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 described. 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 once. 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. Reconstruction 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 Lincoln. 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 autobiography. Phil Sheridan, Personal Memoirs of Philip Sheridan. 1888. Sheridan's autobiography. 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. Fiction 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 theatre. 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 side. 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 <>< firstname.lastname@example.org **** 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." email@example.com --S.J. Gould, "Eight Little Piggies"