A new five part documentary entitled Civil War: The Untold Story will air on PBS television stations beginning in April 2014. The film is from Great Divide Pictures, a company that has produced several historical documentaries for TV as well as films shown in National Park visitor centers, and is narrated by actress Elizabeth McGovern, who is currently seen on PBS in the popular British import series Downton Abbey.
According to producer Chris Wheeler, “the film is not just about who we were then. It’s about who we are now”. The focus of the documentary is on battles in the Western Theater such as Shiloh, Chickamauga, Vicksburg, and the battles in the Atlanta Campaign; plus the role of African Americans in the war. The story is told using both live action battle reenactments and interviews with Civil War historians. Based on the film’s trailer, the battle scenes are grimly realistic. And speaking of the trailer, here it is:
I wouldn’t consider the war in the west to be an “untold story” but it is true that the eastern campaigns do get more attention and the fighting outside of the Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia corridor could use a well produced, historically accurate documentary as we commemorate the Civil War sesquicentennial. I’m looking forward to viewing the series and seeing if it fills the bill.
Sneak previews of the series were shown in February at various Civil War related National Park Service sites and other locations, and these preview showings will continue throughout March. Since PBS stations don’t all broadcast shows at the same time, check local listings of the station in your area for air dates and times. For more information see the Civil War: The Untold Story’s Facebook page.
Update: Check out my review of the series.