First Civil War Casualty (02:24)
James Hanger enlisted in the Confederacy in June 1861. He became the first soldier wounded in a land battle. Images in this film were colorized with state-of-the-art technology to bring the conflict to life.
Battle of Chancellorsville (03:27)
In 1863, General Robert E. Lee defeated General Joe Hooker's troops, despite being outnumbered. Hear a Union officer's firsthand account of the aftermath. Lee lost 13,000 men, including General Thomas Stonewall; Chancellorsville was the bloodiest battle to date.
Offensive Confederate Strategy (02:02)
By May 1863, the North had instituted a draft and had nearly inexhaustible supplies of food and weapons. Faced with limited resources, General Lee advanced troops north to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to catch the Union Army off guard.
Battle of Gettysburg (02:17)
On July 3, 1863, General Lee ordered Major General George Pickett to rush Union forces at Cemetery Ridge. Hear General John GIbbon's firsthand account of the fight that resulted in 6,000 Confederate casualties.
Gettysburg Aftermath (04:03)
On July 4, 1863, Gettysburg residents witnessed thousands of fallen soldiers. Hear Corporal John Smith's account and see images of bodies. There were no protocols for identifying the dead, which were buried in mass graves for sanitation purposes.
Burial Dilemma (02:31)
Mass graves compromised 19th century ideals of a "good" death. In 1862, the federal government began creating national cemeteries, including one on General Lee's plantation in Arlington, Virginia. Embalming allowed bodies to return home intact and helped prevent disease.
Civil War Heroes (02:16)
Soldiers' final letters became family keepsakes. Hear Philip Hamlin's message to his brothers in Minnesota. He died on July 3, 1863 and was buried in the Gettysburg National Cemetery with an identifiable headstone—unlike thousands buried in mass graves.
Medical Care (03:13)
Facilities were inadequate; wounded soldiers lay on the battlefield for days. Little was known about disease control in the 19th century. Amputations were common; learn about the unsterilized surgical process.
Medical Reforms (02:21)
Amputation survival rates were low due to infection. Disease killed more soldiers than combat. Dr. Jonathan Letterman implemented an ambulatory system to remove wounded soldiers from the battlefield.
POW Camps (02:09)
Soldiers feared getting captured more than being wounded. Camp Sumter in Georgia crammed tens of thousands into an open field of disease. Andersonville had a 33% death rate.
POW Crisis (04:53)
After the Emancipation Proclamation, the Confederacy treated African-American Union soldiers as contraband slaves. The Lincoln Administration refused to exchange prisoners of war—leading to overfull, diseased camps. Hear a song written about prisoner suffering and view images of starving men.
Burning of Atlanta (01:46)
In September 1864, Confederate General John Bell Hood abandoned the city to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, who destroyed military and transportation infrastructure.
Hard War Tactic (04:18)
Combined casualties rose to 1.1 million by the Burning of Atlanta, but the Confederacy refused to surrender. During his march to Savannah, General Sherman targeted civilian resources to demoralize the South. Lincoln was reelected, providing political will for victory.
Epitaph: Gettysburg Address (04:34)
In November 1863, Lincoln gave a speech at a national cemetery dedication in hopes of starting the healing process and boosting Union morale. After his amputation, Hanger developed a prosthetic leg that helped veterans reclaim mobility and self-esteem.
USS Planter (01:42)
In May 1862, a Confederate ship piloted by runaway slave Robert Smalls surrendered to a Union blockade. In exchange for military intelligence, he and his crew were granted freedom.
Battle of the Wilderness (04:59)
In 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant relentlessly attacked General Lee's troops in North Virginia. Both sides dug defense trenches and faced hunger, disease, and psychological trauma. Hear Confederate surgeon Spencer G. Welch's firsthand combat account.
Overland Campaign (01:34)
After the Battle of the Wilderness, General Grant was winning a war of attrition against General Lee's troops, who were running out of resources.
Fall of Richmond (01:15)
On April 2, 1865, Union troops cut off Confederate supplies at Petersburg, forcing General Lee to retreat. On April 6, Lee lost 25% of his army at Sailor's Creek. Lincoln urged General Grant to press for Lee's surrender.
Civil War's End (03:30)
The Confederacy surrendered when General Lee's army was cut off at Petersburg. Hear details of his meeting with General Grant at Appomattox Court House, including terms of surrender. To unite North and South, Grant treated Confederate soldiers with dignity.
Hopes of Peaceful Reconstruction (04:42)
Lincoln believed punishing the South would fuel hostilities, and paroled General Lee rather than execute him. On April 14, members of a Southern loyalist plot to revive the Confederacy assassinated Lincoln. His death shocked the North and South.
A Grim Homecoming (02:18)
Lincoln's assassination marked an era of a scarred nation. Confederate soldiers returned to destruction, disability and poverty; Captain Edward Fontaine expressed desperation at the fate of the South.
Post Civil War Recession (02:41)
The reunited U.S. suffered economically; many Southern states had to pay for prosthetic limbs. Union and Confederate disabled veterans suffered homelessness and psychological damage. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson staged an army review to help heal the nation's war wounds.
13th, 14th and 15th Amendments (04:21)
Following the Civil War, the Constitution outlawed slavery throughout the U.S., eliminated the 3/5 clause, and granted citizenship to African-Americans—including voting rights. Many former slaves had no livelihoods and Southern whites refused to sell them land.
Reconstruction Acts (02:32)
In 1867, Congress passed legislation to rebuild the South that many saw as discrimination against white Southerners. African-American citizenship and white disenfranchisement meant African-Americans controlled Southern state governments. Whites passed local laws to intimidate black voters—defying the 15th Amendment.
Terrorizing Southern African-Americans (01:45)
Racism persisted during the Reconstruction Era. Whites organized informal militias like the Ku Klux Klan to suppress blacks economically, politically, and socially. Lynchings and shootings were common.
Reconstruction Failures (02:47)
In 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes was elected by a deal with Southern Democrats stipulating that Federal troops leave the South. Segregation legislation reinforced African-American oppression for the next century. Only time could heal Civil War wounds.
Protesting a Slavery Symbol (02:24)
In 2000, citizens demanded that the Confederate flag be removed from the Columbia, South Carolina courthouse. Experts discuss its role in the Civil War; most ordinary Southern soldiers fought for state's rights, rather than to preserve slavery.
Civil War Legacy (04:20)
Many argue that national wounds have not yet healed. The conflict preserved the union and democracy, and resulted in African-American emancipation. Robert Smalls served five terms as a U.S. Congressman. (Credits)
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