100 books like Women of the Civil War (Women Who Dare)

By Michelle A Krowl,

Here are 100 books that Women of the Civil War (Women Who Dare) fans have personally recommended if you like Women of the Civil War (Women Who Dare). Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Behind the Rifle: Women Soldiers in Civil War Mississippi

DeAnne Blanton Author Of They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War

From my list on women in the Civil War.

Who am I?

DeAnne Blanton retired from the National Archives in Washington, DC after 31 years of service as a reference archivist specializing in 18th and 19th century U.S. Army records. She was recognized within the National Archives as well as in the historical and genealogical communities as a leading authority on the American Civil War; 19th century women’s history; and the history of American women in the military.

DeAnne's book list on women in the Civil War

DeAnne Blanton Why did DeAnne love this book?

When Lauren Cook and I published They Fought Like Demons, we knew that our book, although groundbreaking, was only the tip of the iceberg in the story of women soldiers in the Civil War, and we always hoped that another scholar would pick up the torch and move the story forward.  Shelby Harriel has done just that.  Behind the Rifle is a meticulously researched and ably written account of the distaff soldiers who hailed from Mississippi, or found themselves there.  Citing previously unknown sources along with revealing newly-located photographs, Harriel’s contribution to the history of women soldiers is remarkable.

By Shelby Harriel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During the Civil War, Mississippi's strategic location bordering the Mississippi River and the state's system of railroads drew the attention of opposing forces who clashed in major battles for control over these resources. The names of these engagements-Vicksburg, Jackson, Port Gibson, Corinth, Iuka, Tupelo, and Brice's Crossroads-along with the narratives of the men who fought there resonate in Civil War literature. However, Mississippi's chronicle of military involvement in the Civil War is not one of men alone. Surprisingly, there were a number of female soldiers disguised as males who stood shoulder to shoulder with them on the firing lines across…


Book cover of Tara Revisited: Women, War, & the Plantation Legend

DeAnne Blanton Author Of They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War

From my list on women in the Civil War.

Who am I?

DeAnne Blanton retired from the National Archives in Washington, DC after 31 years of service as a reference archivist specializing in 18th and 19th century U.S. Army records. She was recognized within the National Archives as well as in the historical and genealogical communities as a leading authority on the American Civil War; 19th century women’s history; and the history of American women in the military.

DeAnne's book list on women in the Civil War

DeAnne Blanton Why did DeAnne love this book?

This book completely debunks every romantic Old South and Lost Cause myth. Relying on a plethora of primary sources, especially letters and diaries, Clinton reveals the real and often heartbreaking lives of white plantation women and black enslaved women. Always an engaging writer, Clinton narrates the deep and troubled subject with empathy and a level hand. 

By Catherine Clinton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Combining period photographs and illustrations with documentary sources, this work relates the story of southern women during the American Civil War: the African-American women who struggled for freedom; the nurses who faced gruesome duties; and the women who spied and died for the Confederacy.


Book cover of All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies

DeAnne Blanton Author Of They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War

From my list on women in the Civil War.

Who am I?

DeAnne Blanton retired from the National Archives in Washington, DC after 31 years of service as a reference archivist specializing in 18th and 19th century U.S. Army records. She was recognized within the National Archives as well as in the historical and genealogical communities as a leading authority on the American Civil War; 19th century women’s history; and the history of American women in the military.

DeAnne's book list on women in the Civil War

DeAnne Blanton Why did DeAnne love this book?

This book is the best introduction to the many women who cast off traditional gender roles, and served the armies of the Union and Confederacy as spies, vivandierres, and soldiers.  Leonard uses contemporary sources to prove that valor, complexity, and patriotism are not the sole purviews of men.  This well-written book will make readers want to find out more about the Civil War women who refused to stay in their socially-mandated place.

By Elizabeth D. Leonard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Daring of the Soldier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elizabeth Leonard has unearthed the stories of the hidden and forgotten women who risked their lives in the American Civil War. These women spied for their cause, remained on the front line as daughters of the regiment, and even enlisted to fight as men. Leonard investigates why they chose unconventional ways to play their part in the war and gives us a striking portrait of American women's lives in the 19th century.


Book cover of Three Weeks At Gettysburg

DeAnne Blanton Author Of They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War

From my list on women in the Civil War.

Who am I?

DeAnne Blanton retired from the National Archives in Washington, DC after 31 years of service as a reference archivist specializing in 18th and 19th century U.S. Army records. She was recognized within the National Archives as well as in the historical and genealogical communities as a leading authority on the American Civil War; 19th century women’s history; and the history of American women in the military.

DeAnne's book list on women in the Civil War

DeAnne Blanton Why did DeAnne love this book?

This pamphlet, although only 24 pages, is one of the best first-hand depictions of Civil War nursing.  Miss Woolsey and her mother travelled to Gettysburg in the aftermath of the battle and immediately launched into the nursing ranks of the U.S. Sanitary Commission.  She published her account shortly after returning home, when her services were no longer needed.

