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The Civil War

Selected Books

Faust, Drew Gilpin
This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
E468.9.F385 2009x
The president of Harvard University presents this innovative study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and consequences of death in the face of the unprecedented slaughter of the Civil War. In the process, Faust contends that the nation invented the modern culture of reverence for military death and individual rights.
Fuller, Randall
From Battlefields Rising: How the Civil War Transformed American Literature
PS217.C58 F85 2011
Although the Civil War did not create any great work of literature, it had a great effect on writers of the period: Whitman, Emerson, Hawthorne, Dickinson, and Melville. Read more in this Boston Globe article: Civil War Lit: How the War between the States changed American literature.
Gannon, Barbara A.
The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic
E462.1.A7 G36 2011
In the years after the Civil War, black and white Union soldiers who survived the horrific struggle joined the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)--the Union army's largest veterans' organization. In this thoroughly researched and groundbreaking study, Barbara Gannon chronicles black and white veterans' efforts to create and sustain the nation's first interracial organization.
Goldfield, David
America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation
E468.9.G685 2011
Goldfield emphasizes the importance of evangelical Protestantism in precipitating the Civil War.
Goodheart, Adam
1861: the Civil War awakening
E459.G66 2011
Listen to an NPR broadcast on this book about the year following the attack on Fort Sumter. You can also read Adam Goodheart's Civil War blog at the New York Times.
Keegan, John
The American Civil War: A Military History
E470.K255 2009
Keegan, an English expert in military history, concentrates, naturally, on the military aspects of the conflict and the importance of the American topography.
McPherson, James
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
E173.O94 vol. 6
This fourth part in the Oxford History of the United States begins with the cessation of hostilities with Mexico in 1848 and ends with the termination of armed conflict between North and South at Appomattox in 1865. This Pulitzer Prize-winning work is now the standard one-volume treatment of the Civil War and also is available on CD, in an illustrated edition, and as a downloadable audio book.
Reconstructing Appalachia: The Civil War's Aftermath
F217.A65 R43 2010
This volume of essays collected by Andrew Slap describe racial reconciliation, tension between former Unionists and Confederates, violence, destruction caused by the armies, the Ku Klux Klan, economic development, the evolution of post-Civil War memory, stereotypes of Appalachia, and alterations in the perceptions of race, gender, and economic status.
Smith, Andrew F.
Starving the South: How the North Won the Civil War
E468.9.S65 2011
Food historian Smith holds that the blockade of Southern ports starved the Confederate Army and that the Civil War affected the way we eat: it transformed local markets into nationalized food suppliers, forced the development of a Northern canning industry, established Thanksgiving as a national holiday and forged the first true national cuisine from the recipes of emancipated slaves who migrated north.
Stauffer, John; Jenkins, Sally
The State of Jones: The Small Southern County That Seceded from the Confederacy
F347.J6 J465 2009
New York Times bestselling author Sally Jenkins and distinguished Harvard professor John Stauffer mine a nearly forgotten piece of Civil War history and strike gold in this surprising account of the only Southern county to secede from the Confederacy.
Thomas, Emory M.
The Dogs of War: 1861
E471.T56 2011
In 1861, Americans thought that the war looming on their horizon would be brief. None foresaw that they were embarking on our nation's worst calamity, a four-year bloodbath that cost the lives of more than half a million people.
Williams, David
Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War
F214.W564 2008
Williams (Valdosta State U.) maintains that the Confederacy lost the Civil War not because of the supremacy of the Union army, but because there were bitter philosophical, social and political divisions within the South. Rich plantation owners had pushed secession against the wishes of the poorer nonslaveholding majority of white Southerners and then exempted themselves from military duty. 300,000 Confederate soldiers deserted and joined the Union forces. This book makes it clear that Southerners themselves were greatly responsible for the defeat of the Confederacy.
Woodworth, Steven E.
This Great Struggle: America's Civil War
E468.W88 2011
Woodworth, of Texas Christian University, defends three controversial opinions: that Civil War was about slavery, that the war's crucial battles were between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River, and that Reconstruction was part of the war and that the South's commitment to white supremacy prevailed.
Wortman, Marc
The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta
E476.7.W67 2009
The Bonfire focuses on the experience of Atlantans themselves, including James Calhoun, Atlanta's Unionist mayor, and Robert Yancey, a black merchant who built a personal fortune despite his legal status as property.


For additional films, browse the catalog under United States History Civil War 1861-1865 - Drama.

The Civil War
Full scale film history of the terrible conflict that tore the country apart and defined the nation. Discusses various battles and their impact on a divided country as well as personal views of the conflict based on the writings of politicians, generals, enlisted men and their families. This is the Ken Burns PBS television mini series of 1990.
Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain (2003)
Inman, a young Confederate soldier, who is injured during the explosive 1864 battle of Petersburg, Virginia, is struggling to make his way home to Cold Mountain, NC, where his beloved Ada awaits him. In Inman's absence, Ada befriends Ruby, who helps her keep up her late father's farm. Based on the book Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.
Civil War drama depicting the events and personal struggles of the Union and Confederate soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg. Based on the novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.
Glory (1989)
A fictionalized account of the Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry, the first regiment of northern black soldiers to fight in the Civil War. Starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman. Based on the books, 'Lay this Laurel' by Lincoln Kirstein and 'One Gallant Rush' by Peter Burchard and the letters of Robert Gould Shaw.
Gods and Generals (2002)
Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain left behind a quiet life and a career as a college professor to fight for the Union. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was a man of great religious faith who served in the defense of the Confederacy. And Gen. Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate army, was a man who was forced to choose between his loyalty to the United States and his love of the Southern states where he was born and raised. Based on the novel by Jeff Shaara, a "prequel" to Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels (see above).
Gone with the Wind (1939)
The story focuses on the life and loves of the beautiful and selfish Scarlett O'Hara and begins on the O'Haras' Georgia plantation of Tara in antebellum days and moves through the Civil War and Reconstruction. This Classic Academy Award Winner stars Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh and is based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell.


