The most recommended books about the Union Army

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10 authors created a book list connected to the Union Army, and here are their favorite Union Army books.
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Harriet Tubman

By Catherine Clinton,

Book cover of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom

Helen Lundström Erwin Author Of Sour Milk in Sheep's Wool

From the list on historical fiction on women who changed history.

Who am I?

I love to write stories about people who lived during pivotal times in history. I’m intrigued by what people were thinking and why they thought that way. People, just like us now, were a product of their time and circumstance. They had strong opinions about the issues of the day, and debated fiercely. It’s these conversations and opinions that help me make the past come alive. Being born and raised in Sweden, and having been a New Yorker for thirty years, I was awarded the 2021 Swedish Women’s Educational Association (SWEA) New York’s Scholarship for the artistic promotion of Swedish culture and history in New York.

Helen's book list on historical fiction on women who changed history

Why did Helen love this book?

This non-fiction book is giving Harriet Tubman the recognition she deserves. She was a hero in the true sense, who lived a life of service to others, and truly helped change the world. We have all heard of her, but few know who she really was, how much she did, and how incredibly brave she was.

Sometimes when I’m having a hard time, I think of how much she did all by herself, literally walking alone into enemy territory to save others, and leading an army of men. I could never compare myself to her, but thinking of her inspires me and gives me courage. 

By Catherine Clinton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Harriet Tubman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most important and enduring figures in the history of 19th century America, the legendary conductor on the Underground Railroad whose courageous exploits have been described in countless books for young readers, is here revealed for the first time as a singular and complex character, a woman who defied simple categorisation. |In this, the first major biography of Harriet Tubman in more than 100 years, we see the heroine of children's books and biopics with a new clarity and richness of detail.| - Time

Banners at Shenandoah

By Bruce Catton,

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

John J. Miller Author Of The First Assassin

From the list on the American Civil War and 5 novels to immerse yourself within it.

Who am I?

John J. Miller is director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College, a writer for National Review, and the host of two book-themed podcasts, The Great Books and The Bookmonger. His books include The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football and Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas. He lives on a dirt road in rural Michigan.

John's book list on the American Civil War and 5 novels to immerse yourself within it

Why did John love this book?

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.

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.

Book cover of The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

Justin Martin Author Of A Fierce Glory: Antietam--The Desperate Battle That Saved Lincoln and Doomed Slavery

From the list on for experiencing the vivid reality of the Civil War.

Who am I?

My specialty is American history, meticulously researched, but delivered in a narrative style that’s akin to fiction. My latest book, A Fierce Glory, is about Antietam, a battle that occupied a single day in 1862, yet remains one of history’s most consequential events. Of course, there are countless military histories of Antietam–or any Civil War battle, for that matter–focusing on troop movements and tactics. I wanted to get at the emotional heart of this epic showdown: the confusion, terror, sadness, along with some startling and selfless acts of heroism. To do so, I drew inspiration from some of my favorite fictional works.

Justin's book list on for experiencing the vivid reality of the Civil War

Why did Justin love this book?

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.

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."

General Harriet Tubman

By Earl Conrad,

Book cover of General Harriet Tubman

Artika Tyner Author Of The Untold Story of John P. Parker: Underground Railroad Conductor

From the list on champions for racial justice.

Who am I?

I’m a civil rights attorney, author, and lifelong educator. My work has focused on addressing racial disparities in education and criminal justice. I worked on the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice and created restorative justice programs in schools. As a leadership scholar, I read books on remarkable sheroes and heroes. This provides me with keen insights into the leadership characteristics of changemakers while developing the tools to better understand how to build and sustain social change.

Artika's book list on champions for racial justice

Why did Artika love this book?

General Harriet Tubman provides an in-depth look at Tubman’s leadership legacy.

You discover her passion for justice and commitment to ensuring freedom for all. Most publications on Tubman focus on her role in the Underground Railroad. Her courage and tenacity helped many to break free from the bondage of slavery. This is only one dimension of her life. She was also a spy for the Union Army.

In addition, she helped to organize a community in Canada for hundreds who had escaped from slavery and reclaimed their liberty.

By Earl Conrad,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked General Harriet Tubman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by Earl Conrad and originally published by Carter G. Woodson and the The Associated Publishers in 1943 and 1990, General Harriet Tubman is a well-researched and documented biography.  It draws on the accounts of Tubman's living relatives and others with expert knowledge of the period in which she lived.  Perhaps, for this reason, in his Acknowledgements for the first edition, Conrad likened the book to Tubman herself:  "Scores of people have contributed to the information, the understanding, and diverse other assistance that has been necessary in effecting this complete life of Harriet Tubman.  I could not possibly call it…

The Hard Hand of War

By Mark Grimsley,

Book cover of The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861 - 1865

Candice Shy Hooper Author Of Lincoln's Generals' Wives: Four Women Who Influenced the Civil War--For Better and for Worse

From the list on William Tecumseh Sherman.

Who am I?

I was fated to write about war. Born on Guam to a Navy hospital corpsman and his intrepid wife, I spent four years on tank-littered beaches of Saipan and sailed to Japan on a U.S. Navy LST at the age of seven. When I graduated from college with a major in journalism, a Navy man, the late great Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson hired me as his press secretary, and we talked military history even as he made it in Afghanistan. Thirty-three years later, I went back to school for an MA in History. As I write, my great grandfather’s bugle from the Spanish-American War and the flag that covered my father’s coffin at his Arlington Cemetery funeral sit atop my shelves of military history books.

Candice's book list on William Tecumseh Sherman

Why did Candice love this book?

