War Between the States and Reconstruction
1850 to 1870
copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists
The American Civil War, along with the Napoleonic
Wars and WW2, is a contender for Most-Written War. Considering
that it was much shorter than the Napoleonic period, and fought
in only part of one continent by two halves of a not-over-populous
country, we think that the War Between the States wins. Naturally,
this bibliography is not exhaustive, does not dent the surface,
indeed is hardly a fingerprint on the surface.
If you wish to write about specific battles
in detail, in homage to Killer Angels, you are cordially
invited to become a Civil War historian. If you want details
of everyday life for non-battle stories, you will find a good
guide below. Note how many period sources are available in reprint,
especially for the re-enactor. This is a period when newspapers
and magazines of the period can give you a lot of background
detail, like how people of education spoke, and how dialect sounded
to them. These periodicals can always be obtained on microfilm.
We begin this period in the long tense decade
during which the war nearly broke out several times.
The Ladies' Self Instructor ****
Patterns and instructions for all sorts of dressmaking and millinery,
not to mention knitting, netting, and crochet. T3
The Crystal Palace Exhibition Illustrated
1851; now from Dover Publications, Inc., NY; 426 pg, 1700 illos
More on Victorian Design than the Exhibition or the Crystal Palace
- Slaves in the Family ***
Ball tracked down the descendents of his ancestors' slaves, and
gives a chronicle of the lives they led. An insight into African-American
life through ten generations. T2
Barnard, George N.
Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign
1866; now from Dover; 80 pg
61 plates of the various battlefields. T3
Blum, Stella, editor
Fashions and Costumes From Godey's Lady's
Book, 1837-1869 *****!
Dover Publications, Inc., NY; 136 pg, 400 illos
If you can get no other costume book for the period, this one
will carry you through all women's fashions and accesories from
rising to sleeping, many children's garment, and even some views
of men. T1
Victorian Fashions and Costumes from
Harper's Bazar, 1867-1898 *****!
Dover Publications, Inc., NY; 320 pg, over 1000 engravings
Fashions and accessories for all occasions. Includes detailed
20,000 Years of Fashion: The History
of Costume and Personal Adornment ***
Harry N. Abrams, 1966; 440 pg, index, glossary
Pretty good in this period. T1
Bray, Peter, editor
Transport Through the Ages **
Taplinger Publishing Co., Inc., NY, 1971; illos by Barbara Brown
Covers a bit of everything, from dugout canoes on. Emphasis on
later periods. T1
Dinner is Served ***
Archon Books, Hamden, CN, 1968
British meals of the day and their conduct; Part Two covers 1660
to 1900. Do remember how much Eastern Society follows Britain.
Brockett, Oscar G.
History of the Theatre ***
Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1977
Good university-level text on staging conventions, acting forms,
audience behavior, etc. T3
Clay, Henry, 1777-1852
- Henry Clay's Remarks
In House And Senate
- When you want to read what was actually said.
Cook, G & D & Co.
- Illustrated Catalogue of Carriages
and Special Business Advertiser, Illustrated with 104 Carriages
and 101 Early Advertisements****
- Dover, orig 1860
- Solid pictures and ads, nearly. Very specialist,
but will get you over the idea that Eastern buggies and carriages
are big heavy clunky things like home-made buggies built for
Colorado. The ads are the real view of the period, including
those for various resorts and hotels. T3
Cyst, Henry Martin (1836-1902)
Of The Cumberland, The
- 8-bit text (with accented letters)
Davis, Richard Harding, 1864-1916
And Letters Of Richard Harding Davis
Davis, William C. and Bell I. Wiley, editors
Photographic History of the Civil War
*****!vol. I, Fort Sumter to Gettysburg
BD&L, 1996; 1,371 pgs
vol. 2, Vicksburg to Appomattox
BD&L, 1996; 1,366 pgs
Killer visual set, text by the gang at Civil War Times Illustrated.
