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Trans-Mississippi Musings

Civil War Resources Providing an Overview of the American Civil War

The Civil War, A Narrative by Shelby Foote

Like many others, I was introduced to Shelby Foote during Ken Burns' PBS documentary on the American Civil War. His three volume series provides a comprehensive and very readable discussion of the American Civil War. My only complaint with this series is how little space Mr. Foote devoted to the events in the State of Missouri.

Volume 1 - Fort Sumter to Perryville.
Volume 2 - Fredericksburg to Meridian.
Volume 3 - Red River to Appomattox.
Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 3 Volume Set

The Official Records of the War of Rebellion

In 1874, the United States Congress authorized the compilation and publication of the official records from the Amercian Civil War for both the Federals and Confederates. From the publication's Preface:

"This compilation will be the first general publication of the military records of the war, and will embrace all official documents that can be obtained by the compiler, and that appear to be of any historical value."

These are excellent research tools. Although these are available online, they are also available on optical media. I own an earlier version of "The Civil War CD-ROM" originally published by Guild Press and now available from http://www.civilwaramerica.com/. It has more than just the Official Records (e.g., Dyer's Compendium). It's search is very fast but the user interface is very cumbersome. It suffers from periodic OCR translation errors, but that is to be expected from scanning older documents. I bought this before other, cheaper versions were available. I tend to use this first when researching topics.

DVD containing pdf files of the scanned pages. You get to see the original pages, but searching and navigation is slow because the files are so big.
An alternative edition is a CD that has better searching but the reviewers find it hard to navigate. The more searchable versions tend to have periodic OCR translation errors.


I have two general Civil War movies that I highly recommend. My favorite is the TV miniseries, Gettysburg, produced by Turner Home Entertainment. It’s well-done and a faithful adaptation of the Michael Shaara, Pulitzer Prize-winning book, the Killer Angels. The other movie was Director Ang Lee’s “Ride with the Devil.” I may be biased because it was filmed locally in Missouri and Kansas.