The Civil War (1990)
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Simply Murder (1863) 

By early 1863, Union soldiers with the Army of the Potomac had not been paid for 6 months and supplies were thin. Some 200 men were deserting every day and by January one-quarter of the men... See full summary »


Ken Burns

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Barbara Fields Barbara Fields ... Herself - Historian
Paul Roebling Paul Roebling ... Joshua L. Chamberlain (voice)
James Symington James Symington ... Himself - Former Congressman
Sam Waterston ... President Abraham Lincoln (voice)
George Black George Black ... Robert E. Lee (voice)
Julie Harris ... Mary Chestnut (voice)
Jason Robards ... Ulysses S. Grant (voice)
Morgan Freeman ... Frederick Douglass (voice)
Garrison Keillor ... Walt Whitman / Various (voice)
Philip Bosco ... Horace Greeley / Various (voice)
Arthur Miller ... William Tecumseh Sherman (voice)
Terry Courier Terry Courier ... George McClellan (voice)
Christopher Murney ... Pvt. Elijah Hunt Rhodes (voice) (as Chris Murney)
Charles McDowell Charles McDowell ... Pvt. Sam Watkins (voice) (as Charley McDowell)
Jody Powell Jody Powell ... Stonewall Jackson / Various (voice)


By early 1863, Union soldiers with the Army of the Potomac had not been paid for 6 months and supplies were thin. Some 200 men were deserting every day and by January one-quarter of the men were AWOL. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, the new Union commander, wanted to take Fredericksburg but delays in getting the pontoon boats to cross the Rappahannock river allowed Lee to amass 75,000 men. The Union army was blown away and 9,000 men were killed. Elsewhere, the Confederate army was matching this success and a Union flotilla was captured. Lincoln called for more troops and in February, pushed a conscription bill through Congress. Both conscription and the freeing of the slaves were not universally popular and anti-war sentiment was growing. Jefferson Davis had his own problems however. His need to centralize authority did not sit well those who supported States rights. The economy began to collapse with high inflation and resulting protests. By the end of the year, 40% of the Confederate army ... Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

25 September 1990 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films, WETA See more »
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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Fredericksburg, Grant, Proclamation, Stonewall & More
12 August 2007 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

The North puts on a valiant, courageous effort in storming Fredericksburg but loses over 10,000 men in what really amounted to a suicide mission. The South continues to win key battles mainly because the North has such inept generals, according to this Ken Burns TV documentary.

Finally, after numerous strategic mistakes by Northern military leaders, Lincoln turns to Ulysses S. Grant to lead the Union. Conditions continue to be brutal, not just for the undermanned but for the North. Food and supplies are scarce and costly. Men are going AWOL by the thousands The Emancipation Proclamation has made Lincoln very unpopular, both with the South and North.

Thousands of blacks are shipped off to Texas, so they don't wind up fighting against the South. (Reportedly, there are many northern sympathizers in the South and they fight for the Union.)

Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson dies midway through the year, a huge loss for the Confederates. Next to General Robert E. Lee, Jackson is the most beloved soldier the South had, I believe. (See the motion picture, "Gods and Generals," by the way, for a thorough look at Jackson.)

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