Stream On: American turning points

By on August 30, 2019

Confederate and Union civilians and soldiers were treated in the same hospital in the open city of Alexandria, Virginia, down the road from Mercy Street. (IMDB.com)

The history of our country provides countless stories fit for dramatization, stories that fill out lesser-known narratives, like our lesser-known streaming TV choices. These series take epochal figures and events and spin three worthy yarns.

Turn: Washington’s Spies

In autumn 1776, colonial insurgents have declared war against the Crown. Following a successful naval landing, His Majesty’s Army has forced General Washington’s rebels into the wilderness. New York City serves as military base of operations for the British. The Loyalists of Long Island keep a vigilant watch for sympathizers and spies, notably Abe Woodhull, a Long Island farmer who becomes embroiled in espionage against his peers, which include his father, a local magistrate.

The surprisingly complex politics and loyalties of the Revolutionary War are given a thorough airing, through the depictions of private Colonial regiments, British rebel sympathizers, and the regular armies and foreign actors who worked for both sides of the fray.

The 2014-2017 series was based on Alexander Rose’s history of the Culper spy ring in Colonial New York, and included as characters the historical figures of Woodhull, his friend, veteran of the French and Indian War and leader of his own regiment of Royalist Rangers, Robert Rogers, and George Washington, Benedict Arnold and John André. Its 40 episodes can be seen on Netflix, where it is included with a subscription, or at $1.99 an episode on Amazon Prime and VUDU. Here is a two-minute trailer on YouTube.


Mercy Street

This 2016-2017 PBS series follows New England dilettante and new widow Mary Phinney as she travels to the open city of Alexandria, Virginia to apply for a position as nurse in the Union hospital there during the American War Between the States.

The hospital had been installed in a hotel owned by a local family who have aligned themselves with the Confederacy, as had their neighbors, and which was requisitioned by the Union Army, which runs it.

When Confederate casualties begin arriving from the field, they too begin receiving treatment on humanitarian grounds, sometimes grudgingly, from the army doctors. A daughter of the family that owns the hotel, a naive socialite, finds that one of the Rebel soldiers brought in is her acquaintance and the friend of her sister’s missing beau. She too applies as a nurse, joining a cast of characters which includes slaves, former slaves, free blacks, rebel and Union soldiers, and locals who plot the assassination of President Lincoln, who is to make an official visit to the hospital.

James Green, Sr. (Gary Cole, Desperate Housewives, Veep), the patriarch of the family that owns the hotel and a furniture manufacturer, is shunned by his friends when he seeks to supply the hospital with coffins in a business deal. An idealistic civilian doctor (John Radnor, How I Met Your Mother) who has received training in Europe, develops a substance abuse problem and gets help from a free black who had been employed by a Philadelphia doctor before the war. The officious Head Nurse bores everyone with tales of personally working with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea.

Mercy Street (one-minute trailer here) is available on Amazon Prime with a subscription, or $1.99 for each of its 12 episodes on VUDU and Google Play.


Hell on Wheels

In 1865, after the assassination of Lincoln, former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) journeys to the Union Pacific Railroad’s westward construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad to seek work and vengeance on the Union soldiers who killed his wife and son.

Hell on Wheels (2011-2016) takes its title from the traveling tent community of largely Irish, black and Chinese railroad workers, suppliers and hangers-on that followed the progress of the railroad on its way to Promontory Summit in Utah to join with the Western Pacific Railroad.

Between Indian attacks, construction dangers, workers with nowhere to burn off excess adrenalin, a deadly fort of Latter-Day Saints, and mendacious “Doc” Durant, who is an investor in the First Continental Railroad, and Thor Gundersen, his insane head of security, there’s plenty of room for melodrama.

Bohannon’s talents ultimately earn him the job of chief engineer, and he hires as his security chief Elam Ferguson (musician-actor Common), a freed slave. Bohannon and Ferguson bond, to their mutual surprise, and face the arduous tasks involved in establishing a transcontinental railroad with the women who enter their lives, which include a free-thinking newspaper reporter, a white raised by Indians, a Mormon “princess” and the Chinese daughter of a worker.

Hell on Wheels’  57 episodes (1:33 trailer here) can be seen on Netflix with a subscription, or for $1.99 per episode on Amazon Prime, VUDU and Google Play.

Next: More history including drama(tic) queens and a king. Email me here and follow Stream On OBX on Twitter.

Click here for more Stream On: What to Watch on TV columns by Pete Hummers


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


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