I bet you missed it, didn’t you? How lucky you are. As I sit down to write this, I am indeed still wondering if fortune smiled down upon me whilst I was looking through the channels for programs to DVR and saw an Ancient Aliens episode flip across the scene, and somewhere, my brain caught the words “Civil War”. Ha! I thought. It must have just been something else. That is how my eyes saw it. As I continued to scan, I decided to go back, and sure enough there was the episode from this latest season titled, “Aliens and the Civil War”. I gasped. I laughed. Then, I cried. I decided to save it for a later date so I could sit there, laptop in hand, and devote my entire attention to a minute-by-minute blog of what was going on during the show. It was in 2011 when I took this same approach, after stumbling on “Aliens and the Old West”. It was this episode which tried to argue that Harrison Ford’s newly released Cowboys and Aliens might be more fact than fiction. If you think that previous post and this one coming up now are all part of some gigantic, three-weeks-late, history-nut April Fool’s Day joke, you are wrong. These episodes really did air. You can catch them on re-runs.
For years I have joked that we would see an episode featuring the Civil War on Ancient Aliens. In 2011, I even designed a mock-movie poster for a special on the battle of Gettysburg (see below). It asked, “What if the two armies weren’t alone on Little Round Top?” and included bonus material such as, “New evidence reveals Robert E. Lee’s Special Order 191 was actually a Mayan Doomsday Prophecy.” Of course, never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect such an episode to actually happen.
1 minute: The opening of this show contains battle scenes lifted from the History Channel’s 2011 documentary Gettysburg. We all know how great that was. Moderately correct historical commentary ensues, before the narrator begins to say how there may have been more at stake in the war than we know. I think we know where this is going, right? He then asks, “Could the preservation of the Union have been ensured by extraterrestrial beings?” He happens to say that while a picture of Abraham Lincoln is on the screen. Oooh! Coincidence?
2 minutes: Joseph Smith and the Mormons are profiled, just like the “Aliens and the Old West” episode. None of this has much of anything to do with the Civil War, though they are talking about slavery. As soon as I write that, Smith is now being visited by an alien.
3 minutes: Smith prophesied the start of the American Civil War. Where did he learn that from? ALIENS.
5 minutes: Apparently the aliens of the universe are all watching America, trying to steer our history. That is why they intervened to ensure northern victory. This sentiment is echoed in most episodes of this show.
7 minutes: UFO sighting in Wilmington, Delaware in 1860, and also in Louisiana that same year. Sightings are apparently happening EVERYWHERE in the United States. These all have to do with the start of the Civil War, of course.
15 minutes: One of the “historians” representing Civil War scholars is smiling and appearing to take some kind of sadistic pleasure in announcing how many soldiers died during the course of the war. He truly appears to be enjoying himself. Where did they find this guy, on a street corner in Richmond?
16 minutes: Again with the “more at stake than we know”. Oh, its getting juicier by the second.
16 minutes: UFO sighting by soldiers being transported by steamboat in New York in 1861. A glowing ball of light changes direction in the night sky, “Is it a sign that extraterrestrials had an interest in this turning point in our history?” Maybe. Or maybe the 7th NY militia had a little too much who-hit-John that night.
17 minutes: Is there anyone more stuck up and arrogant than UFO “expert” Nicholas Redfern?
18 minutes: Union General George B. McClellan was visited in a dream by the ghost of George Washington, or was it really an alien in disguise? Time is given to all the men who had bizarre dreams and premonitions during the war. No way they were caused by the immense stresses of fighting, killing others, being shot at, and being surrounded by death and destruction. No, all of such thoughts were implanted by aliens.
19 minutes: My favorite alien “expert”, David Childress, is on. He talks like he was just let out of an insane asylum and only has a few minutes before they put him back.
21 minutes: The answer to all alien secrets lies with Abraham Lincoln. They show a wonderful, colorized image of him wearing a bright blue suit with a red tie. Actually, that image has been colorized many times before, and the correct rendition would have been a brown suit with a dark blue tie. Then again, his hair also has a blue tint in this picture, so I will forgive the error with the clothing. What secrets, do you ask? We have to find out after the commercial break.
