‘A great place to make a movie’|[10/12/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 12, 2007

A film crew rolled into Vicksburg Wednesday to shoot scenes for a film that might make it to the big screen.

At least three Vicksburg sites will set the scene for “Lost River,” a biography of Anna Carroll, one of America’s unsung women heroes, credited with planning military strategies to help Union forces defeat the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Re-enactors — many from the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Monroe — joined locals dressed in period costume gathered in an area along Warriors Trail Road Thursday to shoot one of the scenes for the film, set to be released spring 2008, director Jason Urban of Lost River Productions said.

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It is Urban’s first large-scale feature and fourth film. He is directing the film with assistant director Greer Flax.

The scene, which captures the Big Black River railroad bridge in the background, dramatizes the Battle of Rappahannock, fought in Virginia in 1862.

“It was one of the worst disasters in military history,” screenplay author and producer Bruce Bridegroom said. “The Union lost 12,000 men in half an hour.”

Carroll’s story is compelling and two years of planning have preceded the camera work, Bridegroom said.

“I thought it was a good story that nobody knew about and thought it would make a good movie,” Bridegroom said. Even though his subject was from Maryland, Bridegroom said “Lost River,” which has scenes depicting Virginia, Maryland and St. Louis, was a perfect fit for Vicksburg.

“The Battle of Vicksburg was the culmination of her plan — to get rid of the Mississippi River forts,” he said. “Vicksburg was the last to fall. We figured as long as we’re in this area, we can find other stuff.”

To set the scene of Carroll’s family plantation, the crew shot a scene at Rosswood Plantation in Lorman. To depict St. Louis in 1861, producers shot scenes at Natchez Under the Hill.

“St. Louis in 1861 doesn’t exist anymore, so we used (that),” Bridegroom said.

The Old Court House Museum was the scene for filming Wednesday. The writer said the city “is a great place to make a movie. It’s so pretty and not built up and developed,” he said. “We looked around Virginia, but everything was built up. It was not accommodating.”

The film will follow Carroll’s life until her death in 1893. That scene will be shot at the cemetery for St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Bovina.

“It’s a beautiful place — and it looks period,” Bridegroom said.

Abraham Lincoln, elected president in 1860, will be one of the characters in the film. According to history, Carroll celebrated Lincoln’s election by freeing her slaves, which numbered close to 100. Known as a nationalist opposed to secession of the Southern states, she used her writing as a tool for shaping policy in her home state. One of her writings was a pamphlet on Lincoln’s presidential powers, which landed her an unofficial spot in his Cabinet. In 1861, Carroll went to St. Louis to visit relatives and noticed how the Tennessee River, unlike the Mississippi, was not well fortified, Bridegroom said.

“She realized the military significance of this and telegraphed her plan to Washington,” Bridegroom said. “The Tennessee River is the ‘lost river,’ and so is her life. Lincoln followed her plan using Grant as the general.”

With her plan, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who will also be portrayed in the movie, was able to take Fort Henry, Fort Donaldson and all of the forts along the Mississippi. But, when it came time to credit the person responsible for developing the plan that ultimately led to the defeat of the Confederacy, no one would step up to say it was, indeed, Carroll, Bridegroom said.

“They couldn’t give her credit during the war because she was a civilian and she was a woman,” he said. “After the war, Lincoln died (and) she was forgotten about. In 1876, there was a Senate hearing to make her an honorary general. They never granted it, but they never denied it.”

Bridegroom hopes the movie will help give Carroll the credit she is due.

“She’s as important as any American woman in the 19th century. I can’t think of any woman more important than Anna Carroll,” he said.