Ken Burns: The Civil War

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Ken Burns: The Civil War
This playlist was created by Timothy Gerolami on Tuesday, October 19, 2010.

Account: Cape Cod Community College
Playlist Notes: 

Continuous Play Loop Playlist

The Civil War: Episode 1—The Cause (1861) (01:39:17)

Beginning with a searing indictment of slavery, this program dramatically evokes the causes of the war. Here are the burning questions of union and states’ rights, John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, the election of Abraham Lincoln, the firing on Fort Sumter, and the jubilant rush to arms on both sides. Along the way the war’s major figures are introduced: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and a host of lesser-known but equally vivid characters. The episode comes to a climax with the disastrous Union defeat at Manassas, where both sides learned it would be a very long war. Distributed by PBS Distribution. A part of the series The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns. (100 minutes)

The Civil War: Episode 2—A Very Bloody Affair (1862) (01:08:03)

The year 1862 saw the birth of modern warfare and the transformation of Lincoln’s war to preserve the Union into a war to emancipate the slaves. This program begins with the political infighting that threatened to swamp Lincoln’s administration and then follows Union General George McClellan’s ill-fated campaign on the Virginia Peninsula and Ulysses S. Grant’s costly victory at the Battle of Shiloh. The episode ends with rumors of Europe’s readiness to recognize the Confederacy. Distributed by PBS Distribution. A part of the series The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns. (68 minutes)

The Civil War: Episode 3—Forever Free (1862) (01:15:53)

This program charts the events that led to Lincoln’s decision to set the slaves free. Convinced by July 1862 that emancipation had become morally and militarily crucial to the future of the Union, Lincoln had to bide his time and wait for a victory to issue his proclamation. But as the year wore on, there were no Union victories to be had, thanks to the brilliance of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. The episode comes to a climax in September 1862 with Lee’s invasion of Maryland and the bloody struggle on the banks of Antietam Creek. The emancipation of the slaves follows. Distributed by PBS Distribution. A part of the series The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns. (76 minutes)

The Civil War: Episode 4—Simply Murder (1863) (01:01:52)

This program begins with the nightmarish Union disaster at Fredericksburg, which leads to two climaxes the following spring: at Chancellorsville in May, where Lee wins his most brilliant victory but loses Stonewall Jackson, and at Vicksburg, where Grant’s attempts to take the city by siege are stopped. Fierce Northern opposition to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is addressed, along with the increasing desperation on the Confederate home front. As the episode ends, Lee decides to invade the North again to draw Grant’s forces away from Vicksburg. Distributed by PBS Distribution. A part of the series The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns. (62 minutes)

The Civil War: Episode 5—The Universe of Battle (1863) (01:35:24)

This program opens with an account of the turning point of war: the Battle of Gettysburg. For three days, 150,000 men fight to the death in the Pennsylvania countryside—an action that culminates in Pickett’s ill-fated charge. This extended episode then goes on to chronicle the fall of Vicksburg, the New York draft riots, the first use of African-American troops, and the battles at Chickamauga and Chattanooga. The program closes with the dedication of a new Union cemetery at Gettysburg, where Lincoln struggles to put into words what is happening to his people. Distributed by PBS Distribution. A part of the series The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns. (96 minutes)

The Civil War: Episode 6—Valley of the Shadow of Death (1864) (01:09:19)

This program begins with a biographical comparison of Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee and then goes on to chart the extraordinary series of battles that pitted the two generals against each other. So intense was the fighting that in one 30-day period, their armies lost more men than both sides had lost in three years of war. With Grant and Lee finally deadlocked at Petersburg, this episode shifts focus to follow General Sherman’s Atlanta campaign. As the horrendous casualty lists increased, Lincoln’s chances for reelection began to dim—and with them the possibility of Union victory. Distributed by PBS Distribution. A part of the series The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns. (70 minutes)

The Civil War: Episode 7—Most Hallowed Ground (1864) (01:11:51)

The program begins with the presidential election of 1864 that set Abraham Lincoln against his old commanding general, George McClellan. The stakes were nothing less than the survival of the Union itself: with Grant and Sherman stalled at Petersburg and Atlanta, opinion in the North had turned strongly against the war. But 11th-hour victories at Mobile Bay, Atlanta, and the Shenandoah Valley tilted the election to Lincoln, and the Confederacy’s last hope for independence died. Distributed by PBS Distribution. A part of the series The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns. (72 minutes)

The Civil War: Episode 8—War Is All Hell (1865) (01:08:43)

This program begins with William T. Sherman’s brilliant March to the Sea, which brought the war to the heart of Georgia and the Carolinas and spelled the end of the Confederacy. It continues with Lincoln’s second inauguration, the fall of Petersburg and then Richmond to Grant’s army, and the westward flight of Lee’s tattered Army of Northern Virginia to a tiny crossroads town called Appomattox Court House, where the dramatic and deeply moving surrender of Lee to Grant would take place. The episode ends in Washington, where John Wilkes Booth dreamed of vengeance for the South. Distributed by PBS Distribution. A part of the series The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns. (69 minutes)

The Civil War: Episode 9—The Better Angels of Our Nature (1865) (01:08:35)

This extraordinary final episode of The Civil War begins in the bittersweet aftermath of Lee’s surrender and goes on to narrate the terrible events of five days later when, on April 14, Lincoln was assassinated. After chronicling Lincoln’s poignant funeral, the program then recounts the final days of the war, the capture of John Wilkes Booth, and the fates of the Civil War’s major protagonists. The consequences and meaning of a war that transformed America from a collection of states to the nation it is today are considered as well. Distributed by PBS Distribution. A part of the series The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns. (69 minutes)