Nearly half of the American forces were killed, wounded, or forced to retreat and it led to lifting the siege at Fort Stanwix two days later because the militia could no longer do so. However, this happened in 1777 not 1781.)

Fort Stanwix and the Mohawk Valley were of no strategic importance whatsoever. (The events in the Mohawk Valley and Fort Stanwix would later lead to Saratoga, which would be a turning point in the American Revolution.)

William Caldwell was killed on the Mohawk Valley assault. (He lived to fight on the British side during the War of 1812.)

Banastre Tarleton:

Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton wore a red uniform. (He was a Dragoon and his legion wore green. Still, love the Jason Isaacs portrayal though I prefer him as Lucius Malfoy with his pimp cane wand and blond hair.)

Banastre Tarleton burned down a colonial church full of villagers during the Revolutionary War. (There’s no evidence he did such a thing or that any other commander during the American Revolution did either {though Oliver Cromwell did burn a church full of people in Ireland and the Nazis staged a similar massacre in France}. And unlike what The Patriot tells you, he did survive the war and went on to have a political career. Still, was an asshole though for he supported slavery. Nevertheless, he had a bad reputation for his men slaughtering colonial prisoners at Waxhaw, though we’re not sure if he was directly responsible but the massacre wasn’t a premeditated thing. He also burned colonial homes and execute suspected guerillas but that’s about it. If he had burned a church full of people, we would’ve known about it. Also, the Loyalists were much worse in their brutality toward the Patriots {who were happy to return the favor}.)

Charles Cornwallis:

Lord General Charles Cornwallis was present at the Battle of Cowpens. (He wasn’t.)

Lord General Charles Cornwallis held the colonists in open contempt and disdain. (He was a Whig who was sympathetic to the colonials as well as an MP who voted on their behalf several times before the war. He was just fighting for his country.)

Lord General Charles Cornwallis was a rather older man during the American Revolution. (He was only in his forties and six years younger than George Washington.)

Benjamin Franklin:

Benjamin Franklin was an abolitionist during the American Revolution. (He wasn’t until after the war but he did become president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society in 1785.)

Benjamin Franklin was a pervert. (Yes, he had a racy side which does show in his writings. However, in 1776, he was quite an angry man who was out to even the score with a British government that had hauled him before the Privy Council in 1774 and called him a liar and a thief.)

John Adams:

John Adams sent for Martha Jefferson to visit her husband in Philadelphia while Thomas struggled writing the Declaration of Independence. (Sure Jefferson was deeply worried about Martha during the times he struggled writing the Declaration of Independence, yet his wife was at Monticello too ill and depressed even to write him a letter {due to suffered a miscarriage and a bout of gestational diabetes}, let alone visit him in Philadelphia. Still, Jefferson could’ve used some other alternative to fuel his sexual frustrations like many slave owners did at the time {Jefferson included}. However, Mrs. Mary Norris Dickinson was present in Philadelphia at the time but she’s absent from 1776 mostly because the Dickinsons’ marriage was more egalitarian and not bound by gender stereotypes {which is kind of a shame that it wasn’t included}.)

John Adams was an obnoxious and disliked person in the Continental Congress. (This is based on Adams’ self-description from 1822 but David McCullough and Gary Wills say that no one viewed him this way and much of Congress actually had a lot of respect for him. John Dickinson was actually advocating an unpopular position in 1776, according to them. Still, he was kind of a brilliant and abrasive guy who hated to shut up but missed his wife during that time {yet they did flirt passionately in their letters}.)

John Adams hated Richard Henry Lee and liked Benjamin Franklin. (He actually admired and respected Lee but disliked Franklin.)

Thomas Jefferson:

Thomas Jefferson resolved to free his slaves in 1776. (He never did except for a few after his death 50 years later. Also, he would have children by one of them later on in his life.)

Thomas Jefferson was so anxious to get home during the independence debate was because he needed to get laid. (No, it was because his wife was extremely ill at the time from a miscarriage.)

Thomas Jefferson was a sex addict. (No, he may have been a guy on the Autism spectrum who may have slept with his slaves but he was no sex addict. But we understand he did have his needs.)

Thomas Jefferson cut out his antislavery paragraph from the Declaration of Independence over Edward Rutledge’s speech about how both north and south were equally responsible for it while John Adams defended him. (Actually, the paragraph was more on the slave trade, not slavery. Still, while Adams did defend him, Jefferson cut it because due to objections from Georgia and South Carolina while some northern states were uneasy on the subject.)

John Dickinson:

John Dickinson was a loyalist. (He wasn’t at all since he had been anti-British before the Revolution with his Letters of a Pennsylvanian Farmer as well as fight against the Brits in the militia as a private and brigadier general. He just didn’t think 1776 was a good time to declare it since the government structure was too uncertain and that the Americans had no European allies. Also, he wasn’t at the Continental Congress when independence was being debated and voted upon. Still, he was a pacifist Quaker who objected to revolution, not a loyalist Tory {or a Nixon clone as he is in 1776}.)

John Dickinson resigned from Congress without signing the Declaration of Independence. (He didn’t resign but he did leave without signing. However, he was on the committee to draft the Articles of Confederation.)

John Paul Jones:

John Paul Jones spoke in an American accent. (He born and grew up in Scotland. Seriously, his biopic casting would’ve been more accurate if he was played by Sean Connery, not Robert Stack. )

John Paul Jones only had two vessels in his squadron of privateers. (He actually had four. His Captain Landais of the Alliance just didn’t want to obey Jones’ orders and regularly ignored them mostly because he felt he should’ve been in command.)

John Paul Jones ordered Commodore Hopkins to the Bahamas. (He sent him to the Virginia coast but Hopkins went to the Bahamas anyway attacking the islands for military supplies. He was later court-martialed for this and other questions regarding his command. I guess being one of the first US officers to be court martialed doesn’t look good for one’s resume.)

Captain Pearson knew that John Paul Jones was in his vicinity. (He knew there was a raiding force in the area. However, he mistook Jones’ fleet was a Royal Navy squadron. This allowed Jones to get close to the Serapis before the sea battle began.)

John Paul Jones refused to accept Captain Pearson’s sword during the latter’s surrender. (Jones actually accepted Pearson’s sword after the battle but returned it a few days later.)

