Episode 3: FOREVER FREE (1862)
This episode charts the dramatic events that led to Lincoln’s decision to set the slaves free. Convinced by July 1862 that emancipation was now morally and militarily crucial to the future of the Union, Lincoln must wait for a victory to issue his proclamation. But as the year wears on there are 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. On the banks of Antietam Creek, the bloodiest day of the war takes place, followed shortly by the brightest: the emancipation of the slaves.
Photography and the war.
3.1 Chapter 1 - THE CIVIL WAR Series Title
Lincoln realizes that emancipation will be needed to win the war.
3.2 Chapter 2 - 1862 Forever Free
The Union army is stalled outside Richmond. Meanwhile, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson is on the attack in the Shenandoah Valley.
3.3 Chapter 3 - Stonewall
Stonewall Jackson, a "pious, blue-eyed killer" triumphs in his Valley Campaign, successfully keeping Union troops off the Peninsula. The South cuts cotton production to pressure England and France into recognizing the Confederacy. Lincoln has to find a way to keep Europe from coming in on the side of the Confederate government.
3.4 Chapter 4 - The Beast
General Benjamin Butler is put in charge of the Union occupation of New Orleans. When local women insult his troops, he issues "General Order No. 28." Nearby, unrest grows among slaves on the plantations. Lincoln backs a plan to encourage freed slaves to return to Africa.
3.5 Chapter 5 - The Seven Days
Union and Rebel troops clash outside Richmond. Confederate commander Joseph Johnston is seriously wounded and Robert E. Lee takes charge. When Lee and McClellan clash for seven days, every battle except one is a Union victory, but McClellan retreats down the Peninsula and all the way back to Washington.
3.6 Chapter 6 - Kiss Daniel For Me
When the Union army occupies the Southern coast, plantation owners flee, leaving behind 110,000 slaves. The pressure for emancipation grows. Deer Isle, Maine loses its first soldiers, and in Clarksville, Tennessee, tensions run high between occupying Northern troops and local citizens. Lincoln decides to emancipate slaves but his cabinet advises him to wait for a military victory.
3.7 Chapter 7 - Saving the Union
Lincoln replaces McClellan with John Pope, who leads the army to the second Battle of Bull Run – another Union disaster. Lincoln reluctantly reinstates McClellan. Robert E. Lee decides to invade the North and, heading for the federal rail center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, takes up positions in Sharpsburg, Maryland, in front of Antietam creek. McClellan arrives with vastly superior forces.
3.8 Chapter 8 - Antietam
The Battle of Antietam, a costly Union victory, is the bloodiest day in American history. The next day, Lee and his army slip back across the Potomac River. Introduction to Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Union officer from Maine. Lincoln permanently removes McClellan from command. Photographer Mathew Brady opens a landmark exhibition in New York – "The Dead of Antietam."
3.9 Chapter 9 - The Higher Object
U.S. Grant tries to conquer Vicksburg, Mississippi, but fails. Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, September 22, 1862. "The war is ennobled, the object is higher."
The Civil War is an acclaimed documentary film created by Ken Burns about the American Civil War. It was first broadcast on PBS on five consecutive nights from Sunday, September 23 to Thursday, September 27, 1990. Forty million viewers watched it during its initial broadcast, making it the most watched program ever to air on PBS, to this day remaining one of the most popular shows broadcast by PBS. It is considered to be Ken Burns's magnum opus.
The documentary is 11 hours in length, consists of nine episodes and makes extensive use of more than 16,000 archival photographs, paintings, and newspaper images from the time of the war. These are intermixed with contemporary cinematography.
* Episode 1: The Cause (1861)
* Episode 2: A Very Bloody Affair (1862)
* Episode 3: Forever Free (1862)
* Episode 4: Simply Murder (1863)
* Episode 5: The Universe of Battle (1863)
* Episode 6: Valley of the Shadow of Death (1864)
* Episode 7: Most Hallowed Ground (1864)
* Episode 8: War Is All Hell (1865)
* Episode 9: The Better Angels of Our Nature (1865)
WHY I DECIDED TO MAKE THE CIVIL WAR
By Ken Burns
Ken Burns Nearly 20 years ago, on Christmas Day, 1984, I finished reading a book that literally changed my life – a wonderful, historical novel called The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. It told the story of the most important battle in our nation's history: Gettysburg.
