Civil War Nonfiction

It’s hard to imagine a war fought in backyards. The Civil War was that war. From Bull Run to Appomattox Courthouse, and all the the battles in between, it was a war that should have been over in a month. Family members fought on both sides. 620,000 men died, a staggering number. Battles. Spies. Slaves. Tactical errors. A president torn. It’s all here. The BEST of the Civil War for young people.

The Long Road to Gettysburg by Jim Murphy

After Lincoln gives the Gettysburg Address, the story flashes back to the days leading up to the battle. It gives a first-hand account of two soldiers, one Confederate, one Union, and the positions of both armies over the three days of fighting. This is the best book for understanding the strategic moves of both sides during this decisive battle.

Fields of Fury by James McPherson

Excellent book covering all the major battles and topics of the Civil War. Each two-page spread provides one side of information and one side with a full-page photo or painting. It has just the right amount of information to be informative, but not boring. Highly recommend.

Tillie Pierce by Tanya Anderson

Tillie Pierce is 15-years-old when the Battle of Gettysburg comes to her backyard. The house is taken over by the Union Army for the wounded and dying. Tillie provides the men with food and water. Before long the house is covered in blood, tables are used for surgery, and all available linens are shredded for bandages. Excellent portrayal of war casualities.

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Furious over Lincoln’s re-election in 1864, actor John Wilkes Booth plans and executes Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s theatre. Immediately after, he flees and evades capture for two weeks before finally being cornered and shot at a farm in Virginia. This is high intensity action which reads like fiction.

Big Bad Ironclad by Nathan Hale (Graphic Novel)

When Virginia secedes from the Union, the North destroys their fleet in the Norfolk shipyard rather than risk it falling into the hands of the Confederacy. Unfortunately for them, the Confederates salvage the Merrimack and restore it with an ironclad deck. Renamed the Virginia, the boat wreaks havoc on Union ships before the Union responds with its own ironclad and a standoff ensues. 

Now or Never by Ray Anthony Shepard

When Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, Massachusetts responds by recruiting black men for the 54th Negro Infantry regiment. The men are soon as polished as any white regiment and ready for battle. However, their willingness to die for the Union Army doesn’t grant them equality. They receive less pay, are slow to be tested in battle, and are treated as second-class citizens by their own army.

Two Miserable Presidents by Steve Sheinkin

This is the Civil War book for reluctant readers. Sheinkin uses humor in just the right dose to make this an easy, entertaining, light read about the Civil War. And yet, it covers every important battle and issue of the war. Highly recommend.

Guts and Glory: The American Civil War by Ben Thompson

A lot went on in the Civil War. Ben Thompson captures all of it while adding doses of humor. It’s on the long side, but if you truly want to know all that went down, this is the book for you.

Behind Rebel Lines by Seymour Reit

Emma Edmonds, a female, fools the Union Army into believing she is a man. She joins up with the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan, serving as a nurse. Known to everyone as Franklin Thompson, she is selected to be a spy. She fulfills several missions disguised as a black slave, middle-aged woman, and mysterious man who plays the social circuit in Louisville. 


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