If Campbell’s book places Sherman and his strategy and tactics in the context of female Confederate resistance, Grimsley — one of the nation’s most innovative thinkers and writers of military history — places Sherman’s thinking and actions in the context of the evolution of the United States’ treatment of Confederate civilians.

The Lincoln administration policy in the beginning, notes Grimsley, was “to exempt white Southerners from the burdens of war.” But by 1864, a “hard war” policy, embracing attacks upon and/or confiscation of Southern civilians’ property, had become the guiding military policy of the United States.

Sherman’s inventive, carefully planned March embodied that policy. His goal of targeted destruction was designed to leave more than mere hardship in its wake. His army left its victims in terror, humiliation, and despair that contributed directly to the United States’ victory.

By Mark Grimsley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Hard Hand of War, first published in 1996, explores the Union army's policy of destructive attacks upon Southern property and civilian morale - how it evolved, what it was like in practice. From an initial policy of deliberate restraint, extending even to the active protection of Southerners' property and constitutional rights, Union armies gradually adopted measures that subjected civilians to the burdens of war. Yet the ultimate 'hard war' policy was far from the indiscriminate fury of legend. Union policy makers emphasised a program of directed severity, and Grimsley demonstrates how and why it worked. Through comparisons with earlier…

The Only Gold

By Tamara Allen, Cory Clubb (illustrator),

Book cover of The Only Gold

Minerva Spencer Author Of The Footman

From the list on historical romance novels off the beaten path.

Who am I?

I adore romance in all its forms. I’ll read Viking romance, contemporary rom-coms, alien adventure, and fantastical, magical shifter tales to romances that take place in prison or an equipment rental store. But my first love will always be Regency romance, which is probably why I’ve also chosen to write it. The stories that are always closest to my heart, no matter the subgenre, are the ones that succeed in breaking the mold. The five books on this list are only the beginning of the wonderful, unusual historical romances that are waiting for intrepid readers. Happy reading!

Minerva's book list on historical romance novels off the beaten path

Why did Minerva love this book?

I’ve read this m/m romance multiple times for many reasons. First, it takes place in NYC. Second, both characters are working men (no dukes or millionaires!!) and Third, it is a hot, hot, hot enemies to lovers romance that gives the reader a vibrant picture of both the banking business at the end of the nineteenth century, but also tons of fascinating details about daily life and work culture. 

My favorite part of this story is the development of the relationship between the two leads. Both Jonah and Reid practically leap off the page. I love having an anal-retentive control freak paired with a charming, easy-going rogue.

By Tamara Allen, Cory Clubb (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jonah Woolner's life is as prudently regulated as the bank where he works. It's a satisfying life until he's passed over for promotion in favor of newcomer Reid Hylliard. Brash and enterprising, Reid beguiles everyone except Jonah, who's convinced Reid's progressive ideas will be the bank's ruin. When Jonah begins to discover there's more to Reid than meets the eye, he risks succumbing to Reid's charms - but unlocking the vault to all of Reid's secrets could lead him down a dangerous path.Losing his promotion - and perhaps his heart - is the least of Jonah's difficulties. When the vengeful…

The Iron Brigade

By Alan T. Nolan,

Book cover of The Iron Brigade: A Military History

Steve Magnusen Author Of To My Best Girl: Courage, Honor, and Love in the Civil War: The Inspiring Life Stories of Rufus Dawes and Mary Gates

From the list on home life during the Civil War.

Who am I?

Steve Magnusen is an officer in the Indianapolis Civil War Roundtable and holds associate membership in three other roundtables in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana. He enjoyed a nationally recognized engineering and public works administration career in north suburban Chicago after receiving his degree from Purdue University. He has led several professional and non-profit organizations and served fifteen years as an infantry and armor officer in the US Army Reserve.

Steve's book list on home life during the Civil War

Why did Steve love this book?

Named one of the “Top 100 Civil War Books” by the Centennial Commission, this records the history of the most famous Union unit of the war. Nolan uses many first-person accounts to ensure accuracy; Service with The Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers being predominant. This book first inspired my interest in studying the Civil War, and sparked my special admiration for Rufus Dawes, eventually leading to the creation of my own book, To My Best Girl – Courage, Honor and Love in the Civil War: The Inspiring Life Stories of Rufus Dawes and Mary Gates.

By Alan T. Nolan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I am immensely impressed . . . this particular Brigade needed a book of its own and now it has one which is definitely first-rate. . . . A fine book." -Bruce Catton

"One of the '100 best books ever written on the Civil War.'" -Civil War Times Illustrated

" . . . remains one of the best unit histories of the Union Army during the Civil War." -Southern Historian

". . . The Iron Brigade is the title for anyone desiring complete information on this military unit . . ." -Spring Creek Packet, Chuck Hamsa

This is the story…

Murder in the Crypt

By Irina Shapiro,

Book cover of Murder in the Crypt

Amy M. Reade Author Of Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery

From the list on mysteries that make you wish you had a time machine.

Who am I?

I’ve been a lover of historical mysteries ever since I realized it’s possible to read mystery fiction and learn history at the same time. Every time I pick up a mystery set in the past, whether it’s the ancient past, the more recent past, or somewhere in between, I know I’m going to be intrigued and challenged by a great story and come away with a greater understanding of the people, culture, customs, and events of that time period. It’s a win-win. I write historical mysteries because I want to share with readers what I’ve learned about a particular time or place in a way that’s compelling and engaging. 

Amy's book list on mysteries that make you wish you had a time machine

Why did Amy love this book?

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…

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…