Genuine lapbreakers, but worth the injury. T2-3
Fire and Stone: The Science of Fortress
Warfare, 1660-1860 ****
Hippocrene Books, NY, 1975
Well-written, well-illustrated and well-designed. The Fortess
Wargame for Miniatures is tactical fun while teaching you how
things can work or go wrong. The other appendix, on how to tour
old fortifications, is good if you get to make the research trip.
Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil
1866; now from Dover Publications, Inc., NY
100 photos, including ones of slave pens. T3
Victorian and Edwardian Fashion: A Photographic
Survey, 1840-1914 *****!
Dover Publications; 240 pg, 235 photos (most two to the page,
The text is wonderfully researched, with period comments on fashion,
cosmetics, emigrant kits, dyes and colour combinations -- priceless!
Must read, even though very European. T2
Patriots in Disguise; Women Warriors
of the Civil War *****!
Paragon House, NY, 1993; 225 pg, select bibliography, index
The size of Appendix A: "Honor Roll for Female Soldiers"
will astound you. Mostly disguised as boys and men, the lack
of medical tests, the bodily modesty considered natural among
men of the time, and the loose military organization allowed
them to slip in and out of combat roles, and even identities.
Even if you do not write about one, you must consider the possibility
that the next soldier down the line, on either side, could be
a woman. T1
Harwell, Richard B.
The Confederate Reader ****
Dover; 416 pg
Good for your first round of reading, to get you well settled
in the Confederate mind before digging deeper. May be all the
depth you need. T1
Hogg, Ian V.
The History of Fortification ***
St. Martin's Press, NY, 1981
Clear, interesting and accurate overview from 7000 BC through
the 1970's, well illustrated with photos and diagrams; bibliography
and glossary. T2
Heavens on Earth: Utopian Communities
in America, 1680-1880 ****
Dover Publications, Inc., NY
And you thought "cults" were a new thing! Explore the
attempts build new Edens, where your characters may get involved,
or at least discuss if there's one in the neighborhood. T2
Howe, Octavius T., and Frederick C. Matthews
American Clipper Ships: 1833-1858 ****
Dover; 928 pg in 2 vol., 109 halftones, 5 illos
See Matthews on later ships. Thorough coverage of 352 American
vessels of your period. T3
People's Names: A Cross-Cultural Reference
Guide to the Proper Use of Over 40,000 Personal and Familial
Names in Over 100 Cultures *****!
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 1997;
613 pgs, index, select annotated bibliography
While there is a specialty chapter on Victorian American names,
you will also reference all the Contemporary chapters for family
names from all over the world. T1
A History of Costume ****
1930; New York, G. Howard Watt
Hand-sized, info-packed, based on surviving clothes first and
artwork secondarily. Author's line drawings of construction and
detail. Neophytes should use with a picture book, which it will
greatly clarify. T2
Lincoln, Abraham (1809-1865)
Project Gutenberg Abraham Lincoln Writings
The Western Ocean Packets ****
Dover; 192 pg
These are the ATLANTIC Packets (fast ships) that are the forerunners
of the fast ocean liners later in the century. Gives which lines
are active when, which ships they added when, and what days they
sailed. A good informative book. T3
Civil War Wordbook: Including Songs,
Phrases, and Expletives *****!
Here's the book of slang and catch-phrases for this period, some
of which will be borne into the next period by the young men
who started using them during this time. Especially valuable
for army slang and those expletives. T2
Macy, Jesse (1842-1919)
Crusade, An; a chronicle of the gathering storm
Markle, D. E.
Spies and Spymasters of the Civil War
Brings out the arguements as to just how much use espionage was
to either side, and especially examines the advances of communications
technology -- the telegraph and the newspaper -- for secret communication.
Matthews, Frederick C.
American Merchant Ships, 1850-1900 ****
Dover; 960 pg in 2 vol, 195 B&W illos
The builders, tonnage, voyages, cargoes, and stories aboard of
322 vessels. Surely one is the ship you're looking for! T3
McElroy, John (1846-1929)
- Your basic text on the Andersonville Prison
Camp atrocities. T2
McPherson, James M.
What They Fought For: 1861-1865 *****!
