The Civil War (1990)
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Most Hallowed Ground (1864) 

By the summer of 1864, the Union push had been stopped. At Petersburg, Union troops had been entrenched in an intricate network trenches for two months. The key to victory lay in Sherman ... See full summary »


Ken Burns


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
David McCullough ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Shelby Foote ... Himself - Writer / Various
Ed Bearss Ed Bearss ... Himself - Historian
Stephen B. Oates Stephen B. Oates ... Himself - Historian
Sam Waterston ... President Abraham Lincoln (voice)
Julie Harris ... Mary Chestnut (voice)
Jason Robards ... Ulysses S. Grant (voice)
Morgan Freeman ... Frederick Douglass (voice)
Paul Roebling Paul Roebling ... Joshua L. Chamberlain / Washington Roebling (voice)
Garrison Keillor ... Walt Whitman (voice)
George Black George Black ... Robert E. Lee (voice)
Arthur Miller ... William Tecumseh Sherman (voice)
Christopher Murney ... Pvt. Elijah Hunt Rhodes (voice) (as Chris Murney)
Charles McDowell Charles McDowell ... Pvt. Sam Watkins (voice) (as Charley McDowell)
Horton Foote ... Jefferson Davis (voice)


By the summer of 1864, the Union push had been stopped. At Petersburg, Union troops had been entrenched in an intricate network trenches for two months. The key to victory lay in Sherman capturing Atlanta and on July 22, the battle began and by September, Confederate Gen. Hood abandoned the city. In Virginia, Gen. Sheridan was laying waste to the Shenandoah Valley. For Lincoln, he faced an election in the midst of a civil war, something unknown at the time. Lincoln seemed unelectable and the Democrats were running the ousted Gen McClellan as their candidate. The Democrats had as their platform the immediate cessation of all hostilities. The election became a referendum on the war itself. By November, Lincoln and his running mate won a resounding victory with 55% of the popular vote. In the South, discouragement set in with the realization that they could not win the war. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

26 September 1990 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films, WETA See more »
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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Last-Minute Fortunes Change For Lincoln, Union
15 August 2007 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

In this episode, we learn (at least I did, not being familiar with the man) about Bedford Forest, "the most feared calvary commander of the war" and the man who raised himself in rank more than anyone in the Civil War.. Not being much of an expert on the civil war, any factors or opinions of this man were new to me and pretty fascinating. All the historians seem almost in awe of him. It was said he was almost impossible to defeat, no matter what the odds.

The summer of '64 was the low point for the Union Army Grant's losses had been "appalling." The army's progress was stalling and his grand strategy had apparently come to nothing. Nobody else was succeeding. even Sherman was stalled outside of Atlanta.

No nation had ever held an election in the middle of a civil war - nobody in history. Horace Greely said there should be another ticket because Lincoln has no chance to win. Politicians in his own party preferred someone else.

"We can't have a free government without an election," said Lincoln, who felt he would lose, too, but the country's well-being was more important to him than his own personal gain.

By the end of the summer, though, things looked better - a lot better - for both Lincoln and the Union. Sherman had taken Atlanta and some areas of the South had been totally devastated by the ruthless Philip Sheridan. At this point, though, it was tough to feel sorry for South after people learned about Andersonville, a prison camp of 33,000 inmates who were starved. It looked the Holocaust. Shown are some pictures of men, still living, who are literally skin and bones and as bad off as anything I've ever seen.

Lincoln then gets elected easily. Robert E. Lee's former house is turned into Arlington National Cemetery.

Overall, a very grim segment in this long, grim war. This is still an interesting series but this particular episode was tough to watch in spots. It got depressing.

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