The best books on Civil War Texas

Why am I passionate about this?

Ed Cotham, is the prize-winning author of numerous books and articles on Texas Civil War history. A frequent lecturer, with appearances on television and radio, Ed has probably given more tours of Texas Civil War battlefields than anyone. Ed has written the texts for many historic markers and has served as project historian for several important shipwrecks in Texas waters.


I wrote...

Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston

By Ed Cotham,

Book cover of Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston

What is my book about?

The Civil War history of Galveston is one of the last untold stories from America's bloodiest war, despite the fact that Galveston was a focal point of hostilities throughout the conflict. As other Southern ports fell to the Union, Galveston emerged as one of the Confederacy's only lifelines to the outside world. When the war ended in 1865, Galveston was the only major port still in Confederate hands.

In this beautifully written narrative history, Ed Cotham draws upon years of archival and on-site research, as well as rare historical photographs, drawings, and maps, to chronicle the Civil War years in Galveston. His story encompasses all the military engagements that took place in the city and on Galveston Bay, including the dramatic Battle of Galveston, in which Confederate forces retook the city on New Year's Day, 1863.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Cottonclads!: The Battle of Galveston and the Defense of the Texas Coast

Ed Cotham Why did I love this book?

This is the book I always recommend to people who don’t know very much about the Civil War battles that were fought in Texas. It is short, well-written, and has lots of good illustrations, photographs and maps. Don Frazier is one of the best Texas historians the state has ever produced and he really knows how to tell a story in an interesting and engaging fashion. Most Texans are amazed to see how many unusual and important battles were fought in Texas and this is the perfect introduction to the topic.

By Donald S. Frazier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cottonclads! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1862. Admiral David Farragut orders enclaves to be established in Texas as part of the Federal blockade. This involves attempts against Corpus Christi, Sabine Pass, Galveston, and Port Lavaca. By the end of the year Federal troops reduce the defenses of Sabine Pass and occupy Galveston, the state's principal port. However, the gains prove tenuous. While Federal sailors await Union infantry reinforcements, the Confederates, under Gen. John B. Magruder, seize the initiative. They organize a makeshift fleet of "cottonclads"—lightly armed and armored, but good platforms for sharpshooters—and boldly attack the Union fleet whenever it lies close to shore. Meanwhile, Confederate…


Book cover of Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast

Ed Cotham Why did I love this book?

One of the most interesting stories involving Texas during the Civil War is the blockade runners that operated out of Galveston and other Texas ports. As other Confederate ports were captured by the Union, Texas gradually emerged as the last important route for Southern goods to be exported and weapons and other war materials to be imported. Andy Hall is the acknowledged expert on this subject and this book is essential for anyone wanting to explore this interesting and important subject. One of the best features of this book is that it includes many photographs, maps, and illustrations that are not available anywhere else.

By Julie Young, Andrew W. Hall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the last months of the American Civil War, the upper Texas coast became a hive of blockade running. Though Texas was often considered an isolated backwater in the conflict, the Union's pervasive and systematic seizure of Southern ports left Galveston as one of the only strongholds of foreign imports in the anemic supply chain to embattled Confederate forces. Long, fast steamships ran in and out of the city's port almost every week, bound to and from Cuba. Join author Andrew W. Hall as he explores the story of Texas's Civil War blockade runners--a story of daring, of desperation and,…


Book cover of Galveston and the Civil War: An Island City in the Maelstrom

Ed Cotham Why did I love this book?

Galveston was the largest city in Texas at the time of the Civil War and it had the distinction of being blockaded, occupied by both sides, and was the subject of many battles and skirmishes. This book explores some of the battles, but it is particularly valuable because of the stories it explores relating to the way that the war affected the citizens of an important Texas city. It explores topics like Unionists in Galveston, yellow fever epidemics, and the liberation of enslaved African Americans. By focusing on one city and its citizens’ experiences throughout the war this book tells an important and interesting story.

