September 19, 2012

Review of PBS Special, "Death in the Civil War"


I watched the PBS special last night entitled "Death in the Civil War." You can watch it on line at this link.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/death/

It was quite sobering. Airing it on the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam was especially appropriate.  I recommend it.

We sometime focus on the minutiae of the equipment and railroads in the war and it is easy to lose sight of the big picture - that hundreds of thousands of people fought and died.

The show doesn't address the causes of the war, but does examine the aftermath.

There were two points I found especially enlightening, one was the role that the Gettysburg Address had in refocusing the war aim. One of the historians on the show described how the Gettysburg Address gave a voice to the dead. That was a revelation I had not considered, but it makes sense and I found the thought comforting.

The second point was that the Civil War was the first war where the U.S. government recognized an obligation to its fallen soldiers.   We in the U. S. military have now taken this to an extreme with our current mantra that, "no one gets left behind."  I did not know that the civil war was where that concept has its roots.

Prior to this show, I was unaware of BG Whitman's program to rebury Union soldiers in some of the first U.S. National cemeteries. I was also unaware that the north refused to rebury confederate dead and it wasn't until 1906 that the Federal government began marking confederate grave sites.

One other ACW RR point, some of the  photos shown in the program showed post war photos of railroads and equipment. They were images I had not seen before and a possible avenue for research.

No comments:

Post a Comment