The post-war effects of Civil War destruction on human lives is the focus of a short drama created by a region filmmaker and set to debut at an April historical exposition in Hammond.
Tre Manchester, 20, an Illinois Institute of Art film student, wrote, produced and directed the short-film fictional drama, "To Ride the River," completing work in February. The seven-minute film features local actors, including members of the Crown Point-based 20th Indiana Infantry reenactment group.
The movie, designed for viewings at independent and online film festivals, will make its region debut April 20 at the "Region United, Nation Divided: South Shore in the Civil War" exposition at Hammond's Indiana Welcome Center.
It is one of several presentations -- including documentary viewings, guest lectures and book signings -- in the month-long expo organized by the South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail.
The film's main character is the son of a fallen Civil War soldier. The young man struggles to hold his family together in a post-war setting after his father's death.
It culminates in a defining struggle when the government seeks an eminent domain takeover of the family's land, said Manchester, a 2010 graduate of Crown Point High School who lives in Lakes of the Four Seasons.
He said the plot is loosely based on the story of an actual Civil War veteran from Chicago who fought with the government over land issues after the war.
Manchester said his feature, some of which was filmed at Deep River County Park in Hobart, is just one example of the many struggles faced by Civil War veterans and their families in the post-war reconstruction era.
Manchester, who describes himself as a history enthusiast, previously directed a similar film with a World War II setting. That film, "In Vermillion," won an Audience Award from the web-based Once a Week Online Film Festival in October.
The showing of Manchester's most recent film at the "Region United, Nation Divided" exhibit will complement the actual stories of dozens of Lake and Porter county Civil War veterans that will be told at the April 5-May 3 event through narrative text, hundreds of photos and actual war-time artifacts.
One such story of the region's ties to the 1861-65 conflict tells the true post-war tragedy of Merrillville Sgt. Israel Pierce, who served in the 99th Indiana Infantry with about 200 other Lake and Porter county men. Pierce, a local farmer, unsuccessfully petitioned the federal government for a disability pension for 20 years following the war before hanging himself in his barn.