During the American Civil War, over 400 women, disguised as men, served for both the Confederate and Union armies. Directed, written and starring Whitney Hamilton, Union is the fictional story of one of these women. Grace Kieler (Whitney Hamilton) takes on the identity of her dead brother Henry and goes to battle. Henry (who I will continue to identify as he) is injured in battle and under arrest. Henry’s brother helps him escape a death sentence and all Henry wants to do is get back to his love Virginia (Virginia Newcomb). Virginia doesn’t care that Henry is biologically a woman. With her brother pressuring her to marry an older man, Virginia and Henry secretly wed. The timeline moves back and forth from the present day, to the past as well as to the far future to tell Virginia and Henry’s love story. They will sacrifice everything to be together. Joined by the trauma of their past and their devotion to each other, can they stay together under the threat of the war and a society that doesn’t understand their love? Can Henry rescue Jesse (Carron Clark), the son of his old lover who was orphaned during the war?
“It took us 3 and half years to film the movie. We shot in historic homes and on various battlefields in Alabama and Pennsylvania. I had to become a Civil War reenactor and pass as a man in preparation for the role. I fought with the Alabama Division of Reenactors portraying both the North and the South at various events including the 150th anniversary battle of Gettysburg that appears in the opening of the film.”Whitney Hamilton
While it took me a while to get into this film, about twenty minutes in I found myself completely captivated by Henry and Virginia. Hamilton and Newcomb have great chemistry and Newcomb in particular delivered a powerful performance. Civil War enthusiasts will be drawn to the level of detail that goes into the reenactments. And for people like me, they will be drawn to the unconventional love story.
Union takes great care to highlight a little known aspect of our country’s history and to show that love has always been and will always be love.
Union is available today on Blu-ray and DVD. It’s also available on digital on HBO, itunes, VUDU, Fandango, Direct TV, Youtube, Google Play, Amazon Prime and elsewhere.