The Civil War was the deadliest war in US history. Between 1861 and 1865, at least 620,000 soldiers died—approximately two percent of the population. The war devastated the United States on the local level, dividing families as well as the country. While 384 conflicts have been identified as major battles, there were 10,500 military engagements stretching across twenty-four states and six territories, from New Mexico to Vermont. Many broad histories have been written about the Civil War, but there are also numerous accounts of what it was like in the communities where it took place. People on the home front left letters and diaries behind, and some historians have examined the lesser-known military actions that took place in their region.
Since 2014, NLS network libraries have been able to submit their locally produced titles to BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download website. By focusing on subjects of local interest to communities across the country, network library recording studios add diversity and value to the NLS collection. This minibibliography lists local histories of the Civil War recorded by regional libraries.
All titles in this minibibliography can be downloaded from BARD. Contact your local cooperating library to register for BARD. Registered users may also play audio titles on iOS and Android devices using the BARD Mobile app. Find your local cooperating library on the NLS website or call toll-free 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).
African Americans of Martha’s Vineyard: From Enslavement to Presidential Visit
by Tom Dresser
Local tour guide Thomas Dresser tells the history of how the Vineyard became a sanctuary for slaves during the Civil War even as many Blacks first came to the island as indentured servants. Venture through the Vineyard as a popular destination for vacations of Martin Luther King Jr., Henry Louis Gates, and Barack Obama. 2010.
Connecticut in the American Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival
by Matthew Warshauer
This book offers readers a window into the state’s involvement in a conflict that challenged and defined the unity of a nation. It also relates the proslavery and antislavery views held by the citizens of Connecticut in the mid-1800s. It is a concise account with many perspectives of the role that Connecticut played in the Civil War. 2011.
A Connecticut Yankee in Lincoln’s Cabinet: Navy Secretary Gideon Welles Chronicles the Civil War
by Gideon Welles
This book features 250 excerpts from the diary of Gideon Welles while he was President Lincoln’s secretary of the Navy. A native of Connecticut, Welles was one of the state’s most influential journalists and politicians and these entries provide an insider’s view of the Civil War as it unfolded. 2014.
War like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta
by Russell S. Bonds
Presents the epic story of what a Union observer called the greatest event of the Civil War: the struggle for the city of Atlanta and the terrible fate that befell the town and its citizens. Strong language and violence. 2009.
The Shoshoni Frontier and the Bear River Massacre
by Brigham D. Madsen
On January 29, 1863, over two hundred Shoshoni men, women, and children died on the banks of the Bear River, massacred by volunteer soldiers from California led by Colonel Patrick E. Connor. Bear River was one of the largest Indian massacres in the Trans-Mississippi West. The massacre has gone almost unnoticed since it occurred during the Civil War, when national attention was focused on that conflict, and the death of the Shoshoni Indians in a remote corner of the West was only of passing interest. For junior and senior high and adult readers. 1985.
Surgeon on Horseback: The Missouri and Arkansas Journal and Letters of Dr. Charles Brackett of Rochester, Indiana, 1861–1863
by Charles Brackett
Dr. Charles Brackett left the peace and security of the family farm in Rochester, Indiana, in 1861 for the great adventure of his life: defending the Union as a surgeon with two cavalry regiments. Throughout his service, he recorded events almost daily in his journal and wrote often to his wife, Margaret. These letters and the journal have been preserved, and much of what he wrote is presented in this book. Contains some violence. 1998.
Den of Misery: Indiana’s Civil War Prison
by James R. Hall
Details the cover-ups and denials as well as the cruel realities of the prison camp and chronicles the efforts by Confederate veterans to make known the truth about their experiences. Some strong language and some violence. 2006.
Morgan’s Great Raid: The Remarkable Expedition from Kentucky to Ohio
by David L. Mowery
A military operation unlike any other on American soil, Morgan’s Raid was characterized by incredible speed, superhuman endurance and innovative tactics. Confederate general John Hunt Morgan took his cavalry through enemy-occupied territory in three states in one of the longest offensives of the Civil War. The effort produced the only battles fought north of the Ohio River and reached farther north than any other regular Confederate force. Historian David L. Mowery takes a new look at Morgan’s Raid, considered among the world’s greatest land-based raids since Elizabethan times. Some violence. 2013.
by Jeannette Covert Nolan
Biography of the Virginia-born woman who served as a Union spy in Richmond throughout the Civil War. For high school and adult readers. 1970.
Notre Dame and the Civil War
by James M. Schmidt
Few institutions of higher education can boast of the dedication and effort made by the University of Notre Dame during the Civil War. Notre Dame gave freely of its faculty and students as soldiers, sent its Holy Cross priests to the camps and battlefields as chaplains, and dispatched its sisters to the hospitals as nurses. Though far from the battlefields, the war was ever-present on campus, as Notre Dame witnessed fisticuffs among the student body, provided a home to the children of a famous general, and tried to keep at least some of its community from the fray. At war’s end, Notre Dame welcomed back several bona fide war heroes and became home to a unique veterans’ organization. Some violence. 2010.
