10 books like The Iron Brigade

By Alan T. Nolan,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Iron Brigade. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Killer Angels

By Michael Shaara,

Book cover of The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War

In Shaara’s telling we learn the intellectual and spiritual grounding by which men lead themselves to give “their last full measure.” If a book of brilliant conversations between a New England academic commanding officer and an uneducated Irish immigrant top sergeant does not explain the choice to you then you may never learn it.  

Perhaps it is most simply put in the title which comes from a conversation between the two men. The professor from Bowdoin College says simply, “Man is an angel.” To wit his British-trained top sergeant responds, “Colonel, darlin’, if man is an angel he is a killer angel.”

The Killer Angels

By Michael Shaara,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Killer Angels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“My favorite historical novel . . . a superb re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg, but its real importance is its insight into what the war was about, and what it meant.”—James M. McPherson
 
In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty…


The Civil War

By Shelby Foote,

Book cover of The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville

Whether one is a Civil War buff, or a fan of Sun Tzu’s military strategy, you will find plenty of both in this three-volume set. Volume 1 is: Fort Sumter to Perryville. Volume 2 is: Fredericksburg to Meridian, and Volume 3 is: Red River to Appomattox.  

Shelby Foote’s work provided most of the background of Ken Burn’s PBS epic, The Civil War. Anyone who watched that masterpiece and heard the knowledge of Shelby Foote spoken in the most lovely Southern drawl, will not be disappointed in this collection. 

The Civil War: A Narrative – 3 volume box set provided significant detail and motivation for me as I wrote my own book.  When I had a question about a date, geography of a battle, written correspondence between fighters or allies, or conversations such as took place at Appomattox Courthouse between Generals Grant and Lee, I went immediately to Shelby Foote’s three-volume…

The Civil War

By Shelby Foote,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Civil War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This first volume of Shelby Foote's classic narrative of the Civil War opens with Jefferson Davis’s farewell to the United Senate and ends on the bloody battlefields of Antietam and Perryville, as the full, horrible scope of America’s great war becomes clear. Exhaustively researched and masterfully written, Foote’s epic account of the Civil War unfolds like a classic novel. 
 
Includes maps throughout.
 
"Here, for a certainty, is one of the great historical narratives…a unique and brilliant achievement, one that must be firmly placed in the ranks of the masters."—Van Allen Bradley, Chicago Daily News

"A stunning book full of color,…


Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers

By Rufus R. Dawes,

Book cover of Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers

This memoir has long been considered a classic, referenced by scores of Civil War authors over many decades. The editor of the 1961 edition, historian and author Alan T. Nolan, noted the following: “Its excellence is the product of three factors: the character and abilities of the author; the historical techniques and the materials which he used, and the events in which he and his regiment participated. These factors – author, technique and events – combine to make the book a superb document of its kind.

Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers

By Rufus R. Dawes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book has been considered by academicians and scholars of great significance and value to literature. This forms a part of the knowledge base for future generations. We have represented this book in the same form as it was first published. Hence any marks seen are left intentionally to preserve its true nature.


Co. Aytch

By Sam R. Watkins,

Book cover of Co. Aytch: Maury Grays, First Tennessee Regiment Or, a Side Show of the Big Show

“High Private” Sam Watkins wrote his memoir from memory eighteen years after the war. His account of life and death as a rebel soldier is gripping, shocking, and tragic, yet often humorous. He dutifully followed orders, was dedicated to his cause, saw many friends killed close by, and killed enemy soldiers close up – young men in a different uniform much like himself. His attitude and prejudices reflect those of the average Confederate enlisted man. The reader experiences in intimate detail the often-desperate life of the common soldier.

Co. Aytch

By Sam R. Watkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Of the 120 men who enlisted in "Company H" (Or Co. Aytch as he calls it) in 1861, Sam Watkins was one of only seven alive when General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee surrendered to General William Tecumseh Sherman in North Carolina on April, 1865. Of the 1,200 men who fought in the First Tennessee, only 65 were left to be paroled on that day. "Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War" is heralded by many historians as one of the best war memoirs written by a common soldier of the field. Sam R. Watkin's writing style…


A Full Blown Yankee of the Iron Brigade

By Rufus R. Dawes,

Book cover of A Full Blown Yankee of the Iron Brigade: Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers

I found Major Rufus Dawes' first-hand account of Antietam to be perhaps the best, most readable of the many soldier accounts available. Not only does Dawes write clear narrative accounts of what he experienced at Antietam, but he offers his own feelings and thoughts on the fighting that take the reader beyond the movements and action. Another thing that I appreciated about Dawes' account is that he frequently offers wider context for the fighting and movements that gives the reader a deeper understanding of why he was experiencing these events (and unlike many other postwar accounts, Dawes avoids using this hindsight to cast blame). Although it naturally only gives the Union side and a small portion of the battle, Dawes' experiences probably generally reflect what it was like to “be there.”

