Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimack


James L. Nelson - 2004
    After a year-long scramble to finish first, in a race filled with intrigue and second guessing, blundering and genius, the two ships -- the Monitor and the Merrimack -- after a four-hour battle, ended the three-thousand-year tradition of wooden men-of-war and ushered in "the reign of iron."In the first major work on the subject in thirty-five years, novelist, historian, and tall-ship sailor James L. Nelson, acclaimed author of the Brethren of the Coast trilogy, brilliantly recounts the story of these magnificent ships, the men who built and fought them, and the extraordinary battle that made them legend.

General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse


Joseph T. Glatthaar - 2008
    His army -- General Robert E. Lee's army -- was a surprise to almost everyone: With daring early victories and an invasion into the North, they nearly managed to convince the North to give up the fight. Even in 1865, facing certain defeat after the loss of 30,000 men, a Louisiana private fighting in Lee's army still had hope. "I must not despair," he scribbled in his diary. "Lee will bring order out of chaos, and with the help of our Heavenly Father, all will be well."Astonishingly, after 150 years of scholarship, there are still some major surprises about the Army of Northern Virginia. In General Lee's Army, renowned historian Joseph T. Glatthaar draws on an impressive range of sources assembled over two decades -- from letters and diaries, to official war records, to a new, definitive database of statistics -- to rewrite the history of the Civil War's most important army and, indeed, of the war itself. Glatthaar takes readers from the home front to the heart of the most famous battles of the war: Manassas, the Peninsula campaign, Antietam, Gettysburg, all the way to the final surrender at Appomattox. General Lee's Army penetrates headquarters tents and winter shanties, eliciting the officers' plans, wishes, and prayers; it portrays a world of life, death, healing, and hardship; it investigates the South's commitment to the war and its gradual erosion; and it depicts and analyzes Lee's men in triumph and defeat.The history of Lee's army is a powerful lens on the entire war. The fate of Lee's army explains why the South almost won -- and why it lost. The story of his men -- their reasons for fighting, their cohesion, mounting casualties, diseases, supply problems, and discipline problems -- tells it all.Glatthaar's definitive account settles many historical arguments. The Rebels were fighting above all to defend slavery. More than half of Lee's men were killed, wounded, or captured -- a staggering statistic. Their leader, Robert E. Lee, though far from perfect, held an exalted place in his men's eyes despite a number of mistakes and despite a range of problems among some of his key lieutenants."General Lee's Army" is a masterpiece of scholarship and vivid storytelling, narrated as much as possible in the words of the enlisted men and their officers.

None Died in Vain: The Saga of the American Civil War


Robert Leckie - 1990
    A fast-paced, compulsively readable one-volume narrative of the American Civil War, by the author of the acclaimed saga of World War II, "Delivered from Evil."

Darkness at Chancellorsville: A Novel of Stonewall Jackson's Triumph and Tragedy


Ralph Peters - 2019
    Famed Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson bring off an against-all-odds surprise victory, humiliating a Yankee force three times the size of their own, while the Northern army is torn by rivalries, anti-immigrant prejudice and selfish ambition.This historically accurate epic captures the high drama, human complexity and existential threat that nearly tore the United States in two, featuring a broad range of fascinating--and real--characters, in blue and gray, who sum to an untold story about a battle that has attained mythic proportions. And, in the end, the Confederate triumph proved a Pyrrhic victory, since it lured Lee to embark on what would become the war's turning point--the Gettysburg Campaign (featured in Cain At Gettysburg).

A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War


Williamson Murray - 2016
    It combined the projection of military might across a continent on a scale never before seen with an unprecedented mass mobilization of peoples. Yet despite the revolutionizing aspects of the Civil War, its leaders faced the same uncertainties and vagaries of chance that have vexed combatants since the days of Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War. "A Savage War" sheds critical new light on this defining chapter in military history.In a masterful narrative that propels readers from the first shots fired at Fort Sumter to the surrender of Robert E. Lee's army at Appomattox, Williamson Murray and Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh bring every aspect of the battlefield vividly to life. They show how this new way of waging war was made possible by the powerful historical forces unleashed by the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution, yet how the war was far from being simply a story of the triumph of superior machines. Despite the Union's material superiority, a Union victory remained in doubt for most of the war. Murray and Hsieh paint indelible portraits of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and other major figures whose leadership, judgment, and personal character played such decisive roles in the fate of a nation. They also examine how the Army of the Potomac, the Army of Northern Virginia, and the other major armies developed entirely different cultures that influenced the war's outcome.A military history of breathtaking sweep and scope, "A Savage War" reveals how the Civil War ushered in the age of modern warfare.

