16 March 2006
I came upon this picture of T.J. Goree on the Park Service Virtual Tour of Gettysburg the other day. I don’t know why, but I hadn’t noticed his face before. He’s one of “my guys” (a participant on the 1862 Maryland Campaign), you know.
I mean to provide at least a quick biographical sketch of all the officers in command of regiments or larger units at Sharpsburg (now expanding to cover the larger Campaign) on AotW. By now we’ve got at least a listing for nearly all of them; about 1,000 men. I’ve recently been “recruiting” from other groups, notably officers mentioned in reports and dispatches, and those in staff jobs on the campaign.
Lieutenant Goree was one of the latter: an aide-de-camp to MGen Longstreet. His photo was the trigger to do some reading and learn a little about him for the site. I updated AotW with a brief bio on him today.
His picture was a bit of a shock as I first saw it, though. I had a different face in my mind. I realized later that this was because of the way Goree was portrayed in The Movie:
Longstreet/Beringer: How are you, T.J.?
Goree/Kane: I’m tolerable, sir. … they (Yankees) aren’t coming.
L: Too bad.
G: Yes, sir … General? I’ll tell you plain. There are times when you worry me …
It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie. It’s not real. It’s only a movie.
This brings me to the point, at last. For most of the years I’ve been reading about the War, visting the fields, listening to the experts, I’ve felt the participants were cardboard cutouts. At best they were stock characters with broad features (the fierce Jackson, dashing Stuart, timid McClellan), at worst, just names on lists. Most of them figures on-high, too, rarely the men on the ground. Somewhat unsatisfying.
I think this is why I focus now on the people of 1862. I’m fascinated with their faces – trying to glimpse something of them as they were – and with learning a little about their lives. I can’t claim any deep knowledge, and this certainly is not exhaustive research, but I get a little closer to some of these men and that cataclysmic War every day.
Meet Lieutenant TJ Goree, soldier of Sharpsburg.