Ten years ago, CWES published its list of “top two hundred” Civil War books and articles in nine categories. Since then, the flood of new literature on the Civil War has shown no sign of abating, and the list has required some serious updating. So, here is the 2016 CWES ‘best picks’ in books on the Civil War.


General Histories of the Civil War:

1. Richard Beringer, et al, Why the South Lost the Civil War (1986)

2. Louis P. Masur, The Civil War: A Concise History (2011)

3. David Donald, ed., Why the North Won the Civil War (1960)

4. James M. McPherson, Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction (1982)

5. Steven E. Woodworth, This Great Struggle: America’s Civil War (2011)

6. Michael Fellman, Lesley Gordon & Daniel E. Sutherland, This Terrible War: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (2005)

7. Herman S. Hattaway and Archer Jones, How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War (1983)

8. James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Era of the American Civil War (1988)

9. Allan Nevins, The War for the Union (4 vols., 1947-1971)

10. Peter J. Parish, The American Civil War (1975)

11. Russell F. Weigley, A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865 (2000)


The Union:

12. William C. Harris, Lincoln’s Rise to the Presidency (2007)

13. Jean H. Baker, Affairs of Party: The Political Culture of the Northern Democrats in the Mid-Nineteenth Century (1983)¿

14. Dale Baum, The Civil War Party System: The Case of Massachusetts, 1848-1876 (1984)

15. Herman Belz, Abraham Lincoln, Constitutionalism, and Equal Rights in the Civil War Era (1998)

16. Herman Belz, A New Birth of Freedom: The Republican Party and Freedmen’s Rights, 1861-1866 (1976, 2000)

17. Jennifer L. Weber, Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North (2007)

18. Frederick J Blue, Salmon P. Chase: A Life in Politics (1987)

19. Allan G. Bogue, The Congressman’s Civil War (1989)

20. Allan G. Bogue, The Earnest Men: Republicans of the Civil War Senate (1981)

21. William C. Harris, Lincoln and the War Governors (2013)

22. Richard J. Carwardine, Lincoln (2003)

23. Gary W. Gallagher, The Union War (2012)

24. David H. Donald, Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man (1970)

25. David H. Donald, Lincoln (1995)

26. Frank Freidel, ed., Union Pamphlets of the Civil War (1967)

27. Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (2008)

28. Mark E. Steiner, An Honest Calling: The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln (2006)

29. William Harris, With Charity For All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union (1997)

30. Mark E. Neely, Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation: Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War (2011)

31. E.S. Miers, ed., Lincoln Day-by-Day: A Chronology (1991)

32. Mark E. Neely, The Union Divided: Party Conflict in the Civil War North (2002)

33. Mark E. Neely, The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties (1991)

34. Phillip S. Paludan, The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln (1994)

35. Elizabeth Leonard, Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky (2011)

36. Martha Hodes, Mourning Lincoln (2015)

37. Joel H. Silbey, A Respectable Minority: the Democratic Party in the Civil War Era (1977)

38. Bruce Tap, Over Lincoln’s Shoulder: The Committee on the Conduct of the War (1998)

39. John M. Taylor, William Henry Seward: Lincoln’s Right-hand Man (1991)

40. Hans L. Trefousse, The Radical Republicans: Lincoln’s Vanguard for Racial Justice (1968)

41. Glyndon G. Van Deusen, William Henry Seward (1967)

42. Michael Vorenberg, Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment and the Abolition of Slavery (2001) ¿

43. Brian McGinty, Lincoln and the Court (2011)

44. Stephen C. Neff, Justice in Blue and Gray: A Legal History of the Civil War (2011)

45. Mark R. Wilson, The Business of Civil War: Military Mobilization and the State, 1861-1862 (2006)¿

46. Harry V. Jaffa, Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates (1959)

47. Daniel Walker Howe, The Political Culture of the American Whigs (1979)

48. Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (1999)

49. Earl J. Hess, The Union Soldier in Battle: Enduring the Ordeal of Combat (1997)

50. James Moorhead, American Apocalypse: Yankee Protestants and the Civil War, 1860-1869 (1978)


The Confederacy:

51. Thomas B. Alexander and Richard Beringer, The Anatomy of the Confederate Congress: A Study of the Influences of Member Characteristics on Legislative Voting Behavior, 1861-1865 (1972)¿

