This reading list is a supplement to the alt.war.civil.usa FAQ
and will be posted on or about the 20th of each month.

The Suggested Civil War Reading List was compiled in the newsgroup
alt.war.civil.usa in the summer of 1993. It lists 61 books, several
of them with multiple volumes, as well as an 11 hour documentary film
and a CD of Civil War era songs. 

This reading list was compiled by Stephen Schmidt
(whale@leland.Stanford.EDU) to whom additions and corrections should
be addressed.

The material is sorted into 11 general categories as follows:

1. General Histories of the War
2. Causes of the War and History to 1861
3. Slavery and Southern Society
4. Reconstruction
5. Biographies and Autobiographies
6. Source Documents and Official Records
7. Unit Histories and Soldier's Reminisences
8. Fiction
9. Specific Battles and Campaigns
10. Strategies and Tactics
11. The Experience of Soldiers

		General Histories of the War

James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom. 1988. A comprehensive history of
the United States from about 1845 until Appomattox. About 40% of the book
is on the prewar years, the rest on the war. This book is up to date,
reflects most (though not all) of the historical research on the war, and
is a single volume which is well written, easy to read, and accessible to
the non-historian. If you read only one book on the war, this one should
probably be it.

Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative. New York, 1958. 3 volumes.
Published separately as Fort Sumter to Perryville, Fredricksburg to
Meridian, and Red River to Appomattox. A history of the War, focusing
on the history of the Confederacy more than on Union operations. Until
McPherson's book, the most popularly read history of the War.

Bruce Catton, The Centennial History of the Civil War. New York, Doubleday
Books, 1963. Three volumes: published separately as The Coming Fury,
Terrible Swift Sword, and Never Call Retreat. The Union counterpoint
to Foote: focuses primarily on the war as the Union saw it. First volume 
covers prewar material through First Bull Run, second volume Bull Run to
Antietam, third volume the rest of the war.

Robert Johnson and Clarence Buel, editors. Battles and Leaders of the
Civil War. 4 volumes. 1887. A series of articles on the various battles
of the Civil War, written by generals from both sides who had fought
in the battles. A troublesome book: like most firsthand sources, it
tends to be inaccurate on the details, especially of the opponent's
actions, and also tends to reflect the author's needs to justify himself
more than what actually happened. However, an excellent, and fairly
comprehensive, collection of first-hand descriptions of the battles
by the men who fought them.

Jeremy Barnes, Pectoral History of the American Civil War. 1988. This
book gives one of the best short synopsis of the causes of the war,
the importance of various battles, and a sense of overall strategy.
Plus an excellent collection of drawings, paintings, and photographs.

Allan Nevins, The Ordeal of the Union. 8 volumes. 1971. Also published
as three shorter series: volumes 1-2 as The Ordeal for the Union,
volumes 3-4 as The Emergence of Lincoln, volumes 5-8 as The War for
the Union. Covers much the same ground as McPherson but in much more
detail. Focuses at least as much on the political, strategic, and
logistical side of the fighting as on the battles and tactics. Covers
the Union in more detail than the Confederacy but both sides are

Ken Burns, The Civil War. An 11 hour motion picture documenting
the war. First shown on PBS and highly acclaimed, now available
from Time Life Video on 9 VHS tapes. There is also a companion
book, The Civil War: An Illustrated History which you can get.

		Causes of the War and History to 1861

William Freehling, Road to Disunion: The Secessionists at Bay 1787-1854.
1990. A good, though idiosyncratic, one volume treatment of the South's
development of the secessionist mindset.

Richard N. Current, Lincoln and the First Shot. 1963. A vivid narrative and
scholarly analysis of the decision to resupply, and not to surrender, Fort
Sumter. Regards Lincoln's second inaugural as containing a succinct and
true characterization of the crisis - that both sides preferred war to 
compromise - and that Lincoln felt that to compromise on Fort Sumter without
the Southern states promising to dissolve their secession conventions was
futile appeasement.

Bruce and William Catton, Two Roads To Sumter. 1963. Compares the lives of
Lincoln and Davis starting with their births close together in time and space.
It then uses their two diverging lives as a microcosm of the national drift
to war.

David M Potter, Lincoln and His Party in the Secession Crisis. 1942.
A professional historian's treatise.  Not light reading, but a quite
compelling account of the blunders and circumstances that led to the
outbreak of war.

