Civil War Videos and Books

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Here is a list of the most prominent Civil War videos and movies as well a few of the many outstanding books about The War Between the States.

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Civil War Movies and Videos

Documentaries

The Civil War A Film by Ken Burns

This is the epic documentary--newly restored--that the whole country watched when it first was presented on PBS. One may purchase the whole set or individual episodes.

Civil War Journal

A series of videos that presents solid information about the War Between the States.

Civil War Combat: America's Bloodiest Battles

Produced by the History Channel, this series of reenacted battles gives the viewer a very clear idea of what the actual Civil War soldiers experienced.

Motion Pictures

Note: Although all of the movies listed below deal with the American Civil War in one respect or another, it always has be taken into account that they are dramatic works that often contain fictionalized events and characters.

Birth of a Nation (1915)

Directed by D.W. Griffith.
Starring Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall
Starting with Thomas Dixon's "The Clansman", much of which was eliminated, Griffith created a controversial masterpiece that still can enthrall a viewer. However, many prefer not to view it because of its handling of race relations--thus one should be prepared for some scenes that most viewers find highly objectionable today (as many did when the epic production was first screened.)

Civil War Films of the Silent Era (1915)

Produced by Thomas H. Ince.
Three silent films that deal with the American Civil War: The Coward (1915) 76 min., Drummer of the Eighth (1913) 28 min. and Grand-Dad (1913) 28 min.

The General (1927)

Directed by Buster Keaton
Starring Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender
Inspired by an actual event, a Southern train engineer has his engine stolen by Northern soldiers disguised as civilians. Keaton's character uses all of his ingenuity--and acrobatic talents--to recover the stolen property.

Gone With The Wind (1939)

Produced by David O. Selznick, Directed by Victor Fleming (Also George Cukor, Sam Wood)
Starring Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia deHaviland
Based on Margaret Mitchell's best selling novel, this is the famous romantic melodrama with the Civil War and Reconstruction as the external forces that effect the characters and their beloved Old South.

A Southern Yankee (1948)

Directed by Edward Sedgwick
Starring Red Skelton, Brian Donlevy, Arlene Dahl.
Not a serious movie by any means, Red Skelton as a Yankee spy in the South clowns it up as only he can do. (Silent star Buster Keaton helped create the many funny bits.)

The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

Directed by John Huston
Starring Audie Murphy, Bill Mauldin
Stephen Crane wrote the original novel thirty years after the war ended, but he captured much of the "feel" of battle despite his own lack of actual war experience. This movie version--shortened by the studio before release--succeeds in transferring much of the main character's anguish and final "redemption" to the screen. Especially interesting for its casting of the most decorated GI of WWII in the lead part.

Friendly Persuasion (1956)

Directed by William Wyler
Starring Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, Anthony Perkins
A Quaker family does its best to keep to its non-violent beliefs even though the Civil War has encroached upon its land. Warm, touching performances by all the players.

The Great Locomotive Chase (1956)

Directed by Francis D. Lyon
Starring Fess Parker, Jeffrey Hunter, Jeff York, John Lipton
The factual story of Andrews' Raiders is again told--this time by the Disney Studio. An exciting pursuit occurs after a Confederate train is stolen by a Union group.

Raintree County (1957)

Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin
Not the blockbuster that MGM hoped for, this overlong film does have some bright spots that make it worth watching. (Clift's face was terribly damaged in an car accident during filming and his re-constructed visage never was the same.)

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

Directed by John Ford
Starring John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers, Hoot Gibson
Union Colonel and his men invade the South intent on destroying Confederate railroad lines.

Major Dundee (1965)

Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Starring Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, Jim Hutton, James Coburn
A Union Major is sent on a mission into Mexico--accompanied by a motley group of Confederate prisoners of war etc.--to punish the Apache for misdeeds done on U.S. soil.

Shenandoah (1965)

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Starring James Stewart, Rosemary Forsyth, Doug McClure, Glenn Corbett, Katherine Ross
Stewart portrays the patriarch of a Virginia family who tries to ignore the Civil War until he--and his children--must become involved.

Roots (1977)

Directed by Marvin Chomsky, John Erman, David Greene, Gilbert Moses
Featuring John Amos, Maya Angelou, Edward Asner, Lloyd Bridges, Georg Stanford Brown, Lavar Burton, etc.
This is the miniseries that mesmerized the country when it was shown over eight nights in 1977. Based on Alex Haley's Pulitzer prize winning book of the same name, it tells the story of an African--Kunta Kinte--who is enslaved and sent to the American Colonies in 1767. We follow his and his descendants' story through the Reconstruction era.

