History

The Civil War

Between 1861 and 1865, Americans made war on each other and killed each other in great numbers if only to become the kind of country that could no longer conceive of how that was possible. What began as a bitter dispute over Union and States' Rights, ended as a struggle over the meaning of freedom in America.

Making The Civil War: 25 Years Later

28m 19s

Ken Burns, Ric Burns, Buddy Squires, and Allen Moore discuss the making of The Civil War.

Episodes

  • 1865: "War Is All Hell"/"The Better Angels of Our Nature": asset-mezzanine-16x9

    1865: "War Is All Hell"/"The Better Angels of Our Nature"

    S1 E5 - 2h 14m

    Follow Sherman’s March to the Sea, Richmond’s fall to Grant’s army, and Lee’s surrender to Grant. Follow the events of Lincoln’s assassination and burial, and Booth’s capture, as the war finally comes to a close. Explore the consequences and meaning of a war that transformed the country from a collection of states to the nation it is today.

  • 1864: "Valley of the Shadow of Death"/"Most Hallowed Ground": asset-mezzanine-16x9

    1864: "Valley of the Shadow of Death"/"Most Hallowed Ground"

    S1 E4 - 2h 18m

    Visit ghastly hospitals in the North and South and follow Sherman’s Atlanta campaign. While causalities mount, Lincoln’s re-election chances dim. Learn why the stakes were high for the 1864 presidential campaign, where Lincoln faced George McClellan. Also follow Union battle victories at Mobile Bay, Atlanta and the Shenandoah Valley, and the creation of Arlington National Cemetery.

  • 1863: "Simply Murder"/"The Universe of Battle": asset-mezzanine-16x9

    1863: "Simply Murder"/"The Universe of Battle"

    S1 E3 - 2h 34m

    Follow Lee, Jackson and Grant through battles and northern opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation. Watch the Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the war, unfold. See Vicksburg’s fall, New York draft riots, the first African-American troops, western battles at Chickamauga and Chattanooga — and Lincoln’s dedication of a new Union cemetery at Gettysburg.

  • 1862: "A Very Bloody Affair"/"Forever Free": asset-mezzanine-16x9

    1862: "A Very Bloody Affair"/"Forever Free"

    S1 E2 - 2h 21m

    See the birth of modern warfare and Lincoln’s war to preserve the Union transform into a war to emancipate the slaves. Follow the battle of ironclad ships, camp life and the beginning of the end of slavery. Re-live the war’s bloodiest day, on the banks of Antietam Creek, and the brightest: the emancipation of the slaves.

  • 1861: "The Cause": asset-mezzanine-16x9

    1861: "The Cause"

    S1 E1 - 1h 40m

    Beginning with a searing indictment of slavery, this first episode dramatically evokes the causes of the war, from the Cotton Kingdom of the South to the northern abolitionists who opposed it. Here are the burning questions of Union and states' rights, John Brown at Harpers Ferry, the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, the firing on Fort Sumter, and the jubilant rush to arms on both sides.

Extras + Features

  • A House Divided: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    A House Divided

    S1 - 3m 16s

    By mid-century, the country was deeply divided. Southerners feared the North might forbid slavery. Northerners feared slavery might move west. As each new state was added to the union, it threatened to upset the delicate equilibrium of power.

  • Bottom Rail on Top: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Bottom Rail on Top

    S1 - 7m 49s

    Lincoln issues the first federal draft call, but for $300, men can hire substitutes and most of the wealthy elite do so. Resistance to the draft causes riots throughout the North. Lincoln authorizes the first African-American troops. The 54th Massachusetts regiment, under Robert Gould Shaw, attacks Fort Wagner, South Carolina.

  • In the classroom with The Civil War: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    In the classroom with The Civil War

    S1 - 4m 45s

    English and Social Studies teacher Eden McCauslin discusses how she uses The Civil War series when teaching her students at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C.

  • Honorable Manhood: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Honorable Manhood

    S1 - 3m 25s

    A week before the battle of Bull Run, Sullivan Ballou wrote a letter to his wife.

  • Q & A: Typical Day: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Q & A: Typical Day

    S1 - 1m 12s

    Ken Burns describes a typical day of filmmaking and production.

  • Secessionitis: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Secessionitis

    S1 -

    In 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected President, and the South was horrified. Seven Southern states seceded in the time between Lincoln's election and inauguration. The Confederacy inaugurated Mississippi senator Jefferson Davis as President. Introduction to Mary Chesnut, wife of a prominent Southern planter and diarist.

  • Appomattox: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Appomattox

    S1 - 11m 7s

    April 7, 1865 - Grant writes to Lee. April 9, 1865. Lee sends word that he will surrender. Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant meet at Appomattox to work out the terms of the surrender. The formal surrender comes three days later. In Washington, Lincoln quietly rejoices. A few blocks away, John Wilkes Booth plots.

  • Q & A: Civil War Interest: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Q & A: Civil War Interest

    S1 -

    Ken Burns shares how his interest in the Civil War came about after noticing it was the central event in American History.

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