  • Civil War Bibliography
    An extensive list of material dealing with the Civil War that is available in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Web Resources

Pittsburgh Region



  • Gettysburg National Military Park
    Known as a turning point in our great Civil War, the battlefield is preserved by the National Park Service as a symbol of America's struggle to survive as a nation, and as a lasting memorial to the soldiers who served in that great conflict.
  • The Valley of the Shadow
    The Valley of the Shadow is an electronic archive of two communities in the American Civil War: Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennyslvania.

United States

  • Augustana College (IL) Civil War Diaries
    by Gould D. Moulineaux (1862-1866) and Basil Messler
  • Civil War@Smithsonian
    Civil War@Smithsonian is produced by the National Portrait Gallery and is dedicated to examining the Civil War through the Smithsonian Institution's extensive and manifold collections. If you click on resources and then choose a topic, links to websites and a bibliography is provided.
  • Civil War Reenactors
    Includes a gallery of historical Civil War photographs.
  • Civil War Photographs from the Library of Congress, 1861-1865
    "The Selected Civil War Photographs Collection contains 1,118 photographs. Most of the images were made under the supervision of Mathew B. Brady, and include scenes of military personnel, preparations for battle, and battle after-effects. The collection also includes portraits of both Confederate and Union officers, and a selection of enlisted men." This was one of the first digital archives on the web.
  • Civil War Letters of Galutia York
    Hosted by State University of New York (SUNY) Morrisville College Library. Galutia York was the oldest son of a farm family from Hubbardsville, New York who enlisted in the Union Army in 1862 when he was 19 years old. Galutia York died of disease on May 20, 1863, in Berwick City, Louisiana, never having been in a shooting battle. The collection consists of 50 letters.
  • The Civil War Preservation Trust
    This organization works to preserve historic battle sites of the Civil War and has developed the Civil War Discovery Trail.
  • Civil War Traveler
    Everything you need to plan your CIVIL WAR trips.
  • Cornelius C. Platter Civil War Diary, 1864 - 1865
    This digital collection from Georgia is the Civil War diary of Lt. (later Capt.) Cornelius C. Platter, of the 81st Ohio Infantry Volunteers, from November, 1864 - April 27, 1865. It details Sherman's march through Georgia from Rome to Savannah and the march north through the Carolinas. Note that Platter was a Union soldier, not a confederate.
  • The Dred Scott Case
    Historical documents relating to the famous court case in which the slaves Dred Scott and his wife Harriet filed suit for their freedom in the St. Louis Circuit. The historic US Supreme Court decision against them in which they were declared to be slaves was one of the events leading up to the US Civil War. The exhibit is part of Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Eye of the Storm
    Musarium hosts this exhibit on the drawings and journals of Union Soldier Private Knox Sneden that were published as Eye of the Storm: a Civil War Odyssey in 2000.
  • The Gettysburg Address
    From the Library of Congress
  • Jews in the Civil War
    This site from the Jewish-American History Documentation Foundation contains letters and photographs of Jewish soldiers in both the Union and Confederate armies.
  • New York Times: The Opinionator: Disunion
    "One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Americans went to war with themselves. Disunion revisits and reconsiders America's most perilous period -- using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded."
  • Torn in Two: 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.
    This multimedia display takes a geographic and cartographic approach to exploring and illuminating the causes of the conflict, the conduct of the war and how the war was remembered in later years. It showcases 50 historic maps interwoven with 40 photographs, paintings, prints, diaries, political cartoons, music and press of the period, all from the Boston Public Library’s special collections.
  • The Underground Railroad (National Park Service)
    "In 1990, Congress authorized the National Park Service to conduct a study of the Underground Railroad, its routes and operations in order to preserve and interpret this aspect of United States history. The study includes a general overview of the Underground Railroad, with a brief discussion of slavery and abolitionism, escape routes used by slaves, and alternatives to commemorate and interpret the significance of the phenomenon."
  • Underground Railroad (National Geographic)
    Experience the journey of a runaway slave in a "choose your own adventure" type site from National Geographic.
  • Washington During the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865
    This Library of Congress American Memory Project presents three manuscript volumes that document daily life in Washington, D. C., through the eyes of Horatio Nelson Taft (1806-1888), an examiner for the U. S. Patent Office. The diary details events in Washington during the Civil War years including Taft's connection with Abraham Lincoln and his family. Of special interest is Taft's description of Lincoln's assassination, based on the accounts of his friends and his son, who was one of the attending physicians at Ford's Theatre the night Lincoln was shot, on April 14, 1865.