As of right now, with much to still be done with the production of To Appomattox, the targeted release date the producers are shooting for is 2013. This is a very special year for Civil War buffs and historians, as we will be celebrating, or rather, commemorating, the 150th anniversary of the war’s largest and most important battle (at least in the Eastern Theater), Gettysburg. It is because of this that I would just like to raise the question as to when exactly in the year 2013 do they plan on releasing it? Granted, a lot can happen with filming and delays of some kind almost always affect every production in some way, but lets say that everything is completed by the beginning of the year, when should it hit television?
The first time of the year one would jump to would be the summer, mainly because Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Fort Wagner all occurred in July of 1863, and people are more apt to travel to a battlefield they see onscreen, so it could be assumed that the eight part series stretched over July and August would make sense. However, it would be my suggestion that the best possible time to release this series would be February and March of that year, as schools generally get up to the Civil War by that point, at least in High Schools on the east coast. American History classes are broken down into two parts; the first covering the beginning of colonization until the Spanish-American War, and the second lasts from the early 1900’s and the Progressive Era until Vietnam, or in some cases, the Reagan years in the 1980’s. In every class I have either had as a student, or taught at as part of my college classes, the Civil War is always began in early February, as mid-terms and their preparation generally occur in January.
Because the Civil War is often times presented as merely a footnote in the classroom, releasing this series simultaneously when most schools in the country are learning about the subject is the perfect opportunity for the filmmakers and teachers alike to get the children involved. How awesome would it be, for a teacher to complete a lesson on Grant and Shiloh, and then turn to his class and say, “And for extra credit on your next test, make sure to watch To Appomattox tonight, airing at ___PM tonight on channel ____, and write me a two paragraph summary on what the episode was about.”
Not only does this give the production additional viewers, because perhaps their parents and siblings will sit together for the televised history lesson, but the child will see the battles and figures come alive onscreen. Will it be possible for every student to tune in? No, of course not, but it’s certainly a start. Showing a historically accurate movie in a classroom is a great way to enforce a lesson, but time is generally limited, and one must be careful what movies are rated before showing them in this politically correct society we live in. This will now be a way to not only spark an interest in the child’s mind, but to bring history into the household. Once the parents see an interest their child has undertaken, where does that lead? Normally, a family vacation to a battlefield is right around the corner. The people making this series are doing so as a labor of love, and if an entire generation of people can be influenced into studying the Civil War and seeing it as something interesting, and dare I say, FUN, well, I think that is something every producer and historical adviser involved would simply love to have had a helping hand in.