The Civil War in North Carolina: Recent Studies and Classic Reading
(adapted from a reading list compiled by the North Carolina Museum of History)
Politics / Coming of the War / General
Civil War in North Carolina. Barrett, John Gilchrist. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963. Barrett's 1963 volume remains the only comprehensive account of military operations in North Carolina during the war. 975.603 Barrett
North Carolina as a Civil War Battleground, 1861–1865. Barrett, John Gilchrist. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources, 1980. This pamphlet is an abridged version of Barrett's earlier monograph. 973.7 Barrett
Civil War Pictures. Corbitt, D. L., and Elizabeth W. Wilborn.Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources, 1961. This slender volume illustrates the private soldier at war, blockade running, life on the home front, freedmen, and North Carolina generals. 973.745 Corbitt
A Consuming Fire: The Fall of the Confederacy in the Mind of the White Christian South. Genovese, Eugene D. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998. How white Christian slaveholders used their religion to analyze their defeat. 261.834 Genovese
The Confederate War. Gallagher, Gary W. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997. In this bold challenge to conventional scholarship, Gallagher chronicles Confederate loyalty and the will to win through the final years of the war and refutes critics of Robert E. Lee's military strategy. 973.713 Gallagher
North Carolina and the Coming of the Civil War. Harris, William C. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources, 1988. Harris succinctly describes events leading to North Carolina's secession. 975.603 Harris
History of North Carolina in the War between the States: From Bethel to Sharpsburg. Hill, Daniel Harvey. 2 vols. Raleigh: Edwards-Broughton, 1926. This early volume traces North Carolina's effort to mobilize for war and maintain troops in the field, and also covers military operations in the state for the first two years of the war.
State Troops and Volunteers: A Photographic Record of North Carolina's Civil War Soldiers. Mast, Greg. Vol. 1. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources, 1995. Mast skillfully blends images of North Carolina soldiers and text about their lives. 975.6 Mast
Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of North Carolina in the Civil War. McCaslin, Richard B. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1997. Photographs of people and places tell North Carolina's Civil War history. 973.745 McCaslin
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. McPherson, James M. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. This Pulitzer Prize–winning interpretation of the war sees secession as a conservative counterrevolution to the increasing liberality and moral righteousness of Northern states. 973.73 McPherson
The Civil War in North Carolina. 3 vols. (Silk Flags and Cold Steel: The Piedmont; Bushwackers!: The Mountains; Ironclads and Columbiads: The Coast). Trotter, William R. Greensboro: Signal Research, 1988. A comprehensive and easy-to-read history of North Carolina at war. 973.71 Trotter
North Carolina Civil War Documentary. Yearns, W. Buck, and John G. Barrett, eds. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980. Primary documents illustrate the lives of North Carolina's civilians, administration, soldiers, sailors, and others and their efforts to survive the war. 973.709 N
"Neighbor against Neighbor: The Inner Civil War in the Randolph County Area." Auman, William Thomas. North Carolina Historical Review 61 (January 1984): 59–92. Class antagonism, staunch Unionism, and cultural factors engender anti-Confederate sentiments and guerrilla warfare in Randolph County and its environs. Periodicals Department
"Heroes of America in Civil War North Carolina." Auman, William Thomas, and David D. Scarboro. North Carolina Historical Review 58 (October 1981): 327–363. A small group of North Carolinians forms a secret organization to overthrow Confederate authorities and restore the Union. Periodicals Department
"Class Conflict and Political Upheaval: The Transformation of North Carolina Politics during the Civil War." Baker, Robin E. North Carolina Historical Review 70 (April 1992): 148–178. The Civil War disrupted a tenuous antebellum political balance between conservative planters and yeoman farmers and permanently divided North Carolina politics along lines of class and region. Periodicals Department
"Sterling, Campbell, and Albright: Textbook Publishers, 1861–1865." Carroll, Karen C. North Carolina Historical Review 63 (April 1986): 169–198. In addition to the manufacture of textiles and military materials, North Carolinians attempted self-sufficiency in textbook publishing. Publishers used their products to help create a national identity for the Confederacy. Periodicals Department
War of Another Kind: A Southern Community in the Great Rebellion. Durrill, Wayne Keith. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Controversial interpretation examines class conflict in Washington County as poor and elite North Carolinians struggled violently over land and power. 975.603 Durrill / 1 NC Room copy
"The Social Order and Violent Disorder: An Analysis of North Carolina in the Revolution and the Civil War." Escott, Paul D., and Jeffrey J. Crow. Journal of Southern History 52 (August 1986): 373–402. Escott and Crow assess the potential for violent class upheaval during the Revolution and the Civil War. Periodicals Department
"Poverty and Governmental Aid for the Poor in Confederate North Carolina." Escott, Paul D. North Carolina Historical Review 61 (October 1984): 462–480. State and Confederate authorities acted too late and with too few resources to prevent widespread destitution on the home front. Periodicals Department
Kinship and Neighborhood in a Southern Community: Orange County North Carolina, 1849–1881. Kenzer, Robert C. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987. Chapter 4 traces the wartime experiences of Orange County citizens, including those at the front and on the home front. 975.6565 K
"‘Few Were the Hearts . . . That Did Not Swell with Devotion’”: Community and Confederate Service in Rowan County, North Carolina, 1861–1862." McKaughan, Joshua. North Carolina Historical Review 73 (April 1996): 156–183. Rowan County citizens went to war in waves, first the young and independent, then the older, established farmers.
