Thousands of books have been written about the Civil War; and more about the armies than about the navies and the civil interests together. Yet, even about the armies, there are very few that give a just idea of how every part of the war was correlated with every other part and with the very complex whole; while fewer still give any idea of how closely the navies were correlated with the armies throughout the long amphibious campaigns.
The only works mentioned here are either those containing the original evidence or those written by experts directly from the original evidence. And of course there are a good many works belonging to both these classes for which no room can be found in a bibliography so very brief as the present one must be.
"The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies", 128 vols. (1880-1901), and "Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion", 28 vols. (1894-), form two magnificent collections of original evidence published by the United States Government. But they have some gaps which nothing else can fill. "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War"(1887-89), written by competent witnesses on both sides, gives the gist of the story in four volumes (published afterwards in eight). "The Rebellion Record", 12 vols. (1862-68), edited by Frank Moore, forms an interesting collection of non-official documents. "The Story of the Civil War", 4 vols. (1895-1913), begun by J.C. Ropes, and continued by W.R. Livermore, is an historical work of real value. "Larned's Literature of American History" contains an excellent bibliography; but it needs supplementing by bibliographies of the present century. Inquiring readers should consult the bibliographies in volumes 20 and 21 (by J.K. Hosmer) in the American Nation series.
There are many works of a more special kind that deserve particular attention. General E.P. Alexander's "Military Memoirs of a Confederate" (1907), the "Transactions of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts", Major John Bigelow's "The Campaign of Chancellorsville" (1910), and J.D. Cox's "Military Reminiscences", 2 vols. (1900), are admirable specimens of this very extensive class.
The two greatest generals on the Northern side have written their own memoirs, and written them exceedingly well: "Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant", 2 vols. (1885-86), and "Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman", 2 vols. (1886). But the two greatest on the Southern side wrote nothing themselves; and no one else has written a really great life of that very great commander, Robert Lee. Fitzhugh Lee's enthusiastic sketch of his uncle, "General Lee" (1894), is one of the several second-rate books on the subject. Colonel G.F.R. Henderson's "Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War", 2 vols. (1898), is, on the other hand, among the best of war biographies. Henderson's strategical study of the Valley Campaign is a masterpiece. Two good works of very different kinds are: "A History of the Civil War in the United States" (1905), by W. Birkbeck Wood and Major J.E. Edmonds, and "A History of the United States f from the Compromise of 1850", 8 vols. (1893-1919), by James Ford Rhodes. The first is military, the second political. Mr. Rhodes has also written a single volume "History of the Civil War" (1917). "American Campaigns" by Major M.F. Steele, issued under the supervision of the War Department (1909), deals chiefly with the military operations of the Civil War.
The naval side of this, as of all other wars, has been far too much neglected. But that great historian of sea-power, Admiral Mahan, has told the best of the story in his "Admiral Farragut" (1892).
An interesting contemporary account of the war will be found in the five volumes of Appleton's "American Annual Cyclopoedia" for the years from 1861 to 1865. B.J. Lossing's "Pictorial History of the Civil War", 3 vols. (1866-69), and Harper's "Pictorial History of the Rebellion", 2 vols. (1868), give graphic pictures of military life as seen by contemporaries. Personal reminiscences of the war, of varying merit, have multiplied rapidly in recent years. These are appraised for the unwary reader in the bibliographies already mentioned. Frank Wilkeson's "Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac" (1887), George C. Eggleston's "A Rebel's Recollections" (1905), and Mrs. Mary B. Chestnut's "Diary from Dixie" (1905) are among the best of these personal recollections.
The political and diplomatic history has been dealt with already in the two preceding Chronicles. "Abraham Lincoln: a History", by John G. Nicolay and John Hay, in ten volumes (1890), and "The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln", in twelve volumes (1905), form the quarry from which all true accounts of his war statesmanship must be built up. Lord Charnwood's "Abraham Lincoln" (1917) is an admirable summary. To these titles should be added Gideon Welles's "Diary", 3 vols. (1911), and, on the Confederate side, Jefferson Davis's "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government", 2 vols. (1881), and Alexander H. Stephens's "A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States", 2 vols. (1870). The best life of Jefferson Davis is that by William E. Dodd in the "American Crisis Biographies" (1907). W. H. Russell's "My Diary North and South" (1863) records the impressions of an intelligent foreign observer.