Stonewall Jackson: A Biography


Donald A. Davis - 2007
    Lee, Stonewall Jackson assumed his nickname during the Battle of Bull Run in the Civil War. It is said that The Army of Northern Virginia never fully recovered from the loss of Stonewall's leadership when he was accidentally shot by one of his own men and died in 1863. Davis highlights Stonewall Jackson as a general who emphasized the importance of reliable information and early preparedness (he so believed in information that he had a personal mapmaker with him at all times) and details Jackson's many lessons in strategy and leadership.

Allegiance: Fort Sumter, Charleston, and the Beginning of the Civil War


David Detzer - 2001
     The six-month-long agony that began with Lincoln's election in November sputtered from one crisis to the next, and finally exploded as the soldiers at Sumter neared starvation. With little help from Washington, D.C., Major Robert Anderson, a soldier whose experience had taught him above all that war is the poorest form of policy, almost single-handedly forestalled the beginning of the war until he finally had no choice but to fight. Skillfully re-created from a decade of extensive research, Allegiance exposes the passions that led to the fighting, the sober reflections of the man who restrained its outbreak, and the individuals on both sides who changed American history forever.

The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865


Mark Grimsley - 1995
    From an initial policy of deliberate restraint, extending even to the active protection of Southerners' property and constitutional rights, Union armies gradually adopted measures that were expressly intended to demoralize Southern civilians and to ruin the Confederate economy. Yet the ultimate "hard war" policy was far from the indiscriminate fury of legend. Union policy makers promoted a program of directed severity, and Professor Grimsley demonstrates how and why it worked. This volume fits into an emerging interpretation of the Civil War that questions its status as a "total war" and instead emphasizes the survival of political logic and control even in the midst of a sweeping struggle for the nation's future: the primary goal of the Federal government remained the restoration of the Union, not the devastation of the South. Intertwined with a political logic, and sometimes indistinguishable from it, was also a deep sense of moral justice--a belief that, whatever the claims of military necessity, the innocent deserved some pity, and that even the guilty should suffer in rough proportion to the extent of their sins. Through comparisons with earlier European wars and through the testimony of Union soldiers and Southern civilians alike, Grimsley shows that Union soldiers exercised restraint even as they made war against the Confederate civilian population.

Battle Tactics of the Civil War


Paddy Griffith - 1989
    In Battle Tactics of the Civil War, Paddy Griffith argues that, far from being the first 'modern' war, it was the last 'Napoleonic' war, and that none of the innovations of industrialized warfare had any significant effect on the outcome.

War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta


Russell S. Bonds - 2009
    Union commander William Tecumseh Sherman’s relentless fight for the city secured the reelection of Abraham Lincoln, sealed the fate of the Southern Confederacy, and set a precedent for military campaigns that endures today. Its depiction in the novel and motion picture Gone with the Wind established the fight for Atlanta as an iconic episode in our nation’s most terrible war. In War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta, award-winning author Russell S. Bonds takes the reader behind the lines and across the smoky battlefields of Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, Ezra Church, and Jonesboro, and into the lives of fascinating characters, both the famous and the forgotten, including the fiery and brilliant Sherman; General John Bell Hood, the Confederacy’s last hope to defend Atlanta; Benjamin Harrison, the diminutive young Indiana colonel who would rise to become President of the United States; Patrick Cleburne, the Irishmanturned- Southern officer; and ten-year-old diarist Carrie Berry, who bravely withstood and bore witness to the fall of the city. Here also is the dramatic story of the ordeal of Atlanta itself—the five-week artillery bombardment, the expulsion of its civilian population, and the infamous fire that followed. Based on new research in diaries, newspapers, previously unpublished letters, and other archival sources, War Like the Thunderbolt is a combination of captivating narrative and insightful military analysis—a stirring account of the battle and burning of the “Gate City of the South.”

The American Heritage New History of the Civil War


Bruce Catton - 2001
    Fascinating sidebars and contemporary documents tells the story of the war in the voices of those who experienced it. The interactive CD-ROM features a multimedia Civil War strategy game. 800+ photos, many in color. 3-D maps. Printed endpapers. Full-cloth case.

The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War


Donald Stoker - 2010
    In The Grand Design, Donald Stoker provides for the first time a comprehensive and often surprising account of strategy as it evolved between Fort Sumter and Appomattox. Reminding us that strategy is different from tactics (battlefield deployments) and operations (campaigns conducted in pursuit of a strategy), Stoker examines how Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis identified their political goals and worked with their generals to craft the military means to achieve them--or how they often failed to do so. Stoker shows that Davis, despite a West Point education and experience as Secretary of War, ultimately failed as a strategist by losing control of the political side of the war. Lincoln, in contrast, evolved a clear strategic vision, but he failed for years to make his generals implement it. And while Robert E. Lee was unerring in his ability to determine the Union's strategic heart--its center of gravity--he proved mistaken in his assessment of how to destroy it. Historians have often argued that the North's advantages in population and industry ensured certain victory. In The Grand Design, Stoker reasserts the centrality of the overarching plan on each side, arguing convincingly that it was strategy that determined the result of America's great national conflict.