Conscription and Conflict in the Confederacy. Moore, Albert Burton. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996. Classic monograph on the Confederacy's internal problems. Available at UNC-CH
Divided Allegiances: Bertie County during the Civil War. Thomas, Gerald W. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources, 1996. Thomas traces the fortunes of sharply divided Bertie County, source of hundreds of Union army recruits. 973.7 Thomas
"Confederate Conscription and the North Carolina Supreme Court." Van Zant, Jennifer. North Carolina Historical Review 72 (January 1995): 54–75. North Carolina Supreme Court justices bordered on obstructionism as they tenaciously clung to strict legal precedent in protection of personal liberties and judicial review. Periodicals Department
"Inconstant Rebels: Desertion of North Carolina Troops in the Civil War." Bardolph, Richard. North Carolina Historical Review 41 (April 1964): 163–189. Bardolph's account of deserters was the first to focus on this problem in North Carolina. Periodicals Department
"Confederate Dilemma: North Carolina Troops and the Deserter Problem, Part I." Bardolph, Richard. North Carolina Historical Review 66 (January 1989): 61–86.
———. "Confederate Dilemma: North Carolina Troops and the Deserter Problem, Part II." North Carolina Historical Review 67 (April 1989): 179–210. Bardolph looks at motives for desertion and efforts to stop the problem. Periodicals Department
"Christian Soldiers: The Meaning of Revivalism in the Confederate Army." Faust, Drew Gilpin. Journal of Southern History 53 (February 1987): 63–90. Faust finds in the revivals of 1863–1864 symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as well as unconscious efforts of farm-bred independent Southerners to conform to the mechanical rigors of military life and combat. Periodicals Department (microfiche)
March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman's Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaign. Glatthaar, Joseph T. New York: New York University Press, 1985. This study examines the daily experiences and motivations of the soldiers who terrorized North Carolina in the final month of the war. Available at UNC-CH
Stuart's Tarheels: James B. Gordon and His North Carolina Cavalry. Hartley, Chris J. Baltimore: Butternut & Blue, 1996. Hartley describes North Carolina cavalrymen and their charismatic leader in the Army of Northern Virginia. Available at UNC-CH
Civil War Soldiers: Their Expectations and Their Experiences. Mitchell, Reid. New York: Touchstone, 1988. Mitchell, who sees the differences between Confederate and Federal soldiers as culturally based and spurred by popular imagery, makes insightful observations about the Confederate soldier's loss of morale. 973.742 M
What They Fought For, 1861–1865. McPherson, James M. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994. McPherson points to patriotism as a motivator for soldiers fighting in the final years of the war. 973.711 McPherson
"Test Case of the ‘Crying Evil': Desertion among North Carolina Troops during the Civil War." Reid, Richard M. North Carolina Historical Review 58 (July 1981): 234–262. Reid analyses desertion among Tar Heel regiments and finds that North Carolina's desertion rate was no more extreme than that of other states. Periodicals Department
The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy. Wiley, Bell I. New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1943. This classic volume set the standard for soldier life studies; though dated, it holds many insightful observations. 973.784 W
Campaigns and Battles
Sherman's March through the Carolinas. Barrett, John Gilchrist. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1956. Barrett narrates Sherman's destructive march through the Old North State, including actions at Fayetteville, the Battle of Bentonville, foragers, and Bennett Place. 973.7378 Barrett
Last Stand in the Carolinas: The Battle of Bentonville. Bradley, Mark L. Campbell, Calif.: Savas Woodbury Publishing, 1996. Detailed narrative of the climactic battle of the Carolinas campaign. 973.738 Bradley
Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861–'65. Clark, Walter, ed. 5 vols. Raleigh: E. M. Uzzell; Goldsboro: Nash Brothers, 1901. Capsule histories of North Carolina regiments and military actions.