Political scientists and historians can later come up with all
sorts of reasons "why" wars and battles were fought,
but only this sort of gleaning from the diaries and letters of
soldiers of both sides can tell you why they thought they
were fighting, why they stayed to risk death, instead of deserting
as was not too terribly difficult in this war. T2
Mellon, James, ed.
Bullwhip Days: The Slaves Remember *****!
now from Avon
Based on WPA (1930s) interviews with nearly 2000 ex-slaves. Gives
29 stories in full, buttressed by excerts from others, for a
fulsome recreation of the life by those no longer in fear of
retribution for telling the truth. T2
Spying for America; the Hidden History
of US Intelligence **
The Paragon House, 1989; 482 pg, index, bibliography
Consider this a primer, if you consider it at all.
Mills, Betty J.
Calico Chronicle: Texas Women and Their
Fashions 1830-1910 *****!
Texas Tech Press; 1985; 191 pg, 104 photos
Frontier, pioneer, and other plain, common, unfashionable folk,
with whom the country is filled. What they wore, 1830-1910, and
even how they took care of it. T1
Nock, O .S., editor
Encyclopedia of Railroads ****
Galahad Books, NY, 1977; 480 pg, index
History of railroads and equipment over the entire world, including
Africa, Asia, and south America. Sections on equipment and operation,
also the great luxury trains, past and present. Gorgeous colour
layout, oversize. One lap-breaker worth the effort of lifting.
Osprey military monographs are always worth reading IF you are
dealing with members of the target group. Their worst is three
stars; the quality of research and illustration is always high,
just some are more repetitive of basic information, others more
- American Civil War Armies: (1) Confederate;
- American Civil War Armies: (2) Union;
- American Civil War Armies: (3) Staff
Specialists, Maritime; #179
- American Civil War Armies: (4) State
- American Civil War Armies: (5) Volunteer
- Army of Northern Virginia, #37
- Army of the Potomac, #38
- Flags of the American Civil War: (1)
- Flags of the American Civil War: (2)
- Flags of the American Civil War: (3)
State & Volunteer, #265
- US Cavalryman, #4
- Confederate Infantryman, #6
- Thirty years a detective: a thorough and comprehensive
exposé of criminal practices of all grades and classes,
containing numerous episodes of personal experience in the detection
of criminals, and covering a period of thirty years' active detective
- 1884: New York: G. W. Carleton
- Allan Pinkerton made his name synonymous
with "private eye" (his trademark was "The Eye
that Never Sleeps"), besides running counterintelligence
for the Union in the War Between the States. There's hundreds
of plots hiding in here. T2
Pollard, E. A.
The Lost Cause ****
1866; now from Gramercy Press, NY; 752 pg
The Confederate version of the War Between the States, which
you owe it to yourself to read if you have a single Reb doing
other than a walk-on. On the other hand, you need to remember
that "the lost cause" is largely a myth unsupported
by historical evidence. T2
Russell, Capt. A. J.
Russells's Civil War Photographs ****
Dover Publications, Inc., NY; 128 pp
116 Civil War photos, with captions. T3
Salmonson, Jessica Amanda
The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors
from Antiquity to the Modern Era ***
Paragon House, NY, 1991; 290 pg, no index, bibliography
The War Between the States had hundreds of women killed and wounded
on the battlefields, on both sides. Most had to go disguised
as young men. Some botched their disguises early, some were discovered
only when sick or wounded. One at least spent the rest of her
life as a man. However, the subject is covered in more detail
by Hall, above, without being mixed in with other ages. T1
Scheffel, Richard L., project editor
Discovering America's Past **
Reader's Digest Books, Pleasantville, NY; 1993; 400 pg, index,
An omnium gatherum of inventions, customs, practices and lifestyles,
divided into 11 chapters by topic, such as "Educating America"
which follows educational development as a series of short articles
(half to full page) on unusual (to us) practices or noteworthy
developments. Heavily illustrated, flashes of information, one
of which may suit you. Best for the pages in the back listing
Living History sites you can visit. T3
Schuyler, Hartley, & Graham
Illustrated Catalog of Civil War Military
Goods: Union Army Weapons, Insignia, Uniform Accessories and
Other Equipment, Schuyler, Hartley & Graham *****!
