CDCWRT Book Recommendations

The War for the Common Soldier


How did Civil War soldiers endure the brutal and unpredictable existence of army life during the conflict? This question is at the heart of Peter S. Carmichael's sweeping new study of men at war. Based on close examination of the letters and records left behind by individual soldiers from both the North and the South, Carmichael explores the totality of the Civil War experience--the marching, the fighting, the boredom, the idealism, the exhaustion, the punishments, and the frustrations of being away from families who often faced their own dire circumstances. Read more here. 

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom


The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era. Read more or purchase here. 

Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee Camps


The Civil War was just days old when the first enslaved men, women, and children began fleeing their plantations to seek refuge inside the lines of the Union army as it moved deep into the heart of the Confederacy. In the years that followed, hundreds of thousands more followed in a mass exodus from slavery that would destroy the system once and for all. Drawing on an extraordinary survey of slave refugee camps throughout the country, Embattled Freedom reveals as never before the everyday experiences of these refugees from slavery as they made their way through the vast landscape of army-supervised camps that emerged during the war. Read more or purchase here. 

When the Irish Invaded Canada


Just over a year after Robert E. Lee relinquished his sword, a band of Union and Confederate veterans dusted off their guns. But these former foes had no intention of reigniting the Civil War. Instead, they fought side by side to undertake one of the most fantastical missions in military history: to seize the British province of Canada and to hold it hostage until the independence of Ireland was secured. Read more here. 

Too Much for Human Endurance


The bloodstains are gone, but the worn floorboards remain. The doctors, nurses, and patients who toiled and suffered and ached for home at the Army of the Potomac’s XI Corps hospital at the George Spangler Farm in Gettysburg have long since departed. Happily, though, their stories remain, and noted journalist and George Spangler Farm expert Ronald D. Kirkwood brings these people and their experiences to life in “Too Much for Human Endurance”: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg. Read more here.

Star Spangled Scandal: Sex, Murder, and the Trial that Changed America


Barton Key, son of Francis Scott and US Attorney for Washington, lies dead in front of the White House.  Congressman Daniel Sickles is the killer.  The cause: a liaison with his wife, Teresa.  A sensational trial, shocking defense, and surprise verdict riveted the nation in America's first major scandal. Read more here. 

The Decline of the Civil War Re-enactor (NY Times)


The 155th anniversary Gettysburg re-enactment was a snapshot of a hobby with dwindling ranks.

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