From Harper?s Ferry, Fort Sumter, and First Bull Run to Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg, THE HISTORY CHANNEL PRESENTS: THE CIVIL WAR captures the most legendary Civil War battles in brilliant detail. A sweeping selection ... more »of the soldiers and legendary leaders who fought these battles, including Sherman, McClellan, Grant, Beauregard, Lee, Davis, and Jackson, are also brought back to life in richly detailed profiles. Through interviews with scholars and historians, reenactments, and their own written words, the full military and political contexts of these men, their armies, and the clashes between them are thoroughly explored.« less
"An outstanding collection of the best episodes of History Channel's "Civil War Combat" and "Civil War Journal," the latter hosted and narrated by actor Danny Glover.
My only real qualms (and the reason I give this set 4 stars out of 5) is because A&E/History Channel basically recycled these previously released episodes and simply boxed them up together. That's fine and all as it's more convenient to have all of them together, BUT...if you're going to do that, why not put these episodes into anamorphic widescreen and/or remaster the video images as well? Some of these episodes look like they were transfered to DVD straight from a VHS source.
But this should not take away from the fact that these are extremely well-made histories - informative, educational and obviously produced by and with the assistance of those with a distinct passion for the Civil War.
Definitely worth your time and attention!"
Mark Wolf | PA | 07/13/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The first 2 discs (4 episodes) were exactly what i was expecting. True to life re-enactments. Very good.
The problem with this History channel series is when it get to the 3rd and 4th disc. There are no more re-enactments. Instead its mostly narration by Danny Glover. The last two discs, half of this series is very boring and not as clean and crisp as the first two discs.
Pass by this"
Excellent programming, odd format
Fanshawe | SC, USA | 10/10/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoy Civil War history and decided to add this to my collection. While the programs themselves are enjoyable, I found myself scratching my head as to how this collection was put together.
It's not a "new series" but contains episodes of both The History Channel's "Civil War Journal" and "Civil War Combat" which aired originally in the mid 90's. (Until recently these were often shown on THC in the early morning hours). THC also has a couple of different boxed sets of "Civil War Journal" and some of the episodes here are included. For whatever reason, though, it seems impossible to obtain the ENTIRE collection of this great series. (From what I can determine, the whole series was originally released on VHS some time ago but is no longer available).
It is odd to me also that the various episodes here are presented in no particular order. You would think that something called "The History Channel Presents the Civil War" would perhaps start out with Fort Sumter on volume one, and go in chronological order. However, that's not the case here. Fort Sumter is somewhere on disk 3, I believe.
I feel like some intern at THC said, "Hey, let's take some of these old shows and just throw some of them together as a DVD set!" and someone listened.
Despite my irritation with the format, I really do enjoy this programming. It's just too bad that these great series are not grouped together as ONE boxed set.
Still, this is worthwhile and not too pricey."
Good but somewhat of a mixed bag
magellan | Santa Clara, CA | 12/06/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I came to this series as a newcomer to Civil War history, and wanted a good set of videos to learn from. Overall, this set serves well for that purpose, with spectacular re-enactments, interesting narration and information, and overall good video and production qualities.
But the series does have its quirks. For one thing, the set doesn't seem to contain, from what I remember, all the episodes of battles that I saw when I first watched the series in reruns on TV. The last two videos are just narration by Danny Glover and don't contain any re-enactments. While this is still a good set, I don't understand why they just didn't pick the most dramatic re-enactments to put on DVD.
But all in all, this is a good teaching set to learn from, and the enactments are dramatic and interesting to watch. With just a little suspension of disbelief, it really feels like you're right there in the heat of the battle. I also liked how much of the commentary focused on the main military commanders, their style of command, tactics, previous experience, and how their decisions, good or bad, influenced the outcome of the battles.
For example, I learned that in few wars in history did troops charge so bravely but often futilely against superior or fortified enemy positions as in Chickamauga and Antietam, from which came withering hails of bullets and cannon fire that decimated the oncoming troops. But each side of the war thought their cause was with the angels and so the troops fought with a determination and resolve that few wars have ever seen. The advent of exploding canon shells rather than the old canon balls further added to the slaughter.
Over the years, I've known several friends who used to participate in Civil War re-enactments, and it was always interesting to listen to their stories, and how much fun it was to participate in them. But I'd never attended one and was curious to see how they really looked. One of them said you had to be careful when pouring in the powder charge not to create any sparks, because the flame could travel right up to your powder horn and take your head off.
I note some people have commented that the video needs re-mastering and looks like it was transferred directly from VHS to DVD. I'm not knowledgeable enough about video to know if the video could be improved in the transferring process or not, but I thought the video was just fine the way it was. There are video upscaling methods that can improve video, though, I guess through mathematical interpolation and other techniques (which is all I know about it), so perhaps this is what they are referring to, and many of the pricier DVD players right now offer this capability for people who want better performance out of their new HD TVs. But anyway, I thought the video was okay the way it was.
Through this set I was finally able to view some of these historical re-enactments, and also to learn a lot I didn't know about the war. Overall a good set despite some quirks and an excellent way for a neophyte in Civil War history to get his feet wet."
Not A Great Series......
Ambergris | New England.....USA | 07/20/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I have to agree with most of the other reviewers on here that this series, though reasonably priced, is not really worth your money. Most of the problem with it is not its quality or production that is quite good. It has more to do with the series being more of an odd pick of some essential battles of the Civil War, rather than a documentary done in some chronological order. It more resembles parts of a much bigger series, lets say with 15 episodes for example, where 6 are just chosen at random and sold as a collection. I would only recommend purchasing this series if you can find it used, and at a substantially reduced price..."