Journey to the Wilderness

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Acclaimed journalist Frye Gaillard wades into the heritage-vs-hate debate about how we view the Confederacy with a first-person memoir. The former reporter for The Charlotte Observer and author of over 20 books on the history and culture of the South reflects on his own family’s 250-year history of membership in the Southern aristocracy which included owning hundreds of slaves.


The film is a parallel journey. Through his letters to and from home it follows the war through the eyes of Gaillard’s great uncle Franklin, a Confederate officer who fought with Robert E. Lee through every major battle from Bull Run to The Wilderness.  It simultaneously traces Gaillard’s life long struggle through his distinguished career to “navigate” his “way into and through the tangled web” of his “own conscience and heritage.”  “My own generation,”he writes”was perhaps the last that was raised on stories of gallantry and courage. Oddly, mine was also one of the first to view the Civil War through the lens of civil rights.”


Also appearing are Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump and a series of books about The Civil War, along with historians Martha Jane Brazy, Kern JacksonHenry McKiven, and Steven Trout.


Frye Gaillard is the recipient of numerous awards for writing, including The Lillian Smith Book Award for best Southern non-fiction and the Humanitarian Award presented by the NAACP Legal and Educational Fund for writing on the subject of civil rights. The film is an adaptation of his 2015 book by the same name, published by New South Books.

Journey to the Wilderness was produced for The University of South Alabama and was funded in part by a grant from The Alabama Humanities Foundation.