Civil War Battles and Campaigns Reading List

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AA484

Cadet
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Hello, first post. I see a lot of threads asking for book recommendations so I thought I would do my best at making a comprehensive reading list for the major battles and campaigns. I will start with the Eastern Theater and go from there. I will recommend a single volume or series for the entire campaign as well as individual works for major engagements of the campaign, if applicable. I feel that the following are the best treatments of each respective campaign but that does not mean that there are other works out there that some may prefer over my choices. Additionally, there are several battles which could use updated studies but most of what is here is the best of what is available and should still be readable to most students of the war.

Many of these books are out of print and quite expensive on the secondary market but I was able to read several of them through my local library's Inter-Library Loan Program. It is a great resource if you are interested in any of the following and either cannot find them or do not want to spend a lot of money on out of print titles. Simply contact your local library and ask if they participate in the program.

As an introductory note, maps in some works are, unfortunately, scarce or non-existent in some cases. I would have some type of atlas or mapguide available while reading, especially if you are not familiar with the works in question. There are several out there but an individual volume does not come to mind and your mileage may vary as far as the quality of the maps concerned. I will say that the maps developed by the American Battlefield Trust are some of the best out there so having them readily available on a tablet as you read provides a cheaper alternative to plopping down money for a map book. With that said, Bradley Gottfried has several superb volumes of maps covering various eastern campaigns and are definitely worth the money.

Visiting the sites for better interpretation of the battles and campaigns are highly recommended so I will also post the best tour or guide books (if available) for each campaign.

Eastern Theater, Part I

Western Virginia Campaign
1. Overall: Lee vs. McClellan: The First Campaign by Clayton Newell
2. Rich Mountain: Yanks From the South! The 1st Land Campaign of the Civil War, Rich Mountain West Virginia by Fritz Haselberger
3. Carnifex Ferry: September Blood: The Battle of Carnifex Ferry by Terry Lowry
4. Cheat Mountain: R.E. Lee's Cheat Mountain Campaign by Jack Zinn

First Manassas Campaign
1. The Early Morning of War: Bull Run, 1861 by Edward G. Longacre
2. Maps: The Maps of First Bull Run: An Atlas of the First BUll Run Campaign, including the Battle of Ball's Bluff, June-October, 1861 by Bradley M. Gottfried
3. Guide Book: Manassas: A Battlefield Guide by Ethan S. Rafuse

Ball's Bluff
A Little Short of Boats: The Battles of Ball's Bluff & Edwards Ferry, October 21-22, 1861 by James A. Morgan

Burnside's North Carolina Expedition
1. Overall: A Succession of Honorable Victories: The Burnside Expedition in North Carolina by Richard Sauers
2. Roanoke Island: The Battle of Roanoke Island: Burnside and the Fight for North Carolina by Michael P. Zatarga

Jackson's Valley Campaign
1. Overall: Shenandoah 1962: Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign by Peter Cozzens
2. Kernstown: We Are in for It: The First Battle of Kernstown, March 23, 1862 by Gary L. Ecelbarger
3. Winchester: Three Days in the Shenandoah: Stonewall Jackson at Front Royal and Winchester by Gary Ecelbarger
4. Cross Keys/Port Republic: Conquering the Valley: Stonewall Jackson at Port Republic by Robert Krick
5. Guide Book: Civil War Road Trip, Volume I: A Guide to Northern Virginia, Maryland & Pennsylvania, 1861-1863: First Manassas to Gettysburg [See the section dealing with Jackson's Valley Campaign]

Peninsula Campaign/Seven Days
1. Overall: To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign by Stephen Sears (note: Russel H. Beatie's Army of the Potomac: McClellan's First Campaign, March-May 1862 is a much more detailed work than Sears' but only covers the Union side. Sears's work is probably the best of what is available as far as overall treatments of both sides are concerned.)
2. Hampton Roads (Monitor vs. Merrimack): Iron Dawn: The Monitor, the Merrimack, and the Civil War Sea Battle That Changed History by Richard Snow
3. Yorktown: Yorktown's Civil War Siege: Drums Along the Warwick by John V. Quarstein and J. Michael Moore
4. Williamsburg: A Pitiless Rain: The Battle of Williamsburg, 1862 by Earl C. Hastings, Jr. and David Hastings
5. Seven Pines: The Battle of Seven Pines, May 31-June 1, 1862 by Steven H. Newton
6. Drewry's Bluff: River of Lost Opportunities: The Civil War on the James River 1861-1862 [See chapter(s) on Drewry's Bluff battle] by Ed Bearss
7. Seven Days Battles: Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles by Brian K. Burton
8. Guide Book: The Peninsula and Seven Days: A Battlefield Guide by Brian K. Burton

Northern Virginia (Second Manassas) Campaign
1. Cedar Mountain: Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain by Robert K. Krick
2. Overall/Second Manassas: Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas by John J. Hennessy
3. Chantilly: Tempest at Ox Hill: The Battle of Chantilly by David A. Welker
4. Guide Book: Manassas: A Battlefield Guide by Ethan S. Rafuse

Antietam Campaign
1. Invasion Phase/South Mountain/Harpers Ferry: To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign of September 1862 by David S. Hartwig
2. Battle of Antietam: Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam (note: Hartwig is currently working on his second volume of the Maryland Campaign. All indications are that it should supplant Sears's in terms of detail and research but it does not yet have a release date. Sears's will suffice for now.) (second note: Carman's turn-of-the-century landmark study of the battle surpasses Sears's in terms of detail and scope but may be too dry for "modern" readers. I tried to keep the list limited to post-centennial studies but this was the closest I came to making an exception. Feel free to peruse Carman's second volume [edited by Thomas Clemens] and substitute it for Sears's book, if you like what you see).
3. Maps: The Maps of Antietam: An Atlas of the Antietam (Sharpsburg) Campaign, including the Battle of South Mountain, September 2-20, 1862 by Bradley M. Gottfried
4. Guide Book (Battle): A Field Guide to Antietam: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People by Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler
5. Guide Book (South Mountain and Harpers Ferry): Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide by Ethan S. Rafuse
6. Guide Brook (Other campaign sites): To Hazard All: A Guide to the Maryland Campaign, 1862 by Robert Orrison and Kevin Pawlak