Richard Henry Lee:

Richard Henry Lee was a giggling buffoon who made endless puns with his own name and didn’t have any idea about American independence. (He was the second most powerful orator in the Continental Congress after John Adams who supported independence the moment he entered Congress. Also, he was an intense, high minded, and humorless Puritan who would’ve certainly hated his portrayal in 1776.)

Richard Henry Lee was governor of Virginia. (He never served as governor. His cousin Henry Lee was {who ended up fathering a future Civil War general}.)

Caesar Rodney:

Caesar Rodney was short. (He’s famously depicted as tall.)

Caesar Rodney had a small patch covering his cheek. (During 1776, Caesar Rodney was suffering from skin cancer which would later kill him 9 years later {at 56 being 47 in 1776}. However, by that time, he was actually missing half his face due to 18th century surgery and cauterization treatments. He kept the afflicted area under wraps under a green kerchief wrapped around his head. Still, despite this and asthma, he managed to ride eighty miles during a thunderstorm. However, he was absent from Congress in 1776 because he trying to stiffen the spines of his fellows Delawareans.)

James Wilson:

James Wilson was a timid fool who only voted for independence because he didn’t want the notoriety of turning it down. (He was a shrewd and contentious lawyer from Pennsylvania perhaps the greatest intellect in America after James Madison. Also, he was staunchly committed to independence from the beginning but delayed his vote until he checked with his constituents to make sure they agreed with him. Contrary to 1776, he wasn’t a judge at the time and the swing vote for independence was a guy name John Morton who’s absent from the film. Still, Wilson’s portrayal in 1776 is as about accurate as it could be at the time.)

Robert Livingston:

Robert Livingston was an utter twit. (This man would go on to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.)

Edward Rutledge:

Edward Rutledge was in his forties in 1776. (He was only 26 and the youngest delegate. In 1776, he’s played by a 40ish Jack Cullum.)

Lewis Morris:

Lewis Morris was an idiot who willingly abstained his vote until his sons enlisted. (He wasn’t in Philadelphia to vote on Independence because he was serving as Brigadier general in his local New York militia. Also, he was very pro-independence as well as later signed the Declaration of Independence months after the vote.)

Lewis Morris had 12 children in which 4 of the oldest boys fought in the Revolution. (He had 10 kids and his 3 oldest sons fought.)

War in the South:

The French only fought in the Battle of Yorktown as colonial allies. (They arrived in 1778.)

Slavery was practically nonexistent in Revolutionary South Carolina and not particularly bad anyway. (South Carolina was one of the biggest pro-slavery states in the Union for much of American history {it was the first state to secede from the Union after Lincoln’s election in 1860}. And, yes, it was one of the most inhumane institutions ever in existence in America. I mean the US became bitterly divided and fought a whole war over it. Also, read Frederick Douglass’ autobiography in which he talks about all kinds of childhood horrors and how his struggle to be free took up most of it.)

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse was colonial victory during the American Revolution. (It was actually ah heavy loss.)

Most of the South was pro-patriot during the Revolutionary War. (There were significant factions in the South that remained Loyalist.)

The Battle of Cowpens was a mostly infantry affair that resulted in heavy American losses. (It was a cavalry battle lasting less than an hour which resulted in only 12 Americans getting killed.)

Americans of all stripes took up arms out of patriotism during the American Revolution. (Well, maybe but it took some congressional measures to keep them in the Continental Army which wasn’t an easy task since it had few resources and more Americans served in militias. Some also served for money and or because they had nowhere else to. And not everyone in the colonies supported independence either.)

British soldiers were mostly responsible for the atrocities in the South during the Revolutionary War. (Loyalists and Patriot Americans were and many used the war as an excuse to settle old scores. However, in Hollywood, the Patriots are the good guys, and the Loyalists mostly don’t exist.)

Declaration of Independence:

30-35 delegates of the Continental Congress were present in 1776. (65 delegates were but 1776 was adapted from a musical so the reduction kind of made sense.)

The debate over American Independence boiled down to the argument of the phrasing of the Declaration and whether slaver ought to be legal. (As with the slavery question, the issue very well could’ve been debated but it wasn’t the point in which the issue of independence hinged at least for the Continental Congress. Yet, since many of the Revolutionary leaders were slave owners {I’m talking to you, Jefferson}, they kind of passed the buck to the next generation by silent agreement. As with independence, they already voted in favor of independence before making changes to the Declaration.)

The anti-independence faction in Congress were filled with “conservatives.” (There were no conservatives in Congress at this time since every delegate was liberal in the classical sense in English 18th century politics. To be a conservative at the time, you would have to be vehemently pro-monarchist and have found the idea of an unauthorized congress distasteful no matter what they were discussing. Also, the left-right spectrum wouldn’t exist until the French Revolution.)

The vote on independence came on July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed. (It was on July 2. Some historians believed the Declaration of Independence was actually signed on August 2, {though most of the delegates signed it at different times}. Also, John Hancock was the only person to sign it on July 4.)

There was a mandate for a unanimous vote for independence. (There wasn’t but rather an understanding that a less than unanimous vote risked the fatal split of the colonies, especially if the delegates were from Pennsylvania which is why it’s known as the Keystone State and why a keystone is used as a state highway logo.)

Miscellaneous:

During the American Revolution, both sides spoke in British accents. (Yes, but not in the British accents we know today. British accents have changed considerably since the nineteenth century and American accents have changed very little. And since there was no recording equipment at the time, we can’t really know for sure how they talked.)

Colonial soldiers saluted by placing their hands on their hats. (It actually consisted of taking off one’s hat, lowering it to the side, and putting it on again.)

The Founding Fathers were all God-fearing Christians. (Christians, yes, but they were also secularists and some had rather unconventional ideas about religion. Still, most of them did go to church and certainly weren’t atheists.)

Revolutionary soldiers wore blue uniforms. (This is true only near the end of the war and mostly among the officers. Most Continental soldiers wore whatever they had on or their militia uniform if they were in one. This is played to a lesser extent than the Confederates wearing grey uniforms though.)

The statue of King George III in New York City was of dark lead. (It was painted in gold according to a Continental army lieutenant.)

