By Jim Sullivan
---- — Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill is coming to the North Shore, and it isn’t the first time.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of the film “Gettysburg,” noted Civil War historian Patrick Falci will give a presentation for the Civil War Roundtable of the Merrimack in Salisbury on Wednesday.
Falci, who portrays Hill in the 1993 film, spent five years prior to the production working as a historical adviser to director Ronald Maxwell.
“If you want to hear about plenty of stories about the making of the movie, there are plenty of stories about colorful personalities such as Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels and Sam Elliott,” Falci said. “A lot of things came about. If you love the history of the Civil War, come see the presentation. If you’re interested in how a movie is made and if you want to hear entertaining stories about the business, come on down, it’s a presentation for everybody.”
Three years ago, Falci paid his first visit to the Civil War Roundtable to give his Hill presentation.
“I guess they liked it so much that they asked me to come back,” Falci said. “I’m in uniform, and I call it historical entertainment. When I do my presentation on Gen. Hill, I also become a cast of thousands.”
This time around, Falci will focus on the making of the film, which was based on the book “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara. He will talk about the process of turning the book into a screenplay, show a slide program on the movie and even re-enact some of the scenes.
Roundtable board member and webmaster Bill Hallett couldn’t be happier to welcome Falci back.
“He is very personable,” Hallett said. “He is very approachable. People can come up and talk to him; he will sign autographs at the meeting.”
Hallett has been with the Civil War Roundtable for the past six years, and his wife, Elizabeth, was a charter member in 1995.
Describing it as a “book club for all ages,” Hallett said the group draws around 25-30 Civil War aficionados to its presentations at the East Parish United Methodist Church on the second Wednesday of every month. Past speakers have included former National Park Service historian Ed Bearss, retired Annapolis Naval Academy historian Craig Symonds and National Civil War Museum curator Wayne Motts.
There has been a renewed interest in the Battle of Gettysburg since Ken Burns’ documentary “The Civil War” came out in 1990, Hallett said.
“The movie ‘Gettysburg’ came out in 1993, and, I think, with that came (another) wave of interest,” he said. “This is a good year for us this year because it is the 20th anniversary of the movie and is the 150th anniversary of the battle.
“So it is kind of a double anniversary.”
Hallett said his first trip to Gettysburg changed him in more ways than he could know at the time.
“I think what really had captured me was as an adult at the age of 20, I took a trip to Gettysburg and I was just walking around with my jaw open,” Hallett said. “It’s just such a vast area in such an amazing place. When you’re there, it’s very easy to be engulfed by the whole scenario.”
A lab technician in Georgetown, Hallett is the author of “Newburyport and the Civil War.” He and his wife also conduct the Footsteps of Heroes walking tours of Newburyport Civil War-related sites.
If you go
What: Patrick Falci on “The 20th Anniversary of the Movie ‘Gettysburg’ and the Making of the Film.”
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Civil War Roundtable of the Merrimack meeting, East Parish United Methodist Church, 8 Lafayette Road, Route 1, Salisbury
More information: 978-462-8518 or www.cwrtm.org