History channel, Ridley Scott team for Civil War movie -- EXCLUSIVE

Image Credit: Casey Crafford/History Channel

It’s like Shark Week with muskets.

History is set to announce a new annual programming event marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Key to the plan is Gettysburg, a film commissioned by the network and produced by the Scott brothers — Ridley (Gladiator) and Tony (Man on Fire). The film promises to strip away the romanticized veneer of the war and present the engagement as “a visceral, terrifying experience” using reenactment footage and CGI, while focusing on the stories of soldiers on the ground.

History will fill the week with Civil War-themed episodes of shows like Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and other specials, including the two-hour Grant & Lee, a look at the two iconic generals of the war. In addition, the network is launching a four-year national education campaign on the subject.

“The Civil War is arguably one of the most critical events in our nation’s history,” says Nancy Dubuc, president and general manager of History. “Our four-year commitment highlighting the anniversary, key battles, and people who fought during that conflict underscores our deep devotion to the genre — it is a pledge we are making to our country, to our viewers, and to every school in America.”

“History is the perfect partner for us to tell the epic true story of Gettysburg,” said Ridley Scott in a statement. “We are excited to bring this battle to audiences in a powerful new way.”

The Civil War event will mark the first annual themed programming week launched by History, with the network planning to continue running it for four years. The move also gets History back on brand after the whole Kennedys miniseries flap, and marks the channel’s first major programming announcement since passing on the controversial project. The channel also already signed advertisers Bank of America, Ram, and GEICO to sponsor the week-long project.

Read more:
History Channel cancels ‘The Kennedys’ miniseries

Comments (35 total) Add your comment
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  • DW Griffith

    I hope it doesn’t perpetuate myths about the Civil War. Five Northern states had slaves, so the war was not fought over slavery per se. The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free a single slave (it only applied to Southern States, not Northern States, and Southern States had already seceded). The right to secede was never brought before the courts, the South felt it was legal to secede. Black people owned black slaves; the first slave in the US was owned by a black man. There was a lot going on back then that has no relationship to how we regard slavery today. The Civil War was fought over money–King Cotton constituted 2/3 of the US exports and Lincoln didn’t want to lose that revenue stream. Etc., etc.

    • rowan729

      As a Civil War historian, I’d like you to tell us all which five northern, Union-backing states had slaves, please, and I’d like you to list the northern states that still had slavery legal in their states. Slave owners who hadn’t freed their slaves yet but lived in a state where it was illegal to buy and sell men and women and children don’t count. The EP was the starting point for granting rights to slaves, even if it only freed slaves in the states that seceded and were back under Union control.
      Nice attempts at changing history though.
      Oh and if King Cotton was soooo important to Lincoln, how come the South starved during the war and the North didn’t? If cotton was the driving economic force in the country, how was the Union able to feed and clothe so many soldiers, let alone provide for the people living up north during the war?

      The very fact that someone is on here spewing this nonsense shows how delicate this whole attempt buy this channel really is. I’m hoping that they avoid diving into this nonsense, unless it’s to debunk the myth that the war had nothing to do with slavery.

      • Bushrod

        @rowan: the North did not struggle with a blockade of all its commerce ports like the South did

      • ryan

        You’re kidding, right? As a “civil war historian” you are aware Maryland had a reputation as a slave state, right? Missouri was also a slave state, albeit it they, along with Maryland, abolished slavery during the Civil War. While these two examples fall short of the number the original poster stated, they do go to show that slavery was alive in the Union.

        There were slaves in the north, not nearly as much as in the south, but they were there. Perhaps if the north had developed as an agrarian society instead of an industrious one they would have relied more on slave labor?

      • ryan

        I’m sorry, I didn’t finish reading your post before I responded. As a “Civil War historian” you shouldn’t even have to ask why the south starved during the war. Does a blockade ring a bell? King Cotton is only King as long as sellers can move the good to buyers. Cotton by itself is not special.

      • Christian

        @Ryan – you misunderstood Rowan, he was still mistaken, but he was saying that the economics of cotton was not important to the north the way it was to the south.

        And there is some truth to DW’s claim that this was a war of economics but that paints over the fact that it was the economics of SLAVERY. Slavery is what made cotton as profitable as it was, slaves as an asset constituted more of the wealth of the United States than any other single asset and many others COMBINED. This was a war fought because wealthy men did not want to give up their cashcow which was human bondage.

