Essential Civil War Reader: Part 2

A few more books that no Civil War student should go without….

Battle lines are fading…

  • Army of the Potomac Series: Mr. Lincoln’s Army, Glory Road, Stillness at Appomattox, by Bruce CattonThe Grandfather of modern Civil War history, Catton’s prolific career set the standard for consensus scholarship.  This series is by far his most influential, the third volume earning him the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1954.  Catton details the trials and tribulations of the Army tasked with defeating Robert E. Lee.
  • Lee’s Lieutenants:  A Study in Command- 3 Vols., By Douglass Southall FreemanFreeman’s most widely read work by far, this three volume set was published at the height of America’s involvement in the Second World War.  A multilayered biography of the men who served under Lee, Freeman’s account is a carefully crafted and witty reference to high command of Lee’s army.
  • George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon, By Stephen SearsOne of the most misunderstood figures of the War, Sears’s biography provides a balanced portrait of America’s Napoleon.  Sears is able to present a fair and honest account of McClellan’s career, the bulk of the study focused on his time in the military.  Neither indictment or defense, Sears’s book is biographical history at its best.
  • Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Vols, By Rufus R. DawesAn indispensable primary source for writers, including Alan Nolan, author of The Iron Brigade.  Dawes account provides a first hand account of the formation and growth of the Army of the Potomac.  The Sixth was in the thick of every Eastern campaign and Dawes’s history puts the reader in the line of battle.
  • The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, By Edwin CoddingtonA strategic overview combined with tactical analysis, Coddington’s work is standard reading for buffs and Licensed Battlefield Guides alike.  A critical look at Lee’s strategic blunders is paired with a tactical defense of Meade’s battlefield decisions.  This book was Coddington’s magnum opus.
  • For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, By James McPhersonA direct refutation of Gerald Linderman’s Embattled CourageMcPherson argues that the courage and dedication of Civil War soldiers never wavered.  Drawing on over 25,000 letters and more than 250 diaries, this is an exhaustively researched and documented piece of scholarship.  McPherson should be commended for allowing the soldiers themselves speak to the difficult aspects of Civil War military service.


Filed under Book Review, Ephemera

3 responses to “Essential Civil War Reader: Part 2

  1. I’m reading the Catton series right now! 🙂 Really enjoying it so far.

  2. NEO

    All outstanding. And yes, Catton fueled my interest in both the Civil War and military history in general. As somebody said he made you feel the presence of those dusty columns of men. A great writer. I need to reread him. And I would add the American Heritage Pictorial History of the Civil War for which Catton wrote the text, some of the pictures haunt me still.

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