52. Stephen V. Ash, When the Yankees Came: Conflict and Chaos in the Occupied South, 1861-1865 (1995)

53. Douglas F. Ball, Financial Failure and Confederate Defeat (1991)

54. Michael B. Ballard, A Long Shadow: Jefferson Davis and the Final Days of the Confederacy (1997) 

55. Joseph T. Glatthaar, Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee (2011)

56. James Brewer, The Confederate Negro: Virginia's Craftsmen and Military Laborers, 1861-1865 (1969)

57. Thomas L. Connelly,  The Marble Man: Robert E. Lee and His Image in American Society (1977)

58. Clement Eaton, A History of the Southern Confederacy (1954)

59. Paul D. Escott, After Secession: Jefferson Davis and the Failure of Confederate Nationalism (1978)

60. Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (1996)

61. Gary W. Gallagher, The Confederate War (1997)

62. Gary W. Gallagher, Lee and His Army in Confederate History (2001)

63. Mark Grimsley, The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865 (1995)

64. J. Boone Bartholomees, Buff Facings and Gilt Buttons: Staff and Headquarters Operations in the Army of Northern Virginia, 1861-1865 (1998)

65. Mark A. Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2006)

66. Mary Chestnut’s Civil War, ed. C. Vann Woodward (1981)

67. Malcolm C. McMillan, The Disintegration of a Confederate State: Three Governors and Alabama’s Wartime Home Front, 1861-1865 (1986)

68. Raimondo Luraghi, The Southern Navy: The Confederate Navy and the American Civil War (1995)

69. Mark Wahlgren Summers, The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction (2014)

70. George C. Rable, The Confederate Republic: A Revolt Against Politics (1994)

71. George C. Rable, Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism (1989)

72. Daniel E. Sutherland, Seasons of War: The Ordeal of a Confederate Community, 1861-1865 (1998)

73. Emory M. Thomas, The Confederacy as a Revolutionary Experience (1971)

74. Emory M. Thomas, The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865 (1979)

75. Michael J. O’Brien, Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810-1860, 2 vols (2004)

76. Michael T. Bernath, Confederate Minds: The Struggle for Intellectual Independence in the Civil War South (2010)

77. Stephen R. Wise, Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War (1988)

78. Steven E. Woodworth, Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West (1990)

79. Anne Sarah Rubin, A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868 (2007)

80. Eugene Genovese & Elizabeth Genovese, The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders’ Worldview (2005)

81. John Majewski, Modernizing a Slave Economy: The Economic Vision of the Confederate Nation (2009)


Strategy and Tactics:

82. Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh, West Pointers and the Civil War: The Old Army in War and Peace (2009)

83. Earl J. Hess, The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat: Reality and Myth (2010)

84. Thomas L. Connelly & Archer Jones, The Politics of Command: Factions and Ideas in Confederate Strategy (1998)

85. Steven H. Newton, Joseph E. Johnston and the Defence of Richmond (2009)

86. Michael Fellman, Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War (1990)

87. Stephen R. Taaffe, Commanding Lincoln’s Navy: Union Naval Leadership During the Civil War (2009)

88. Edwin C. Fishel, The Secret War for the Union: The Untold Story of Military Intelligence in the Civil War (1996)

89. Ethan S. Rafuse, McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union (2005)

90. Paddy Griffith, Battle Tactics of the Civil War (1989)

91. Mark Grimsley, The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865 (1995)

92. Edward Hagerman, The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare (1988)

93. Joseph L. Harsh, Confederate Tide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy, 1861-1862 (1998)

94. Richard M. McMurry, Two Great Rebel Armies: An Essay in Confederate Military History (1989)

95. Grady McWhiney & Perry D. Jamieson, Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage (1984)

96. Charles Royster, The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans (1993)

97. George E. Turner, Victory Rode the Rails: The Strategic Place of the Railroads in the Civil War (1992)

98. T. Harry Williams, Lincoln and His Generals (1952)

99. Daniel E. Sutherland, ed., Guerillas, Unionists and Violence on the Confederate Home Front (1999)

100. Mark E. Neely, “Was the Civil War a Total War?” Civil War History 37 (1991) 

101. Earl J. Hess, Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness (2015)


The Experience of War:

