Civil War: The Untold Story is a visually stunning and absorbing new 5-hour documentary series that breaks new ground by examining the war through the lens of the Western Theater - battles in the strategic lands between the Appalachians and Mississippi River. The series, which will air in one-hour weekly installments, is narrated by Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey).
Rather than revisit the oft-told stories of the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg in the eastern states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, this gripping and comprehensive new series instead tells the stories of Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Atlanta, and other battles in lands then known as “the West.” Many historians believe that the Western Theater was where the war was won – and lost. In addition to the epic battles, Civil War: The Untold Story provides new insights into the relatively unknown roles African Americans played in the conflict – from enslaved to emancipated to soldier.
“The film is not just about who we were then. It's about who we are now," said producer Chris Wheeler. “In a nation arguably as divided today as we were 150 years ago, Civil War: The Untold Storyis a compelling, relevant program that we believe will strike a powerful chord with Americans today.”
Episode One – Bloody Shiloh
April 29 on WKNO/April 30 on WKNO2
With the 1860 election of anti-slavery candidate Abraham Lincoln, thirteen states from the South secede and form the Confederate States of America. Union military leaders, along with Lincoln himself, realize that ending the rebellion rests on controlling the Mississippi River. In February 1862, Union forces, led by an obscure general named Ulysses S. Grant, establish a foothold in southern Tennessee near a simple log structure known as “Shiloh Church.”
Episode Two – A Beacon of Hope
May 6 on WKNO/May 7 on WKNO2
In the disaster at Shiloh, Union General Ulysses S. Grant sees victory. On the night of April 6, 1862, Grant’s beleaguered army along the Tennessee River is reinforced. The next morning, Grant’s counterattack leads to victory. The defeated Confederate force of 40-thousand retreats south to Corinth, Mississippi. As thousands of slaves flee northward, the question asked all over America is this: are they still slaves or are they now free? In a cottage overlooking Washington DC, Abraham Lincoln begins drafting a “proclamation” whose message will boldly answer that question.
Episode Three – River of Death
May 13 on WKNO/May 14 on WKNO2
Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation does not only free slaves in the rebelling states. It changes the war from one of reunification, to one of ending slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation also gives African Americans freedom to fight. By war’s end, some 200,000 will enlist.
Episode Four – Death Knell of the Confederacy
May 20 on WKNO/May 21 on WKNO2
September 19, 1863. The first day of the Battle of Chickamauga ends in a bloody draw. On the next day, the battle is determined by one of the biggest blunders of the Civil War.
Episode Five – With Malice Toward None
May 27 on WKNO/May 28 on WKNO2
In the spring of 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s force of 100,000 men marches from Chattanooga toward Atlanta, Georgia, the industrial hub of the Deep South. After 6 weeks of bloody conflicts around Atlanta, Sherman wires Washington: “Atlanta is ours and fairly won.” For the first time in the war, many in the North now believe victory can be achieved. Eight weeks later, the president defeats McClellan in a landslide. After the election, Sherman begins his March to the Sea. The largely unopposed march across Georgia to Savannah is a psychological blow to the Confederacy, and a stunning conclusion to the Western Theater.
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