Saturday, March 29, 2014

Documentary Review: Civil War Episode Six: Valley of the Shadow of Death

This episode introduces us to the generals, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.  Grant comes to Washington, and meets President Lincoln at a ball.  In the mean time General Lee has had the ability to predict what the opposing general is going to do.  He has this canny knack with Grant as well, however Grant's idea is to keep on the offensive.  The first engage at the Wilderness (close to Chancellorsville and in fact their are unburied bones on the battlefield.)  The most harrowing thing about this battle is the area was very dry.  The canister set fire to the kindling.  The wounded had no way to escape this fire, and many were burned alive, their screams reaching the men on both sides.  Not pleasant.
Instead of retreating as all the other generals had done, Grant continued forward, around his left flank.  He did this time and again, driving Lee towards Richmond; The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, New Market, and Cold Harbor.  The one time Lee missed predicting Grants next move was before the siege of Petersburg.  Lee had though Grant would attack directly at Richmond, but instead went around Richmond and tried to take the rail junction south of the city.  It was only by providence that enough Confederates were able to arrive, which lead to the long siege from June to April of the next year. 
Before turning to the Western theater, the movie talked about the hospital system.  Union Hospitals totaled 350 at the end of the war, up from a handful.  The Confederacy had 150 hospitals.  Dorothea Dix or Dragon Dix as she was called, was the head of nursing, working without pay.  Dorothea Dix is known as the founder of my profession, social work.  Early in the war she wanted the nurses to be plain, to dress plainly, and have no interest in the men.  However, as the war progressed, she just wanted nurses.  Walt Whitman served in the hospitals, dressing wounds, reading poetry. 
As for they Western theater, the Union drove towards Atlanta.  For the most part Sherman moved around the flanks, avoiding frontal attacks, except for at Kennesaw Mountain, where he felt the Confederates ere too thin, but the Confederates were dug in and the Union suffered significant loss.

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