The Love of Henry and Virginia

Bruce Von Stiers

Whitney Hamilton is an actor, director and producer. She has worked on both short films and feature films.

I just got a chance to watch one of Whitney's recent projects. It is a Civil War era feature film. Even though it has elements of the Civil War as it's fabric, the film is truly a love story. The title of the film is Union.

Virginia Klaising is a widow. She lost her husband and son at the hands of Union soldiers. About two years prior, Virginia helped mend a wounded Confederate soldier, Henry Kieler. He promised to come back to her. When the film opens, Virginia is still waiting for Henry to show up.

Here's the interesting thing. Henry is actually a woman. During that time period, women weren't allowed to be soldiers. They could be in the background, cooking, sewing and taking care of the wounded. But they wouldn't dare take up arms and fight shoulder to shoulder with the men. But wanting to be a soldier, the woman cut her hair, wore men's clothes, called herself Henry, and acted like a man to become a member of a Confederate fighting force.

Virginia knew the true identity of Henry and fell for him anyway. That's the crux of the story. How could two women have the love they shared and find happiness in the midst of war? And that their love would be condemned and doomed if it was ever made public.

There is quite a bit of spiritualism in the film, in the form of Native American teachings. Henry is saved by a group of Indians. They recognize that Henry has the spirit of both a man and woman within him. There are scenes in the film with Henry interacting with the tribe. And, in fact, the narration of the film is done by a Native American who is telling a group of children the story of Virginia and Henry.

There are a few sub plots that weave their way through the film. One is that Henry is wounded and captured by Union forces. Set to be hanged along with other prisoners, Henry escapes. Afterward, there is a manhunt looking for him.

Henry's friend, Georgianna Hays had been travelling with him and the group of Confederate soldiers. Her son, Harrison Hays, was also with the group. When something happens, Henry promises to look after Harrison.

And a third sub plot is that Virginia is on the verge of losing the homestead. Others are trying to get her married off to an older man so that the homestead could be saved. Virginia resists all attempts to get her married off. But Virginia's sister Jesse and her husband, Lloyd, keep the pressure on for the marriage. That situation remedies itself when Henry finally makes it back to be with Virginia.

There are a few famous military people who make an appearance in the film. Among them are George Custer, who hasn't made the rank of General yet, and General Ulysses S. Grant.

The film deals with a couple of serious issues. The first, and most prominent, is the love between two women. And that they must keep it hidden under the falsehood of portraying Henry as a man. During that time period it would have been devastating for Virginia and Henry to be found out. But that prejudice has woven its way through the decades since that time and still remains a stigma for some people.

The second serious issue is PTSD. Even though it wouldn't have been recognized at that time, Henry suffered from PTSD. This was shown in scenes where Henry has bad dreams remembering tragic events that he witnessed or endured or times when he is awake and has flashback moments.

Virginia Newcomb isVirginia Klaising . Along with starring in several short films, Newcomb has been in a few feature films and episodes of shows like The Walking Dead. In addition to writing and directing the film, Whitney Hamilton also stars as Henry.

Some of the featured actors in the film were Judy Krause as Georgianna Hays, Carron Clark as Jesse Tull and Benjamin Keepers as Lloyd Tull. Vinston Rickson was White Hawk the story narrator. Other cast members included Don Cano, Meg Deusner, Leah Hudspeth, Len Ward II, Ty Taylor and Tucker Meek. There is a mixture of experienced and newer people involved in the production of the film. Hamilton has worked with several of them in other films. For a couple of the newer people, Union was their first screen credit.

The cinematography for Union was done by William Schweikert. His work on the film earned him the Best Cinematography award at the recent Medusa Film Festival.

The producers on the film were Whitney Hamilton and Patrick Sullivan.

Union was actually a continuation of a story from a feature film that Hamilton made several years ago titled My Brother's War. As a prequel, this is where the story of Henry Kieler begins. And a short film was made of Union a few years back that abbreviated the story that's filled out in this current version.

I thought Union was a well-done film. Not only was the cinematography great, the acting was excellent. The theme of having to disguise who you are for love, especially in the Civil War era, makes for a truly heartening story.

You can learn more about Union at the film's official web site at

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© 2022 Bruce E Von Stiers