View Full Version : Civil war book recommendations

07-28-2020, 10:42 AM
G'day all,

I've always been a big reader, the Great Jim Corbett is my favourite writer, but also read much about the old New Zealand and African hunting era or anything to do with history really.

The American civil war has always been fascinating to me too, probably more so than any other war in history.

I just finished reading S.C.Gwynne's "Rebel Yell" which is a biography of sorts about Stonewall Jackson. Fascinating read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd like to get Shelby Foote's trilogy but it's awful expensive in this part of the world. Does anyone have any other civil war book recommendations?

After the civil war I think I'll read into the Napoleonic wars and maybe Hannibal as that seemed to influence Jackson and some of the teachings at west point in that era. But I'm not ready to move on from the civil war itself just yet.

Thank you

07-28-2020, 11:04 AM
The books written by Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain are good. He was the leader of the defense at Little Round Top at Gettysburg.

07-28-2020, 11:35 AM
Look up Michael and Jeffery Shaara… Killer Angels, Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure

Der Gebirgsjager
07-28-2020, 01:01 PM
I've got a couple dozen of them in my book shelves, and here's a photo of two suggestions. What is good and what isn't kind of depends on exactly where your interests lie, and the manner in which you like to read it. For example, if you want first hand action accounts or detailed histories you'll probably not find them in the same books. A good technique to further your studies is to find a book you enjoy and then copy off the Bibliography in the back of the book which is a listing of the references, usually other books, that the author used for his research and references, and then to obtain and read them. So, here's two places to start, "The Civil War Day By Day", and the Time Life series "The Civil War" which has about 15 thin books that cover specific aspects of the war. I think both of these are out of print, but probably easily available used on E-bay or in libraries.
click to enlarge.

07-28-2020, 01:14 PM
If you are looking for the Shelby Foote books, they can be read on line here https://bookfrom.net/shelby-foote/42772-the_civil_war_a_narrative_volume_1_fort_sumter_to_ perryville.html

07-28-2020, 09:15 PM
Thank you all,

I will look into these.

08-04-2020, 08:05 AM
Jack Hinson,s One-Man War, a Civil war sniper by Tom C. McKenny.

08-04-2020, 10:35 AM
Company AYTCH, Sam Watkins

05-07-2021, 08:22 AM
There are two books by E P Alexander, "Fighting For The Confederacy" is very good. Alexander was Lee's Artillery commander, and wrote what became this book as a memoir for his family. He was a keen observer.

05-07-2021, 11:42 AM
I am a Tennessean and proud of it. I was given a book for Christmas years ago by my parents(all my family are history readers) that details the Tennessee history of the Fight Against Invasion(commonly called the civil war). Much of it comes from stories and letters written by the soldiers themselves. Tennessee wanted to stay independent and out of the conflict as they did not want to fight against their southern brothers and they still believed the Union could be restored peaceably. But Lincoln forced their hand by demanding that Tennessee supply troops for the Union cause or be considered "hostile" and subject to forceful compliance. By dictating to them like they were 2 year old children and demanding they fight, he forced them to make a decision they really did not want to make--go to war. In a close vote they chose to fight with their southern brothers against the coming union invasion rather than give in to threats. The south had already agreed to honor Tennessee's request for neutrality. No state suffered more in that war than Tennessee. Brother against brother, and father against son in some instances. My 2 great, great grandfathers fought each other at the Battle of Chicamauga and the Battle of Chattanooga or Look Out Mountains as its often called. My dads side was pro union while moms side were southern. There were almost no slavery in East Tennessee and and not muchb in middle Tennessee until you got to Nashville, hence east Tennessee mostly sided with the union but as one local history professor would say, they would fight any military force that came into the area disturbing the peace. The name of the book is: Tennessee's War 1861-1865 by Stanley F. Horn. I highly recommend it. At the Battle of Look Out Mountain, it was Tennessee units against Tennessee units and it was Tennessee units that decided the battle. my .02 anyway, james

05-07-2021, 08:38 PM
If you want to know that war's history just read anything by Bruce Catton. As alluded above, the unpleasantness of 1861-65 wasn't truly a "civil war"; instead, it was the War of Northern Aggression and no one does a better or more completely and even handed job of explaining it than Catton.

