Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Civil War: Episode Five: The Universe of Battle (1863)

This series was presented in 1990 on PBS.  The fifth episode tells the story of Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chikamauga, and Chattanooga.  It also talks of some of the women's programs, and the involvement of African Americans in the war.  It ends with Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address.  This presentation does a very good job of the three day battle at Gettysburg.  The Confederate had things mostly their way the first day, and they were so close to breaking the confederates and both flanks.  The story of Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine is beautifully done.  It is good to understand the import of the battle on the flank, and how timely was the defense of Little round Top.
And then the third day, Lee's biggest mistake of the war in Pickett's Charge.  It was across too wide a distance, into the face of too many canon and too many rifles.  It was doomed from the start, and those who actually made it to the Union line were killed or captured.  Lee took responsibility, and offered his resignation, which was not accepted.
The war in the West saw Union success, with the surrender of Vicksburg after a long siege, and then pushing back the Confederates in Tennessee.  It is also proper that the show focused on the conributions of women.  Did you know Clara Barton was less that 5 feet tall.  The societies that contributed to the war effort, and medical supplies were vital. 
Ten percent of the Union troops by the end of the war were African American.  That represents ten percent of the total, while the Black population in the North was only one percent.  85 percent of those who could serve, actually served in the war.  In a very real sense, the African American population fought for their own freedom, and for that of their people.
The recitation of Lincoln's two-minute speech which he gave at Gettysburg highlights this film. 
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate-we can not consecrate-we can not hallow-this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
Those are beautiful words, words that inspire even to this day.

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