I just finished watching "Gettysburg" for the umpteenth time. One thing that always grabs my attention is the sloppy saluting. Their hands were turned up almost British style (although not QUITE that far), fingers and thumbs were not "extended and joined" smartly, but rather loosely, they saluted with cigars and other items in their saluting hand or items in their mouths, etc. In today's Army, these are all big no-nos.
Having been an officer in the Army this really chaps my hide. I always chewed out sloppy salutes from the troops, and I always made DAMN sure my return salute was sharp (I hate hypocracy). You have to figure that as an officer, I was either returning a salute or saluting a higher grade whenever I passed ANYONE, so I rendered about 150 per day (that's why officers tend to have the sloppiest salutes of anyone). But, I always made sure mine was sharp and professional.
Now to the question: During the Civil War, was it normal to salute like they did in the movie, or did Hollywood just forget to teach the actors how to do it properly?