Civil War Battles
More than 10,500 armed conflicts occurred during the American Civil War ranging from battles to minor skirmishes; 384 conflicts (3.7 percent) were identified
as the principal battles and classified according to their historical significance. (See American Civil War: Ten Bloodiest Battles and Battlefields)
Class A and B battlefields represent the principal strategic operations of
the war. Class C and D battlefields usually represent operations with limited tactical objectives of enforcement and occupation.
• 45 sites (12%) were ranked “A” (having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct
impact on the course of the war);
• 104 sites (27%) were ranked “B” (having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign);
• 128 sites (33%) were ranked “C” (having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign);
• 107 sites (28%) were ranked “D” (having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign
or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives).
The 384 principal battles occurred in 26 states. States with fifteen or more include: Virginia (123), Tennessee
(38), Missouri (29), Georgia (28), Louisiana (23), North Carolina (20), Arkansas (17), and Mississippi(16).
Some counties, such as Henrico and Dinwiddie counties in Virginia and Charleston County in South Carolina
have a great concentration of battlefields. Yet, even in Virginia, where two great armies fought for most of four years, only
one third of the counties have any of the principal Civil War battlefields.
Forty three percent of the battlefields are completely in private ownership. An additional 49 percent are
under multiple kinds of ownership (e.g., private, state, and Federal). Only 4 percent of the principal battlefields are owned
primarily by the Federal, state, or local governments.2
Nineteen percent (71) of the Civil War battlefields are already lost as intact historic landscapes. Half of
the 232 principal battlefields that currently are in good or fair condition are now experiencing high or moderate threats.
Most of these sites will be lost or seriously fragmented within the coming 10 years, many very soon. Only one third of the
principal battlefields currently face low threats.
Source: National Park Service: American Civil War
Editor's Choice: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns. Review: The
Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns is the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. The 11-hour Civil War didn't just captivate a nation,
reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When
people describe documentaries using the "Ken Burns approach," its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters
and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with
still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era
he depicts. Continued below...
The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew
only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he's above all a gifted storyteller,
and it's his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the
words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained
photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. "Hailed
as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling." "[S]hould be a requirement for every
Recommended Reading: The Civil War Battlefield
Guide: The Definitive Guide, Completely Revised, with New Maps and More Than 300 Additional Battles (Second Edition)
(Hardcover). Description: This new edition of the definitive guide to Civil War battlefields
is really a completely new book. While the first edition covered 60 major battlefields, from Fort Sumter to Appomattox, the
second covers all of the 384 designated as the "principal battlefields" in the
American Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report. Continued below...
As in the first
edition, the essays are authoritative and concise, written by such leading Civil War historians as James M. McPherson,
Stephen W. Sears, Edwin C. Bearss, James I. Robinson, Jr., and Gary W. Gallager. The second edition also features 83 new four-color
maps covering the most important battles. The Civil War Battlefield Guide is an essential reference for anyone interested
in the Civil War. "Reading this book is like being at the bloodiest battles of the
Recommended Reading: The
History Buff's Guide to the Civil War (400 pages). Description: Exploring
the Civil War can be fascinating, but with so many battles, leaders, issues, and more than 50,000 books on these subjects,
the task can also be overwhelming. Was Gettysburg the most important battle? Were Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis so different
from each other? How accurate is re-enacting? Who were the worst commanding generals? Thomas R. Flagel uses annotated lists
organized under more than thirty headings to see through the powder smoke and straighten Sherman’s neckties, ranking
and clarifying the best, the worst, the largest, and the most lethal aspects of the conflict. Continued below...
Major sections are fashioned around the following topics:
• Antebellum: Investigates the critical years before the war, in particular
the growing crises, extremists, and slavery.
• Politics: Contrasts the respective presidents and constitutions
of the Union and Confederacy, the most prominent politicians, and the most volatile issues of the times.
• Military Life: Offers insights into the world of the common soldiers,
how they fought, what they ate, how they were organized, what they saw, how they lived, and how they died.
• The Home Front: Looks at the fastest growing field in Civil War
research, including immigration, societal changes, hardships and shortages, dissent, and violence far from the firing lines.
• In Retrospect: Ranks the heroes and heroines, greatest victories
and failures, firsts and worsts.
• Pursuing the War: Summarizes Civil War study today, including films,
battlefield sites, books, genealogy, re-enactments, restoration, preservation, and other ventures.
From the antebellum years to Appomattox and beyond, The History Buff’s
Guide to the Civil War is a quick and compelling guide to one of the most complex and critical eras in American history.
Reading: Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles
of the Civil War, by Edwin C. Bearss (Author), James Mcpherson (Introduction). Description: Bearss, a former chief historian of the National Parks Service
and internationally recognized American Civil War historian, chronicles 14 crucial battles, including Fort Sumter, Shiloh,
Antietam, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Sherman's march through the Carolinas, and Appomattox--the battles ranging between
1861 and 1865; included is an introductory chapter describing John Brown's raid in October 1859. Bearss describes the terrain,
tactics, strategies, personalities, the soldiers and the commanders. (He personalizes the generals and politicians, sergeants
and privates.) Continued below...
The text is augmented by 80 black-and-white photographs and 19 maps. It is like touring the battlefields
without leaving home. A must for every one of America's countless Civil War buffs,
this major work will stand as an important reference and enduring legacy of a great historian for generations to come.
Reading: Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States) (Hardcover: 904 pages). Description:
Published in 1988 to universal acclaim, this single-volume treatment of the Civil War quickly became recognized as the new
standard in its field. James M. McPherson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for this book, impressively combines a brisk writing
style with an admirable thoroughness. Continued below...
He covers the military aspects of the war in all of the necessary detail, and also provides a helpful framework
describing the complex economic, political, and social forces behind the conflict. Perhaps more than any other book, this
one belongs on the bookshelf of every Civil War buff.
Ordeal By Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction (816 pages). Description:
Pulitzer Prize winning author, James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era and For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, describes the causes and origins of the Civil War; motivations and experiences of common
soldiers and the role of women; social, economic, political and ideological conflicts; as well as a comprehensive study of
the Reconstruction Era and its consequences. Professor McPherson also includes many visual aids such as detailed maps and
comprehensive charts. “A must have for the Civil War buff!”
Reading: Hardtack & Coffee or The Unwritten Story of Army Life. Description: Most histories of the Civil War focus on battles and top brass.
Hardtack and Coffee is one of the few to give a vivid, detailed picture of what ordinary soldiers endured every day—in
camp, on the march, at the edge of a booming, smoking hell. John D. Billings of Massachusetts
enlisted in the Army of the Potomac and survived the hellish conditions as a “common
foot soldier” of the American Civil War. "Billings describes an insightful account of the conflict – the experiences of every
day life as a common foot-soldier – and a view of the war that is sure to score with every buff." Continued
authenticity of his book is heightened by the many drawings that a comrade, Charles W. Reed, made while in the field. This
is the story of how the Civil War soldier was recruited, provisioned, and disciplined. Described here are the types of men
found in any outfit; their not very uniform uniforms; crowded tents and makeshift shelters; difficulties in keeping clean,
warm, and dry; their pleasure in a cup of coffee; food rations, dominated by salt pork and the versatile cracker or hardtack;
their brave pastimes in the face of death; punishments for various offenses; treatment in sick bay; firearms and signals and
modes of transportation. Comprehensive and anecdotal, Hardtack and Coffee is striking for the pulse of life that runs through
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