25 minutes: Plenty of discussion about Lincoln’s own dreams and premonitions. At first, the discussion is rather sane as it is well known how much emphasis he placed on such dreams in his life. But then, we get someone blurting out, “Its not too big of a stretch to think that perhaps President Lincoln was influenced by other-worldly beings during the course of the Civil War”, and how he was able to receive messages from an invisible realm to help predict the future. However, those predictions apparently did not extend to theater visits.
28 minutes: Alien voices dictated the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to Abraham Lincoln.
30 minutes: The battle of Gettysburg is coming up after the break. Oh my!
35 minutes: They are talking about Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Little Round Top! Could it be that my poster from four years ago predicted this episode? Maybe I was visited by aliens in my sleep before I designed it.
36 minutes: The ghost of George Washington (again! George was a busy guy in death. I wonder if he ever found teeth in his new heavenly realm?) guided Chamberlain to where he needed to be on Little Round Top during the second day of fighting. Who needs battle maps or Colonel Strong Vincent when you have aliens?!
37 minutes: David Childress has still not been escorted back to the asylum. He proclaims, “Did extraterrestrials, in some way, influence this battle by disguising themselves as a familiar figure like George Washington, and guide the troops to a certain position where they knew it would turn the tide of the battle?” I guess none of the Union commanders were intelligent enough to see the importance of the flank. Why else would aliens have to constantly intervene? Poor George Meade. No respect!
38 minutes: Back to Lincoln and the dream he had about his own death. Those pesky aliens! I wonder if John Wilkes Booth was one of them? Or is he too busy being a vampire?
40 minutes: Oh good Lord. Before this next commercial, they preview that they are going to talk about the war’s “most extraordinary soldier” Ambrose Bierce. If you read my breakdown of the old west episode, Bierce is mentioned there too. Of course, the “experts” on that show confused a letter he wrote to friends where he said he was leaving for an unknown destination to mean getting beamed up to another planet when in reality he was only taking a trip to Mexico.
45 minutes: Bierce suffered a head injury during the war, which somehow turned him into a science fiction author and pioneer when the war was over. This wound opened up a portal in his brain where he could connect with extraterrestrials and write more creatively.
46 minutes: I never knew An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge was a story featuring a hidden meaning about alien worlds. His other story, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, was really about a man entering an invisible dimension. Bierce was contacted by extraterrestrials who gave him information from their world so he could write his stories.
49 minutes: Still on Bierce disappearing in 1913 and now talking about crystal skulls. They use that same quote regarding going to a destination from which he may not return. I bet he could have never imagined that the bane of this show’s existence would hinge on one ambiguous sentence he wrote in the post-script of a private letter.
54 minutes: Back to 1863 and the Union victory at Gettysburg. Now they are discussing completing the dome of the Capital building, which was under construction during the Civil War. Apparently, the design of this dome incorporated extraterrestrial beings.
56 minutes: I just realized that Giorgio Tsoukalos and his hair are absent from this episode. Maybe he got abducted.
57 minutes: Aliens, Ben Franklin, Indians, Star-Beings, and Abraham Lincoln. All within a minute of each other. I need not say anymore.
58 minutes: According to certified loon David Childress, the aliens are everywhere, watching everything we do. They contributed to everything that has happened in our history.
59 minutes: And the series wraps up with more horrid footage from Gettysburg. Closing remarks are to the effect of the Civil War, Washington, and Lincoln being “part of a large, cosmic agenda.”
60 minutes: Ah, the end credits. My favorite part.
This wrap-up does not count the fifteen or twenty times the narrator asked the same “What if…” question regarding the aliens and their involvement in American history. It must also be noted that I have never heard of the two Civil War “historians” they gave time to on this show. That’s not really a surprise, though. I used to think this series was entertaining, even if insane with some of its theories. However, this particular episode, aside from being totally ludicrous, was just plain boring. There was not enough substance to produce 60-minutes of content with, which is why it lingers in areas concerning the American Revolution, George Washington, the Mormons, and Ambrose Bierce’s post-war escapades. The sad part is that there are probably a lot of people out there whose only education on the Civil War is going to come from this episode.