		Slavery and Southern Society

Eugene Genovese, Roll Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made. 1974.
* this book still needs a description *

Fogel and Engerman, Time on the Cross. 1974. A comprehensive and HIGHLY
controversial study of slavery in the Old South. Though the authors are
not apologists for slavery, they do conclude that slavery was not as
bad as it had been made out to be and had a number of positive redeeming
features. A long literature has followed this book which has largely,
though not entirely, repudiated it. It is probably unwise to read this
book unless you also intend to start in on the following discussion,
some of which is also summarized below.

Paul David, et al, Reckoning with Slavery. A straightforward, point
by point rebuttal of Time on the Cross by a number of respected
historians and economists. If you read Time on the Cross, you should
really read this one also so as to get both sides of the issue at

Gavin Wright, Old South New South. 1988. A comparison of the Southern
economy before and after the war, with emphasis on the effects of
slavery and its abolition.

Kenneth M. Stampp, The Peculiar Institution. 1956. Another broad
treatment of Southern slavery, but somewhat more accepted and more
traditional than Fogel and Engerman's.


Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unifinished Revolution. 1990. A
comprehensive history of the Reconstruction period, and the effects
of the abolition of slavery on the Southern economy and Southern
society. Tends towards the belief that slavery was the cause of
the war, and emphasizes that.

		Biographies and Autobiographies

Stephen Oates, With Malice Towards None. 1977. Biography of Abraham

William Davis, Jefferson Davis: The Man and the Hour. 1990.
Evenhanded account of Davis that examines primary sources critically.
Well written.  Humanizes Davis.  Illustrates his strengths and weaknesses.
Definitive work on Davis and why and how he ran the Confederacy.

Stephen Oates, To Purge This Land With Blood. 1970. Biography of
John Brown.

Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of US Grant. 2 volumes. 1885. Basically an
autobiography, though concentrating on his ACW career.

Horace Porter, Campaigning with Grant. 1896. Recollections of one of
Grants aides de camp on the history of the war. One of the most
widely cited primary sources in subsequent literature, this book
has had a large impact on Grant's historical reputation, probably
larger than Grant's memoirs have had.

William T. Sherman, Memoirs of W.T. Sherman. 2 volumes. 1887. Sherman's

Phil Sheridan, Personal Memoirs of Philip Sheridan. 1888. Sheridan's

Douglas S. Freeman, Robert E. Lee: A Biography. 4 volumes. 1935. The
definitive biography of Lee, who never wrote his own memoirs.

James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox. 1893. Longstreet's
autobiography. Take this book with a large grain of salt: Longstreet had
been unjustly attacked by many former Confederate generals (notably Jubal
Early) and this book is his reply.

William Piston, Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant. 1988. Reviews Longstreet's
military record, the attacks against him by the Virginia clique, and
Longstreet's replies. The best and most accurate review of Longstreet's
controversial career, it largely though not completely supports the
pro-Longstreet camp. An interesting book, not only in its coverage of
Longstreet, but as a reflection on how history is made, and how it can
become inaccurate when personal vendettas and political pressure come
into play.

GFR Henderson, Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War. 2 volumes.
1898. Biography of Stonewall Jackson, who also never wrote his own
memoirs, because dead people don't.

John Gordon, Reminiscences of the Civil War. 1903. Autobiography of
Gordon, who after the Big Three of Longstreet, Jackson, and Stuart, is
probably the most distinguished of Lee's generals. Another book that
has to be read carefully, it is largely accurate but has a number of
scenes that were completely made up by Gordon to vindicate himself
after the other eyewitnesses to events had died.

Ezra Warner, Generals in Blue. 1964. Quick biographies of all the men
ranked brigadier general or higher in the Union army. Good for a quick
background or for looking up particular biographic details.

Ezra Warner, Generals in Gray. 1964. Same as above for the Confederates.

		Source Documents and Official Records

The books on this section of the list are here as valuable references,
and are not something that you would actually sit down and read. However,
if you want to look something up first-hand, these are the books in
which to do it.

War of the Rebellion:  A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union
and Confederate Armies. 1903. A 128 volume publication, containing all of
the official reports, orders and dispatches of the generals of both
sides that survived the war. The definitive first-hand source for all
aspects of the military side of the war. Not for beginners or for the
faint-hearted. Usually abbreviated to OR.