A Full Blown Yankee of the Iron Brigade

By Rufus R. Dawes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Full Blown Yankee of the Iron Brigade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I have been so wholly engrossed with my work for the last week or I should have responded sooner to your question: 'Are you going?' If a kind Providence and President Lincoln will permit, I am. I am Captain of as good, and true a band of patriots as ever rallied under the star spangled banner."-Rufus R. Dawes. A Full Blown Yankee of the Iron Brigade combines the personal experiences of Rufus R. Dawes with a history of the regiment in which he served. The Iron Brigade was the only all-Western brigade that fought in the eastern armies of the…


Banners at Shenandoah

By Bruce Catton,

Book cover of Banners at Shenandoah: A Story of Sheridan's Fighting Cavalry

Catton was one of the Civil War’s great historians, best known for bringing the stories of individual soldiers into otherwise sweeping accounts of the American Iliad. Amid this work, he also wrote this little-known short novel, published in 1955, which today probably would be filed in the “young adult” section of your favorite bookstore. It tells the tale of Bob Hayden, a Michigan boy who lies about his age to join a volunteer company and rises to manhood while serving in Virginia with Gen. “Fighting Phil” Sheridan.

Banners at Shenandoah

By Bruce Catton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Banners at Shenandoah as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Enlisting in the Union Army, a seventeen-year-old from Michigan ends up in the cavalry under "Fighting Phil" Sheridan headed for Virginia.


Murder in the Crypt

By Irina Shapiro,

Book cover of Murder in the Crypt: A Redmond and Haze Mystery Book 1

I know I keep beating the same drum, but just try to take a look at that cover and tell me the story doesn’t look intriguing (and yes, I do see the similarities between this cover and that of The Murder on Black Swan Lane). 

Like any self-respecting English mystery, this one begins with a main character discovering he’s received a bequest of an English estate and its accompanying title. This particular main character is Jason Redmond, a Captain and doctor in the Union Army during the American Civil War. At the end of the war, he returns home to find his sweetheart has married his best friend during his absence. When he receives news of the bequest, having no one to marry and still experiencing haunting memories of the tragedies he witnessed during the war, he heads to England to dispose of the estate (at least, that’s his…

Murder in the Crypt

By Irina Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Murder in the Crypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the body of a young man is found stuffed into the tomb of a medieval knight, Parish Constable Daniel Haze is tasked with investigating his first solo murder case. Suspicion instantly falls on the only stranger to arrive in the village of Birch Hill just before the crime took place, but the American captain proves to be an unexpected asset. A former soldier and a skilled surgeon, Jason Redmond is not only willing to assist Haze with the investigation but will risk his own safety to apprehend the killer.With no suspects, no motive, and few leads to follow, Redmond…


The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

By Ambrose Bierce,

Book cover of The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

Unlike so many writers, Bierce had actual Civil War experience, as a Union soldier who saw action in a number of key battles. His stories are characterized by a rigorous attention to detail. But Bierce enjoyed serving up verisimilitude with a twist. A strong sense of the macabre, rivaling Poe, is present in some of Bierce’s finest stories such as “Chickamauga,” “One of the Missing,” and “Parker Adderson, Philosopher.” His timeless “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” features one of the most mind-bending twists in all of fiction.

The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

By Ambrose Bierce,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

American journalist and satirist Ambrose Bierce is probably best known for his short stories about the American Civil War. The author's craft for story-telling is exemplified by his famous "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge", which is the story of Peyton Farquhar, a Confederate sympathizer condemned to die by hanging upon the Owl Creek Bridge. That great short story along with 96 others forms this exhaustive edition of "The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce."


A Prayer for the Dying

By Stewart O'Nan,

Book cover of A Prayer for the Dying

A Prayer for the Dying is the only full-length novel I’ve ever read entirely in second-person perspective—which makes for a white-knuckle-grip adventure as the narrator drags the reader along a dark, haunted path, which is also a little bit on fire.

This ghost story full of living people (at first) follows a hard-working and dedicated protagonist who tries to protect his little town of Friendship as it faces disaster after horrible disaster. The narrative of the story unfurls like a tidal wave—terrifying, yet impossible to look away from as it sweeps away everything in its path. This scary story is definitely not for the faint of heart.

A Prayer for the Dying

By Stewart O'Nan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Prayer for the Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in a leafy Wisconsin town just after the American Civil War, this story opens one languid summer's day. Only slowly do events reveal themselves as sinister as one neighbour after another succumbs to a creeping, fatal disease.


Battle Cry of Freedom

By James M. McPherson,

Book cover of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

Beautifully written masterwork on one of the most important wars of the 19th century. It takes the reader from the experience of ordinary soldiers in battle to key debates around the cabinet table, in a rare display of dexterity and understanding of all levels of war. You will enter Grant’s HQ from where he ran the critical Western theater of operations and sit across from Lincoln as he makes the key decision for a hard war that let the Union maximize its resources and win. And you will walk into Lee’s HQ where the Confederacy lost the war in bursts of Southern hubris that led to two ill-conceived invasions of the North that provoked the final crushing.  

Battle Cry of Freedom

By James M. McPherson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Battle Cry of Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now featuring a new Afterword by the author, this handy paperback edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom is without question the definitive one-volume history of the Civil War.
James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to the ending of another at Appomattox. Packed with drama and analytical insight, the book vividly recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War including the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. From there it moves into…


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Interested in the American Civil War, the Union Army, and Wisconsin?

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