That not many folks remember John Lincoln Clem (codename Johnny Shiloh) and his patriotism anymore is a testament to how much this country has become pansified by all the anti-war do-gooders that seem to sprout up whenever Democracy needs to lay a whupping on someone.
Thankfully, another great American, Walt Disney, used his Disneyland TV show to dramatize Johnny’s adventures back in 1963. Demonstrating a commitment to Johnny’s legacy as well as to the burgeoning home video market of the 1980s, the Walt Disney Company also thankfully saw fit to edit both episodes into a 90 minute movie and release it on VHS for real Americans to savor!
Disney regular Kevin Corcoran plays Johnny and gives a Yankee Doodle Dandy performance as the kid who was going to fight the Civil War for the North no matter what! Even if he was only nine years old!
That’s right! Nine freaking years old and this kid is out there ready to lay a lick on the rebs and their treasonous efforts to tear this great country apart! It doesn’t matter that every pea-brained adult tells him that he’s too young to be a soldier, Johnny is bound and determined to do whatever it takes to stick it to old Dixieland!
Corcoran, who was excellent as the kid who ran away to join the circus in Toby Tyler turns it up a notch when he runs away to join the war! He stows away on a train and then endures a tough boot camp run by his friend Gabe. (Brian Keith sporting a red beard that looks like it was made out of Carrot Top’s pubic hair!)
And when his daddy finally comes to retrieve him from camp, Johnny just sneaks off the train taking him home and rejoins his old outfit, the Blue Raiders!
And Johnny isn’t there just to be some cute mascot! Johnny earns his nickname the hard way at the Battle of Shiloh when the South has the Union soldiers on the run and only one man, I mean, kid, is refusing to run! Johnny Freaking Shiloh!
Standing tall! Beating his drum! Inspiring the rest of the troops to turn back around and take the fight straight at the Confederacy! It’s drum solos like that that place him right in the middle of all the barroom arguments about who the greatest drummer of all time was: Johnny Shiloh or John Bonham!
If forced to choose between the two, I have to go with Shiloh over Bonzo for one reason – Shiloh actually shot a Confederate colonel!
In 1863 at the Battle of Chickamauga, Johnny plugged an officer who was trying to kill his buddy Gabe. Some of you might think that Disney just made that up to further pump up Johnny’s image as the youngest bad ass of all time, but I would suggest that incredibly, Disney’s version softened up the incident!
The real version isn’t that he was saving a friend, but blasted the colonel when the colonel ordered Shiloh to surrender! And while Shiloh merely wounded the guy in the movie, in real life, he killed his ass!
Disney also made up some other stuff to make Shiloh more family-friendly (well, as family friendly as a nine year old kid training with a bayonet to kill enemy soldiers can possibly be) with how they handled his time when he was captured by the Confederates.
While in the enemy’s clutches, Johnny makes the acquaintance of a similarly aged boy who is fighting with the South. Though they have their disagreements, Johnny comes to learn (and relates to Gabe later on in a vomit-inducing scene) that the guys fighting for the South are just like the guys fighting for the North. Except that you know, they’re traitors to America. There’s no historical record though about Johnny ever learning a bunch of life lessons from an illiterate Southerner named Billy while in some Confederate POW camp.
I can’t really fault Disney for making Shiloh less of a ruthless killing machine then he really was though. You’ve got to make your story palatable enough to all the wimp parents out there so that they let their kids watch the movie.
As it is, the film apparently has the general drift of Shiloh’s story. Depending on the source, Shiloh was wounded a few times, escaped from enemy camps a couple of times, and was even left for dead and made it past enemy lines in the middle of the night to safety.
Still, even the slightly sanitized version of Shiloh’s adventures are something all American school children should view.
Considering the generations of bloated up losers we’ve been raising, they need to know that in the past, citizens of this country, even snot-nosed brats, weren’t afraid to go out and fight and die for what they believe in. This is especially important now when you have liberal crackpot organizations like the United Nations and Amnesty International condemning the use of child soldiers.
I’ve always been proud to say that it was Johnny Shiloh that inspired me to join the Delta Force and skip the sixth grade. After all, I can always go back to school once the world is safe for freedom.
© 2013 MonsterHunter