Levi Coffin, Quaker: Breaking the Bonds of Slavery in Ohio and Indiana
by Mary Ann Yannessa
Biography of the so-called President of the Underground Railroad begins briefly with Coffin’s early efforts against slavery in North Carolina and Indiana. The focus is on Coffin’s abolitionist activities in Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1847 through the Civil War and his work on behalf of freed Blacks after the war. 2001.
The Border between Them: Violence and Reconciliation on the Kansas-Missouri Line
by Jeremy Neely
The author recounts the exploits of John Brown, William Quantrill, and other notorious guerrillas, as well as the stories of everyday people who lived through the conflict that marked the terrible first act of the American Civil War. He then examines how Emancipation, industrialization, and immigration eventually eroded wartime divisions. Some violence. 2007.
The War the Women Lived: Female Voices from the Confederate South
by Joyce Honaker
Engrossing diary excerpts written by twenty-three white Southern women during the Civil War document the hardships they and their families endured, the suffering they witnessed, and the risks many of them took. For high school and adult readers. 1995.
Great Civil War Stories of Kentucky
by Marshall Myers
True stories of lesser-known personalities and incidents in Kentucky’s Civil War history, including the Shakers’ role in feeding soldiers, the everyday experiences of the Orphan Brigade, and the havoc caused by George “Lightning” Ellsworth, John Hunt Morgan’s crack telegraph operator. 2011.
Embattled Capital: Frankfort Kentucky in the Civil War
by James M. Prichard
Kentucky’s small capital city was the only Union capital to be captured by Confederate forces. This book shows Frankfort as a microcosm of the conflict, describing the wartime perspective from a wide variety of people, whether Union, Confederate, soldier, civilian, man, woman, slave, or free man. Includes a roster of local Civil War soldiers with biographical notes. 2014.
The Fight for Middle Creek
by Richard J. Reid
Describes the Civil War battle of Middle Creek, near Prestonsburg, Kentucky, in January 1862. 1992.
Josie Underwood’s Civil War Diary
by Josie Underwood
Underwood, outspoken member of a politically prominent family in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was twenty-one years old when the first shots of the Civil War were fired in 1861. Her diary depicts the Union and Confederate tensions in strategically critical Bowling Green, a place of political unrest and military action. 2009.
The Twentieth Maine
by John J. Pullen
Chronicles the history of the 20th Maine Volunteer Regiment, whose heroic defense of Little Round Top under the leadership of Joshua L. Chamberlain during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, made it a legend. Violence. 2008.
Michigan and the Civil War: A Great and Bloody Sacrifice
by Jack Dempsey
Offering a fresh and readable glimpse into Michigan’s role in the preservation of the Union, Dempsey leads us through the leading characters, battles, and events during the Civil War, including Governor Austin Blair, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the 102nd US Colored Troops. A 2012 Michigan Notable book. 2011.
The Comrades: Sixth Michigan Cavalry, Company F
by Bobbie Robertson Rosencrans
Extensive research on the Sixth Michigan Cavalry Company F details their experiences fighting in Civil War battles, including at Gettysburg and Appomattox, and being sent west to build a fort in Wyoming Territory after the war. Pre- and post-war conditions, social and medical issues, genealogy, and issues that affect society today are also covered. 2013.
Orlando M. Poe: Civil War General And Great Lakes Engineer
by Paul Taylor
A comprehensive biography of General Sherman’s right-hand man, Orlando M. Poe, who served in the Civil War, commanded the Second Michigan Infantry, and led brigades at Second Bull Run and Fredericksburg. This influential man was much praised for his bravery and service. He went on to lead an illustrious career as the supervisor for the design and construction of numerous Great Lakes lighthouses and then designed and constructed the largest shipping dock in the world at Sault Ste. Marie. A 2010 Michigan Notable Book. 2009.
The Legacy of the Civil War
by Robert Penn Warren
Explores the effects of the Civil War on American history and on American thought about American history. 1961.
Pale Horse at Plum Run: The First Minnesota at Gettysburg
by Brian Leehan
Nearly seventy percent of the First Minnesota regiment lay dead or dying on the field—one of the greatest losses of any unit engaged in the Civil War. The significance of this July 2, 1863, battle at Gettysburg is widely known, but the harrowing details of the First’s heroic stand that stopped a furious rebel assault have long been buried. Leehan examines personal accounts, eyewitness reports, and official records to construct a remarkably detailed and compelling narrative. Unrated. 2002.
Ride the Razor’s Edge: The Younger Brothers Story
by Carl W. Breihan
Using family records, personal letters, and interviews with a nephew of the Youngers, the author tells the story of James, John, and Bob Younger, who rode in the James Gang with Jesse and Frank. 1992.
