There are thousands of interesting and informative books covering every aspect of the Civil War including memoirs, diaries, regimental histories, battles, campaigns, prisons, soldiers and leaders. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best reference books. This is by no means a comprehensive list.
Most of the volumes are out of print, but researchers can usually find copies at the National Archives and many large reference and university libraries.
Armies and Soldiers
Manuscript and Archival Collections
National Archives - Guides and Finding Aids
Navy and Marines
ARMIES AND SOLDIERS
Allardice, Bruce S. More Generals in Gray. Baton Rouge: University Press, 1995.
Carroll, John M., intro. List of Staff Officers of the Confederate States Army, 1861-1865. Mattituck, NY: J.M. Carroll & Co., 1983.
Carroll, John M. List of Field Officers, Regiments, and Battalions in the Confederate States Army, 1861-1865. Mattituck, New York: J.M. Carroll and Co., 1983.
Also lists regiments and battalions by state.
Crute, Joseph H., Jr. Units of the Confederate States Army. Gaithersburg, MD: Olde Soldier Books, Inc., 1987.
Cullum, George W. Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy, 9 vols New York: D. Van Nostrand 1868.
Hamersley, T.H.S. Army Register of the United States for One Hundred Years, 1779-1879. Washington D.C., 1880.
Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary for the United States Army, 1789-1903, 2 vols. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903.
Hewett, Janet B., ed. The Roster of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865. 16 Vol. Wilmington: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1996.
Alphabetical list of Confederate soldiers and their units and companies.
----------. The Roster of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865, 33 Vol. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Pub. Co., 1997.
Arranged by state an then alphabetically by surname.
----------. The Roster of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865: United States Colored troops. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Pub. Co.,1997.
Hubbell, John T., and James W. Geary, eds. Biographical Dictionary of the Union: Northern Leaders of the Civil War. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995.
Reamy, Martha and William Reamy. Index to the Roll of Honor. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1995.
Sifakis, Stewart. Compendium of the Confederate Armies. New York: Facts on File, 1992 (10 vols.).
Arranged by state. Entry for each military unit: nicknames or misdesignations; commanding officers; information on organization and composition; campaigns and battles; suggested further reading, if any.
----------. Who was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1988.
A one-volume compendium of over 2500 complete and detailed biographies on major military leaders, lesser ranking officers and enlisted personnel who distinguished them selves in action; major political leaders, political activists and important civilian noncombatants.
State Adjutant Generals' Reports
Available for most of the states that provided troops to the Union Army including California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin. NARA libraries will have copies of most of these records. Researchers will also find copies at the appropriate state archives.
United States, Pension Bureau. List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1883.
These books list the name, certificate number, post office address (i.e. town, etc.), the cause for which the person was pensioned, the monthly rate, and the date of the original allowance. Some allowances date back to the Civil War years.
United States, War Department. Official Army Register. Washington, D.C.: Adjutant General's Office, 1861.
Listing of officers by unit.
United States, War Department. Official Army Register of Volunteer Force of U.S. Army for Years 1861-1865. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1865
Published in 8 parts: 1) New England, 2) New York, New Jersey, 3) mid-Atlantic, 4) West Virginia and Confederate states, 5) Ohio, Michigan, 6) Indiana, Illinois, 7) Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, California, Kansas, Oregon, Nevada, 8) territories. Listing of military units, with officers by rank or position; and individual deaths, promotions, transfers, desertions, missing personnel, discharges; battles; enlisted men who received medals of honor. Alphabetical index in back of each.
United States, War Department. Roll of Honor, Quartermaster's Department. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1865.
Listings of Union Army personnel interred in military cemeteries, with ranks and military units. Most include black troops and unknown soldiers. Arranged by National Cemetery. [An index to the Roll of Honor is listed above: see Martha Reamy]
Wakeyln, Jon L. Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977.
Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1964.
__________. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1959.
Boatner, Mark M., III. The Civil War Dictionary. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1988.
Century Company. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. New York: the Century Co., 1887-1888. [Reprint editions available]
Church, William Conant. The Photographic History of the Civil War. Armies & Leaders, The Cavalry, The Decisive Battles. New York: Fairfax Press, 1983, .
Confederate Veteran. Confederate Veteran, 40 vols. Nashville, TN: S. A. Cunningham, 1893-1932.
Current, Richard N., ed. in chief. Encyclopedia of the Confederacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993 (4 vols.)
Denney, Robert E. The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of the Life of a Nation. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1992.
A day-by-day sequence of events taken from the letters, diaries, books, and newspaper accounts of the people who experienced them first hand.
Dornbusch, C. E., comp. Military Bibliography of the Civil War. New York: New York Public Library, 1971.
Vol. I: lists the regimental publications and personal narratives for the Union Army and the dates mustered in and mustered out.
Vol. II: regimental publications and personal narratives for units of both armies from the Confederate, border and western states.
Vol III: general references, campaigns and battles.
Vol. IV: regimental publications and personal narratives, brief Union and Confederate biographies. Indexes.
Evans, Clement A., Ed. Confederate Military History: a Library of Confederate States History, Written by Distinguished Men of the South. Atlanta, GA: Confederate Publishing Company, 1899. [Reprint editions available]
Faust, Patricia L., ed. Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.
Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative, 3 vols. New York: Random House, 1958-1974.
Groene, Bertram Hawthorne. Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor. New York: Ballantine Books, 1989.
Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler, eds. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History. 5 vols Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000.
Katcher, Philip. The Civil War Source Book. New York: Facts on File, 1992.
Macmillan Compendium. The Confederacy. New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA, Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1993.
MacPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Segars, J. H. In Search of Confederate Ancestors: The Guide. Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Southern Heritage Press, 1993.