The Bonhomme Richard sank immediately after the battle with the Serapis while it was being pumped out during the action. (It actually sank late the next day after the battle in a failed attempt at repairs begun after the surrender since the men couldn’t be spared during the fight and the extent of damage couldn’t be fully judged during the chaos.)

American marksmanship was not only key to American victory during the American Revolution, but also to the vote of American independence. (No, I don’t think so. This is a myth. Besides, muskets had terrible aim.)

Samuel Chase, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin were sent to a training camp in New Brunswick, New Jersey which George Washington reported as full of disorder and prostitutes. (They probably didn’t make such a visit. Also, Continental army training camps in 1776? Still, at least Washington’s view on camp followers is accurate in 1776. Also, New Brunswick did have that reputation for debauchery back then despite being the home of today’s Rutgers University.)

The attack of Whitehaven was a smooth operation. (It was far from it. The second boat sent during the attack did very little and its crew might’ve spent the attack in the Whitehaven pub {which would’ve made for a very funny scene}. Whitehaven’s fortifications had no troops {but housed a couple of caretakers} since the town was too cheap to pay for them and there was no confrontation with the townspeople. Also, only one of the 200 vessels docked there were burned since the attackers didn’t have enough oil to set the rest alight.)

American militiamen reloaded their guns very speedily and efficiently in combat. (They were notoriously slow reloading in combat due to lack of training, practice, and experience. The British, however, were well trained in this procedure.)

Continental soldiers were always ragged and hungry. (Sometimes but not all the time.)

The Americans won the Revolutionary war with frontier savvy and guerilla tactics. (We forget the British had as much guerilla chops as the colonies as well as Indian allies, even the guy who wrote the book on being an army ranger fought for the British. Ordinary pitched battles and European allies helped the Americans win.)

The stars and stripes was adopted in 1781. (It was adopted in June 1777.)

The Founding Fathers kept a secret treasure trove. (Several Founding Fathers were Freemasons but no, they didn’t put a treasure map on the Declaration of Independence.)

Charles Carroll of Carrollton was a Freemason. (He wasn’t.)

Ethan Allen took Fort Ticonderoga in 1776. (He took it in 1775.)

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 35 – Colonial America

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Of course, no post on Colonial America will be complete without a picture from The Crucible with Daniel Day Lewis and Joan Allen as the Proctors. Still, Daniel Day Lewis is much too hot to play John Proctor since the real guy was a much older and heavier man who had a much larger family. Elizabeth Proctor was also significantly older but not much. Still, John Proctor never recanted and never had an affair with Abigail Williams.

The United States hasn’t had a long history yet there are plenty of movies recalling it nevertheless. What was once seen as untamed wilderness by the Jamestown explorers would later become set for a world power status by the 20th century. Of course, for many people outside the US, the movies are a way to learn about American history. For Americans, the movies are a way to remember it. Still, these don’t all consist of cowboy movies or Civil War pictures. Yet, this is a nation which many believed was founded on the basis of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as said in the Declaration of Independence. Few may not know that the US was once a colony of Great Britain or that certain events in American history didn’t even happen like the Mexican American War and the War of 1812 since much of Europe was fighting Napoleon a the time. In fact, not many people in Britain know much about the War of 1812 and they fought it, which is just as well because the Battle of New Orleans was a pretty humiliating defeat for them. Still, at least everyone remembers the American Civil War whether they like it or not as well as cowboys.

Of course, during the Age of Sail and the Cavalier Years, the world saw the rise of what would become a new country: America. However, under this time, the future nation would consist of 13 British colonies along the East coast. Of course, this is the time of the Pilgrims arriving in Massachusetts in pursuit of religious freedom and celebrating the first Thanksgiving with the Indians. You also have the Puritans who came for religious freedom as well as set up their own theocracy and later hunt witches. Still, when it comes to movies set in Colonial America, you’re mostly going to have it set in Massachusetts which will usually revolve around the Salem witch trials despite the fact that it didn’t cover most of colonial American history. Of course, from Hollywood, you won’t find out about things like New York being taken away from the Indians by the Dutch and later by the English, the infamous slave trade from the memoirs of Oladauh Equiano, the rise of Virginia growing tobacco, Indian Wars, a tale of a drag queen in colonial New Jersey, the founding of Georgia as a colony of debtors, and the one time George Washington accidentally started a world war after a diplomatic misadventure in Western Pennsylvania due to his inability to understand French or Native American languages. However, what does get into the movies, there is a potential for a great deal of inaccuracies which I shall list accordingly.

Plymouth Colony:

The Pilgrims landed in Plymouth Rock. (No, they landed in what is now Provincetown at first, but later landed in Plymouth near an abandoned Indian village they specifically chose as a landing place, but there was no rock.)

The Mayflower established the first settlement in New England. (George Popham had founded a colony along the coast of present day Maine in 1607 with 120 others. However, it failed within the year due to family changes in leadership ranks and most of the colonists got fed up and returned to England. Still, Wikipedia does have pictures of the map and the site. Nevertheless, compared to the Pilgrims, the Popham settlers were wimps.)

John Alden was a ships’ carpenter. (He was a cooper {barrel guy} and came on the Mayflower as a crew hire who later decided to stay, but he wasn’t a Separatist.)

Most on board the Mayflower came to America for religious freedom. (Yes, but the Pilgrims also came because they didn’t want their kids to grow up Dutch nor live in a land where other people could practice their religion just as freely {like Catholics, Jews, and atheists}. Some came as crewmembers and others to help provide governance for the colony. Also, many servants came along as well. Nevertheless, the Pilgrims who were religious Separatists consisted of 56% of the passengers and crew.)

John Alden and Priscilla Mullins met on the Mayflower. (Maybe but they wouldn’t get married until two years later. However, Myles Standish was probably not interested in her at the time since his wife was on board. Yet, the love triangle between Standish and Alden may have arisen that they were likely roommates and that Priscilla Mullins was the only single woman in Plymouth Colony of marriageable age at the time {but Alden and Standish probably weren’t the only guys competing for her affections. Still, it was probably her choice to marry Alden since she didn’t have any family left at Plymouth Colony and that he was close to her own age}. However, Standish isn’t known to take it personally.)

