Civil War Sesquicentennial – Battles

Dead Confederate artillerymen, in front of Dunker Church, Battle of Antietam

On September 17, 1862, one of the bloodiest battles in American history took place near the small town of Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Battle of Antietam lasted only one day, but resulted in over 23,000 deaths. The victory, claimed by the Union forces, encouraged President Lincoln to issue his Emancipation Proclamation on September 22.

Antietam, unfortunately, was only one bloody battle in a war of many. Tuesday night, PBS broadcast a look at the toll of death on the young United States; the documentary, Death and the Civil War, is based on the book by Drew Gilpin Faust (This Republic of Suffering). Because the war was fought entirely by Americans, and because military technology far exceeded the medical advances of the time, the amount of deaths that occurred during many battles of the Civil War were beyond almost all comprehension. Learn more about the individual land battles through one of these books:


The American Civil War: A Military History – John Keegan

Antietam, South Mountain, and Harper’s Ferry: A Battlefield Guide – Ethan Sepp Rafuse

Atlas of the Civil War: A Comprehensive Guide to the Tactics and Terrain of Battle

Battle at Bull Run: A History of the First Major Campaign of the Civil War – William C. Davis

The Battle of Gettysburg: The Country, the Contestants, the Results – W.C. Storrick

Battles and Leaders of the Civil War edited by Robert Underwood Johnson and Clarence Clough Buel




The Civil War, A Narrative – Shelby Foote

Civil War Battlefield Guide

The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War’s Defining Battle – Margaret S. Creighton

Fields of Honor – Edwin C. Bearss

First Manassas

The Fog of Gettysburg: The Myths and Mysteries of the Battle – Ken Allers, Jr.


Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage – Noah Andre Trudeau

Gettysburg: Day Three – Jeffry D. Wert

Gettysburg: The Final Fury – Bruce Catton

Gettysburg: The Second Day – Harry W. Pfanz

Gettysburg: You Are There – Robert Clasby

Hearts Touched by Fire: The Best of Battle and Leaders of the Civil War – edited by Harold Holzer

Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields: Discovering America’s Hallowed Ground – Jeff Shaara

The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War – David J. Eicher

Pickett’s Charge: A Microhistory of the Final Attack at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863 – George R. Stewart

Second Manassas

Shades of Blue and Gray: An Introductory Military History of the Civil War – Herman Hattaway

Shiloh, 1862 – Winston Groom

Shiloh: The Battle That Changed the Civil War – Larry J. Daniel

Smithsonian’s Great Battles and Battlefields of the Civil War – Jay Wertz and Edwin C. Bearss

The Third Day at Gettysburg and Beyond

Travels to Hallowed Ground: A Historian’s Journey to the American Civil War – Emory M. Thomas

The Wilderness

Witness to Gettysburg – Richard Wheeler

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