Book cover of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War

Cathy Hester Seckman Author Of Rightside/Wrongside

From my list on women being in charge in fiction and nonfiction.

Who am I?

I grew up in the ‘60s, when women were not in charge of anything much. I’ve always been fascinated by strong women. Amelia Earhart was a particular favorite, as were the suffragettes, Michelle Obama, and others. The strongest thing I’ve done in my life is to seize opportunities when they arise. I forged a second career that way, taking more than one leap of faith to do what I’ve always known I could do, be a writer. During and after my first career as a dental hygienist I took opportunities to be a newspaper wire editor, then a columnist, a magazine writer, an indexer, a nonfiction writer, and a novelist.

Cathy's book list on women being in charge in fiction and nonfiction

Cathy Hester Seckman Why did Cathy love this book?

This is more historical fiction than nonfiction, but the backmatter contains notes, a bibliography, and a decent index.

It details the work of four Civil War-era women who made significant contributions to the war effort on both sides. Flamboyant teenager Belle Boyd and scheming temptress Rose O’Neal Greenhow spied for the South; Emma Edmonds enlisted in the Union Army as Frank Thompson; and secret abolitionist Elizabeth Van Lew managed an espionage ring under the noses of her Richmond neighbors.

I cheered each one of them through the entire book, wondering if I could have been as strong and resolute as they were. They didn’t cower in their homes. They stood up and made their lives count in an era when the overwhelming majority of women did no such thing.

By Karen Abbott,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Not for nothing has Abbott been called a ‘pioneer of sizzle history.’ Here she creates a gripping page-turner that moves at a breathtaking clip through the dramatic events of the Civil War.”  — Los Angeles Times

Karen Abbott, the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and “pioneer of sizzle history” (USA Today), tells the spellbinding true story of four women - a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow - who risked everything to become spies during the Civil War.

After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle…


Book cover of Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South

William Barney Author Of Rebels in the Making: The Secession Crisis and the Birth of the Confederacy

From my list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy.

Who am I?

From a youth devouring the books of Bruce Catton to my formative years as a historian, I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War, especially the thinking and experiences of southerners who lived through the cataclysmic war years. In my teaching and writing, I’ve tried to focus on the lived experiences, the hopes and fears, of southerners who seemingly embraced secession and an independent Southern Confederacy in the expectation of a short, victorious war only to become disenchanted when the war they thought would come to pass turned into a long, bloody stalemate. The books I’ve listed share my passion for the war and open new and often unexpected windows into the Confederate experience.

William's book list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy

William Barney Why did William love this book?

A great book for teaching me how much the wartime experiences and political resistance of the soldiers’ wives and the slaves impacted the fate of the Confederacy and pushed it in directions never imagined by the planters who created the Confederacy to serve their interests and not the majority of the population they expected to do their bidding. 

By Stephanie McCurry,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Confederate Reckoning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize Finalist
Winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize
Winner of the Merle Curti Award

"McCurry strips the Confederacy of myth and romance to reveal its doomed essence. Dedicated to the proposition that men were not created equal, the Confederacy had to fight a two-front war. Not only against Union armies, but also slaves and poor white women who rose in revolt across the South. Richly detailed and lucidly told, Confederate Reckoning is a fresh, bold take on the Civil War that every student of the conflict should read."
-Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic

"McCurry challenges…


Book cover of Wild Rose: The True Story of a Civil War Spy

Bryan Denson Author Of The Spy's Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia

From my list on nonfiction about turncoat American spies.

Who am I?

I knew nothing about spies – except that James Bond preferred his martinis shaken, not stirred – until 2009, when federal agents hauled Jim and Nathan Nicholson into the federal courthouse I covered as an investigative reporter for The Oregonian newspaper. Since then, I’ve taken a deep dive into the real world of spies and spy catchers, producing The Spy’s Son and writing another cool spy case into Newsweek magazine. Now I’m hooked. But with apologies to 007, I prefer my martinis stirred. 

Bryan's book list on nonfiction about turncoat American spies

Bryan Denson Why did Bryan love this book?

Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to think of spies as cloak-and-dagger types driving Jaguars and carrying machine pistols and exploding gadgets. But spying really is the second-oldest profession. Ann Blackman’s beautifully told narrative of Washington socialite Rose O’Neal Greenhow, who became a highly successful Confederate spy during the Civil War, is a good reminder that a smart, deceptive human – female or male – can change the course of wars.

By Ann Blackman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For sheer bravado and style, no woman in the North or South rivaled the Civil War heroine Rose O’Neale Greenhow. Fearless spy for the Confederacy, glittering Washington hostess, legendary beauty and lover, Rose Greenhow risked everything for the cause she valued more than life itself. In this superb portrait, biographer Ann Blackman tells the surprising true story of a unique woman in history.