Fact is, a civil war is when two or more groups struggle to control their national government. The South didn't seek to control the domineering Union government or to have anything to do with it. The South simply declared its independence from it, exactly as patriots did to England in 1776. Contrary to the "winners" self aggrandizing smug versions of history, the north didn't fight to free any slaves and the south didn't fight to keep them. The south simply rose up to drive the Union's military out of their invaded states.

To be intellectually honest, anyone wanting to make an issue over the few cases of split families in our sectional war will also have to claim our Revolution and WW I and II were also "civil" wars! I mean, there were thousands of bitterly split families in our Revolution and millions more in the World Wars.

The independent South sought a peaceful separation from the North in 1861-65, without war, but they were not allowed to do so. The other great wars were indeed civil wars fought between groups seeking to dominate their national governments from their historical capitals. That's a whole other thing from the winner's self-righteously proclaiming the great American bloodletting was a "civil war". The South never sought to dominate the Union so the fight cannot rightly be called a "civil war"; it was indeed a war of Northern Aggression.

Final proof is how the southern states were finally raped at the point of yankee bayonets and long treated as a defeated nation. And today, in a great deja vu, northern city descendents of those long ago bad actors are reaping their great grandfather's just rewards from bitter descendents of the southern slaves; that's sad because it did not have to be this way.

05-07-2021, 08:53 PM
I'm currently reading Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War by T.J Stiles and it's an interesting read. Has a lot of history about the war itself and how it influenced Jesse and rest of the gang.

05-17-2021, 06:35 PM
If you are looking for the Shelby Foote books, they can be read on line here https://bookfrom.net/shelby-foote/42772-the_civil_war_a_narrative_volume_1_fort_sumter_to_ perryville.html

Have the complete set I will sell you if interested.

05-17-2021, 06:57 PM

Bent Ramrod
05-21-2021, 11:02 AM
Harper, if (as seems to be the case) you are trying to rack up a quick 30 posts while you wait in durance vile for the 30 days’ probation period to end so you can make a permanent move to the Swappin’ and Sellin’ section, please be advised that they have to be meaningful posts that advance the state of knowledge and experience, or help answer questions or solve problems brought up by the other posters.

Replies like “Yup!” “Me, too.” “Wow!” “Huh?” And other such fillers aren’t going to cut it.

Your Profile seems to be under scrutiny already by a couple moderators and the site owner. Just a word to the wise.

05-22-2021, 01:17 PM
I've been reading/studying the Civil War for almost 30 years and have accumulated two full shelves of its history. I'll add a couple more excellent titles for the beginner:

James McPherson's 'Battle Cry of Freedom'
Ken Burns' and Geoffery Ward's 'The Civil War' (the illustrated 'companion book' to Ken Burns' PBS Television series)


06-08-2021, 05:37 AM
Shelby Foote...three volume set
Bust Hell Wide open by Mitcham on Nathan Bedford Forrest...great book
Killer Angels by Shasta...more fiction but based on facts... Chamberlain at Gettysburg

6mm win lee
06-08-2021, 05:57 AM
Personal memoirs of U. S. Grant.

Volume I (https://archive.org/details/personalmemoirso0000gran/page/n5/mode/2up) https://archive.org/details/personalmemoirso0000gran/page/n5/mode/2up

Volume II (https://archive.org/details/personalmemoirso0000gran_r4h0/page/n5/mode/2up) https://archive.org/details/personalmemoirso0000gran_r4h0/page/n5/mode/2up

Company AYTCH by Sam Watkins

Co. Aytch (https://archive.org/details/coaytch00watk/page/n5/mode/2up) https://archive.org/details/coaytch00watk/page/n5/mode/2up

07-22-2021, 02:29 AM
Jack Hinson,s One-Man War, a Civil war sniper by Tom C. McKenny.

Great book of a little known hero of the South.

07-25-2021, 03:18 PM
Paul Peterson has written 3 great books on Missouri Guerilla Leader William Clarke Quantrill.

08-27-2021, 05:02 PM
Fairly recently I acquired "Vicksburg" by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. A pretty good read about the Sieges (plural) and it speaks to the pettiness of some southern generals who were guilty of not supporting the defenders. It is told from a Southern perspective.

11-27-2021, 10:27 PM
Soul of the Lion by Wallace ? Its about Joshua Chamberlin's biography and career pre and post war other good reads are Hard marching everyday by Wilbur Fisk a volunteer who wrote home to the local newspaper of his activities during the war. Full Duty Vermont in the civil war by state historian Howard Coffin.