        It was not about states’ rights since the south OPPOSED states rights in the North when some states wanted to say they didn’t want to enforce federal fugitive slave laws. They only supported states rights when it protected slavery.

        I think that where most people get confused on this issue is where the soldiers are concerned. The Civil War was a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight – your average Confederate soldier didn’t give a flying crap about slavery. That’s not why he was there for himself – but that’s why the war came.

      • MarkJ

        Non-seceding states where slavery was still legal in 1861: Kentucky, Missouri, Delaware, Maryland. That’s at least four I can immediately recall off-hand.

        In 1861, the institution of slavery was still well within living memory, and even “winked at,” in several Northern states. Example: New Jersey, which “officially” abolished slavery in 1804, still de facto permitted slaves to remain with their masters in the Garden State until 1865. States like Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Connecticut had similar policies in place as late as the 1840’s. Even “progressive” New York didn’t finally abolish the last vestiges of slaveholding until at least 1827.

        Furthermore, some states legally prohibited blacks from moving into them. Indiana (my home state) enshrined this in its 1850 constitution.

    • rw moore

      Dear Sir”
      Your piece holds facts. I hope you will stop using the “CIVIL WAR” to explain the war. Do do the research and you will find the more proper name is “THE WAR OF SOUTHERN INDEPENDENCE.” The CSA never fought among them selfs.


    • generalsherman

      I love these revisionist Klan members trying to excuse the Confederacy. Hilarious. They were the first generation of fascists. Deal with it.

      • Pilgrim

        Along with your General Sherman. Revisionist? Nah, just more of the real story. Not just yankee government myths and liberal doublespeak. This same government does this to us still today. All of us! If more people would read and not except government funded education as hard truth we’d all be better off.

  • Michelle

    Um, there’s already a Gettysburg movie…it’s called GETTYSBURG. Ugh.

  • Stephen

    What? No one has suggested calling it “The War of Northern Aggression Week?” Color me shocked.

  • Brad

    History channel just stop,please. You are fooling no one. This channel is a joke. Who remembers “America, the story of us” with Sheryl Crow as an expert? How about the history missing “Swamp People” or “Top Shot”. Now fake red neck Larry the cable guy is hosting “Only in America” No thanks.

  • Rob

    I can only hope this means that History Channel will actually start airing shows about “history”! Not pawn shops, UFO’s, swamp people, etc, etc, etc.

    • ponygirl

      Amen! But considering that Civil War Week will also include “Civil War-themed episodes of shows like Pawn Stars, American Pickers”, I’m not holding out much hope.

  • Mary

    This is great news. I actually like Pawn Stars, but it’s a sad thing that a show like that includes more history than most of the other shows on the network. Hey, remember when people used to joke that it was the “Hitler Channel”? The Civil War is my favorite period, so I’m extra happy. Hope it doesn’t disappoint!

  • rw moore




    Today (1-19-11) we ( Dough Willis and myself) under the Georgia Open Records Act.
    finished researching and videoing the Stephens County Georgia School books. Stephens County Georgia is named after Alexander Stephens the Vice President of the CSA
    I think we can establish the invasion of the south was not over slavery. That the true slavery flag is the stars and strips and not the stars and bars.. We have added other research,
    after ending the school books research. We have positive comments by several black southerners.
    We have about 1.5 hours of raw film at this point we will add more to what we already have.. I expect to have about 1 hour and 45 minutes after is is edited. For the background music I will use Dixie. I am open for other suggestions.
    We hope, that other concerned southerners will join our effort and force other school systems to reveal what the states and, counties are teaching our children.
    This can be done by using your state open records laws. (in your state it may be called by another name)
    It is already too late, lets force them to teach the truth!! The longest journey starts with the first step. They have had 150 years of lying. The south never had a “civil war.”
    This video will be available (as soon as it is edited) at no fixed charge but donations are helpful, and appreciated.
    I am 80 years old and on a very limited fixed income.
    I would like to see a state and national chairman and at least one person in all counties of the south and the north. After 150 years it is time the school systems teaches the truth. The war was not over slavery… WITH A ORGANIZATION THIIS LARGE WE CAN MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE. WILL YOU HELP? YOUE COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.
    We the southern people can do this. Far too long we have not been unified. By the end of this year (2011) I hope we can have representatives in place, will you help ?
    This research started at 1:30 to 5:00 PM on 1-18-11 and 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM 1-19-11.
    We found more lies that we could use in the time alloted.
    R. W. Moore
    Orders (check or M.O.) can be made to.
    The Truth Newspaper, Inc.
    POB 385
    Eastanollee, GA 30538

    • Rissa


    • mjackiw

      All righty then.


