Civil War Narratives
Fiction and nonfiction (informational) texts
"Attack on Fort Donelson" by Lew Wallace
The Battle of Fort Donelson in 1862 was the first major Union victory of the Civil War. One of the most vivid accounts of the battle was written four decades later by General Lew Wallace, who commanded the division that, late in the afternoon on February 15, won back the ground lost by Union forces under General John McClernand to a Confederate counterattack that morning. Available online, in PDF, or in Google docs format.
"Battle of Gettysburg" by Arthur James Lyon Fremantle
This account of the battle was written by a British Army officer who was on leave and visiting in the U.S. For this battle he was embedded with the Confederate Army. Available online, in PDF, or in Google docs format.
"Our Beleaguered City" by Judith W. McGuire
On June 25, 1862, the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac clashed outside Richmond, Virginia, and continued to do so for a week. The series of engagements that followed has become known as the Seven Days, and at their conclusion, Robert E. Lee had succeeded in driving George B. McClellans bluecoats from the outskirts of the Confederate capital. Mrs. McGuire's eyewitness account became a bestseller in the postwar South. Available online, in PDF, or in Google docs format.
"The Colored Cooper" by Clifton Johnson
Joseph Lawson, identified by Johnson only as "The Colored Cooper," was present for the Battle of Fredericksburg, where the Union forces lost. With humor and dismay, Lawsons recollections convey the terror and confusion of the conflict from the point of view of a free black man living in the town. Available online, in PDF, or in Google docs format.
The Gettysburg Address
Lesson plans and teaching resources.
"The Union Army Retreats" by William Howard Russell
Russell, a war correspondent for the London Times , wrote this extensive account of Union Army retreat from the first Battle of Bull Run/Manassas. Available online, in PDF, or in Google docs format. Note: this article uses the racially insensitive language of that time.
"A Woman's Recollections of Antietam" by Mary Bedinger Mitchell
The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single day in American history. Mary Bedinger Mitchell was 12 at the time, and this account of her experiences was published 25 years later under the name Maria Blunt. Contains vivid description but is classroom-appropriate (mostly - includes language that is historically accurate but racially insensitive). Available online, in PDF, or in Google docs format.