A statue ded­i­cated to Hills­dale’s Civil War sol­diers occupies the center of Kresge Plaza.
Vir­ginia Aabram | Collegian

A student-made doc­u­mentary on Hillsdale College and the Civil War pre­miered to a standing-room-only audience on Tuesday night.

“This is a story that needed to be told for the last hundred years since doc­u­men­taries have been around,” said Buddy Moore­house, a pro­fes­sional film­maker who oversaw the film’s pro­duction. “I’m so proud that they were the ones who got to tell that story.”

The film was a group project in Moorehouse’s Video Sto­ry­telling course, involving the work of junior Gabrielle Bes­sette, senior Reagan Gen­siejewski, senior Lily McHale, and sophomore Carter McNish.

The doc­u­mentary tells the stories of four male Hillsdale stu­dents who served in the Union army during the Civil War — Henry Magee, Moses Luce, Asher LaFleur, and Richard Seage — as well as one female student, Mary Blackmar, who served as a mil­itary nurse.

More than 500 Hillsdale stu­dents and alumni fought in the Civil War, according to Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Man­agement Peter Jen­nings, who appears in the film.

“Behind the sta­tistic is a story,” McNish said. “There were hun­dreds of them, and we told five of them.”

Magee enlisted at the out­break of the war in 1861 and served until it ended. He, Luce, and LaFleur all served in the Fourth Michigan Infantry.

During a retreat at Spot­syl­vania Court House in Vir­ginia in 1864, Luce made it to safety only to hear LaFleur cry to him from where he had fallen, wounded in the leg. 

“Luce! Luce! I’m bleeding to death! I’m bleeding to death!,” LaFleur cried. 

Under enemy fire, Luce returned to the bat­tle­field and carried his friend to safety.

During the Battle of Get­tysburg in 1863, Con­fed­erate troops cap­tured the Union flag. A Union officer rallied a group of sol­diers to take it back. He killed the Con­fed­erate soldier with the flag, but was imme­di­ately killed by another Con­fed­erate himself. Seage seized the flag and raised it momen­tarily, only to fall down wounded. What hap­pened to the flag after­wards is unknown.

“The battle for the flag was a small, but sig­nif­icant and sym­bolic moment, and on the field, sol­diers saw the fight for the flag,” Jen­nings said in the doc­u­mentary. “It was inspiring to them. It helped them rally and fight back.” 

Jen­nings said Seage and the battle for the flag were the inspi­ration behind the Civil War monument.

Blackmar, a 21-year-old medical student at Hillsdale, wanted to serve in the war, but the minimum age to be a mil­itary nurse was 30. Blackmar lied about her age and obtained a job at a mil­itary hos­pital so near the front­lines that one drummer nick­named it “the halfway house.”

Blackmar once held her fingers over the artery of a hem­or­rhaging Con­fed­erate soldier for 24 hours unitil a surgeon arrived, saving his life.

Kim Gehrke, coor­di­nator for insti­tu­tional advancement and an attendee at the screening, said it was striking that the sol­diers were fighting not only for their homeland, but also for their ideals.

“They were defending and fighting for their ideals — what they believed was good and true and beau­tiful about this country and their home and what it meant to be an American and what it meant to be a free man,” she said.

Gehrke con­tinued in speaking of the bravery the sol­diers showed. 

“They felt that to fulfill who they were sup­posed to be as men meant obeying this call to go and fight,” she said, “to free the slaves, to defend the Union, to uphold our flag and the prin­ciples on which their country was founded.”

Gen­siejewski reflected on the meaning of the his­torical event for Hillsdale’s com­munity today. 

“It reminded me that Hillsdale is teaching the right things,” Gen­siejewski said. “I think it just showed us the impor­tance of how we need to doc­ument that. We need to tell people, we need to battle the evil in this world with what we have here at Hillsdale.”


Moore­house plans to offer his course on doc­u­mentary film­making in the spring semester.


“Anyone is welcome to take it,” he said.