102. Russel H. Beatie, Army of the Potomac: Birth of Command, November 1860-September 1861 (2002) 

103. Larry J. Daniel, Days of Glory: The Army of the Cumberland, 1861-1865 (2004)

104. Dudley Taylor Cornish, The Sable Arm: Negro Troops in the Union Army (1956, 1966)

105. Joseph Allen Frank, With Ballot and Bayonet: The Political Socialisation of American Civil War Soldiers (1998)

106. Joseph T. Glatthaar, Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers (1990)

107. Earl J. Hess, The Union Soldier in Battle: Enduring the Ordeal of Combat (1997)

108. James G. Hollandsworth, The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience during the Civil War (1995)

109. Gerald Linderman, Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War (1987)

110. Brian Matthew Jordan, Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War (2015)

111. James McPherson, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (1997)

112. Reid Mitchell, The Vacant Chair: The Northern Soldier Leaves Home (1993)

113. Reid Mitchell, Civil War Soldiers: The Expectations and their Experiences (1988)

114. Brent Nosworthy, The Bloody Crucible of War: Fighting Methods and Combat Experience of the Civil War (2003)

115. J. Tracy Power, Lee’s Miserables Life in the Army of Northern Virginia from the Wilderness to Appomattox (1998) 

116. Steven J. Ramold, Slaves, Sailors, Citizens: African-Americans in the Union Navy (2002)

117. James I. Robertson, Soldiers Blue and Gray (1988)

118. Kent Masterson Brown, Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign (2005)

119. Bell I. Wiley, The Life of Billy Yank (1952)

120. Bell I. Wiley, The Life of Johnny Reb (1943)

121. Noah Andre Trudeau, Black Troops in the Civil War, 1862-1865 (1999)

122. Ira M. Rutkow, Bleeding Blue and Gray: The Untold Story of Civil War Medicine (2005)

123. Steven E. Woodworth, While God is Marching On: The Religious World of Civil War Soldiers (2001)

124. Stephen R. Taafe, Commanding the Army of the Potomac (2006)

125. Elizabeth Varon, Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War (2014)


The Home Front:

126. Richard Franklin Bensel, Yankee Leviathan: the Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859-1877 (1990)

127. Jonathan W. White, Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War: The Trials of John Merryman (2011)

128. David B. Chesebrough, God Ordained This War: Sermons on the Sectional Crisis, 1830-1865 (1991) 

129. James Conroy, Our One Common Country: Abraham Lincoln And The Hampton Roads Peace Conference Of 1865 (2014)

130. Paul A. Cimbala and Randall Miller, eds., An Uncommon Time: The Civil War and the Northern Home Front (2002)

131. Kenneth J. Winkle, Lincoln’s Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, DC (2013)

132. Alice Fahs, The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865 (2001)

133. J. Matthew Gallman, The North Fights the Civil War: the Home Front (1994)

134. Paul Wallace Gates, Agriculture and the Civil War (1965)

135. James W. Geary, We Need Men: The Union Draft in the Civil War (1991)

136. Earl J. Hess, Liberty, Virtue and Progress: Northerners and Their War for the Union (1989) 

137. Harold M. Hyman, A More Perfect Union: The Impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on the Constitution (1973)

138. Frank L. Klement, The Copperheads in the Middle West (1960)

139. Christian G. Samito, Changes in Law and Society during the Civil War and Reconstruction: A Legal History Documentary Reader (2009)

140. Edward Ayers, In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863 (2003)

141. Joan Cashin, First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis’s Civil War (2006)

142. Jan Martin Lemnitzer, Power, Law and the End of Privateering (2012)

143. Grace Palladino, Another Civil War: Labor, Capital and the State in the Anthracite Regions of Pennsylvania, 1840-1868 (1988)

144. Philip Paludan, “A People’s Contest”: The Union and Civil War, 1861-1865 (1988)

145. Martin P. Johnson, Writing the Gettysburg Address (2013)

146. Heather Cox Richardson, The Greatest Nation of the Earth: Republican Economic Policy during the Civil War (1997)

147. Anne C. Rose, Victorian America and the Civil War (1992)

148. Maris A. Vinovskis, Towards a Social History of the American Civil War (1990)

149. John Fabian Witt, Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (2013)

150. William A. Blair, With Malice Toward Some: Treason and Loyalty in the Civil War Era (2015)


Emancipation and the Black Experience:

