The Civil War, America's bloodiest conflict, claimed more than 750,000 lives. The widows and orphans of the men killed in battle were hard put to survive the poverty and suffering caused by the absence of a father figure in the home. This is the setting for the film “Civil Love,” a tale about the heartbreak in a family when a husband and father is killed in the Civil war
Confederate Flag - Wikimedia
Rachel Taylor (Elise Groves) lost her husband Benjamin, a Union soldier, when he was killed one year ago. She and her son and daughter, Joshua and Abigail, are staying in the farmhouse which Benjamin had built for them in happier times. They make do because Rachel is a skilled seamstress and makes dresses for more well-to-do women in the city. Her daughter Abigail is a tomboy who prefers wearing pants; Rachel cannot convince her to wear a dress which Rachel will fashion for her from a beautiful piece of material she has just purchased.
Jonathan Proposes to Rachel
Rachel’s brother-in-law, Jonathan (Matthew Bellows), is the sheriff in town, and stops in often to make sure his brother’s widow and children are well taken care of. He has feelings for Rachel and has asked her to consider coming to his house in town so that he can take care of her and the children. He is plainly asking Rachel to marry him, but Rachel believes that Jonathan deserves a wife who would marry him out of love, and she does not feel that love for Jonathan.
Civil War Battle Scene - Portrait by William B. T. Trego - Wikimedia
Confederate Soldier in the Barn
An outdoor scene shows an escaped Confederate soldier running from a marshal and his deputy. The marshal manages to put a bullet in the soldier’s side which incapacitates him although he continues to evade the officers. He finally finds shelter in the barn next to Rachel’s farmhouse where he collapses and sleeps on the hay. When he wakes up, he finds that he must remove a bullet from his side, a gory sight for the viewer.
The next morning, Rachel reminds the children that they must feed the horses before going off to school. Joshua and Abigail enter the barn where the soldier is sleeping; they run back to tell their mother what they have found. Rachel goes back to the barn with her shotgun and ties the man’s hands together so that he cannot prove to be a menace to them.
When the soldier finally awakens, Rachel can see that he has been bleeding; she washes and bandages his wound, and bring him some food to eat. Still mourning the death of her husband on the battlefield, she is unable to sympathize with the Confederate soldier in her barn.
Two Thieves Follow Rachel Home
When Rachel goes to town to bring a finished dress to a customer, she hears that the authorities are looking for an escapee, and citizens are warned to be on the lookout for the wanted man. Two men witness Rachel’s customer paying her for the dress. They follow her secretly to the farm with the intention of taking her hard-earned money. When they enter the kitchen noisily, the soldier hears the scuffle, and comes into the house and bashes one of the men over the head with a shovel. The other man tries to run off, but Rachel is able to tie them together to wait for the sheriff to come. The robbers are safely deposited outside the farmhouse.
General Robert E. Lee's Surrender at Appomattox - Wikimedia
Rachel and Daniel Become Friends
Rachel is grateful for the soldier’s help and allows him to sleep on the kitchen floor rather than sending him back to the barn. She gathers some of her dead husband’s clothes, along with a razor, and leaves them near the man as he sleeps.
The soldier cleaned up nicely, and the children find him presentable. He tells them that his name is Daniel (Paul D. Hunt). Joshua looked up the story of Daniel in the bible and read it to Daniel. They invited Daniel to eat at the dinner table with them.
Jonathan Taylor, the sheriff, stops by to pick up the two thieves, and is noticeably disturbed that the escapee has been welcomed in Rachel’s house. He reminds her again that he would like her and the children to live with him for their own safety. Rachel has never given Jonathan an answer; she will only give it some thought. In the meantime, she asks Jonathan not to mention in town that Daniel is staying on her farm.
Daniel asks Rachel if she would like to take a ride on the horses, and she agreed. She and her husband would often ride, she said. Daniel told her that he and a group of Confederate soldiers had escaped from a Union prison in Elmira, and all of the men except himself had been shot. Daniel had witnessed the shooting of the actual marshal by the man who claimed to be the marshal - the man who was following him. The imposter knew that Daniel had seen the murder and was desperate to kill Daniel, the only witness to the deed. Daniel said he was trying to make his way back home, but he really had no family where he came from.
Jonathan’s Pursuit Ends
Joshua and Abigail were growing fond of Daniel. Joshua got a lesson in how to chop wood and Abigail was convinced by Daniel that the pretty dress her mother was making for her would look beautiful on her. Daniel helped out with a lot of the household chores, and Rachel was growing fond of him. When Jonathan stopped by to pick up the two thieves, he saw Daniel kissing Rachel after their horseback ride. He realized that his pursuit of Rachel was at an end. The men were taken away in a truck.
President Abraham Lincoln - Wikimedia
The Marshal and Deputy Show Up
The imposter marshal learned in town that his escapee was at Rachel’s farmhouse, and he and his deputy came out quickly to capture their quarry. Daniel was able to slip away into the woods, but was followed by the two men, as well as Rachel coming up from behind with her shotgun. A flurry of shots was exchanged as the sheriff entered the picture, and was wounded in the shoulder, but not before he had taken down the marshal. The deputy ran off into the woods. After everyone breathed a sigh of relief, Rachel received another marriage proposal - this time it was from Daniel.
This film was shown on Tri-State Christian Television, known as the TCT Network, which shows movies that are suitable for the family. It is refreshing to view a film that is appropriate for children as well as adults to watch.
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