Revealing mistake: DVD Side B. Just before the cannon burst near General Lee and his officers at Fredericksburg, you can see a Confederate soldier with the sponge rammer using it to the side of the cannon bore. This cannon must have been a actual field piece since the bore in the scene was most likely blocked. The sponge rammer consisted of a sponge-head of elm or poplar and covered with wool. The number one man of an artillery crew drove the sponge to the bottom of the bore and turned it numerous times to put out any embers from the previous firing of the piece. The rammer head was made of hard wood, generally elm or beech. The number two man would place the shell inside the bore, and number one would use the rammer to shove it down the bore with a single stroke.
Visible crew/equipment: In the scene near the beginning of the film, when the 2 brothers are fixing to leave to join the army. After the mother gives them the flag, the shot changes to the 2 brothers. You can see the boom mic and the camera in the reflection of their shiny brass buckles.
Other mistake: In the Battle of Bull Run, you can see that they use the same shot twice. It is a wide panoramic shot of the two armies. You see two explosions, one in the middle, and the second by the tree on the right.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where the three Confederate soldiers are about to be executed for desertion, a blindfold is placed around the deserter on the right. It is a narrow strip of cloth covering his eyes. The camera pans to the firing squad and then back to the three men. The blindfold on the deserter on the right, is now much wider.
Revealing mistake: In the Fredericksburg battle scene, just after the Union officer orders the men to fall back, there is a 1 or 2 second close-up shot of a Confederate soldier taking a hit and falling back. As he does, a modern wristwatch is visible on his left wrist under the sleeve of his coat.
Factual error: A.P. Hill was promoted to Major General in May 1862, but during the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 he is introduced as 'Brigadier General A.P. Hill'.
Factual error: At the beginning of the movie, Robert E. Lee addresses Francis P. Blair as 'General' once. Blair however was never a general and in fact never held any military rank.
Deliberate mistake: When the two Confederate and Union soldiers meet across the river and trade coffee/tobacco, you can see the other side of the bank behind them. It looks at least 50 feet away, yet before they were able to talk to each other without shouting. Also, the Union soldier raises the pipe to his mouth in his right hand, which switches to his left in the next shot. There is also a mist present at the beginning and end of the meeting, but not in the middle.
Revealing mistake: When the Yankees are moving along the field taking artillery fire, a shot shows a shell landing in a group of men, in which a few go flying. When one lands in front of the camera, you can see the ground lift up and the sound of him hitting the mat instead of the ground. (On Disc 2).
Continuity mistake: During the changing of flags at the school, Major Jackson is being told that his country and the country they live in are one. The gentleman telling him this clasps his hands together to show unity. When he clasps his hands together he holds them at about face level but when the camera angle changes his hands are now seen below his chest.
Factual error: In the scene where Colonel Jackson meets his wife at the train station, the locomotive tender is labeled V&TRR and the coach is the familiar yellow-brown of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. The V&T was a Nevada shortline connected to the Comstock gold strike that actually financed a huge amount of the Union expenses for fighting the war.
Factual error: Toward the end of the film, General Lee is wearing his open frock with the 3 stars on the collar. However the stars in the movie have six points while the stars that the real General Lee wore in the war were five-pointed stars, as were any other star used as a Confederate rank insignia.
Factual error: In 1861, neither Stonewall Jackson nor Robert E. Lee had heavy beards. Lee grew his after his resignation, and Jackson grew his during his campaigns.
Deliberate mistake: At Fredricksburg, when the troops from the 20th Maine are retreating, Tom Chamberlain is seen firing his revolver at the Confederates, and there is no burst of smoke, nor any recoil (also, the tip of the barrel of the pistol is off-screen.) This is because he is dry-firing the gun, since that shot contains dialogue and a real shot would interfere with the microphones. This mistake occurs earlier as well, with the Irish Confederate officer firing his revolver at the Irish Union soldiers, though no bullets are visible in the chambers, and the smoke from the primer caps is missing.