Stewart plays Anderson, a Virginian farmer with six sons, whose land is surrounded on all sides by Union armies. He refuses to participate in the war, at least at he beginning of the movie. Johnson, a Confederate soldier comes to him to recruit Anderson’s sons.
Johnson: There’s a Yankee army breathing down your neck, Mr. Anderson. I don’t think you realize —
Anderson: You’re town-bred aren’t you?
Johnson: I don’t see what that has to do with —
Anderson: I’ve got five hundred acres of good, rich dirt here. As long as the rains come and the sun shines it’ll grow grow anything I have a mind to plant. And we pulled every stump. We’ve cleared every field. We’ve done it ourselves without the sweat of one slave.
Anderson: So?! So, can you give me one good reason why I should send my family that took me a lifetime to raise down that road like a bunch of damn fools to do somebody else’s fighting?
Johnson: Virginia needs all of her sons, Mr. Anderson.
Anderson: That might be so, Johnson, but these are my sons! They don’t belong to the state. When they were babies I never saw the state coming around with a spare tit. We never asked anything of the state and never expected anything. We do our own living — and thanks to no man for the right.
The Patron Saint of the “Leave Us the Hell Alone” Caucus: Charlie Anderson (James Stewart), the Individualist hero of the film Shenandoah.