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Untold Secrets of the Civil War, The (DVD Review)

8 Feb, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 2/15/11
$49.99 six-DVD set
Not rated.

This boxed set consists of six public television programs about the Civil War that have previously been released individually on DVD. Now collected under the “Reader’s Digest” banner, their re-release comes just in time to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. The programs aren’t as engaging as something along the lines of Ken Burns’ The Civil War but are still loaded with rich stories that any history buff or Civil War enthusiast will want to add to their collection.

Discs one and two present Civil War Minutes: Union and Civil War Minutes: Confederates, which profile some of the equipment used in the war and the men who fought in it, painting a portrait of a soldier’s life at the time.

Disc three, Gettysburg and Stories of Valor, focuses on the famous battle and is narrated by Keith Carradine.

Civil War Life on the fourth disc presents programs about two soldiers: William F. Bartlett, who loses his leg in battle but eventually returns to action, and Oscar Jackson, who survived a musket shot to the face.

This leads to disc five’s Horses of Gettysburg, a title that should raise a few eyebrows. The program describes how horses were vital to fighting the war and ultimately shaping the history of America.

The final disc includes Lincoln and Lee at Antietam, a documentary about the famed Battle of Antietam in 1862, which became the bloodiest single day in the history of American warfare. The Union’s ultimate victory gave President Lincoln the political opportunity he needed to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. This disc also includes Great Campaigns of the Civil War, which re-creates some of the critical moments of key battles throughout the war.

Horses and Antietam are both narrated by Ronald F. Maxwell, a filmmaker better known for directing the Civil War films Gods and Generals and Gettysburg.

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