Dorothy Bradford had an affair with Captain Christopher Jones, which was why she threw herself over the ship and drowned. (There’s no evidence that Captain Jones and Mrs. Bradford had an affair {though Spencer Tracy and Gene Tierney did during the making of Plymouth Adventure}. However, the Mayflower had already landed when she drowned while her husband was on an expedition. Also, she’s said to have slipped over the side, which probably was an accident, not suicide. Still, she probably drowned because she probably couldn’t swim and there was no one else who could’ve saved her since most people didn’t know how to swim in those days. Still, William and Dorothy Bradford did have a 3 year old son who went with them who’s absent in Plymouth Adventure.)

Prior to the Pilgrims’ arrival, no white person had ever set foot in New England. (Actually there had never been a successful settlement in New England until that time. However, there had been several English expeditions as well as an attempted settlement in Maine that failed. One of these was led by Captain John Smith himself {yes, that John Smith from Pocahontas}. Not only that, but Squanto was kidnapped during a couple of these, lived in Europe for nearly 14 years, was trained as an interpreter, and had his whole hometown wiped out by European diseases. He crossed the Atlantic six times in his life.)

Puritan Massachusetts:

In Puritan Massachusetts, a pregnant woman caught in adultery would be put in prison until the child was born then subject to public humiliation, ostracism, divorce, as well as be made to wear a scarlet letter A for the rest of her life. Also, she was allowed to fight for her child’s custody and keep the father’s identity a secret. (Actually Hester Prynne got off pretty easy with the Puritan Massachusetts equivalent of a slap on the wrist even though people who committed adultery did have to wear letters on their clothes but it was AD not an A. They also could be fined, beaten, branded, imprisoned, or banished from Massachusetts Bay. The most severe punishment for adultery in Puritan Massachusetts was death by hanging but it wasn’t always applied. Had Hester Prynne received the traditional punishment, there probably wouldn’t be a story like The Scarlet Letter.)

Salem Witch Trials:

Witches were burned at Salem during the trials. (Actually those who were executed in the Salem Witch Trials were those who accused of witchcraft who asserted their innocence but were found guilty anyway. All but one were hanged and one was crushed. Also, only 20 accused witches were executed. Those who admitted guilt didn’t face execution for they remained to name names.)

The accusers during the Salem witch trials were a dozen teenage girls. (Yes, but they also included men and adult women including Tituba’s husband John Indian {absent from the film}, Ann Putnam Sr., and Sarah Bibber as well as more in Andover, where the number of accused exceeded those of any town including Salem Village.)

A goat got into another person’s garden which caused tempers flaring during the Salem witch accusations. (This happened three years before and the animal was a pig getting into the Nurse’s family fields with Rebecca Nurse making an outburst at the neighbor. He died of a stroke a few months later. This incident was used at the trial to convict Rebecca Nurse of witchcraft.)

The judges during the Salem Witch Trials were Thomas Danforth, John Hathorne (ancestor of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the main reason for his name change), and Samuel Sewall. (The panel consisted of William Stoughton, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Wait Winthrop, Bartholomew Gedney, Samuel Sewall, John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin and Peter Sergeant. Thomas Danforth was the Deputy Governor and a member of the Governor’s Council but he did preside on a few occasions. However, William Stougton did become Lieutenant Governor and Chief Magistrate. Saltonstall had to quit early. Still, Hathorne, Gedney, and Corwin were the primary magistrate who took the depositions at Ingersoll’s tavern.)

Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey, and John Proctor were hanged for witchcraft around the same time all reciting the Lord’s Prayer. (They were hanged separately in 1692 with Nurse in July, Proctor in August, and Corey in September. Also, the person hung while reciting the Lord’s Prayer was the Rev. George Burroughs causing a stir in Salem because it was believed a witch couldn’t’ say the Lord’s Prayer without making a mistake. Proctor is also said to do the same.)

The witch hysteria didn’t die out in Salem in 1692 as more and more people refused to save themselves by giving false confessions. (The opposite was true. According to Margo Burns: “more and more people were giving false confessions and four women actually pled guilty to the charges. Some historians claim that this was because it became apparent that confession would save one from the noose, but there is evidence that the Court was planning to execute the confessors as well. What ended the trials was the intervention of Governor William Phips. Contrary to what Phips told the Crown in England, he was not off in Maine fighting the Indians in King William’s War through that summer, since he attended governor’s council meetings regularly that summer, which were also attended by the magistrates. But public opinion of the trials did take a turn. There were over two hundred people in prison when the general reprieve was given, but they were not released until they paid their prison fees. Neither did the tide turn when Rev. Hale’s wife was accused, as the play claims, by Abigail Williams (it was really a young woman named Mery Herrick), nor when the mother-in-law of Magistrate Jonathan Corwin was accused — although the “afflicted” did start accusing a lot more people far and wide to the point of absurdity, including various people around in other Massachusetts towns whom they had never laid eyes on, including notable people such as the famous hero Capt. John Alden (who escaped after being arrested).”)

The Salem Witch Trials were a landmark event in world history. (Only in American history. Witch trials were already happening all over Europe which killed way more people.)

The Salem Witch Trials were confined to Salem, Massachusetts. (It started with Salem but it extended to the Northeast Massachusetts area.)

Abigail Williams:

Abigail Williams and her friends were teenagers in 1692. (They were pre-teens while some were older. However, Abigail was 11 or 12 at the time and so was Betty Parris and Ann Putnam Jr..)

Abigail Williams was Reverend Parris’ niece. (There’s no genealogical evidence to prove that they were related. It’s possible she may have been a household servant. Yet, it was also customary for orphans without surviving family to live with the local minister. Still, most historians think her motivation for testifying was due to her wanting more attention since she was a “poor relation” to the Parris family with no marital prospects {she’d get no dowry}.)

Abigail Williams worked for the Proctors. (She never did, but maybe for the Parrises.)

Abigail Williams was Elizabeth Proctor’s first accuser. (It’s said Ann Putnam Jr. was. Mercy Lewis and Mary Warren also accused her as well.)

Abigail Williams was the ring leader in the Salem accusers. (She’s considered this. However, Ann Putnam Jr. was the most active whose name appeared 400 times in the court documents. Actually many of those involved with the Putnams had some relationship with the accused, accusers, and afflicted girls. In fact, many of the accused previously had disputes with the family. Not to mention, Ann Putnam Jr.’s court performances were notorious as the “star” witness in the trials.)