The Long Surrender. Davis, Burke. New York: Random House, 1985. Davis narrates the last month of the Confederacy as its cabinet flees south through North Carolina.
The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope. Fonvielle, Chris E. Jr. Campbell, Calif.: Savas Woodbury Publishing, 1997. First comprehensive study of the fall of Fort Fisher and the Wilmington campaign. 973.738 Fonvielle
Bentonville: The Final Battle of Sherman and Johnston. Hughes, Nathaniel Cheairs Jr. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. Another good retelling of the Battle of Bentonville. 973.738 Hughes
"Massacre at Plymouth: April 20, 1864." Jordan, Weymouth T. Jr., and Gerald W. Thomas. North Carolina Historical Review 72 (April 1995): 125–197. This detailed account of the Plymouth massacre and its aftermath reveals a small number of Confederate atrocities and much confusion and controversy in the aftermath. Periodicals Department
"‘Drinking Pulverized Snakes and Lizards': Yankees and Rebels in Battle at Gum Swamp." Jordan, Weymouth T. Jr. North Carolina Historical Review 71 (July 1993): 266–301. Jordan illuminates two obscure and relatively insignificant skirmishes in Eastern North Carolina. Periodicals Department
The Civil War on the Outer Banks. Mallison, Fred M. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1998. Mallison chronicles the transformation of Outer Banks society by the war.
Available at Duke, UNC-CH
"A Succession of Honorable Victories": The Burnside Expedition in North Carolina. Sauers, Richard E. Dayton, Ohio: Morningside House, 1996. Archivist Sauers examines Union general Ambrose E. Burnside's early 1862 push into eastern North Carolina, beginning with his success at Roanoke Island and ending with the capitulation of New Bern.
Stoneman's Last Raid. Van Noppen, Ina Woestemeyer. Boone, N.C.: The author, 1961. In the closing months of the Civil War, George Stoneman's Federal cavalry swept undisputed through western North Carolina. 973.738 van Noppen
The Last Ninety Days of the War in North Carolina. Spencer, Cornelia Phillips. New York: Watchman Publishing Co., 1866. Spencer's rambling, and sometimes faulty, recounting of the advance of Sherman and the flight of the North Carolina government in May and April 1865 is a Tar Heel classic. 973.7 S
General Robert F. Hoke: Lee's Modest Warrior. Barefoot, Daniel W. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, Publisher, 1996. Deemed a rising star, this North Carolinian was the youngest major general to serve under Lee. B HOKE R
Lee's Maverick General: Daniel Harvey Hill. Bridges, Leonard Hal. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991. Known as a difficult officer to command, Hill remained a competent but controversial leader until the end of the war. B HILL
Boy Colonel of the Confederacy: The Life and Times of Henry King Burgwyn, Jr. Davis, Archie K. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985. The upstanding son of an elite Tar Heel family, Burgwyn rapidly advanced through the ranks of his North Carolina regiment before his death at Gettysburg. B BURGWYN
Stephen Dodson Ramseur: Lee's Gallant General. Gallagher, Gary W. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985. Ramseur, who commanded North Carolina regiments in all major fights of the Army of Northern Virginia, was a fast-rising general when he fell at Cedar Creek. B RAMSEUR
Confederate Colonel and Cherokee Chief: The Life of William Holland Thomas. Godbold, E. Stanley Jr., and Mattie U. Russell. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1990. Thomas, adopted son of the Cherokee, government agent, and entrepreneur, raised a battalion made up of Cherokee Indians and whites. B THOMAS W
William Woods Holden: Firebrand of North Carolina Politics. Harris, William C. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987. The candidacy of newspaperman-turned-politician Holden in 1864 posed a serious threat to the Vance administration, and his postwar allegiance to congressional reconstruction vexed North Carolina.