      I am for the truth. I am a German guy by birth, am a Canadian citizen and have an interest in American History of the times mentioned. My specific interest is related to the role of germans in the whole mess of the time.

      I would like to gather as much truthfull information as I can. Please include me in your information sharing. Many thanks, Wolfgang

  • brutony

    I wonder if Messers Scott are going to make a reality show based on the Civil War- you know, with a tag line like “Youve been voted out of the Union,” or something like that! This channel is a friggin JOKE! About 3 years ago, once I got it in HD, it turned mostly reality based! Who needs it anymore?

  • Patrick

    THe comment by DWG is off the mark. THe Civil War was fought about States Rights; that is the rights of states to own slaves. KIng Cotton was an issue for without slaves the cotton industry in the south would have folded because owners would have had to pay wages to those who worked with cotton. Without the slavery issues there is no war!

  • rob

    rw moore/The South/CSA needs to chill. The war was ‘civil’ because it was fought between CIVILians and not another country like most other wars in history. Period. Southerners were civilians (and NOT a separate country) too were they not? The South didn’t have to fight themselves to justify the point about civility. It’s sad that to this day there are still people that can’t deal with this and have to give the war a different name that puts them in a good light. If you don’t like ‘Civil War’ (which is a standard naming convention by the way, google ‘English Civil War’ for example) then just use the other popular ‘War between States’ – what’s wrong with that? It’s time people got a grip – The South lost the War fair and square. It’s over. If the veterans could shake hands with the Yankees then why can’t you. And at the end of the day it’s not important whether the war was or wasn’t about Slavery, what’s important is that slavery was/is a bad thing in any society and it will always be worth trying to eradicate, with or without war. Hell if i knew someone who had a slave i’d try to free them too! Now let’s all try and enjoy the anniversary and just be grateful that you’re living in a free country that’s not currently experiencing civil unrest like Egypt! Peace Out.

  • doug lyons

    For those that continue to perpetuate the myth that the Civil War was not about slavery do just a small amount of research. Read the various states declarations of secession. There is nothing revisionist about reading what was on the actual documents – and it is very clear that slavery was a primary reason for disunion among the southern states. It took me all of 15 or 20 minutes.

    There is most certainly a case to be made that the average soldier may or may not have been fighting for slavery (I am sure many were not) but individuals do not make wars – governments (legitimate or otherwise) do.

  • Cookie

    Does anyone know, with the Civil War movies being made now, if anyone is going to finish the trilogy started with Gods & Generals and make a movie of “The Last Measure”?

    • doug lyons

      After Gods and Generals I hope not – at least not in the hands of Ted Turner. What a horrible movie that was!

      I did read that “directers cut” versions of Gettysburg and Gods will be coming out this summer. Gods will be over 6 hrs long. Three hours of that torture was not enough apparently!

  • Gettysbuff

    No, The Last Full Measure isn’t going to be made.

    And actually G&G Extended Director’s Cut isn’t going to be over 6 hours, but will be 280 mins (4 hours 40 mins). And yes it is going to be AMAZING with the restored Antietam battle and the JWB subplot. Both G&G Extended Director’s Cut & Gettysburg Director’s Cut released May 24 on Blu-Ray. Special Limited Edition Collector’s boxset including both movies out July 5 on Blu-Ray and apparently DVD too.


  • Jared Hoke

    If the preceding comments are any indication, this series has a solemn duty to present the truth as compellingly as possible. I am appalled that my fellow citizens are so uninformed about this critical period in our history. It is SO important that we understand what happened; how we finally became “one nation, under God”, and why it took this momentous tragedy to achieve it.

  • J. Kyle p13r4t

    I can’t help but think of Angels and Airwaves film ‘LOVE’ Director by William Eubank that’s coming out this November. Seriously excited about both this program and the film coming out

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