The Blue and the Gray (1982)

Directed by Andrew V. McGlaglen
Featuring Julie Harris, Sterling Hayden, Gregory Peck, Stacy Keach, Paul Winfield, John Hammond, etc.
This television mini-series shows many aspects of the War Between the States--in dramatic form, of course.

North and South (1985)

Directed by Richard T. Heffron
Featuring Patrick Swayze, Kirstie Alley, James Read, Georg Stanford Brown, Morgan Fairchild, Hal Holbrook, David Carradine, Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Mitchum, Jonathan Frakes, etc.
Based on John Jakes' bestseller, the first "Book" of three miniseries (Book II also available) that cover the tensions building up to the Civil War, the War itself, and the aftermath. Two friends--North and South--and their families are portrayed as they deal with the changing world around them.

Glory (1989) (R)

Directed by Edward Zwick
Starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman
Outstanding film about the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts--the first black regiment of the Union Army. Winner of three Oscars: Best Supporting Actor (Washington), Sound, and Cinematography.

Gettysburg (1993)

Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell
Starring Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen, Sam Elliott
A movie adaptation of Michael Sharra's The Killer Angels, this film tells the story of General Robert E. Lee and his Army bringing the war to the North with the intent to destroy the Union Army commanded by General Meade.

Andersonville (1996)

Directed by John Frankenheimer
Starring Jerrod Emick, Frederick Forrest, Ted Marcoux
Made for cable movie about the infamous Confederate prisoner of war camp. A serious film about a serious topic--it definitely is not a movie for the squeamish.

The Day Lincoln Was Shot (1998)

Directed by John Gray
Starring Rob Morrow, Lance Henrikson, Donna Murphy, Will Wheaton
Cable movie about the events leading up to President Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth.

The Hunley (1999)

Directed by John Gray
Starring Armand Assante, Donald Sutherland, Alex Jennings, Christopher Bauer
Cable movie tells the true story of famous Confederate submarine and the men who championed the use of such craft to sink enemy ships.

Ride With The Devil (1999) (R)

Directed by Ang Lee
Starring Skeet Ulrich, Tobey Maguire, James Caviezel, Jewel
Southern guerillas harass the Union forces and Union sympathizers on the Kansas/Missouri border.

Gods and Generals (2003) WorldNetDaily article

Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell
Starring Robert Duvall, Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang
Another film by the director of Gettysburg (1993), this epic depicts the years 1861 through 1863.


Civil War Books

Touched by Fire:
A National Historical Society Photographic Portrait of the Civil War

William C. Davis (editor), William A. Frassanito (photographer)
This impressive book includes 1,200 original photos from the Civil War.

The Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

Written by James M. McPherson
Part of the Oxford History of the United States series, this one volume (904 pages) comprehensive history of the Civil War was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

The American Heritage New History of the Civil War

by Bruce Catton (Narrator) and James M. McPherson (Editor)
The classic one volume book by Bruce Catton has been updated by James M. McPherson to include recent scholarship about the War Between the Sates.

The Civil War in Depth (Volume II)

Text by Bob Zeller
As a long-time 3-D photography enthusiast, I always find it a pleasure to view examples of stereo photography from the past. This fine book with its included viewer is highly recommended.

Encyclopedia of Civil War Usage: An Illustrated Compendium of the Every Day Language of Soldiers and Civilians

by Webb Garrison and Cheryl Garrison
Thirty years of research went into this volume that enables the present generation as well as future generations to know the common terms and slang of the Civil War era.

Don Troiani's Regiments and Uniforms of the Civil War

by Don Troiani, Earl J. Coates, and Michael J. McAfee
This very thorough book includes 130 paintings by the renowned Mr. Troiani as well as 250 full color photographs of the actual uniforms etc. of the American Civil War soldiers.

Returning to the Civil War: Grand Reenactments of an Anguished Time

by Al Thelin (Photographer), Kent Courtney
A 96 page (8.5 by 11) book with many illustrations of the folks who live what they call "The Hobby".

Civil War Supply Catalogue: A Comprehensive Sourcebook of Products from the Civil War Era Available Today

By Alan Wellikoff
The title says it all--an off line source book for those of us who desire collectibles etc. from the Civil War era.

Note: The above comments © 2002-2003.

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