There's a certain amount of bombast in the running arguments about wartime ethics between Marlowe and the new regimental surgeon (William Holden), who don't take to each other at all. But Ford more than makes up for it with such tasty scenes as an encounter with a couple of redneck Rebel deserters (Denver Pyle and Strother Martin), an ethereal swamp crossing led by a cornpone deacon (Hank Worden), and above all the famous skirmish with a hillside full of grade-school cadets from a venerable military academy. The film ends rather abruptly because Ford abandoned a climactic battle scene--the veteran stunt man and bit player Fred Kennedy having been killed in a horse fall. Golden-age cowboy star Hoot Gibson, who acted in Ford's directorial debut, Straight Shooting, appears as Sergeant Brown. --Richard T. Jameson
The movie of course isn't accurate but that doesn't matter. The drama and action are great and there isn't any silly romance to ruin things. Constance Towers' presence helps in the development of John Wayne's character but doesn't slip into any thing that distracts from the main part of the movie.
There are also some great battle scenes. My favorite is the VMI cadet charge. This was also based on a real event that apparently wasn't as big of a deal as in the movie but is still interesting to read about if you get a chance.
I recommend this movie to all John Wayne and Civil War movie buffs.