Ken Burns: The Civil War

Ken Burns: The Civil War

Sun, 02/21/2021 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Pictured: provost Guard of the 107th Colored Infantry at Fort Corcoran, part of the defenses of Washington.

Photo Credit: Library of Congress.

Ken Burns'epic documentary brings to life America's most destructive — and defining — conflict. 

The Civil War is the saga of celebrated generals and ordinary soldiers, a heroic and transcendent president, and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one. The Civil War airs Sunday, February 21 at 1 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

The film is a comprehensive and definitive history of the American Civil War, and the recipient of 40 major film and television awards, including two Emmys and two Grammys. Heralded as an unforgettable introduction to a four-year conflict fought in 10,000 places, The Civil War was five years in the making. The film vividly embraces the entire sweep of the war: the complex causes and lasting effects of America's greatest and most moving calamity, the battles and the homefronts, the generals and the private soldiers, the anguish of death in battle and the grief of families at home.

Archival images of 16,000 photographs, taken from a total of 1 million pictures of the Civil War, along with period paintings, lithographs, and headlines, were combined with moving newsreel footage of Civil War veterans, evocative live cinematography of the now quiet battle sites, interviews with distinguished historians, and the inclusion of first-person accounts.

In the words of Ken Burns, "the Civil War was history running on all cylinders. It was the most important event in the life of our nation, and its importance continues today. The blueprint of the America we know was drawn up then, and whether we know it or not, we are still walking around in the shadow of that war."

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