Abigail Williams stole £31 of Rev. Samuel Parris’ cash in order to flee to Barbados. (She would never have been able to get that kind of money since Rev. Parris earned £33 for his annual salary in cash. Still, we don’t know what happened to her though it’s said she died young.)

Abigail Williams and Betty Parris were the only two children in the Parris household. (Betty had an older brother and younger sister who also lived with them.)

Abigail Williams started the Salem Witch Trial hysteria just to get John Proctor’s wife bumped off. (For one, there’s no evidence that Abigail knew the Proctors and certainly didn’t have an affair with John {since she was a child at the time}. It’s more likely she just an attention seeking teen who acted out and was accused of witchcraft herself. More likely she accused someone else to take the heat off herself. And though she was the first accuser at the Witch Trials, she wasn’t much of a ringleader.)

Betty Parris:

Betty Parris participate in the proceedings at Salem. (She was shuffled off to live with Stephen Sewall’s family in Salem Town soon after the hysteria broke.)

Betty Parris’ mother was dead by 1692. (Her mother would die in 1696 so she was very much alive during the Salem witch trials. The Parrises also had two other children at the time.)

Tituba:

Tituba was black using Caribbean voodoo magic. (She may have been a Chrsitianized Indian using European white magic at the instruction of her English neighbors and married.)

Tituba led a wild dancing rite in the woods which Rev. Parris stumbled upon. (There’s no historical evidence of this, though she did bake a strange cake after the girls were afflicted {but at a neighbor’s suggestion} which led to her to being charged with witchcraft. She also dabbled in fortune telling and other non-Puritan activities.)

John Proctor:

John Proctor cheated on his wife Elizabeth with Abigail Williams. Not only, that he and his wife also tried to stop the witch craze that wreaked Salem, Massachusetts. (Actually, he was good to his wife, and even if he wasn’t he wouldn’t go for Abigail Williams who was 11 at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. As for the Proctors’ fate, he was hanged way before the Salem witch craze ended and Elizabeth only escaped because she was pregnant. She was released when the craze ended. Also, contrary to what the movies say, some of the witches hung at Salem were men, not women.)

John Proctor was accused of witchcraft for ditching Abigail Williams. (They never had an affair nor is there evidence Abigail knew the Proctors. Still, he was more of a victim of town rivalries than a scorned lover. Also, while Abigail was his chief accuser it was over him and his wife sending specters to torment them {as well as defending his wife}. Not to mention, Elizabeth’s grandmother was a Quaker midwife also suspected of witchcraft. His former servant Mary Warren {who had second thoughts before being accused herself for defending the Proctors} and Mary Walcott also accused him.)

John Proctor was hanged after Giles Corey was pressed. (He was hanged before.)

John and Elizabeth Proctor were a couple in their thirties with two young sons. (He was 60 while she was 41 {though she was pregnant during the trial}, and she was his third wife. They also had about five living children at the time with the oldest being seventeen. John had a 33 year old son living with him from his first marriage as well as three others from his second {one of whom was married at the time}. In the movie The Crucible, John is played by Daniel Day Lewis who was a rather young man.)

John Proctor was a farmer. (He was a successful farmer and a tavern keeper whose interests were diametrically opposed to the old established elite of Salem Village. Also, he lived between Salem Village and Salem Town.)

John Proctor confessed to being a witch during his trial. (He maintained his innocence throughout. Yet, another accused man whose wife was also accused did recant. His name was Samuel Wardwell of Andover.)

John Proctor didn’t believe in witchcraft. (We’re not sure if he did or not. He just didn’t believe in the afflicted girls and thought they should’ve been suspected of witchcraft themselves instead of pointing fingers at respectable people like his wife.)

John and Elizabeth Proctor were the only people in their family accused of witchcraft. (Their two oldest children were accused as well along with John’s oldest son Benjamin from his first marriage, and John’s daughter Elizabeth Very from his second marriage. Elizabeth’s sister, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law were also among the accused.)

John Proctor was thin and rather attractive. (He was a large and aging man seen as a good businessman, fearless, bold, and impulsive. Yet, he’s played by Daniel Day Lewis in the 1996 film The Crucible. If he wanted to resemble the real man at the time, he’d have to age 30 years and gain 50 pounds.)

Giles Corey:

Giles Corey was executed for refusing to name a witness. (He was accused of witchcraft and refused to enter a plea which held up the proceedings {since the law required it}. Also, he wasn’t as much executed as tortured to death by being pressed by stones in order to try to force him to enter a plea so the trial could proceed. Still, he probably figured out he was going to be executed if he was tried at all so he didn’t enter a plea to protect his kids from being disinherited {despite deeding the property to most of his children anyway}.)

The Putnam Family:

Ann Putnam’s daughter was Ruth and was the only child to survive infancy from the family. (It was also Ann. Arthur Miller changed it to Ruth to avoid confusion despite that the mother was referred to as “Ann Putnam Senior” while the daughter was known as “Ann Putnam Junior.” Also, the Putnams had 6 living children by 1692 with Ann Jr. being the oldest while Ann Sr. was pregnant at the time. However, Ann Sr. and her sister lost a fair number of kids in comparison while the Nurse family lost remarkably few. Still, Mr. and Mrs. Putnam would eventually have 10 children who’d survive them.)

Ann Putnam Jr. was the first afflicted with a sleep they couldn’t wake from. (Abigail Williams and Betty Parris were the first two girls who became afflicted. But their afflictions consisted of violent physical fits.)

Colonial Pennsylvania:

Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity while he was flying his kite during a thunderstorm. (Benjamin Franklin didn’t discover electricity but he did discover that electricity came from lightning and he wasn’t the only one to determine that. As for his kite flying in a storm, we’re not sure if that even happened. Or whether he flew it or made his son William fly the kite instead. If he flew it himself, it’s highly unlikely that the visible lightning struck the key or else Franklin would’ve gotten killed {though it doesn’t stop cartoons showing him getting electrocuted this way}. Though to be fair, it wasn’t uncommon for 18th century scientists to conduct life-threatening experiments like this. How Franklin made his discovery was observing the kite strings repelling each other and deduced that the Leyden jar attached to them was being charged.Thus, he determined that the lightning had negatively charged the key and the Leyden jar. However, this is based on legend as well as notes from an experiment that Franklin proposed in 1752 though it’s very plausible he would’ve done this. We just don’t have a verified record on whether he did or not. And we know that similar experiments were conducted in France and Russia with the latter case resulting in a fatality.)

