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A selected list of books covering the American Civil War Era

Every week we are asked by students, buffs, and Civil War enthusiasts about books related to the Civil War. Most inquiries are from folks just getting interested in the topic and want to learn a little bit more about the topic. One would think this would be an easy question to answer, but it is not. Tens of thousands of books have been written about the Civil War Era. These books all vary in length, quality, and depth. Just like these works, readers also vary. Readers may be looking for information about one general, one battle, or the Civil War as a whole. Below is a list of books to get you started down the road of Civil War scholarship. By no means is this a comprehensive list of titles, rather it is a list of some of the best books on the topic. 

 

General Civil War 

A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War by Williamson Murray and Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson  

National Park Service Civil War Series 

The American War: A History of the Civil War Era by Gary W. Gallagher and Joan Waugh

This Great Struggle: America's Civil War by Steven E. Woodworth  

 

Battles and Campaigns

Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War by Edwin C. Bearss 

Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears

Receding Tide: Vicksburg and Gettysburg—The Campaigns that Changed the Civil War by Edwin C. Bearss and J. Parker Hills

Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas by John Hennessy 

Shiloh: Bloody April by Wiley Sword

Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns by Steven E. Woodworth 

The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864 by Gordon C. Rhea

The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta by Gary Ecelbarger 

The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command by Edwin B. Coddington 

 

Biographies 

Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy by Earl J. Hess 

George Henry Thomas: As True as Steel by Brian Steel Wills 

Grant by Ron Chernow 

Lincoln by David Herbert Donald  

Robert E. Lee: A Biography by Emory M. Thomas 

Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend by James I. Robertson, Jr. 

Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne and the Civil War by Craig L. Symonds 

Winfield Scott Hancock: A Soldier’s Life by David M. Jordan 

 

Famous Military Units 

The Irish Brigade in the Civil War: The 69th New York and Other Irish Regiments of the Army of the Potomac by Joseph G. Bilby 

The Iron Brigade: A Military History by Alan T. Nolan

Mosby's Rangers by Jeffrey D. Wert 

Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign by Thomas A. Desjardin 

The Orphan Brigade: The Kentucky Confederates Who Couldn't Go Home by William C. Davis 

The Stonewall Brigade by James I. Robertson, Jr. 

 

Medical Care 

Bleeding Blue and Gray: Civil War Surgery and the Evolution of American Medicine by Ira Rutkow 

Civil War Medicine by C. Keith Wilbur 

Gangrene and Glory: Medical Care During the American Civil War by Frank R. Freemon 

Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America by Jane E. Schultz 

 

Memory Studies

Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War by Dr. Brain Matthew Jordan 

Pickett's Charge in History and Memory by Dr. Carol Reardon 

Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory by David W. Blight

The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History edited by Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan 

 

Military Memoirs, Diaries, or Letter Collections 

A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journal of Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865 edited by Allan Nevins 

All for the Union: The Civil War Diary & Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes edited by Robert Hunt Rhodes

Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw edited by Russell Duncan 

Company Aytch: A Classic Memoir of the Civil War by Sam Watkins 

Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander edited by Gary W. Gallagher 

From the Cannon's Mouth: The Civil War Letters of General Alpheus S. Williams edited by Milo M. Quaife 

I Rode With Stonewall: The War Experiences of the Youngest Member of Jackson's Staff by Henry Kyd Douglas 

With Grant & Meade: From the Wilderness to Appomattox by Theodore Lyman 

 

Miscellaneous 

Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small Unit Effectiveness by Earl J. Hess 

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz

Fighting the Second Civil War: A History of Battlefield Preservation and the Emergence of the Civil War Trust by Bob Zeller 

Gettysburg: A Journey in Time by William A. Frassanito 

The Life of Johnny Reb and Billy Yank by Bell I. Wiley 

The Smoothbore Volley that Doomed the Confederacy: The Death of Stonewall Jackson and Other Chapters on the Army of Northern Virginia by Robert K. Krick  

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust 

When Sherman Marched North from the Sea: Resistance on the Confederate Home Front by Jacqueline Glass Campbell 

 

Multi-Volume Series

Battles and Leaders of the Civil War 

Bruce Catton's Civil War 

Jefferson Davis: The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government by James M. McPherson 

Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman 

Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command by Douglas Southall Freeman

The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote 

 

Novels 

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier 

Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara 

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell 

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley 

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara 

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane 

Widow of the South by Robert Hicks

 

Politics 

Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War by Charles B. Dew

A Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief by James M. McPherson 

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase For Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson 

The Confederate Nation 1861-1865 by Emory M. Thomas 

The Confederate Republic: A Revolution Against Politics by George C. Rable 

The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861 by David M. Potter 

 

Slavery and Reconstruction 

A Just and Lasting Peace: A Documentary History of Reconstruction by John David Smith

A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation by David W. Blight 

Lincoln's Emancipation: The End of Slavery in America by Allen C. Guelzo 

Reconstruction Updated Edition: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 by Eric Foner 

The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics by Don E. Fehrenbacher

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner 

What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War by Chandra Manning 

 

Women's Studies

Amazing Women of the Civil War by Webb Garrison 

Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone 1861-1868 edited by John Q. Anderson 

Clara Barton: Professional Angel by Elizabeth Brown Pryor 

Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War by Catherine Clinton and Nina Silber 

Mary Chesnut's Civil War edited by C. Vann Woodward 

Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust 

Sarah Morgan: The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman edited by Charles East 

They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by De Anne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook

 

If you are looking for more in-depth research works on the Civil War, be sure to start by checking out the following titles.