Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniel and Richard Jordan were superb in their parts, Martin Sheen not so much. Kevin Conway was very good, Sam Elliot not so much.
One of the most moving scenes in any movie I've ever watched was Armistead's visit with Longstreet on the night before Pickett's charge; thankfully, the orchestra shut up long enough to get through the scene without overloud and tedious music wrecking that, too. It's worth buying the movie for that scene alone. This production is another in which the superb period costuming, dialogue and infantry evolutions were completely subsumed in a tsunami of orchestra music, played as though louder is better, and too much is never enough. What should have been a platinum award, eternal classic docudrama comes out as pretty okay at best, over all, and masterpiece performances by most of the primary cast can't save the movie from the music. What a shame.
Again, artistic license was used to insert as dialogue the eternal drivel about fighting to free the slaves, and I don't believe that there is any contemporary account that puts this stuff in the mouths of the principals, my own family's diaries and journals of the time don't take much notice of 'coloreds' or 'negroes' until late in the war when Union forces were occupying considerable areas of the Confederacy; slaves encountered in occupied areas were made free by executive order (the Emancipation Proclomation), as property to be confiscated, since slaves were of of material value to the Confederacy; the freed slaves were no longer in a position in which they were provided food, clothing and shelter, and there was no cash in the south for the hire of labour. Work for the Union army was haphazard at best, and consisted mostly of burial details after battles. Slavery is, admittedly, bad but is not forced abandonment even worse? The subject is never touched upon here, and would certainly not fall into the PC pidgeon hole that an unseemly amount of the dialoge in this movie does.
The depiction of the battle, the various troop movements and the combat are, so far as I know, very well welded to historical fact and accounts, and had the orchestra been abesent the disciplined advances of the infantry into hopeless combat would have been so stirring as to choke up almost anyone, but again the orders, direction and field music, exhortations of the sergeants and file closers are overwhelmed by the damned orchestra.
Overall opinion of the movie? Pretty good downgraded from stellar because of the Orchestra.