Fredericksburg Campaign
1. The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock by Francis Augustin O'Reilly
2. Maps: The Maps of Fredericksburg: An Atlas of the Fredericksburg Campaign, including all Cavalry Operations, September 18, 1862 -January 22, 1863 by Bradley M. Gottfried
3. Guide Book: Guides to the Battles of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg by Jay Luvaas and Harold W. Nelson
 

Rogue

Corporal
Joined
Apr 21, 2018
Location
Indiana
Thanks for your insight. Its always nice to get a recommended reading list to refer to. Looks like I have a lot of books to add to the need to read list. I better get busy!
 
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Belfoured

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Overall a good list. For 1st Manassas I really like The First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence by Hennessy
That's a good addition. His Second Manassas Map Study should also make the list. Hardy's Battle of Hanover Court House can be added to the Peninsula Campaign. And Rable's Fredericksburg book is a nice complement to O'Reilly.
 

TomWI

Cadet
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
I look forward to diving into this list later on, bookmarked this page. Timely too, as relatives have been asking for ideas for my birthday next week.
 
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Andy Cardinal

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Location
Ohio
Welcome from northeast Ohio and the Bull Run/Manassas Forum!

Thanks for the list of books!
 

AA484

Cadet
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
***Update***

Eastern Theater, Part II

Chancellorsville Campaign
1. Overall: Chancellorsville by Stephen Sears
2. Salem Church/2nd Fredericksburg: Chancellorsville's Forgotten Front: The Battles of Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church, May 3, 1863
3. Guide Book: Guides to the Battles of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg by Jay Luvaas and Harold W. Nelson

Gettysburg Campaign
So many warrant inclusion that it was hard to narrow them all down. You could delve even deeper than what I have here; I chose for simplicity's sake to only go as deep as each day or major event. There are good books on just Little Round Top, The Wheatfield, The Peach Orchard, etc. if you'd like even more detail.
1. Overall: The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command by Edwin B. Coddington (Modern works by Sears, Trudeau, Guelzo, etc. are worthy of inclusion but Coddington's work has the best overall treatment of the campaign, especially the events leading up to the battle itself.)
2. Brandy Station: The Battle of Brandy Station: North America's Largest Cavalry Battle by Eric J. Wittenberg and O. James Lighthizer
3. Second Winchester: The Second Battle of Winchester: The Confederate Victory that Opened the Door to Gettysburg by Scott L. Mingus Sr. and Eric J. Wittenberg
4. Stuart's Raid: Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg by Eric Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi
5. First Day: Gettysburg July 1 by David G. Martin (Pfanz's account of the first day is also recommended)
6. Second Day: Gettysburg -- The Second Day by Harry W. Pfanz
7. Cemetery & Culp's Hill: Gettysburg -- Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill by Harry W. Pfanz
8. Pickett's Charge: Pickett's Charge -- The Last Attack at Gettysburg by Earl J. Hess
9. Cavalry Actions I: Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Actions: Farnsworth's Charge, South Cavalry Field, and the Battle of Fairfield, July 3, 1863 by Eric J. Wittenberg
10. Cavalry Actions II: Protecting the Flank at Gettysburg: The Battles for Brinkerhoff's Ridge and East Cavalry Field, July 2-3, 1863
11. Retreat: One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia by Wittenberg, Petruzzi, and Nugent OR Retreat From Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign by Kent Masterson Brown (Wittenberg, et. al's study is more from the Union perspective while Brown's is more from the Confederate side)
12. Maps: The Maps of Gettysburg: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3-July 13, 1863 by Bradley Gottfried (Gottfried has a cavalry edition due out in March)
13. Guide Book: The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, et. al. by J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley

Bristoe Campaign
1. Post-Gettysburg: Meade and Lee After Gettysburg: The Forgotten Final Stage of the Gettysburg Campaign, from Falling Waters to Culpeper Court House, July 14-31, 1863 by Jeffrey Hunt
2. Bristoe Stationn: Meade and Lee at Bristoe Station: The Problems of Command and Strategy after Gettysburg, from Brandy Station to the Buckland Race, August 1 to October 31, 1863 by Jeffrey Hunt
3. Maps: The Maps of the Bristoe Station and Mine Run Campaigns: An Atlas of the Battles and Movements in the Eastern Theater after Gettysburg by Bradley M. Gottfried

Mine Run
1. Mine Run: A Campaign of Lost Opportunities, October 21, 1863 - May 1, 1864 by Martin Graham and George F. Skoch (Also covers Rappahannock Station; Hunt's concluding third volume of the action between Gettysburg and the Overland Campaign will almost certainly supplant this but Martin & Skoch's work will suffice for now; Chris Mackowski's The Great Battle Never Fought: The Mine Run Campaign, November 26-December 2, 1863 is also recommended as it focuses a bit more closely on the Mine Run operations themselves. I included Martin & Skoch for covering a broader period of time, so take your pick between the two)
2. Maps: The Maps of the Bristoe Station and Mine Run Campaigns: An Atlas of the Battles and Movements in the Eastern Theater after Gettysburg by Bradley M. Gottfried
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Civil War Photo Contest
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Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
Welcome to the forums from the host of the Stonewall Jackson Forum - several years ago I compiled a thread on books relating to Jackson that perhaps you would find useful:
 
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