Ben Franklin was a middle aged bachelor. (He had a common-law wife and three kids, one of whom became a Loyalist. But since Ben and Me perpetuated the kite myth, I list this as well. Hell, he may have had his son William fly the kite in the storm.)

William Penn was a saint. (Sure he was a Quaker who tried to co-exist with the Indians. Yet, he actually managed to piss off the settlers in what is now Delaware that they created the colony which bore the name of the future state. Pennsylvania wasn’t just a haven for religious freedom but also a profitable venture for himself and his family who managed to run it into Revolutionary times. Oh, and he called the Catholic Church “the Whore of Babylon” and Puritans as “hypocrites and revelers of God.” Not to mention, he prohibited swearing, lying, gambling, masks, theater, and drunkenness in his colony as well as grew more Puritanical later in life.)

Colonial Life:

Young courting men were sewn into bundling bags while the parents usually slept in a different room as the youngsters. (It was usually the girl who was sewn into the chastity straightjacket and the parents slept in the same room as the courting youngsters. Yet, even having parents sleep in the same room as you didn’t always kill the mood since as many as 1/3 of colonial brides were pregnant at the altar.)

Young unmarried people kissed in public in the 18th century. (They didn’t.)

English colonists lived in log cabins. (It was introduced by Swedish immigrants in the 1770s. Most English colonists lived in frame houses.)

The blunderbuss was a colonist’s weapon of choice. (They usually used matchlock and flintlock muskets.)

Most men wore wigs in Colonial America. (Wigs were very expensive and not many could afford one. Also, many aristocratic men preferred to arrange their own hair and powered. Still, only 5% of colonists wore wigs.)

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 27 – The British Scramble for Africa

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The 1964 movie Zulu which pertains to the Battle of Rorke’s Drift in which the exhausted British forces manage to defeat a large Zulu force. Also, this was a big movie for Sir Michael Caine pictured here as Lt. Bromhead. Nevertheless, this features British soldiers fighting in their dress uniforms and severely lacking the Chester A. Arthur whiskers characteristic of 1879. Not to mention, it even slanders a Victoria’s Cross recipient. Oh, and the battle was fought from late afternoon until dawn.

When it comes to movies based in the British Empire, Africa is always one of the more popular locations for some reason. Be it maybe that it’s continent of hostile tribes and creatures, a place of many famous wars, or what have you. Yet, for some reason whenever you see movies on the Scramble for Africa, they will usually feature the British Empire as the entity the white male protagonist is working for (unless he’s an archaeologist). Nevertheless, you have the explorations with men like Sir Richard Burton, Dr. David Livingstone, and others braving hostile natives, Arabs, and jungle to find the source of the Nile. You have the Anglo-Zulu Wars in Southern Africa with British forces going against hostile African tribes wielding spears. Then you have The River War in which the British faced a Islamic fundamentalist leader named the Mahdi who may have saw himself as an Islamic Messiah or Tecumseh. General “Chinese” Charles Gordon is featured in this war as well since he tried to protect Khartoum from falling into Mahdist hands only to die and be immortalized for the British public for generations. Then you have the Boer Wars where the British were fighting against the Dutch settlers in South Africa. Still, when you watch movies relating to the British Scramble for Africa, you may find yourself cheering for the British Imperialists even though they weren’t necessarily the good guys. Also, expect the white man’s burden and other unfortunate implications to turn up as well. Nevertheless, I shall list the historical inaccuracies many of these British Empire movies in Africa tend to make.

Exploration:

Sir Richard Burton published a translation of The Perfumed Garden in the mid-1850s. (It wasn’t published until 1886.)

By the 1850s, Sir Richard Burton spoke 23 languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, and Chinese. (He spoke fewer languages in the 1850s but he definitely spoke Arabic at that point since he was really into Islamic culture. However, he never mastered Chinese and learned Hebrew much later in life.)

Larry Oliphant was gay. (He was straight. The filmmakers in The Mountains of the Moon were trying to make Speke’s betrayal of Burton more dramatic after all they’ve been through. Still, Oliphant was on Burton’s side the whole time and while he did manipulate Speke to gain publishing rights on his claim, he eventually realized his errors. And Speke didn’t really betray him inasmuch as “bruised his ego.” Burton didn’t like being upstaged and tried to make Speke’s discovery of Lake Victoria much less notable than it really was as well as attacked his character. Also, Burton had a habit of making enemies in high places since he was a Victorian non-conformist.)

Henry Stanley was English since he was born at St. Asaph. (St. Asaph is in Wales. Also, he was born John Rowlands.)

Dr. David Livingstone was an honorable man to the very end. (His private diaries tell a very different story. Also, he probably wasn’t altogether there when he met Henry Stanley. Also, Stanley wasn’t what you’d call a Boy Scout.)

John Speke was gay and in love with Sir Richard Burton. (There’s no evidence he was one way or the other or even in love with Burton. Speke is said to harbor a deep resentment toward Burton and was willing to hide it until they returned to London. There, he beat Burton to the report of the Royal Geographic Society and claim success as his own.)

John Speke had light hair and was clean shaven. (Photographs depict him with dark hair and a beard.)

John Hanning Speke committed suicide. (An inquest into his death concluded he died in a hunting accident and he had a fatal wound just below the armpit. Nevertheless, even a Victorian gentleman like Speke who had so many years of meticulous gun handling could die of a an accidental gunshot wound. Gun owners know that accidental discharges happen all the time.)

Sir Richard Francis Burton was a believer in racial equality.  (Burton was no less racist than his contemporaries and enjoyed living and studying with other cultures as well as wrote numerous travel books. He also knew 29 languages, some of which he mastered so well to pass as native. Speke, on the other hand, thought living among Africans was repugnant and referred to them as creatures and savages.)

John Speke met Sir Richard Burton in Zanzibar. (They met at Aden in Yemen.)

Sir Richard Burton went into Harrar with John Speke. (Speke wasn’t with him in Harrar.)

