Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Ken Burns on PBS
The Civil War. A Film by Ken Burns
Images of the Civil War
The Film, Past and Present
The War
The Filmmakers
In the Classroom
Using the Series
Classroom Activities
Civil War in Your Town

Episode Six: Valley of the Shadow of Death

Ulysses S. GrantEpisode six begins with a biographical comparison of Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee and then chronicles the extraordinary series of battles that pitted the two generals against each other from the wilderness to Petersburg in Virginia. In 30 days, the two armies lose more men than both sides have lost in three years of war. With Grant and Lee finally deadlocked at Petersburg, we visit the ghastly hospitals north and south and follow General Sherman’s Atlanta campaign through the mountains of north Georgia. As the horrendous casualty lists increase, Lincoln’s chances for re-election begin to dim, and with them the possibility of Union victory.

Detailed Episode Description with time code:

Prologue :00 -:01:27
Walt Whitman worries about the coming battles, the "awful loads ... of bloody, pale, and wounded young men."

6.1 Chapter 1 - THE CIVIL WAR Series Title :01:28 -:05:22
There is no real end in sight for the war. And, as William Tecumseh Sherman says, "the worst of the war is not yet begun."

6.2 Chapter 2 - 1864: Valley of the Shadow of Death :05:23 - :08:37
Letter from Spotswood Rice, escaped slave and Union soldier, to his enslaved children.

6.3 Chapter 3 - Grant :08:38 - :15:17
Ulysses S. Grant's background: Born in 1822 to a tanner in Ohio. Graduates from West Point. Marries the daughter of a Kentucky slave-holder. Fights in the Mexican War. Unsuccessfully tries farming, real estate, and works as a clerk for his father. Re-enters the Army when the war begins.

6.4 Chapter 4 - Lee :15:18 - :20:47
Lee's background: Born in 1807 to a very prominent Virginia family and raised by his mother. He is nicknamed "the marble model" at West Point and graduates in 1829 without a single demerit. Marries Mary Custis, George Washington's granddaughter. Serves in the prestigious Army Corps of Engineers during the Mexican War. The captor of John Brown at Harpers Ferry, Lee is the most promising soldier in the nation at the start of the war.

6.5 Chapter 5 - In the Wilderness :20:48 - :36:10
Grant plans a four-pronged assault on the Confederacy: Sherman will move on Atlanta, Sigel will advance up the Shenandoah Valley, Butler will work his way up the James River, and Meade will head south to Richmond. Lee and Grant clash for the first time at The Wilderness, near Chancellorsville, Virginia, "in many ways the most terrible battle of the war." Grant loses 17,000 men. But the next day, instead of retreating, he gives orders to march. Now the war will wage non-stop for 30 days.

6.6 Chapter 6 - Move By the Right Flank :36:11 - :49:34
Lee and Grant fight continuously as Grant's flanking maneuvers force Lee south towards Richmond. At the Battle of Cold Harbor, Grant makes his worst mistake, sending 7,000 troops to be slaughtered by entrenched Rebel troops. In one month, the Union loses 50,000 men. But Grant tricks Lee and makes it to Petersburg, just south of Richmond. The siege of Petersburg begins - it will last ten months.

6.7 Chapter 7 - Now, Fix Me :49:35 - :56:49
Both sides organize hundreds of hospitals to care for the wounded. Walt Whitman volunteers in hospital wards in Washington. Dorothea Dix is in charge of all the nurses for the Union army and serves all four years without pay.

6.8 Chapter 8 - The Remedy :56:50 - 1:04:45
William Tecumseh Sherman moves south from Chattanooga to wards Atlanta. Lincoln's chances for re-election hinge on Sherman's campaign. Sherman's advance is a masterpiece of planning and Joseph E. Johnston cannot slow his advance. He makes one mistake at Kennesaw Mountain he loses 3,000 men in a series of doomed frontal assaults. Then, Sherman also stalls outside of Atlanta.

Click here for the Educator's Index PDF (208k)
[The Educator's Index is an alphabetical and timecode specific listing of topics covered in each episode.]
Copyright 2002 WETA. All rights reserved.