Southern Historical Society. Southern Historical Society Papers, 52 vols Richmond, VA: Virginia Historical Society, 1876-1959.
Time-Life Books. The Civil War. 28 vols Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1987.
Wagner, Margaret E., Gary W. Gallagher, and Paul Finkelman, eds. The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002.
Ward, Geoffrey C. The Civil War: An Illustrated History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.
NARA - GUIDES AND FINDING AIDS
Microfilm Descriptive Pamphlets (General)
Microfilm Descriptive Pamphlets (Compiled Service Records)
Beers, Henry Putney. Guide to the Archives of the Government of the Confederate States of America. Washington, D.C.: GSA, National Archives & Records Service, 1968.
This helpful guide describes the kinds of records created and received by each agency or division. Since many Confederate records were scattered after the war, the volume also includes records in the Library of Congress, in several public and university libraries, and in the archives of the former Confederate states.
Munden, Kenneth W.; Beers, Henry Putney. Guide to Federal Archives Relating to the Civil War. Washington, D.C.: GSA, National Archives & Records Service, 1962.
This guide explains the organization of the Federal government during the Civil War, and describes the kinds of records created and received by each agency or division of the executive, legislative, & judicial branches. There is an appendix listing the record groups which contain records relating to the Civil War, as well as an index.
Ross, Joseph B., comp. Tabular Analysis of the Records of the U.S. Colored Troops and Their Predecessor Units in the National Archives of the United States. Washington, D.C.: GSA, National Archives and Records Service, 1973.
This publication lists the kinds of records available for each unit (letters, memoranda, orders, reports, etc.)
MANUSCRIPT AND ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. Washington, D.C., Library of Congress, 1959/1961.
This is a locator for collections of personal papers including for example letters and diaries which are not held by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Neagles, James C. Confederate Research Sources: A Guide to Archive Collections. Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Publishing, 1986
Although this guide is twenty years old, it still contains some helpful information on searching for Confederate ancestors. It is divided into sections for each Confederate state, border state or territory that supplied Confederate troops, and includes for each state: information on the archives and its resources; a summary of the war activities that took place; descriptions of the kinds of records found, including burial records and pensions; and a listing of military units. ertinent record groups and their records.
National Archives and Records Administration. Guide to Civil War Maps in the National Archives. Washington, D.C.: 1986.
Part I is a general guide to the approximately 8,000 Civil War maps in the Cartographic & Architectural Branch; Part II describes selected maps of exceptional interest in more detail. Index.
Stephenson, Richard W., comp. Civil War Maps; An Annotated List of Maps and Atlases in the Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, 1989.
United States, War Department. Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1891 (2 vols.).
Aimone, Alan C.; Aimone, Barbara A. A User's Guide to the Official Records of the American Civil War. Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing Co., 1993.
A guide to using the 128-volume set of The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, the Navies, and the Atlas, describing the history of their compilation, and their organization and content. Several appendices include a list of sources, Federal & Confederate government documents & reports relating to the Civil War, & an index to principal events described in the Official Records.
Dyer, Frederick Henry. Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. New York: National Historical Society, 1979. (2 vols.)
A compilation of the records of the Union Army from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion and other records of the Federal & Confederate armies, reports of the adjutant generals of the various states, army registers, and other sources. Part I contains statistical breakdowns; Part II the records of campaigns, battles, skirmishes & important events and operations; Part III the regimental histories. All description is at the regimental level.
Hewett, Janet B, Ed. Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1995.
Irvine, Dallas, comp. Military Operations of the Civil War; a Guide-Index to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 1861-1865. Washington, D.C.: Civil War Centennial Commission, 1966 (2 parts).
Explanation of the arrangement of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, with a short description of the contents of volumes & chapters, including theatres of operation, a list of maps, a list of principal military operations by state and date, and calendars and an almanac for the years 1861-1865.
United States, Navy Department. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1894 (30 vols.).
United States, Navy Department. Official Records of Union and Confederate Navies in War of Rebellion; Index. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1927.
United States, War Department. War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901 (128 vols.)
United States, War Department. War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; General Index and Additions and Corrections. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901.
Ths is a
name and subject index for all 128 volumes of the War of the Rebellion; explanation of additions and corrections section in back of the volume; synopsis of the contents of each volume.
NAVY AND MARINES
Callahan, Edward W. List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900. New York: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1901.
Hamersly, Lewis R. General Register of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 1792-1892 (1900)
----------. The Record of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1870-1878.
United States Dept. of the Navy. Navy Directory: Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Washington, DC: Bureau of Navigation,1898-1986.
United States Naval War Records Office. Register of Officers of the Confederate States Navy, 1861-1865. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931.
This volume identifies Confederate naval officers alphabetically by surname.
United States Navy Department. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington: U.S. GPO, 1968.
See the companion website: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
Consult volume II for brief histories of Confederate vessels. Appendix II provides information on "Confederate Forces Afloat." After descriptions of the several major classes and types of vessels in the Confederate navy, you will find an alphabetic listing of ships. The ship list gives a brief history of each Confederate vessel and provides statistics such as type or classification, tonnage or displacement, length, beam, draft, speed, complement, armament, and class.
United States Navy Department. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1894-1922.
Merideth, Lee W., Compiler. Civil War Times and Civil War Times, Illustrated, 30 Year Comprehensive Index, April 1959-February 1989. Twentynine Palms, CA: L.W. Merideth, 1990.
----------. Guide to Civil War Periodicals, 2 vols. Twentynine Palms, CA: Historical Indexes, 1991/1997.
A comprehensive index to articles in the leading Civil War magazines including: America’s Civil War; Civil War, the Magazine of the Civil War Society; Blue and Gray Magazine; Civil War Times Illustrated; Gettysburg Magazine, Military History, American Heritage and Civil War Regiments.
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