Volume Nine |
1865: The Better Angels Of Our Nature
At Lee's surrender, church bells peal throughout the North. The South is in
ruin and despair. Unable to accept that the war is over, John Wilkes Booth
steals into a Washington theater and puts a bullet in the brain of Abraham Lincoln.
The nation's grief knows no bounds; even Southerners are appalled, and gradually
the isolated fighting stutters to an end. The war is over. It is time to rebuild,
"to listen," as Lincoln implored the nation four years before, " to the better
angels of our nature." The episode recounts the fates of Jefferson Davis and
Robert E. Lee, of Ulysses S. Grant and Tecumseh Sherman, of the many players,
great and small, in the enormous drama. It includes a poignant scene: in 1913,
on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, during a reenactment of
Pickett's Charge, the survivors in blue and gray burst from their ranks to
embrace one another. It was, says Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a Union hero
of Gettysburg, "a transcendental experience. A radiant fellowship of the fallen".