“I am a Southern woman, born with revolutionary blood in my veins,” Rose once declared–and that fiery spirit would plunge her into the center of power and the thick of adventure. Born into a slave-holding family, Rose…


Book cover of Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America

Jocelyn Green Author Of Wedded to War

From my list on women nurses during the Civil War.

Who am I?

Jocelyn Green is the bestselling and award-winning author of eighteen books as of 2021. Her historical fiction has been acclaimed by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, the Historical Novel Society, and the Military Writers Society of America.

Jocelyn's book list on women nurses during the Civil War

Jocelyn Green Why did Jocelyn love this book?

This volume offers a survey of Civil War nurses in both the North and the South. Not only do readers meet individuals like Clara Barton, but readers get an overview of pioneering women in this field, with detailed statistics not found in memoirs.

By Jane E. Schultz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As many as 20,000 women worked in Union and Confederate hospitals during America's bloodiest war. Black and white, and from various social classes, these women served as nurses, administrators, matrons, seamstresses, cooks, laundresses, and custodial workers. Jane Schultz provides the first full history of these female relief workers and shows how the domestic and military arenas merged in Civil War America, blurring the line between homefront and battle-front. Examining the lives and legacies of Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton, Susie King Taylor, and others, Schultz demonstrates that class, race, and gender roles linked female workers with soldiers, both black and white.…


Book cover of On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon

Rosemary Poole-Carter Author Of Only Charlotte

From my list on readers who act out novels in their heads.

Who am I?

Make-believe is my vocation, calling to me since earliest childhood. Not too surprising, for I was raised in a Southern Gothic household, simmering with mendacity and thwarted desires. Back then, I plotted stories for my dolls and scribbled plays of love and murder for backyard productions with the neighbor girls. Living and schooling were necessary preparation for the next story or play. To this day, while truly embracing my lived-life with passion and wonder, I still make sense of it, in part, through make-believe—an act that is both solitary and collaborative—writing dialogue for actors to interpret and novels for readers to perform in their own active imaginations.

Rosemary's book list on readers who act out novels in their heads

Rosemary Poole-Carter Why did Rosemary love this book?

From her shocking first sentence to her final transcendent words, the narrator compelled me to travel with her through her memories of a lifetime on what might well be her last afternoon. In fact, I read the book in a single day, a unique experience for me since I am a slow reader who hears every word and pictures every action in my mind. Drawn to both reading and writing with a Southern Gothic sensibility, I was spellbound by the unfolding tale of a complex and courageous woman’s survival during the era of the American Civil War. This novel reads like a mesmerizing dramatic monologue delivered on the stage of history.

By Kaye Gibbons,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Emma Garnet, the heroine of Kaye Gibbons's sixth novel, takes the reader on a Southern journey through place and time, from 1842 to 1900. We see her first as a plantation owner's daughter, pampered by servants yet self-taught in subjects not then in the woman's sphere. As a girl, she does not question the South's peculiar institution, but gradually she recognizes the brutality of slavery. Still, during the Civil War, she works tirelessly in a Southern military hospital, ministering to the wounded out of her fervent sense of loyalty to the South. Throughout the conflict Emma Garnet contains her own…


Book cover of The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe: A Biography

Theresa Kaminski Author Of Dr. Mary Walker's Civil War: One Woman's Journey to the Medal of Honor and the Fight for Women's Rights

From my list on 19th-century women’s rights activists.

Who am I?

My expertise: I specialize in writing about scrappy women in American history. I started with a trilogy of nonfiction history books about American women in the Philippine Islands who lived through the Japanese occupation during World War II. Then I found a biographical subject that combined the fascinating topics of war and suffrage, so I wrote Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War: One Woman’s Journey to the Medal of Honor and the Fight for Women’s Rights. The next woman who grabbed my attention was a big name in Hollywood in the 20th century. Queen of the West: The Life and Times of Dale Evans is due out in 2022. 

Theresa's book list on 19th-century women’s rights activists

Theresa Kaminski Why did Theresa love this book?

Howe is best known for writing the song that inspired countless Northerners during the Civil War, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Showalter pulls back the curtain on Howe’s life to reveal a woman stuck in a bad marriage with a stifling husband, overwhelmed by childbearing and rearing. Howe took up writing, first completing a novel before turning to poetry. She embraced the abolitionist movement and after the Civil War--after writing her most famous work--focused her energy on women’s rights, serving as president of the American Woman Suffrage Association.

By Elaine Showalter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “lively biography” (The New Yorker) of Julia Ward Howe, the powerful feminist pioneer and author of the Civil War anthem, “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Julia Ward (1819–1910) was an heiress who married a handsome accomplished doctor who worked with the blind and deaf. But Samuel Howe wasted her inheritance, mistreated and belittled her, and tried to stifle her intellect and freedom. Nevertheless Julia persisted and wrote poetry and a mildly shocking sexual novel that was published to good reviews. She also wrote the words to probably the most famous anthem in the country’s history—the Civil War anthem, “Battle…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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