Civil War Literature

A list of the best Civil War literature for children and young adults

Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage

By Stephen Crane

Historical fiction that explores the feelings of soldiers on the field of battle. The Red Badge of Courage is one of the most widely read stories of the Civl War Era.






Across Five Aprils

By Irene Hunt

Historical fiction
The story of one boy's life as the Civil War changes him and his family. Well researched, the story is retold by Jethro's grandson based on letters and family documents.









Abraham Lincoln's World

By Genevieve Foster

History
This acclaimed author captures history with her unique method of recounting important events on the world's stage. In this book, learn about the quickly changing world the Abraham Lincoln lived in.








Lincoln: a Photobiography

Russell Freedman

Biography
A beautiful portrait of one of America's most loved presidents.









Abraham Lincoln

Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire

Biography
This Caldecott winner thoroughly covers the childhood and background of one of American's most acclaimed heroes. An interesting book for children to read, and enjoyed by adults as well.









Rifles for Watie

By Harold Keith

Historical fiction - Middle School and Above
Adventure, intrigue, friendship and rivalry are woven into the fast moving plot of the soldier who works behind the scenes for both the North and the South. The story covers conflicts in Oklahoma and west of the Mississippi River and characters from the midwest. It also involves the subject of Native Americans and slavery.








Killer Angels

By Michael Shaara

History portrayed through literature. This well-researched book chronicles the four days of the Battle of Gettysburg and explores the reasons for the conflict. Written primarily for adults, it would be enjoyed by advanced readers in middle and high school









Behind Rebel Lines

The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy

By Seymour Reit

Biography - 5th Grade and Above
This particular book is a newer version (1988) of a true book no longer in print (Nurse and Spy in the Union Army - 1860's.) Emma disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the army. Her ability to disguise herself allowed her to cross enemy lines multiple times in various disguises as a spy. But even the people she was working for never knew who she really was until after the war. Emma successfully appealed to the US Congress in 1884 to have her status as a deserter changed. An incredible story that shows the times in an intriguing light.




Dog Jack

By Florence W. Biros

Fictionalized Account of a True Story
Grades 6 - 10
Dog Jack was a real dog that served in the 102nd Pennsylvania Regiment. He was captured by the Confederate army and exchanged in a prisoner release. Using a photo from the the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and the diary of the company chaplain, the author has recreated the story of the company mascot and the runaway slave who adopted him.




Lincoln and His Boys

By Rosemary Wells

Historic Fiction - True Account with fictionalized dialogue
Grades 4 and above
This book is still new with a 2009 publication date, but based on fact and the written account of one of Lincoln's sons. It is a tender and thoughtful account of life in the Lincoln household which portrays both the fun times and grief in the White House during the Civil War Years. Lincoln fans of all ages will appreciate this well-written story.




The Private History of a Campaign that Failed

By Mark Twain

It would be almost impossible to produce a humorous account of the Civil War (or any war for that matter.) But leave it to Mark Twain to do just that. The Private History of a Campaign that Failed is a short, funny, fictitious account of a group of fifteen soldiers from a Hannibal, Missouri that form their own company. I'll let you guess from the title how successful of an outfit they were. This story is in stark contrast to Red Badge of Courage, yet touches on some of the same themes; albeit in a much more lighthearted manner. The closing paragraph has a valuable conclusion about the soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

One of several short stories in Humorous Stories and Sketches.

Read on-line from Classic Shorts.








A Century of Change

In addition to the American Civil War, the years of the 19th century brought many changes to nations, communities and families. Find more 19th Century Literature to see what life was like for your great-great grandparents.





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