1866 catalog; now from Dover; 160 pg, 226 illus.
The title sums it up. Most re-enactors swear by this. T3
Severa, Joan L.; Forewords by Nancy Rexford
and Claudia Brush Kidwell
- Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary
Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900 ****
Kent State University Press; January 1995; Hardcover, 540pp.
Expensive, but revelatory. Gives the clues for telling a lower
class person dressed in their best from the true upper class
look. Look for at library! T2
Wild Women: Crusaders, Curmudgeons and
Completely Corsetless Ladies in the Otherwise Virtuous Victorian
Conari Press, Berkley, CA, 1992; 249 pg, no index, bibliograph
150 mini-biographies (none over two pages) of unconventional
women. Good to whet the appetite for further research in the
bibliography. Note the social hell these women caught, too, for
their actions. T2
Stephenson, Nathaniel W. (Nathaniel Wright),
Lincoln and the Union; a chronicle of the embattled North
Stokesbury, J. L.
A Short History of the Civil War ****
A good grounding for the major events and players, 1860-1865.
Frontier Living ****
The World Publishing Company, Leveland, OH & NY, 1961; illustrated
by the author
Pen drawings manage to be technically accurate and artistic at
once. Text in easy, personal style, accurate on what it covers,
which is quite a lot of primitive technology. Hits early log
cabin settlements, rivermen, Alta California, mountain trappers,
weapons, food, milling shelter, clothes, vehicles, etc.! T2
Vivian, E. Charles
- A History
- Project Gutenberg; original, 1920
- Rather over-written, with too much ornament
to the prose. Does begin the history in antiquity with legends
of flight, and moves on to recorded attempts of the Middle Ages
and Renaissance. Continues thick coverage through this period.
Corsets and Crinolines *****!
Theatre Arts Books, 1954
Underpinnings, 1600's to 1925, in period art. T3
The Cut of Men's Clothes 1600-1900 *****!
Theatre Arts Books, 1964
The most fashionable men's dress, in period illustrations, with
tailor's patterns, period comments on colours and fabrics, etc.
The Cut of Women's Clothes, 1600 to
Theatre Arts Books, 1968
The same for women. Both books show fastenings! T
White, Andrew Dickson, 1832-1918
of Andrew Dickson White -- Volume I
Wood, William Charles Henry, 1864-1947
Of The Civil War; a chronicle of the blue and the gray
Of course this is before recording, but plenty
of sheet music survived, and is being performed and recorded.
Honor to Our Soldiers: Music of the Civil
CD or Cassette
Songs from both sides, but mainly dance tunes,
the sort heard at any social gathering, or while idling away
a bit of time on the porch or in camp.
American Memory ****!
For everything American, whether books, maps,
pamphlets, or pictures. The Library of Congress might have up
what you're looking for, as well as things you never imagined
H-GIG Historical Times & Places
A thorough-going linksite maintained by the
University of California at Riverside, H-GIG sorts by area, by
era (ancient, Medieval, early Modern, Modern<yours>, and
20th C), or by topic (military, women, etc.). It's a good place
to start a hunt for books and essays online.
Internet Modern History Sourcebook
Halsall, whom we know from the Internet Medieval
Sourcebook, is responding to demand in the world by now compiling
an onl-line library on modern subjects. As it grows, you never
know what has been lately added.
Making of America****
Cornell is hosting a site heavier on periodicals
than books. Don't just look for period publications: look for
ones maybe 30 years later talking to old-timers.
The Phrenology Page ***
"Phrenology is the science which studies
the relationships between a person's character and the morphology
of the skull." Includes a historical overview, definitions
of words and concepts, and images with meanings of various characteristics.
Project Gutenberg ****
Since 1971 putting classic books into electronic
Map of Manhattan & Brooklyn
Monograph on Corsets
1861 Horse Care
To Western Expansion
to Times and Places