Incident at the Otterville Station: A Civil War Story of Slavery and Rescue
by John Christgau
While elated Northerners were celebrating victory at Gettysburg and toasting Abraham Lincoln as the Great Emancipator, Missourian Charles W. Walker was rousing his thirteen slaves in the dark of night. In defiance of a standing Union order prohibiting the transfer of slaves among states, he intended to ship his slaves by train to Kentucky, where they would be sold at auction. What ensued was one of the most gripping—and until now, mostly forgotten—events of the Civil War. 2013.
The Homefront in Civil War Missouri
by James W. Erwin
Missouri was a hotly contested border state with both Union and Confederate sympathizers. It sent armies, generals, and supplies to both sides; was represented with a star on both flags; maintained dual governments; and endured a bloody neighbor-against-neighbor intrastate war within the larger national war. The homefront was the battleground. Some violence. 2014.
The Missouri Compromise and its Aftermath: Slavery and the Meaning of America
by Robert Pierce Forbes
The proposal barring slavery from the new state of Missouri sparked the most candid discussion of slavery ever held in Congress. The southern response inaugurated a new politics of racism and reaction. Forbes’s analysis reveals a surprising national consensus against slavery a generation before the Civil War that was fractured by the controversy over Missouri. 2007.
The Battle of Westport: Missouri’s Great Confederate Raid
by Paul Kirkman
On October 23, 1864, a Confederate cavalry led by Major General Sterling Price clashed with Union forces just south of Kansas City, Missouri, near the town of Westport. It was the largest battle of the Civil War west of the Mississippi. 2011.
M. Jeff Thompson: Missouri’s Swamp Fox of the Confederacy
by Doris Land Mueller
Doris Land Mueller offers an adventurous account of the life of Confederate army commander Meriwether Jeff Thompson. Thompson’s military exploits in the Missouri Bootheel region earned him the nickname Swamp Fox from Union general Ulysses S. Grant, while his writing earned him the nickname Poet Laureate of the Marshes. Some violence. 2007.
Bushwhacker Belles: The Sisters, Wives, and Girlfriends of the Missouri Guerrillas
by Larry Wood
Most Civil War historians focus on the men who fought with the Missouri guerrillas. Until now, little has been written about the women who supported them. Ozarks historian Larry Wood gives sketches of many of these women, some of whom actively supported the fighters and others who simply fed and sheltered them. 2016.
Civil War in North Carolina
by John Gilchrist Barrett
A comprehensive account of military operations in North Carolina during the Civil War. Unrated. 1963.
Ironclads and Columbiads
by William R. Trotter
Recounts the battles and events that shook the coast of North Carolina during America’s bloodiest war. Throughout the Civil War, North Carolina’s coast was of great strategic importance to the Confederacy. The story of the coastal war is one of frustrations, missed opportunities for both sides, lopsided victories, and heartbreaking defeats, illuminated at every turn by flashes of extraordinary bravery and tactical brilliance. Some violence. 1989.
Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War
by Michael C. C. Adams
Many Americans, argues Michael C. C. Adams, think of the Civil War as more glorious and less awful than the reality. Adams presents a stark portrait of the human costs of the Civil War and gives readers a more accurate appreciation of its profound and lasting consequences. He examines the sharp contrast between the expectations of recruits versus the realities of dirt and exposure, poor diet, malnutrition, and disease. Drawing extensively on letters and memoirs of individual soldiers, Adams assembles vivid accounts of the distress they faced daily and provides a powerful counterpoint to Civil War glorification. 2014.
Civil War Pittsburgh: Forge of the Union
by Len Barcousky
While no major battles were fought nearby, Pittsburgh-area soldiers and civilians sacrificed and suffered during the Civil War. This book is based primarily on contemporary reports that appeared in local newspapers and reveal what city residents read about events like the Allegheny Arsenal explosion, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Some violence. 2013.
Sherman’s Flame and Blame Campaign through Georgia and the Carolinas … and the Burning of Columbia
by Patricia G. McNeely
General William T. Sherman is well known for his famous march to the sea, during which his soldiers destroyed homes and properties in their path. He declared psychological warfare on the Confederacy by attempting to destroy the faith of civilians in their leaders and their government, and managed to convincingly blame the Confederacy for the atrocities committed by his men. Even though Sherman openly admitted most of his strategies and his efforts to mystify the enemy, those elements have been all but overlooked through the years. 2014.
Plow-Horse Cavalry: The Caney Creek Boys of the Thirty-fourth Texas
by Robert S. Weddle
The farmers in rural Fannin County, Texas, were not eager to join the call of the Conscription Act to fight in the Civil War. But they left the women to tend the farms, took up their shotguns or squirrel rifles, and mounted their plow horses to ride off to war. Their story is told through the eyes of a rear-rank soldier and sheds a new light on the conflict in the Trans-Mississippi. 1974.
This Wicked Rebellion: Wisconsin Civil War Soldiers Write Home
by John Zimm
Wisconsin Civil War soldiers’ personal letters to the people “back home” bring famous battles and the hardships of military camp to life. Violence. 2012.