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Jack Falahee as Frank Stringfellow

31 January 2016 2 Comments
Jack Falahee in his role of Confederate scout Frank Stringfellow

Jack Falahee in his role as Confederate scout Frank Stringfellow

This author can attest to the fact that Confederate scout Frank Stringfellow has enthralled readers across the country. He holds sway over their emotions and garners intense admiration. When “Marching Through Culpeper” came to the stage in 2012, Taylor Ballard not only looked like Stringfellow, but he played the role magnificently. So when news of PBS’s six-hour Civil War series “Mercy Street” hit, the big question was what actor would be given the challenging task of accurately bringing Stringfellow to life on screen?

Twenty-seven year old Michigan native Jack Falahee graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is known for his breakout role as Connor Walsh in the ABC series “How to Get Away with Murder”. At 5’10” – 150 lbs. he is sturdier than the 5’8” – 100 lb. Stringfellow.

But by reading his internet interviews, it becomes clear that Falahee has done his research and understands the responsibility of portraying Stringfellow. He says, “You want to portray someone the best way you can. So knowing that that person lived and breathed and walked the Earth is a little more daunting than maybe just creating someone out of thin air. Frank Stringfellow wanted to fight for God and Virginia and his country. Confederate soldiers were fighting a war that they thought was a war of aggression and they wanted to safeguard the idea of their home and their land.”

As soon as Falahee and the rest of the “Mercy Street” cast arrived in Richmond, he dug into research. He explains, “I’m not in the first two episodes, so I had a lot of time off. I holed up in the Virginia Historical Society and the research assistant there helped me find everything on Frank Stringfellow. Stringfellow’s family has donated a large collection of his war correspondence with Emma Green to the historical society, so I was able to actually read the letters he wrote to Emma. Thus Hannah James, who plays Emma, and I ended up going there and going through all of their letters and seeing what their actual relationship entailed.”

In addition, to further capture the essence of the love story, Falahee and James wrote each other letters as Frank and Emma throughout the filming of the six-hour series.

When asked if working on a period piece was more difficult than working on a show in the modern age, Falahee responded, “For me, it is almost easier. You have to put on your uniform and you talk in a foreign accent and you’re on a horse and you’re shooting guns.”

With all due respect to Mr. Falahee, it seems necessary to address his reference to talking in a “foreign accent.” Virginians would like to point out that we speak the dialect that birthed this country. In reference to the American Revolution, Virginia gave three native sons who became known as the sword of the Revolution—George Washington, the pen of the Revolution—Thomas Jefferson, and the voice of the Revolution—Patrick Henry. And Virginia supplied four the first five presidents. Thus we do not speak in a foreign accent but in one that is truly American. We are the natives and those from other regions speak with foreign accents. With that being said, as is typical of the film industry, the Virginia-born characters in “Mercy Street” have been given much exaggerated Southern accents. They do not sound like Virginians. So, with tongue in cheek, perhaps Falahee is after all correct about talking in a foreign accent, because the accent being used is foreign to native Virginians.

Nevertheless, it is exciting to know that Falahee will be riding a horse and firing guns, thus bringing action and excitement to the series. Brazenly daring, Frank Stringfellow did not include the word “impossible” in his vocabulary. May Stringfellow’s irrepressible spirit shine though Falahee’s performance in the next four episodes of “Mercy Street.” A captive and enthusiastic audience waits!



  • lindsey s. weilbacher said:

    this great-grand daughter is appalled! There is no documentation on Frank’s murder of the officer in the hospital that I know of. The fact he didn’t assassinate Gen. Grant when he had the chance later on is more truthful and I think makes this fictional murder completely false sounding. The family has always said Frank became in what today’s parlance would be a special forces type soldier on his own because he didn’t want to kill people. He would rather prevent deaths by getting correct intellegence although putting himself in great danger. Our present day Frank Stringfellow, my first cousin, has related our aunt Francis’s story of when she sat in her grandfather Frank’s lap and asked him:”How many Yankees did you kill in the War?”. He replied “Not many I hope.” That is the Frank I believe is accurate. Lindsey Stringfellow Weilkbacher

  • Virginia (author) said:

    I am enraged with the way Frank Stringfellow was introduced in “Mercy Street.” This false murder scene is character assassination.

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