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"Shelby Foote - The Civil War - and any orther suggestions" Topic

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Darken9202 Dec 2020 4:46 p.m. PST

I started watch Ken Burns Civil War along with some you tube videos by Atun-Shei Films and decided I needed to do some ACW. Purchased F&F rules set, downladed Shelby Foote The Civil War book and started reading.

First – with an eye to wargaming any suggestions for books, links, games, what ever that would help about the perios. More so toward battles, OOB, getting a feel for the generals and the troops.

Back to SHelby, I did read these a long time ago and have a hard copy but I do most of my reading by Kindle now so downloaded a sample and noticed what read like a slight southern sympathy, just a little comment. I don't remember it being like that, I assume once you get through the inital part of the book this does not come up again?


Ferd4523102 Dec 2020 5:01 p.m. PST

Civil War Talk is a nice forum where gentlemen and ladies meet to discuss everything civil war. Nice section on battles
Darryl Smith's blog on the Western Theater of the Civil War is a very good place to find out more about this vital section of the war. DS is very knowledgeable about several battlefields (Perryville for sure) and knows Chickamagua quite well. There is alot there.
Do not know what level battle you want to fight since F & F comes in two sizes. If you are interested in a particular battle or theater plenty of folks here can guide you. Good luck and if you want to chat more contact me@ H

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP02 Dec 2020 9:22 p.m. PST

Battles and Leaders is a good source for army organizations with troop strengths to brigade level.

Landscape Turned Red, Return to Bull Run, The Peninsula Campaign are all good books.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP02 Dec 2020 9:26 p.m. PST

If you want a nice southern perspective, get the Shelby Foote books read by him on books on tape or disk :-)

Personal logo Stosstruppen Supporting Member of TMP03 Dec 2020 4:50 a.m. PST

If you are looking for battle specific books Peter Cozzens does some great ones on western battles, Gordon Rhea has a series on Grants campaign in the east. Stephen Sears has good books on Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, The Peninsula, and of course Antietam as noted above (Landscape Turned Red)

Fat Wally03 Dec 2020 6:20 a.m. PST

Wiley Sword does Shiloh, Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and the Franklin campaign too.

tigrifsgt03 Dec 2020 7:59 a.m. PST

There's a book called Battles of the Civil War which has maps that show troop movement during specific battles. It has a general detail of how each battle went. Not big on detail but a good general read.

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP03 Dec 2020 9:07 a.m. PST

If you want to drill down to primary sources, thanks to Cornell University, The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies is available on the internet at: link OR is also available on disc--I think the hard copy volumes take up 8-9 linear meters of bookshelf space!

Battles and Leaders of the Civil War is great, with articles written by the participants. I'd dearly love to have a computer program that could take photographs of my games and turn them into line drawings, like those in B&L. <Sigh>

Second (or third!) the Cozzens books and Landscape Turned Red.


Ryan T03 Dec 2020 1:51 p.m. PST

One of the best ways to get the big picture of the war can be found in The West Point Atlas of the Civil War. It was originally published in 1962 and served as a textbook for West Point cadets. It goes through all the major campaigns of the war with a map on each page next to a page of text.

My high-school library had a copy (reference only, not to be signed out) but the librarian let me take it out for the summer. That summer I spent my spare time sitting and going through the different campaigns. The narrative is admittedly short compared to a regular historical account, but the integration of the text and maps give a good basic understanding of the context of the campaigns and battles.

The good news is the entire volume can be downloaded for free from:


Big Red Supporting Member of TMP04 Dec 2020 4:27 a.m. PST

Battle in the Civil War by Paddy Griffith:


"Book Overview

Military historian Paddy Griffith looks at the problems faced by the commanders in this fascinating conflict and examines in detail how they overcame them. Working closely with illustrator Peter Dennis, Dr. Griffith reveals in a new and exciting way the mechanisms of command, the instruments of victory and of defeat during those four terrible years."

138SquadronRAF11 Jan 2021 8:00 a.m. PST

One thing you should consider. Foote's is chock full of Lost Cause fallacies. Foote lauded Nathan Bedford Forrest as "one of the most attractive men who ever walked through the pages of history" and had a picture of the man on his wall. He down plays Forrest role in the massacre at Ft. Pillow.

Foote maintained that "the French Maquis did far worse things than the Ku Klux Klan ever did—who never blew up trains or burnt bridges or anything else," and that the First Klan "didn't even have lynchings."

So I would suggest Foote has real problems.

Daribuck Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2021 11:46 a.m. PST

Reading Foote right now, and was concerned about his Southern Bias. But I have found him to actually be quite balanced, especially in his criticisms of politicians.

The impression I get is that the South had far better generals, and far worse politicians. The North had some bad politicians, too, who often made terrible generals, but I never seem to read about Governors or Vice Presidents actively undermining Lincoln's administrations. They tried, but were ineffective.

As far as the writing goes. Foote is amazing…

Brechtel19821 Jun 2021 3:04 a.m. PST

So I would suggest Foote has real problems.

Agree completely. Foote himself admitted that he was a novelist.

There is much better material in print than Foote's.

One of the things I noticed about his material, and this was in the book produced from Ken Burns' program, is that he did not have a basis in European military history, which to my mind is a prerequisite to study and write about American military history. He didn't understand that, for one thing, Napoleonic battles such as Leipzig, Borodino, and Dresden were larger than any Civil War battle and the losses were much greater.

I would not recommend Foote's work for any study of the Civil War and it is not a credible resource.

Au pas de Charge02 Jul 2021 4:37 a.m. PST

There was a TV series which actually clearly discussed some of the camjpaign strategies with quasi-animated maps; especially Grant's in the West. It might've had some sparse reenactments too. I cant remember the name of the series; it was just a few episodes. It might be AHC's "Civil War: Blood on the Battlefield."

donlowry02 Jul 2021 8:15 a.m. PST

Arms and Equipment of the Civil War -- Jack Coggins


The Civil War Dictionary – Mark M. Boatner (actually an encyclopedia, not a dictionary)


Brechtel19803 Jul 2021 2:33 a.m. PST

Thanks for the suggestion of Boatner's Civil War encyclopedia/dictionary. I don't have a copy and just ordered it from Amazon. I do have his Revolution volume and it is excellent.

Coggins book is also excellent.

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