The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War
of the Rebellion. 1927. A 31 volume publication covering the naval
documents in the same manner as OR covers the army documents.

The Official Civil War Atlas. 1895. A compendium of maps designed to
accompany OR, prepared by the War Department in the 1880s and 1890s.
Detailed tactical maps, though not particularly well labelled. Also
contains a few pages on corps badges, uniforms, sword patterns, unit
flags, etc. Doesn't contain much in the way of larger maps of states
or regions.

Frederic Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. 3 volumes.
1959. A summary of the Official Records: contains much of the interesting
information and numerical data without the dross and kipple of the
complete Records. Useful if you want to find something that is in OR
but don't have the time to hunt through it.

William Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War. 1985. Regiment
by regiment, lists all the losses suffered in the various battles of
he war. Also contains synopsis histories of each corps in the Union
Army, and a fair amount of other very interesting information.

Mark Boatner, The Civil War Dictionary. A dictionary of Civil War names,
places, battles, and terms, with one paragraph descriptions of each.
Designed as a quick and easy reference to let you get a quick grasp
of a subject starting from only a name or place. * date? *

Military Bibliography of the Civil War. 4 vols, 1987. A listing of
books published in Union and Confederate regiments, and personal
narratives. 1987 is the latest update. An ideal way to track down
the wartime experiences of a relative whose unit is known.

		Unit Histories and Soldier's Reminiscences

Sam Watkins, Company "Aytch". 1885 or so. Reminiscences of Sam Watkins,
private in Company H of the First Tennessee Volunteer Infantry. Very down
to earth story of what it was like to be a Confederate private. Does not
discuss military history or issues at all - purely one soldier's impression
of the war.

Rice Bull, The Civil War Diary of Rice Bull. The personal reminiscences
of one of Sherman's bummers who marched through Georgia.

Nolan, The Iron Brigade. 1975. A unit history of the brigade composed
of the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin and the 19th Indiana, later the
24th Michigan, probably the best brigade in the Army of the Potomac.

William C Davis, The Orphan Brigade. A unit history of the Kentucky
brigade of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Particularly poignant
in describing the emotions of men whose states, and often families,
were fighting on the other side of the firing line.

Joshua L. Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies. Contains two equal
parts: a history of the Appomattox campaign and of the Grand Review of
the Army of the Potomac in Washington, by a man who was a major general
commanding a division in the V corps, who received the official Confederate
surrender at Appomattox.

Elisha Hunt Rhodes, All For The Union. 1985. The diary and letters of Colonel
EH Rhodes, Second Rhode Island Volunteers. Rhodes enlisted as a private
and worked his up through the ranks, reaching Colonel of the regiment
in 1865. His firsthand impressions of the war in the East.


Michael Shaara, Killer Angels. 1974. A novelized version of the Gettysburg
campaign, told from the viewpoints of Lee, Longstreet, and Joshua L.
Chamberlain, colonel of the 20th Maine. A must-read for those who
want to know what it was like to be there.

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage. 1891. The most literary novel to
emerge from the Civil War. It is a loose description of the battle of
Chancellorsville, although it doesn't say so. It's about three Union
enlisted men, and their motivations for fighting the war.

Ambrose Bierce, In the Midst Of Life. A collection of short stories:
the first half of the book is stories of soldiers in the War.  His themes
are (1) the nature of courage; (2) the ghastliness of war; (3) fighting
between family members.  Sort of "All Quiet on the Western Front" for
the ACW.

		Specific Battles and Campaigns

Robert Hendrickson, Sumter: The First Day of the Civil War. 1990.
Describes activities associated with events in Charlston Harbor roughly
from before the election of 1860 until Lincoln's call for troops.
Includes several appendices, one with the text of the "South Carolina
Declaration of Causes". Has a strong Northern bias.

Stephen Sears, Landscape Turned Red. 1983. An exceptionally good treatment of
Antietam/Sharpsburg; Works equally well as a guide to the battlefield and
to the politics and personalities of the moment.

Stephen Sears, To the Gates of Richmond. 1992. The same for the Peninsula
campaign and the Seven Day's Battles.

