Ken Burns

Episode 1: Prologue

Oliver Wendell Holmes – We have shared the incommunicable experiences of war.  We have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top.  In our youths, our hearts were touched with fire. 

Narrator – By the summer of 1861, Wilmer McLean had had enough.  Two great armies were converging on his farm, in what would be the first major battle of the Civil War – Bull Run or Manassas as the Confederates called it – would soon rage across the aging Virginians farm, a Union shell going so far as to explode in the summer kitchen.  Now, Mclean had moved his family away from Manassas and south and west of Richmond – out of harm’s way, he prayed, to a dusty crossroads called Appomattox Court House.  And it was there in his living room three and a half years later that Lee surrendered to Grant, and Wilmer McLean could rightfully say, "The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor."

A friend and fellow historian recently sent me the entire Ken Burns Civil War transcript.  Huh….what should I do with it?

CraterThanks for reading this post. Scroll down, leave a comment and join the conversation. Follow me on Twitter and join the Civil War Memory Facebook group for continuous updates and additional links to newsworthy items from around the interwebs. Stay up to date by subscribing to this blog’s feed. You can also check out my recently published book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder.

7 comments… add one
  • Brooks Simpson Jun 6, 2006

    What amuses me about the Holmes comment is that in 1864 … he went home.

  • hporter Nov 7, 2007

    Would it be possible to post the transcript on the internet? I am a big fan of the film and would like to read it!

  • Kevin Levin Nov 7, 2007

    Unfortunately, there are copyright issues.

  • hporter Nov 8, 2007

    In that case, if at all possible, could it be emailed to me? My email address is

  • Kevin Levin Nov 8, 2007

    At this point I am going to have to say no. I am at the very early stages of a book project with another historian that involves the editing of the entire manuscript. We still need to get permission to publish. I would rather not be responsible for distributing this around for legal reasons.

  • Jamie Winetrobe Nov 21, 2011

    My colleague and I teach the civil war to juniors in a private high school. We would LOVE to have a transcript of Ken Burns Civil War–all of it.

    Thank you.

    Jamie Winetrobe

    • Kevin Levin Nov 21, 2011

      Hi Jamie,

      Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, I am not able to share the script owing to copyright restrictions.

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