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The Civil War 

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A comprehensive survey of the American Civil War.
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1,797 ( 146)

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1  
1990  
Top Rated TV #23 | Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 11 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Sam Waterston ...  President Abraham Lincoln 9 episodes, 1990
Julie Harris ...  Mary Chestnut 9 episodes, 1990
Jason Robards ...  Ulysses S. Grant 9 episodes, 1990
Morgan Freeman ...  Frederick Douglass / ... 9 episodes, 1990
Paul Roebling Paul Roebling ...  Joshua L. Chamberlain / ... 9 episodes, 1990
Garrison Keillor ...  Walt Whitman / ... 9 episodes, 1990
George Black George Black ...  Robert E. Lee 9 episodes, 1990
David McCullough ...  Himself - Narrator 9 episodes, 1990
Arthur Miller ...  William Tecumseh Sherman / ... 9 episodes, 1990
Christopher Murney ...  Pvt. Elijah Hunt Rhodes 9 episodes, 1990
Charles McDowell Charles McDowell ...  Pvt. Sam Watkins 9 episodes, 1990
Horton Foote ...  Jefferson Davis 9 episodes, 1990
George Plimpton ...  George Templeton Strong / ... 9 episodes, 1990
Philip Bosco ...  Horace Greeley / ... 9 episodes, 1990
Terry Courier Terry Courier ...  George McClellan 9 episodes, 1990
Jody Powell Jody Powell ...  Stonewall Jackson / ... 9 episodes, 1990
Studs Terkel ...  Benjamin F. Butler 9 episodes, 1990
Jeremy Irons ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Derek Jacobi ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Gene Jones ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Jerome Dempsey ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Laurence Fishburne ...  Various / ... 9 episodes, 1990
Betsy Apple Betsy Apple ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Carol Craven Carol Craven ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Marissa Copeland Marissa Copeland ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Halo Wines Halo Wines ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
David Marks David Marks ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Pamela Reed ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Ronnie Gilbert Ronnie Gilbert ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
M. Emmet Walsh ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Hoyt Axton ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
John Hartford ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Walt MacPherson Walt MacPherson ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Colleen Dewhurst ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
LaTanya Richardson Jackson ...  Various / ... 9 episodes, 1990
Bradford Washburn Bradford Washburn ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Jesse Carr Jesse Carr ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Wendy Tilghman Wendy Tilghman ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Joe Mattys Joe Mattys ...  Various 9 episodes, 1990
Shelby Foote ...  Himself - Writer / ... 8 episodes, 1990
Ed Bearss Ed Bearss ...  Himself - Historian 6 episodes, 1990
Barbara Fields Barbara Fields ...  Herself - Historian 5 episodes, 1990
James Symington James Symington ...  Himself - Former Congressman 4 episodes, 1990
Stephen B. Oates Stephen B. Oates ...  Himself - Historian / ... 4 episodes, 1990
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Storyline

This highly acclaimed mini-series traces the course of the U.S. Civil War from the abolitionist movement through all the major battles to the death of President Lincoln and the beginnings of Reconstruction. The story is mostly told in the words of the participants themselves, through their diaries and letters. Visuals are usually still photographs and illustrations of the time, and the soundtrack is likewise made up of war-era tunes played on period instruments. Several modern-day historians offer periodic comment and insight on the war's causes and events. Written by Eric Sorensen <Eric_Sorensen@fc.mcps.k12.md.us>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It divided a country. It created a nation.


Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 September 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Civil War See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shelby Foote became a celebrity after the success of this mini-series. Foote's phone number was listed in his local phone book, and he received frequent calls from fans. He never removed his number from the phone book, and received calls whenever the mini-series aired for the rest of his life. See more »

Goofs

Contrary to this documentary (and many historians) Winfield Scott never recommended Robet E. Lee for anything more than a "significant command" nor did Lincoln offer Lee command of the Union Army.

An advisor to the President, Francis P. Blair, DID offer Lee command of the Defenses of Washington, via letter, but there are NO records that Lee. An Lincoln ever met in person. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: A week before the battle of Bull Run, Sullivan Ballou, a major in the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers, wrote home to his wife in Smithfield.
Sullivan Ballou: July 14, 1861. Washington, D.C. Dear Sarah, indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days-perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I'm no more. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I'm engaged, and my courage does not ...
[...]
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Soundtracks

We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder
Performed by Bernice Johnson Reagon
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User Reviews

 
The best use to which television has been put
28 September 2002 | by s@toriSee all my reviews

As a historian I can say that there is little so difficult or gratifing as to bring history accurately alive for others. As a military historian I will say that war is both the highest and lowest achievement and calling of humanity. All wars are filled with pathos, and it is almost by definition impossible to fully understand and contextualize them until they are of the past. It may be that the US Civil War is that around which the greatest pathos exists; perhaps the last war in which honour and purpose were equally upheld on both sides - which is not to say that all those who participated were honorable or idealistic. In this work, Ken Burns brought history to life, made the war as understandable as possible, and transmitted the pathos, the honour, the horror, the vileness, and the humanity of the thing. In so doing he redefined film documentary. The Civil War is the best use to which television has been put.


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