Lost Triumph: Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg--and Why It Failed


Tom Carhart - 2005
    Lee had a heretofore undiscovered strategy at Gettysburg that, if successful, could have crushed the Union forces and changed the outcome of the war. The Battle of Gettysburg is the pivotal moment when the Union forces repelled perhaps America's greatest commander-the brilliant Robert E. Lee, who had already thrashed a long line of Federal opponents-just as he was poised at the back door of Washington, D.C. It is the moment in which the fortunes of Lee, Lincoln, the Confederacy, and the Union hung precariously in the balance. Conventional wisdom has held to date, almost without exception, that on the third day of the battle, Lee made one profoundly wrong decision. But how do we reconcile Lee the high-risk warrior with Lee the general who launched "Pickett's Charge," employing only a fifth of his total forces, across an open field, up a hill, against the heart of the Union defenses? Most history books have reported that Lee just had one very bad day. But there is much more to the story, which Tom Carhart addresses for the first time. With meticulous detail and startling clarity, Carhart revisits the historic battles Lee taught at West Point and believed were the essential lessons in the art of war-the victories of Napoleon at Austerlitz, Frederick the Great at Leuthen, and Hannibal at Cannae-and reveals what they can tell us about Lee's real strategy. What Carhart finds will thrill all students of history: Lee's plan for an electrifying rear assault by Jeb Stuart that, combined with the frontal assault, could have broken the Union forces in half. Only in the final hours of the battle was the attack reversed through the daring of an unproven young general-George Armstrong Custer. Lost Triumph will be one of the most captivating and controversial history books of the season.

Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac


Frank Wilkeson - 1896
     But what about the voices of the common soldier? Frank Wilkeson, when he wrote his account of the civil war, aimed to rectify this and reassert the importance of looking at the accounts of the men who carried the muskets, served the guns, and rode their saddles into the heat of battle. As he states in his preface, “The epauleted history has been largely inspired by vanity or jealousy, saving and excepting forever the immortal record”. Wilkeson and his fellow comrades who lived on the frontlines of the conflict had no need to rescue their reputations or assert their actions and thus their accounts provide a brilliant and unbiased alternative view of this bloody war. After lying about his age Frank Wilkeson was just sixteen when he joined the Union Army in 1864. Through the course of the next year he saw some of the ferocious battles of Grant’s Overland Campaign. Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac is a wonderfully refreshing account of the American Civil War that takes the reader to the heart of what it would have been like to have served in the front ranks. “Wilkeson’s words have a robustness that remind us that colorful writing was in the American air, and contemporaries like Mark Twain didn’t come out of the blue (or the gray).” Robert Cowley, HistoryNet “deeply portrays the experience of the ordinary soldier on campaign and in battle.” Civil War Talk “[The memoir is] unlike most others by Civil War Veterans who tended to romanticize and sometimes glorify the experiences they went through . . . . His emphasis on the seamy, unheroic, horrific side of war is a healthy corrective to romanticism." James McPherson Frank Wilkeson was an American journalist, soldier, farmer and explorer. His memoir Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac was first published in 1887 and he passed away in 1913.

Bloody Spring: Forty Days that Sealed the Confederacy's Fate


Joseph Wheelan - 2014
    When it was over, the Civil War's tide had turned.In the spring of 1864, Virginia remained unbroken, its armies having repelled Northern armies for more than two years. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had defeated the campaigns of four Union generals, and Lee's veterans were confident they could crush the Union offensive this spring, too. But their adversary in 1864 was a different kind of Union commander—Ulysses S. Grant. The new Union general-in-chief had never lost a major battle while leading armies in the West. A quiet, rumpled man of simple tastes and a bulldog's determination, Grant would lead the Army of the Potomac in its quest to destroy Lee's army.During six weeks in May and June 1864, Grant's army campaigned as no Union army ever had. During nearly continual combat operations, the Army of the Potomac battered its way through Virginia, skirting Richmond and crossing the James River on one of the longest pontoon bridges ever built. No campaign in North American history was as bloody as the Overland Campaign. When it ended outside Petersburg, more than 100,000 men had been killed, wounded, or captured on battlefields in the Wilderness, near Spotsylvania Court House, and at Cold Harbor. Although Grant's casualties were nearly twice Lee's, the Union could replace its losses. The Confederacy could not.Lee's army continued to fight brilliant defensive battles, but it never mounted another major offensive. Grant's spring 1864 campaign had tipped the scales permanently in the Union's favor. The war's denouement came less than a year later with Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House.