By James M. Schmidt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Galveston and the Civil War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the oldest cities in Texas, Galveston has witnessed more than its share of tragedies. Devastating hurricanes, yellow fever epidemics, fires, a major Civil War battle and more cast a dark shroud on the city's legacy. Ghostly tales creep throughout the history of famous tourist attractions and historical homes. The altruistic spirit of a schoolteacher who heroically pulled victims from the floodwaters during the great hurricane of 1900 roams the Strand. The ghosts of Civil War soldiers march up and down the stairs at night and pace in front of the antebellum Rogers Building. The spirit of an unlucky…


Book cover of Lone Star Blue and Gray: Essays on Texas and the Civil War

Ed Cotham Why did I love this book?

This book includes 16 important essays by prominent Texas historians exploring a wide variety of themes relating to Texas and the war. The editors provide a useful introduction to the subject and the essays themselves are among the best things ever written on the chosen subjects. Alwyn Barr’s article on “Texas Coastal Defense,” for example, is a short but complete description of the ways that Texas Confederates chose to creatively and successfully defend their large coast. If you are interested in Texas history, this book is essential reading. I find myself returning to its pages again and again.

By Ralph Wooster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lone Star Blue and Gray as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bitter disputes over secession to the ways in which the conflict would be remembered, Texas and Texans were caught up in the momentous struggles of the American Civil War. Tens of thousands of Texans joined military units, and scarcely a household in the state was unaffected as mothers and wives assumed new roles in managing farms and plantations. Still others grappled with the massive social, political, and economic changes wrought by the bloodiest conflict in American history.

The sixteen essays from some of the leading historians in the field (eleven of them new) in the second edition of…


Book cover of The Fate of Texas: The Civil War and the Lone Star State

Ed Cotham Why did I love this book?

This book includes 11 essays by an all-star cast of historians. It goes well beyond the military events of the war and covers the impact of the war on various groups of people. The essays discuss previously unexplored topics ranging from the wartime experiences of Texas women to the impact of the war on German immigrants. It also includes essays discussing the post-war impact of the conflict. Of particular interest is Carl H. Moneyhon’s essay on the reaction of Texans to Confederate defeat. This is not only an important book, but will also be interesting even to casual history lovers.

By Charles D. Grear,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fate of Texas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What was Texas' role in the Civil War? In its examination of a state too often neglected by Civil War historians, The Fate of Texas presents Texas as a decidedly Southern, yet in many ways unusual, state seriously committed to and deeply affected by the Confederate war effort in a multitude of ways. When the state joined the Confederacy and fought in the war, its fate was uncertain. The war touched every portion of the population and all aspects of life in Texas. Never before has a group of historians examined the impact of the war on so many facets…


You might also like...

The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

By Sammy Stein,

Book cover of The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

Sammy Stein Author Of Fabulous Female Musicians

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been passionate about music for almost my entire life. Jazz music in particular speaks to me but not just jazz. I love music, full stop. I really discovered jazz when I attended a jazz club workshop in London and there, I had to join in or leave. I chose to join in and since then I have never looked back. I was introduced to more jazz musicians and now write about music for three major columns as well as Readers’ Digest. My Women In Jazz book won several awards. I have been International Editor for the Jazz Journalist Association and had my work commissioned by the Library of Congress. 

Sammy's book list on female musicians

What is my book about?

With input from over 100 musicians, the book discusses what exactly jazz is, and how you know you are listening to it. Do we truly know when and how jazz first originated? Who was the first jazz musician? How does jazz link to other genres? What about women in jazz? And writers and journalists? Do reviews make any difference? 

This book is a deep dive into jazz's history, impact, and future. It discusses jazz's social, cultural, and political influence and reveals areas where jazz has had an impact we may not even realize.Its influences on hip hop, the connection to…

The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

By Sammy Stein,

What is this book about?

This book is very different from other, more general jazz books. It is packed with information, advice, well researched and includes experiences from jazz musicians who gleefully add their rich voices to Sammy's in-depth research. All genres, from hard bop to be-bop, vocal jazz, must instrumental, free jazz, and everything between is covered in one way or another and given Sammy's forensic eye. There is social commentary and discussions of careers in jazz music. The musical background of those in the book is rich and diverse.
Critics comment:
"This new book by Sammy Stein is a highly individual take on…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Texas, the American Civil War, and war?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Texas, the American Civil War, and war.

Texas Explore 215 books about Texas
The American Civil War Explore 314 books about the American Civil War
War Explore 1,920 books about war