Cold Cold Mountain, North Carolina. Inspired by love,

Cold Mountain, (2003) directed by Anthony
Minghella, is adapted from Charles Frazier’s novel of the same name. Cold
Mountain portrays the story of two
separated lovers during the American Civil War.

Jude Law plays 
W.P. Inman,  a smitten blue collar man sent to fight as a confederate
soldier during the Civil War. After being seriously injured, Inman deserts the
Confederation  and starts on a journey to
return to his home in Cold Mountain, North Carolina. Inspired by love, he
endures a hundred mile trek to return back to and to his dear, Ada Monroe
(Nicole Kidman), a southern belle from Charleston, South Carolina. Inman is
also on the run from the Confederate Home Guard, a callous militia who hunt
down and kill deserters. The movie
is a recollection between present time of 1865 and the past of 1850.  The flashbacks are of Ada’s letters to Inman recounting
life in Cold Mountain during the war. In the end, the pair is reunited and
conceive a child who is born to Ada after Inman is killed by the Home Guard.

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Shockingly, The
story of Inman, Ada, and Cold Mountain was more fact than fiction. Records
found in the National Archives of the
Civil War provides proof that Private William  Inman was a real person. When writing the
book, author Charles Frazier worked with a volunteer for the War Department
Collection of Confederate Records and discovered Inman’s file. From this
information, he was able to learn personal details like his age, height, date
of enlistment, service record, and date of desertion.  Military records show Inman was born around
1840 in Haywood County, NC.

 Additionally, characters  Esco and Sally Swanger were based on the real
people,  but of different names; John and
Margaret Steven Swanger. There was no proof of Sally’s superstitions of looking
down wells to see into the future, but it made for good Hollywood footage and a
look into the uncertainties of the 1860s. John and Margaret had fourteen
children together – six girls, and five boys.  Although the movie portrays John staying home
during the war, John and two of his sons actually died during battle.

The movie
highlights the life of W.P. Inman, but does not dive deeper into the lives of
his two brothers Joshua and Lewis that served by his side in Company F, 25th
of North Carolina. Unlike the movie, records show that William and Lewis both deserted
their company on September 5, 1862 and returned just two months later. They
were absolved of this offense once the brothers swore under oath and signed
their allegiance to the Confederation. Like in the movie, Private Inman was ultimately
 killed by the Home Guard in 1864.

While William
Inman is real, Ada Monroe is fictional. In reality,  Inman’s wife was named Margaret Henson. Not
much information was found on Margret (Ada), but A Genealogy report  by Alvin Swonger explains she did conceive a
daughter with Inman before his death. Her name was Willie Ida, and not Grace as
told in the movie. Although her name in the movie was inaccurate, Nicole Kidman’s
character  portrayed the women of this
period  honestly. Women were left at home
to do the manual labor of the lands, while men were off fighting the war. In
the beginning, Ada struggled to keep crops plentiful during harsh winters but
found strength within ( and from others women) to grow an abundance of food to

In the movie, the
woman she leans on the most for support is Ruby Thewes. Opposites  don’t always attract, but they typically make
for a good movie. While Ada Monroe was a sweet, delicate, southern belle, Ruby was
ill mannered, and fiercely independent. In the movie, Ruby approached Ada for a
place to stay, in exchange for teaching Ada how to farm and plow. In the beginning,
the two butted heads and scowled at their differences. As time passed, the two
women found comfort in their companionship and grew closer. Ruby was present in
both the book and the movie, but ultimately there is no factual or historical
evidence she ever existed.

The Confederate
Home Guard was a very real group. During the Civil war, there were many Home
Guards, mostly in rural areas. They worked 
in coordination with the Confederate Army, but were not monitored or
forced to follow regulation. They were modern day bounty hunters, tasked to
defend the Confederacy, and arrest deserters.  The horrific actions in the film seem a little
too gruesome to be real. However, the level of brutality was likely to occur. Many
of the Home Guard groups used their authority to corrupt the families of
deserters. They forced them to pay  the
group in exchange of “calling off” of the malicious man hunts. Those who were
unable to afford the requests of the Home Guard were tortured and  the deserters were tracked down and murdered.

The battle in the first
scene of the movie is the Battle of the Crater, which is part of the Siege of
Petersburg. This event historically took place. Under General Ambrose Burnside,
The Union army dug a tunnel under the Confederate lines at Petersburg. The mine
was detonated with about 4 tons of gunpowder, creating a huge crater. General
Burnside’s plan was to eliminate the Confederate threat , but the plan horribly
backfired when the Union army ran into the
crater, instead of surrounding it. With no way of escape, they became trapped
and pulverized while the Confederates slaughtered them defenselessly. Many
historian movie critics like Gary Gallagher argue this one of the best Civil War
battle scenes ever portrayed on film.

Cold Mountain is a
real place just southwest of Ashville in the Western North Carolina mountains. However,
most of the movie was not filmed there. Instead, the director shot the majority
of the film in rural Romania. In Romania, the roads were left unpaved, the
rolling mountains were often filled with snow, and there was not much sign of
modern life. Some scenes throughout Inman’s journey are just a short travel
away-in Virginia, and South Carolina.

The Confederacy is
often seen as the “enemy” of the Civil War due to its stance on slavery.  The film “Cold Mountain”, is named after a
town in the heart of the south, but the name stands for so much more. The cold
era of history, and an area with families that was deeply affected by the
gruesome side of war. Cold Mountain not only told a devoted love story of two
young people living life apart, but it provided a genuine look into the side of
the Civil War through the eyes of the South. Both the Union and the
Confederation fought for their lives. Right, wrong, or indifferent, this film
provides a sympathetic view of the immense struggles soldiers and their
families face during war.


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