Civil War Combat (DVD)

History Channel


With beautifully shot footage of reenactors, Civil War Combat illustrates aspects of four particular Civil War battles that are rightfully considered legendary. Filmed on location, the reenactors depict the violent mayhem of the hornet's nest at Shiloh, the valiant charge on the sunken road at Antietam, the carnage in the wheat field at Gettysburg, and the brutal fighting at Cold Harbor. Produced by the History Channel, the episodes all benefit from insightful appearances by historians as well as rangers from the National Park Service. The format of putting the focus on specific points of action in larger battles allows for narratives about specific soldiers and commanders, in both the Union and Confederate ranks, to develop. For instance, the segment on Antietam profiles commanders and individual soldiers from the Union's Irish Brigade and the Alabama regiment they charged during some of the most violent action of the entire war. The Civil War reenactors provide a credible look at how the war must have appeared to participants (though purists will note that some of the reenactors appear too clean and too well fed to have been marching behind Robert E. Lee). The discussions of strategy and the importance of the events depicted, combined with the uniformly excellent cinematography, make this an entertaining and enlightening look at critical events of the Civil War. --Robert J. McNamara
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