Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone prequel 1883 has some major star power. First Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Sam Elliott signed on to act in the series. Now Oscar winner Tom Hanks is getting in on the action.
A new picture of a scene from 1883 – inspired by a famous real-life photograph of the grisly Civil War Battle of Antietam – has been released, and it shows none other than Hanks appearing as a three-star general reportedly based on Gen. George Meade.
See the picture here:
1883 Features Hanks As a Sympathetic General
In the second episode of 1883, Hanks plays a sympathetic three-star general. James Dutton (McGraw), who was a Confederate officer, is sitting on the ground after the bloody battle dazedly taking in the scene around him. As a gloved hand touches his shoulder, he looks up and finds Hanks gazing down at him.
Hanks is reportedly a history buff, and his recent film News of the World, like 1883, also takes place in the aftermath of the Civil War. According to Deadline, Hanks shot the scene in question over the course of one day in September outside Weatherford, Texas.
The general his character is based on, George Meade, was a Union general. He suffered a serious injury at the Battle of Glendale, but went on to outdo himself in the Battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, per History.com. Meade later became famous for beating Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg.
The general was brusque and quick-tempered, and he had let survivors from the Confederate army escape across the Potomac River after Gettysburg, so he took a drubbing from the Northern media. He was reportedly also cautious, which led to him being passed over in favor of Ulysses S. Grant for Union general-in-chief. But even after that, he continued to lead troops in a subordinate position for the rest of the Civil War.
Homestead Act Only Granted Land to Some Americans
After the Civil War, many Americans headed West, encouraged by the passage of the Homestead Act of 1862, which gave U.S. citizens up to 160 acres of frontier public land on the condition that they live there, improve the land somehow and pay a registration fee. From the first claim in 1863 to the law’s repeal in 1976, the government granted more than 270 million acres of land.
But there was a catch. Former President Abraham Lincoln had signed the act into law while the Civil War was still raging. And the new law made land available only to homesteaders who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government, according to the National Archives.
So unfortunately, in reality, James Dutton (McGraw) would not have been eligible for 160 acres of land out West – not public land granted by the government, anyway. As a former Confederate officer, he would have been excluded from the Homestead Act.
But former Confederate soldiers weren’t the only ones who got shafted by the government’s land policies. By the late 1880s, settlers had already taken up much of the public land available. So new government policy aimed to break up Native American reservations, first by granting land to individual Native Americans, and then, with the passage of the Dawes Act in 1887, by opening up the remaining Native American lands to settlers.
It’s a complicated history soaked with blood, sweat and tears, so tune in for the 1883 premiere to see Taylor Sheridan’s unique spin on that era.