151. Ira Berlin et al, Slaves No More: Three Essays on Emancipation and the Civil War (1992)

152. David W. Blight, Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee (1989)

153. David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (2014)

154. LaWanda Cox, Lincoln and Black Freedom: A Study in Presidential Leadership (1981)

155. Don E. Fehrenbacher & Ward M. McAfee, The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government’s Relations to Slavery (2002)

156. James L. Huston, The British Gentry, the Southern Planter, and the Northern Family Farmer: Agriculture and Sectional Antagonism (2015)

157. Louis Gerteis, From Contraband to Freedmen: Federal Policy Toward Southern Blacks, 1861-1865 (1973)

158. James Oakes, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865 (2014)

159. Louis P. Masur, Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union (2014)

160. David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (2006)

161. Leon F. Litwack, Been In the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery (1979)

162. Louis P. Masur, Lincoln’s Last Speech: Wartime Reconstruction and the Crisis of Reunion (2015)

163. James M. McPherson, The Negro’s Civil War: How American Negroes Felt and Acted During the War for the Union (1965, 1991)

164. Clarence L. Mohr, On the Threshold of Freedom: Master and Slaves in Civil War Georgia (1986)

165. Glenn Brasher, The Peninsula Campaign and the Necessity of Emancipation: African Americans and the Fight for Freedom (2012)

166. Barbara Gannon, The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic (2011)

167. Willie Lee Rose, Rehearsal for Reconstruction: The Port Royal Experiment (1964) 

168. V. Jacques Voegli, Free But Not Equal: The Midwest and the Negro during the Civil War (1967)

169. James Oakes, Slavery and Freedom: An Interpretation of the Old South (1990)

170. Burrus Carnahan, Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War (2007)

171. Donald R. Shaffer, After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans (2004)

172. Heather Cox Richardson, The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, 1865-1901 (2001)

173. John Ashworth, Slavery, Capitalism and Politics in the Antebellum Republic - Volume 2: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1850-1861 (2007)



174. Brian Jenkins, Lord Lyons: A Diplomat in an Age of Nationalism and War (2014)

175. Lynn M. Case and Warren F. Spencer, The United States and France: Civil War Diplomacy (1970)

176. Michael Knox Beran, Forge of Empires, 1861-1871: Three Revolutionary Statesmen and the World They Made (2007)

177. Don H. Doyle, The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War (2014)

178. Brian Jenkins, Britain and the War for the Union (2 vols, 1974-1980)

179. Howard M. Jones, Union in Peril: The Crisis over British Intervention in the Civil War (1992)

180. Howard M. Jones, Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War (1999)¿

181. Kevin Peraino, Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power (2013)


Other Writings on 19th-century Military History and Tactics:

182. A.J. Barker, The Vainglorious War, 1854-1856 (1970) 

183. Philip Howes, The Catalytic Wars: A Study of the Development of Warfare, 1860-1870 (1998)

184. Richard Brooks, Solferino 1859: The Battle that Won Italy Its Independence (2009)

185. Eric Dorn Brose, The Kaiser’s Army: The Politics of Military Technology in Germany During the Machine Age, 1870-1918 (2001)¿

186. Michael Embree, Bismarck’s First War: The Campaign of Schleswig and Jutland 1864 (2006)

187. Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: The Last Crusade (2010)

188. William B. Skelton, An American Profession of Arms: The Army Officer Corps, 1784-1861 (1993)

189. Richard Holmes, Acts of War: The Behavior of Men in Battle (1986) 

190. Richard Holmes, Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket (2001)

191. Michael Howard, ed., The Theory and Practice of War (1975)

192. John Keegan, The Face of Battle (1976) 

193. Paddy Griffith, French Napoleonic Infantry Tactics 1792-1815 (2007)

194. Gordon A. Craig, The Battle of Königgrätz; Prussia’s Victory over Austria, 1866 (1964)

195. S.L.A. Marshall, Men Against Fire (1947)

196. Geoffrey Wawro, The Austro-Prussian War: Austria’s War with Prussia and Italy in 1866 (1996)

197. Geoffrey Wawro, The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871 (2003)

198. Bruce W. Menning, Bayonets Before Bullets: The Imperial Russian Army, 1861-1914 (1992) 

199. Ian Fletcher, The Battle of the Alma 1854 (2008)

200. Arden Bucholz, Moltke and the German Wars, 1864-1871 (2001)