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Civil War Booklist for Researchers

Updated on August 22, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

In researching my Civil War ancestor, I became fascinated by all aspects of that war. If you're a Civil War buff, check out my topics.

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Books for Civil War Buffs, Students and Researchers

I'm exhaustively researching the background for my book on a Civil War ancestor. As a librarian, I knew others would find the books useful too, so I've compiled a bibliography here of the books as I use them.

With each book on the list, I want to give you enough detail so you can see how you could use the book with your own Civil War research. You may be a student, a teacher, a genealogist or a Civil War buff. Hopefully, no matter what your interest is, you'll find a book that fits your needs.

Best of luck with your research project on the Civil War.

Graphic from Zazzle: Reading by Specialeetees

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Visual Dictionary of the Civil War - Dorling Kindersley

Visual Dictionary of the Civil War
Visual Dictionary of the Civil War

Terrific photos of items used by foot soldiers, gunners, horse soldiers, sailors, elite units and black troops in the Civil War. Each item (uniforms, weapons, etc.) has labels giving the name for different parts. My great-great grandfather was an infantryman, so I wanted to know what the canteen was like, what the parts of the rifle were called and other details about his gear.

The book shows the cannons, tells about camp life, shows the tools of a Civil War surgeon, has pictures of slavery, prisoner of war camps, and flags from the war. I found the communications section informative with illustrations of the telegraph machine.

Although each section is only 2 pages, a lot of information surrounds the photos and period illustrations. Learn about the role of railroads, aerial observation from baloons, ironclad ships and photography. The book is a visual feast. (review by Virginia Allain)

 

Union Soldier Cap

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Illustrated Catalog of Civil War Millitary Goods - Union Weapons, Insignia, Uniform Accessories and Other Equipment

Illustrated Catalog of Civil War Military Goods: Union Weapons, Insignia, Uniform Accessories and Other Equipment
Illustrated Catalog of Civil War Military Goods: Union Weapons, Insignia, Uniform Accessories and Other Equipment

This is a reproduction of an actual catalog that military personnel or sutlers would have ordered to supply the Union troops. It even contains a table of pay showing what the monthly pay was for a major-general or a hospital steward or a bugler, etc. Fascinating!

 

1861: The Civil War Awakening - by Adam Goodheart

Historian, journalist and critic Adam Goodheart speaks at the 2011 National Book Festival about his book, 1861.

New Reviews on Civil War Books - by Virginia Allain

Mapping the Civil War: Featuring Rare Maps from the Library of Congress (Library of Congress Classics)
Mapping the Civil War: Featuring Rare Maps from the Library of Congress (Library of Congress Classics)

The maps are grouped with specific battles or campaigns and a review of the military actions relating to that battle is given. I think a book like this helps when reading about the Civil War, so you can visualize the lay of the land, making the battle account easier to understand.

Readers complained on Amazon that the maps weren't printed large enough for detail to be useful. Pretty, but not a keeper for me.

 

A Civil War Era Newspaper

Soldiers and their loved ones at home counted on newspapers to keep them informed.
Soldiers and their loved ones at home counted on newspapers to keep them informed. | Source

The New York Times War News in a Book

The Most Fearful Ordeal: Original Coverage of the Civil War by Writers and Reporters of The New York Times
The Most Fearful Ordeal: Original Coverage of the Civil War by Writers and Reporters of The New York Times

This is great as you can follow along with the progress of the war, just like people did in the 1800s. It shows pages from The New York Times as the war news was reported at the time.

 
The American Civil War: The War in the West 1863 - May 1865 (Essential Histories)
The American Civil War: The War in the West 1863 - May 1865 (Essential Histories)

The focus is on the battles/campaigns in Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina (the western part of the war). Well illustrated with photos and prints and a nice chronology in the front.. Compact coverage of this part of the war.

 

How Many Books Do You Read about the Civil War Each Year?

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Confederate Invention: The Story of the Confederate States Patent Office and Its Inventors (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)
Confederate Invention: The Story of the Confederate States Patent Office and Its Inventors (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)

This is an actual diary from the Civil War with details that will fascinate anyone wanting to know what medical care was like during the war. Kate Cumming mentions by name many of the patients and people she encounters. If you are looking for a Civil War ancestor, check the index. You might hit it lucky.

 

My Civil War Wishlist - What I'll be reading soon

These are on my list of books to read about the Civil War. I can't wait to get started on them and soak up the historical information contained within!

Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front

Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front (Civil War America)
Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front (Civil War America)

I know for some people the war is all battles and glory, but I found myself fascinated by how the women managed with the men all gone to the war. Read this to see what it was like in the north on the home front.

 

Let's Continue on with More Reading about the 1860s

So many books, so little time...
So many books, so little time... | Source

Indiana's War: The Civil War in Documents

Indiana’s War: The Civil War in Documents (Civil War in the Great Interior)
Indiana’s War: The Civil War in Documents (Civil War in the Great Interior)

It's interesting to see primary source documents instead of just reading what others have collected from those. This covers Indiana, but there are other books for various states.

 

Recommended Books - from a Facebook Civil War group

Here are some recommended books from a Facebook Civil War Group I belong to.

From Camp to Cannon's Mouth: The Letters of Four Union Soldiers

From Camp to Cannon's Mouth: The Letters of Four Union Soldiers During the Civil War
From Camp to Cannon's Mouth: The Letters of Four Union Soldiers During the Civil War

To me, hearing an account of the war straight from the pen of a soldier is the finest way to learn.

 

Civil War Letters

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Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

This is the #1 Best Seller in Civil War Campaigns & Battlefields History category on Amazon.

 

More to Come

As you can see, I'm just getting started adding the books I'm using in my research. Check back as I expect to add new titles when I have some time to read them.

© 2011 Virginia Allain

Tell Me about Your Interest in the Civil War

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    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I love how exhaustively you're researching the Civil War. Good luck with your book!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Unusual approach to telling an ancestorâs Civil War story Hiram's Honor

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

      Although I have not fully research my Connecticut Ives family with their many Civil War participation's, I do know they built a house in Hartford set up for civil war widows, now under the name Immanuel House to this day.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Great resources. I am featuring this on the Civil War lenses section of my United States of America lens.