Harry Pfanz, Gettysburg: The Second Day. 1989. A regiment by regiment, volley
by volley accounting of the battles of July 2 at Gettysburg on the
Union left. Probably the most detailed battle account ever written,
good for those who want to understand the tactical details of how
units maneuvered in combat.

Robert Kerby, Kirby Smith's Confederacy. 1972. The definitive account of
the war west of the Mississippi. Discusses the generals and campaigns,
the irregular warfare in Missouri, the home front in the West, and
the relationship of the Western theater to the whole war in about
equal parts.

Glenn Tucker, Chickamauga, Bloody Battle in the West. 1964?  A fairly
detailed tactical history of Chickamauga, with some comments though
not many on the preceding campaign and on the general history of
the Western Offensive plan that Longstreet and Johnston, among
others, had been advocating for some time.

Noah Trudeau, Bloody Roads South. 1989. History of the Grant's 1864 
campaign from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor. Contains an excellent
description of Grant's strategy, tactics, and the problems therewith
as they manifested themselves in operations against Lee.

Ludwell Johnson, The Red River Campaign. 1958. The history of the
Red River campaign of 1864. Provides about an equal mix of battle
tactical details, and the political maneuvering over Southern cotton
that led to the campaign in the first place.

Wiley Sword, Embrace An Angry Wind. 1991. The Franklin/Nashville campaign.

Richard Wheeler, The Siege of Vicksburg. 1978. A history of the
siege of Vicksburg and the campaign leading up to it. Wheeler tends
to use eyewitness accounts heavily, tracing the broad outlines in his
own words but letting the participants speak for themselves on the
details of what happened. Wheeler has written many more books in the
same style, if you like this one you might want to read his other books.

		Strategies and Tactics

Kenneth P Williams, Lincoln Finds a General. 5 volumes. 1959. A study
of the command problems of the Union army.

T. Harry Williams, Lincoln and his Generals. 1952. A shorter version
of the same material.

Douglas Freeman, Lee's Lieutenants. 1944. A study of the generals of the
Army of Northern Virginia who served under Lee. Primarily intended as
a study in the makings of commanders, it also gives a solid history of
Lee's strategy for the war in the East as well as providing a good working
biography of nearly all the important Confederate generals in the Eastern

Hattaway and Jones, How the North Won. 1983. An excellent introduction
to 19th century strategy, logistics and grand tactics. Essential for
an understanding of why and how battles came to be fought where and as
they did. Concerns itself less with battle accounts than with operations
and command organization.

Paddy Griffith, Battle Tactics of the American Civil War. Presents
the thesis that the Civil War tactics were dominated by Napoleonic
thinking that was never really supplanted until after the war. A
somewhat controversial book.

			The Experience of Soldiers

Gerald Linderman, Embattled Courage: the Experience of Combat in the
American Civil War. 1987. Looks at the 1861 volunteers of both sides
and traces the emotional and psychological changes which their war
experiences inflicted upon them over time.

John Bell Wiley, Johnny Reb. A collection and study of the collected
reminiscences of a number of Southern soldiers, providing a detailed
look at the life of enlisted men in the Confederate army.

John Bell Wiley, Billy Yank. Same as Johhny Reb for the Northern

Tennessee Williams Sings Songs of the Civil War. Capitol Records.
Compact disc. A collection of Civil War songs sung by Tennessee
Williams. <gasp>


The Civil War Reading list was compiled by Stephen Schmidt. Suggestions
for the list were made by: Justin Sanders, James Miller, Charles Ten Brink,
Brent Chambers, Kerry Webb, Blake Wood, Phil Feller, Michael Kochin,
Wilson Clements, Ron Skroboda, Michael Dubost, David Turrell, Paul Cowan,
Coty Pinckney, David Spencer, Robert Ligon, Michael Neiburg, Dallace Unger,
Gary Charbonneau, Jerry Drake, and Michael McCarthy. Requests for suggestions
were originally posted on alt.war.civil.usa, and two previous drafts were
posted there for comments and further suggestions.

Steve Schmidt			<><

**** End of Reading List ****
Justin M. Sanders            "Nothing is more unfamiliar or
Research Associate            uncongenial to the human mind than 
Physics Division, ORNL        thinking correctly about probabilities."      --S.J. Gould, "Eight Little Piggies"