April 1864 - The American Civil War rages on. More than half a million soldiers are dead. In the North President Abraham Lincoln is facing a tough election. His political opponents are calling for a negotiated peace with the Confederacy. But Lincoln, unswayed, is determined to restore the Union at any cost. That cost, as it turns out, will be paid in Georgia.
It was perhaps the most intense and defining period in Georgia’s history, if not the nation’s. It was a campaign that cemented the outcome of the Civil War. It was a time when General William Tecumseh Sherman did what he had vowed to do -- “make Georgia howl.” That time was 37 weeks long.....37 weeks from when he first invaded the northern part of the state until he delivered the city of Savannah to President Lincoln as a Christmas present. 37 weeks - a span of time that is seared into the collective memory of our state.
April 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of Sherman’s first foray into our state and Georgia Public Broadcasting, in partnership with the Atlanta History Center, will observe that significant date by premiering the first of a 37 part series that will bring to life Sherman’s devastating journey through Georgia. Each of the 90 second segments will air multiple times (on both TV and radio) during the week that parallels the same week in Sherman’s campaign. Each of the segments will tell a story, a story that does more than just outline a military campaign These will be stories that make us feel and understand the human dimension of war: What did it feel like when Sherman’s army - 100 thousand strong - was bearing down on your town or city? What was motivating Sherman’s fateful decisions? What was it like for the foot solider on either side of the battlefield? What were some of those twists of fate or ironic moments that war inevitably produces? These are among the stories we will explore.
Of course we will also shine a light on key turning points like the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the last major obstacle between Sherman and Atlanta. Confederate cannons on top of the mountain fired on the rail line below and, in doing so, gave away their position. What the Confederates did not know was that Federal artillery had longer range cannons and returned fire. In the words of one Confederate officer, “the Federal fire was so accurate that that they were exploding their shells about 3 feet above our works, They began to work us over scientifically.”
With the scholarship of Atlanta History Center Civl War historian Gordon Jones guiding the way, supported with their vast collection of photos, maps, documents, diaries and newspaper accounts, viewers will be drawn into this compelling drama that forever transformed our state.
The series will be produced by award-winning filmmaker Bruce Burkhardt who also wrote and produced GPB’s highly successful documentary, Augusta’s Master Plan - From Sherman’s March to Arnie’s Army. The series will be narrated by Masud Olufani