Anglo-Zulu War:

Color Sergeant Bourne was a towering middle-aged man. (He was a slight build and 24 years old as well as the youngest Color Sergeant in the British Empire. His nickname was “The Kid.” At least he had some decent Victorian whiskers in Zulu.)

The Battle at Rorke’s Drift was fought in broad daylight. (It began in the afternoon and went throughout the night.)

Most of the 24th Regiment of Foot B Company were clean shaven. (From the Guardian: “photographs of the real veterans of Rorke’s Drift look like candidates for Britain’s Best Walrus Impersonator 1879. (Winner: Lieutenant Chard; Mr Congeniality: Lieutenant Bromhead.)” Yeah, but I don’t think Michael Caine would look good in a pair of mutton chops. Besides, the walrus mustaches may have made it very less likely to take Zulu seriously.)

Private Henry Hook was a shambling boozehound, dirty coward, and a trouble until his moment in battle when he had a sudden burst of courage that he was bayoneting and shooting Zulu warriors all over the place. (He was a churchgoing teetotaler with an exemplary record who earned a Victoria’s Cross for saving a at least a dozen patients in a hospital. Hook’s daughter was so offended by her father’s portrayal in the film that she walked out of Zulu’s premiere. Also, he received a distinctive scar due to his encounter with a Zulu assegai knocking off his pith helmet while he was defending a hospital. And he doesn’t wear a pith helmet in the movie.)

The last shot at the battle at Rorke’s Drift was fired at first light with another wave of Zulu turning up. (The last shot of the battle was fired at 4 a.m.)

The 24th Regiment of Foot consisted of Welshmen in 1879 and their song was “Men of Harlech.” (It would become affiliated with Wales in 1881. The 1879 24th Regiment was affiliated with Warwickshire and most of the men at Rorke’s Drift were English, Welsh, and Irish. Oh, and their song was “The Warwickshire Lads.”)

Gonville Bromhead and John Chard received their commissions in 1872. (They had already received them by that year. Chard had held his commission three years and three months longer than Bromhead.)

Bromhead was a fresh young lieutenant. (Both him and Chard were old for their rank who’ve been repeatedly passed over for a promotion as unlikely to amount to much. He’s also said to either be partially deaf or suffering from PTSD. However, Bromhead would later end his career as a major while Chard’s would end up a colonel.)

Zulu chief Cetshwayo sent his impi to attack Rorke’s Drift. (He actually ordered his impi to leave the installation alone for good reason. However, it was his half-brother Dabulamanzi who ordered the attack thinking he would get a quick victory that would impress the king. He also commanded the uThulwana and led the Zulu forces in the attack. Of course, you can figure out where that was headed.)

Gonville Bromhead was a sharp steely soldier. (One of his fellow officers described him as, “a capital fellow at everything except soldiering.” He’s said not to be very bright and may have been assigned to Rorke’s Drift because of his supposed partial deafness {which might’ve been a misinterpretation of PTSD} was thought to limit his ability to command {with his superiors thinking he wouldn’t see any action}. He probably wasn’t a pansy aristocrat turned hardened soldier after his first battle like the Michael Caine portrayal but he was very well-liked.)

John Chard was the epitome of British manhood. (He was widely considered lazy and useless.)

Reverend Otto Witt instigated the Natal soldiers to desert their post by warning them of the Zulu approach. (The native Natal soldiers did desert their post {leaving at their own accord} but not at the Witts’ instigation. He didn’t warn them of the Zulu approach either but he was one of the lookouts who initially saw them arrive. However, the Natal Native Contingent deserters were fired at as they left and one of their NCOs was killed. Their captain would later be convicted at a court-martial for desertion and dismissed from the British Army.)

Soldiers of the Natal Native Contingent were issued European style uniforms. (They weren’t.)

Reverent Otto Witt was a pacifist old missionary with a daughter. (He was a much younger and married man with two kids. Also, he wasn’t a pacifist since he helped the British at Rorke’s Drift in any way he could as well as defended the interests of white colonists. However, he did leave before the battle but only because he wanted to protect his family.)

Zulu warriors saluted the British officers at the hill after the battle. (They did appear on the hill the following morning but just observed in silence for some time before leaving again since they were just as exhausted as the Brits, hungry, and low on ammunition. Oh, and there were British reinforcements coming so they didn’t have time to salute any British soldiers. Still, any remaining Zulu who were wounded and left behind were rounded up and executed. )

Private Hitch was shot through the thigh by a Zulu sniper. (He was shot through the shoulder in which the bullet shattered his shoulder blade. There’s even a photo of him with his arm in a sling and there are paintings of the 1879 battle depicted in Zulu in which he has his arm held still by a belt. He would later become a London cab driver.)

C Company was stationed at Rorke’s Drift. (It was B Company of the 24th Regiment of Foot.)

Corporal Schiess was a member of the Mounted Police. (He was a member of the Natal Native Contingent. Also, he was 22 years old.)

The 17th Lancers were stationed in South Africa during the Battle of Isandlwana. (They were only sent after the battle with the 1st Dragoons.)

Surgeon John Henry Reynolds was a “Surgeon-Major, Army Hospital Corps” during the battle of Rorke’s Drift. (He was promoted to this rank after the battle.)

The detachment of cavalry from “Durnford’s Horse” consisted of white settler farmers who rode up to the mission station to their deaths in the Battle of Isandlwana.(They actually survived the battle and consisted of black riders sent to Rorke’s Drift to warn the garrison there. They were present in the opening action with the Zulus but rode off due to lack of ammunition. Also, they weren’t lead by Captain Stephenson who was head of the infantry Natal Native Contingent.)

Corporal William Allen was a model soldier. (He had been recently demoted from sergeant following the battle of Rorke’s Drift. Oh, and he was 35 years old at the time.)

Gonville Bromhead was blond. (His 1872 picture makes him a dark haired Chester A. Arthur look-alike. However, he’s played by Michael Caine who has a significantly lighter hair color.)

The Mahdist War:

General Charles George Gordon was a fallen hero to British presence and a great military leader against the Mahdi in Khartoum. (Yes, he was a great general, but he was also an Evangelical Christian who had some whacked out views about cosmology but set up a boys camp as well as visited the sick and the old, was a robust 5’ 5” feet all, and never married. Other than that, most of what is said about his character is speculative. Also, though he and the Mahdi corresponded, they never met {though the Mahdi’s grandson really thought they should’ve so it was left in Khartoum}.)

