MPT augments 'Civil War' series with its own regional documentary


September 24, 1990|By Michael Hill

Maryland Public Television is providing a local angle on "The TTC Civil War" for viewers of the mammoth PBS documentary series that began last night and continues tonight at 8 o'clock on channels 22 and 67.

Tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday night, the broadcasts of "The Civil War" will be followed at 10:30 by half-hour segments of "A Region Divided," an MPT production that explores the effect of ++ the Civil War on Maryland.

Narrated by Lary Lewman, and using a variety of devices including re-enactments of battles and camp sites, "A Region Divided" is at its strongest in its first two episodes which provide detailed local information that doesn't duplicate what will have just been seen in "The Civil War."

You learn, for instance, that the first killings of the war, following its beginning at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, occurred in Baltimore on Pratt street when a mob of southern sympathizers attacked Union soldiers changing trains on their way to Washington. Four soldiers and 12 civilians died in the fighting.

And did you know that whenever you sing our state song, "Maryland, My Maryland," you are reciting lyrics written to support the secessionist cause?

Sympathy for the South ran deep in this slave state and President Lincoln, recognizing the danger to Washington, suspended civil rights and kept Maryland under martial law throughout the war. The cannons of a fort on Federal Hill were trained on the city of Baltimore and influential citizens were held without trial in Fort McHenry.

Similarly, segments on Harriet Tubman, the Talbot county slave who escaped to become a leader of the underground railroad, and Antietam, the Maryland battle that gave the war its bloodiest day, nicely supplement the larger documentary.

Not as successful are segments running Wednesday on less concrete themes such as music in the war and the contribution of women, both issues that are not distinctly related to Maryland and that are decently covered in "The Civil War."

It would have been better to have used that half-hour to document other stories of the war that clearly belong to Maryland, such as the prison camp for Confederates at Point Lookout, and the state's role as the staging ground for Gettysburg.

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