Written and Directed by Ric Burns. Based on the book This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust. A Steeplechase Films production for American Experience. American Experience is a production of WGBH.
Before the Civil War, says historian and Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust, there was no system of transporting those wounded in combat, no means of identifying the dead, no national cemeteries, no Memorial Day. The war's stunning toll—750,000 Confederate and Union deaths, almost two thirds from disease— forever changed the American psyche, making these vital tasks part of the nation's solemn duties to the dead. Based on Faust's book This Republic of Suffering, the film first aired on the 150th anniversary of the battle of Antietam.