General George Gordon and the Mahdi were killed around the same time. (Yes, Gordon was killed in battle. However the Mahdi died several months later probably attributed to typhus.)

The battle at Abu Klea was a British defeat. (It was a British victory.)

The Mahdi’s spectacular jihad was just out of plain religious fanaticism. (Not really. Actually it was related to the Egyptian penetration into the Sudan in the 1820s, the Suez Canal, modernization, and other factors associated with imperialism. It’s a long complicated history, but imperialism was more or less was what the Mahdi was rebelling against.)

The Mahdi presented Colonel Stewart’s hand to General Gordon. (This didn’t happen because they never personally met in real life. Also, though the Mahdi’s men did murder Colonel Stewart and Frank Power, but the Mahdi only received the former’s head as a trophy. Also, he only told Gordon to get out of Sudan so further bloodshed would be avoided by writing a polite letter to him. Of course, you couldn’t have a polite letter exchange in Khartoum.)

General Charles Gordon came out facing the Mahdists storming Khartoum calmly and with dignity before getting killed with a spear. After that, his head is brought back on a stick for the Mahdi who was displeased. (He actually came out shooting and ran out of ammo on the staircase {like in a Tarantino movie if you get my drift}. Also, he was killed by a gunshot to the chest, not a spear. And he was killed for being mistaken as a Turk out of all things. Oh, and the Mahdi specifically ordered that General Gordon shouldn’t be killed.)

The famous charge of the 21st Lancers during the Battle of Omdurman happened the day after the main battle. (Both main battle and charge occurred around the same day.)

British soldiers in the Omdurman campaign of 1898 wore scarlet jackets. (They wore khaki uniforms while the cavalry wore blue jackets.)

The Royal Suffolk Regiment served and Egypt and was a relief force to rescue General Gordon. (There was never a Royal Suffolk Regiment. Yet, there was a Suffolk Regiment but they took part in neither. Actually during this period, the First Battalion was posted in India and the Second Battalion was in various locations.)

The two-day relief force for General Gordon managed to recapture Khartoum in 1885. (They discovered that the city was already taken and the Mahdist forces were strong so they were forced to retreat, leaving Sudan to the Mahdi. The British would recapture Khartoum 13 years later in 1898.)

Other:

The Tsavo maneating lions killed for sport. (No predator does this except humans. Also, Lieutenant Colonel Patterson doesn’t mention this and he killed the two lions over a nonhuman bait. He even says their killing pattern was consistent with normal lion hunting patterns.Still, Patterson states that he had a leopard kill 30 of his sheep and goats in one night. Still, for the Tsavo lions to kill and eat people, they must have been in a desperate situation {one was said to have a severe dental disease which would’ve made him a poor hunter} since most big cats usually kill to survive.)

The lions at Tsavo, Kenya killed 135 people. (They more likely ate 35, but we’re not sure how many were killed and not eaten. Still, there were 135 African and Indian workers employed at the construction of the Ugandan railway.)

Both maneating lions at Tsavo had large manes. (The maneating lions at Tsavo were male but they didn’t have manes {they’re actually taxidermied and put on display and at the Field Museum of Natural History at Chicago}. Also, male Tsavo lions either have minimal manes or none at all and Tsavo lions generally are far more aggressive and unpredictable than lions you normally see. Not to mention, animal handlers hate the idea of shaving a lion’s mane. Still, I don’t understand why the makers of The Ghost and the Darkness didn’t consider using lionesses as Tsavo lion stand-ins. I mean they had a male dog play Lassie for God’s sake.)

Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson killed the lions with the aid of an American ex-Confederate soldier Charles Remington. (Charles Remington never existed and there was no professional hunter ever present at Tsavo or anyone like the Michael Douglas character {who was in there because they didn’t want it to look like a pure ego project on Val Kilmer’s part. Also, Douglas helped produce the film}. Nevertheless, Patterson had to kill the maneating lions all on his own but he was a lot more badass than his Val Kilmer portrayal.)

One of the Tsavo lions escaped a trap surrounded by three Indian railroad guards firing that failed to kill him. (This happened except it involved ten guys firing it {which included Mombasa police} and the one bullet that came close to the target broke the cage’s lock, letting the lion escape.)

The Tsavo Bridge was a truss. (It was a plate girder type.)

Karen Blixen caught syphilis from her philandering husband Bror. (Yes, Bror cheated on her but there’s some doubt he might’ve been the cause. Oh, and she hadn’t miraculously recovered when she took up with Denys Finch-Hatton as seen in Out of Africa.)

Sir Henry “Jock” Delves Broughton shot himself dead in the Happy Valley region of Kenya via shotgun shortly after he acquitted for killing his wife’s lover in 1941 while Alice de Janze died of an overdose. (He died a year later in England of a morphine overdose which he had been taking for a back injury, it was ruled a suicide. Still, he was no longer accepted among the Happy Valley society and it’s very likely he killed his wife’s lover {though the case remains unsolved}. Alice de Janze shot herself that September {who’s also suspected}. Interestingly, Kenya’s Happy Valley consisted of a group of colonial ex-patriate British and Anglo-Irish aristocrats during inter-war period in the Wanjohi Valley, notorious for their decadent, hedonistic, eccentric, and scandalous lifestyles which seem straight out of an Agatha Christie novel. )

Karen Blixen thought it was baseless prejudice when she was asked whether she sided with the Germans during World War I. (Well, she may have thought this but she was an old friend of legendary German General Paul Von Lettow-Vorbeck {who’s not in Out of Africa unfortunately} as well as offered to send horses for his cavalry and carried his signed photo with her. So I don’t think Karen’s friend was being biased here when she asked her whether she was rooting for the Kaiser.)

Karen Blixen once fought attacking lions with a bull whip while on the Savannah. (Most of her biographers believe she just made this up.)

When Karen Blixen lost her land, she plead with the British governor on her knees at a garden party for the rights of the Kikuyu people to live on her farm. (British governor Sir Joseph Byrne probably did grant territory to the Kikuyu people as a favor to Karen but there’s no record that she begged him on her knees at a garden party.)