I remember closing that book and telling my father, "Now I know the subject for my next documentary. It's going to be the Civil War."
"What part of the Civil War?" he asked.
"All of it," I answered.
My father just shook his head, and left the room – like many others I would meet in the early days of the project, convinced that this story was obviously much too big to be captured in one film.
Nearly six years later, when the documentary was finally finished, I realized that we had taken longer to make a film about the Civil War than it took the nation to fight it in the first place.
But the long and painstaking process had permitted me to refine a filmmaking style that we had been evolving for more than 10 years: the careful use of archival photographs, live modern cinematography, music, narration, and a chorus of first-person voices that together did more than merely recount a historical story. It was something that also became a kind of "emotional archaeology," trying to unearth the very heart of the American experience; listening to the ghosts and echoes of an almost inexpressibly wise past.
The Civil War was the greatest event in American history – where paradoxically, in order to become one, we had to tear ourselves in two.
In making this documentary, co-produced with my brother Ric, we wanted to tell the story of the bloodiest war in American history through the voices of the men and women who actually lived through it. And, to the greatest extent possible, we wanted to show the war and the people who experienced it through a medium that was still in its infancy in the 1860s – photography.
A photograph of citizens scanning the casualty lists to learn which of their sons, fathers, and husbands would be coming home – and which would not – speaks volumes about the grief and horror that washed over our country, becoming part of domestic routine without ever quite being domesticated.
And yet, what better way to "see" a soldier's life than through the simple, unvarnished sentences of Private Elisha Hunt Rhodes's diary; what better way to "feel" the combination of anxiety and determination before a battle than through the moving words of Sullivan Ballou's letter home to his wife, Sarah?
These "verbal and visual documents" of the past convey meaning and emotions and stories on their own, if they're allowed to speak for themselves. They can make the past, present. They can breathe life into history. They can illuminate the dramatic sweep and the minute details of important American moments – make them more memorable, more understandable than a recitation of dry facts, dates, and names.
We visited more than 80 museums and libraries, where we filmed some 16,000 photographs, paintings, and newspapers of the period. With the help of an extraordinary group of scholars and consultants, we also examined countless written accounts -- diaries, letters, reminiscences -- to glean a stockpile of quotations to accompany our stockpile of images.
I am fortunate to work with a team of talented colleagues – writers, producers, editors, cinematographers, musicians, and actors – who I believe are the best in the nation at taking this raw material and transforming it into what we hope is an unforgettable experience.
But our greatest debt is to the past itself, to those people who recorded their own moment in history with their own pictures and in their own words.
It is their story we tell. And it is their story we try to honor by remembering it as accurately – and as vividly – as possible.
When The Civil War first appeared on PBS in the fall of 1990, no one – myself included – was at all prepared for the overwhelming national response that followed.
The number of visitors at Civil War battlefields skyrocketed. Sales of all books about the war went up. "Ashokan Farewell," the hauntingly beautiful theme song written and performed by Jay Ungar, began to be played at people's weddings and funerals.
Johnny Carson talked about the series in his monologue on "The Tonight Show." Shelby Foote became a national celebrity – even got proposals of marriage through the mail. Different people gave different reasons for all this.
At the time, the United States was on the verge of a war in the Persian Gulf, and some commentators believed Americans were therefore especially interested in the story of our nation's bloodiest conflict.
Others said that, in an era which the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. has described as "too much pluribus, and not enough unum," the film was a timely reminder of the frightful cost our ancestors had paid to make this nation a truly United States.
Whatever the reasons, for myself, I was merely grateful that a documentary film which my colleagues and I had worked so hard to produce could begin the kind of national conversation I have always believed television ought to be able to ignite.
And it strengthened my commitment to making historical documentaries for public television – to continue an investigation of the past to see what it can tell us about who we were and what we have become.
In many ways, each film I have made asks one deceptively simple question: "Who are we Americans as a people?" Each film offers another opportunity to pursue this question, and while never answering it fully, nevertheless deepens the question with each succeeding project.
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