The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance. Vol. 2, 1863. Mobley, Joe A., ed. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources, 1995. Mobley offers a refreshing reevaluation of Vance as a staunch Confederate doing his best to support the war effort while ensuring the loyalty of his fellow North Carolinians. B VANCE
"‘Patriot by Nature, Christian by Faith': Major General William Dorsey Pender, C.S.A." Samito, Christian G. North Carolina Historical Review 76 (April 1999): 163–201. Samito examines Pender's personal relationships within the Army of Northern Virginia and his critical role in the successes of that command. Periodicals Department
Doctors in Gray: The Confederate Medical Service. Cunningham, H. H. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1958. Comprehensive review of Confederate medical operations. 973.775 Cunningham
"Edmund Burke Haywood and Raleigh's Confederate Hospitals." Cunningham, H. H. North Carolina Historical Review 34 (April 1958): 153–166. Chronicles the efforts of North Carolina medical officials to provide care to the state's sick and wounded soldiers. Periodicals Department
In Hospital and Camp. Straubing, Harold Elk. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1993. The Civil War through the eyes of its doctors and nurses. Available at UNC-CH
Ironclad of the Roanoke: Gilbert Elliott's Albemarle. Elliott, Robert G. Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane Publishing Co., 1994. Detailed history of the Albemarle and biography of its builder. The Confederate ram successfully staved off Federal naval encroachment of the Roanoke River in 1864. 973.757 Elliott
"Career of the Confederate Ironclad ‘Neuse'." Still, William N. Jr. North Carolina Historical Review 43 (January 1966): 1–13. Named for the North Carolina river, the Neuse served merely to deter Federal riverine advances. Periodicals Department
Voices from Cemetery Hill: The Civil War Diary, Reports, and Letters of Colonel William Henry Asbury Speer (1861–1864). Speer, Allen Paul, ed. Johnson City, Tenn.: Overmountain Press, 1997. Colonel Speer of Yadkin County served in eastern North Carolina and northern Virginia and in 1862 was a prisoner of war. Available at UNC-CH
Rebel Boast: First at Bethel—Last at Appomattox. Wellman, Manly Wade. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1956. Diaries and correspondence of five cousins in the Forty-third Regiment North Carolina Troops served as primary sources for this lively narrative.
Encyclopedia of the Confederacy. Current, Richard N., ed. 4 vols. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. Thorough and thoughtful entries on all aspects of the Confederate experience. R 973.713 Ency
North Carolina Troops, 1861–1865; A Roster. Manarin, Louis H., and Weymouth T. Jordan Jr., eds. 12 vols. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources, 1966–1998. Rosters of nearly every North Carolina regiment, with brief biographical and service information for the state's soldiers. 973.745 Manarin
Slavery / Emancipation
A History of African Americans in North Carolina. Crow, Jeffrey J. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources, 1992. Crow examines the colonial origins of slavery, African American life and labor before 1800, nineteenth-century slavery, the Civil War, emancipation, Reconstruction, and the Civil Rights Movement.
By Land and by Sea. Hilty, Hiram. Greensboro: North Carolina Friends Historical Society, 1993. Quakers confront slavery and its aftermath in North Carolina.
My Folks Don’t Want Me to Talk About Slavery: Twenty-one Oral Histories of Former North Carolina Slaves. Hurmence, Belinda. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, 1984.
J 975.6 MY
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Jacobs, Harriet. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987. An account of Jacobs's life in slavery and her struggle for freedom for herself and her children. B JACOBS H
"Raising the African Brigade: Early Black Recruitment in Civil War North Carolina." Reid, Richard. North Carolina Historical Review 71 (July 1993): 266–301. Federal officials raised
three regiments of freed slaves on the coast of North Carolina in the government's first efforts to enlist African Americans in the army. Periodicals Department
Black Voices from Reconstruction, 1865–1871. Smith, John David. Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook Press, 1996. North Carolinians figure prominently in this volume of documents and reminiscences of emancipated slaves at the close of the war. 973.049 Smith
Unruly Women: The Politics of Social and Sexual Control in the Old South. Bynum, Victoria E. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991. Poor white and free black women inadvertently subvert the dominant social order to endure the hardships of war. Available at UNC-CH
Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. Faust, Drew Gilpin. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. Women experiencing wartime austerity choose their personal security over Southern independence.
"Coping in Confederate Appalachia: Portrait of a Mountain Woman and Her Community at War." Inscoe, John C. North Carolina Historical Review 69 (October 1992): 388–413. Inscoe chronicles the struggle of Macon County resident Mary Bell, wife of a halfhearted Confederate officer, to manage her farm through wartime hardships.
"‘Home and Friends': Kinship, Community, and Elite Women in Caldwell County, North Carolina, during the Civil War." McGee, David H. North Carolina Historical Review 74 (October 1997): 363–388. Elite Caldwell County women close ranks upon their small kinship networks to support their men in the army and to endure the bleak wartime economy.
"Women's Role in Civil War Western North Carolina." McKinney, Gordon B. North Carolina Historical Review 69 (January 1992): 37–56. McKinney describes the disillusionment of Confederate women in western North Carolina and the subsequent decline in their support of the Southern cause. Periodicals Department
North Carolina and the Civil War (from NC Museum of History)
Civil War Reference Network
Service Records of North Carolina Confederate Soldiers
Genealogy and Local History (web sites you can link to from the Durham County Library web site)