View Full Version : Good Reads for someone just getting into the Hobby
06-21-2007, 02:42 PM
What are some good reads for someone just getting into the hobby? Books that discuss Uniforms, Equipment, Social Behaviors, Recipes, Songs, etc. Something to help a person get into the mindset of someone in the 1860s. I've already heard of the Echoes of Glory series. My main focus is to get into the mindset of a CSA Soldier in the Early War. Thanks.
06-21-2007, 02:45 PM
Jon, I would look into obtaining a copy of Thomas Arliskas' "Cadet Gray and Butternut Brown." It focuses on Confederate uniform distribution, use and style through the whole war.
06-21-2007, 05:08 PM
The Columbia Rifles Research Compendium is encyclopedic in scope with tons of directly applicable, practical insight and information, mostly from the federal side.
"Rebel Private Front and Rear," By William Fletcher is very good.
So is "Life in the Confederate Army" by William Watson. Don't know if we're related other than all Watsons of Scots descent are probably sharing some chromosomes.
Robert A Mosher
06-21-2007, 05:20 PM
My main focus is to get into the mindset of a CSA Soldier in the Early War. Thanks.
This is a very useful piece of information but may I suggest you take it a step further, if you can, to identify what state or community this CSA soldier is from? One of the things that has impressed me about the Civil War (and many other wars for that matter) is how limited generalizations are when we come to soldiers, their regiments, and even their armies. I stick to the Union Army in the Eastern Theatre myself but am fascinated by the differences between the Army of the Potomac and the Union armies west of the mountains - from Tennessee to Kansas. I'm sure that there are folks here who can direct you to published diaries and letters from soldiers of a specific state or even city in the Confederacy if you're able to tighten up that focus a bit.
Just my suggestion - you're already on the right track.
Robert A. Mosher
06-21-2007, 07:26 PM
Why not start with the classic we all started with: The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy by Bell Wiley. Really a very good book. Just make sure you pick up the Billy Yank version too.
I can second Mr. Watson's suggestion of Rebel Private Front and Rear as well as the CRRC--the first just a great read and the second an invaluable resource for either side, really, although it is geared to an Eastern Federal impression.
More than anything, just make it back here safe so we can get to educating you in earnest.
06-21-2007, 09:15 PM
This is a very useful piece of information but may I suggest you take it a step further, if you can, to identify what state or community this CSA soldier is from? Robert A. Mosher
This is good advice. The south tends to be generalized quite a bit, but each state in the Confederacy had and still has it's own character, customs, and mindset. Texans were different than Virginians, those from Louisiana had differences from soldiers from Tennessee. Crops were different, immigrant populations were different, even the different weather patterns would have an effect on how your soldier thought. At least narrowing down to the state would be very helpful to you to start. Then as you learn about that state you can narrow it down to community.
06-21-2007, 09:33 PM
There is a good discussion on building a quality impression including lists of suggest reading here:
It's another Civil War reenactors forum but instead of repeating much of what was mentioned there, it is definitely worth a look.
06-22-2007, 12:02 AM
Hard Tack and Coffee or The Unwritten Story of Army Life by John D. Billings is full of interesting, useful first-person information and a darned good read to boot.
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson is the best one-volume history of the War.
CW soldiers had lives before the War. Reading books like these will help you "flesh out" your period conversation: http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-During-Civil-Writers-Guide/dp/0898799228
And let me add, thanks for your service!
06-23-2007, 12:32 PM
Something to help a person get into the mindset of someone in the 1860s. I've already heard of the Echoes of Glory series. My main focus is to get into the mindset of a CSA Soldier in the Early War.
An excellent book that I recommend for this purpose would be Beyond the Battlefield - The Ordinary Life and Extraordinary Times of the Civil War Soldier by David Madden, Simon & Schuster, NY (ISBN 0-684-85633-6). Basically it is a compilation of extracts from soldiers' letters and diaries on various topics - all with summarizing text by Mr. Madden. In fact, Mr Madden is actually listed on the book as the editor rather than author because he apparently felt that all he was doing was pulling their words together into a coherent picture rather than writing new text. I would estimate that, after the Introduction, approximately half of the material in the book is excerpts of one type or another.
Robert A Mosher
06-27-2007, 01:38 PM
Since my last posting I have finished another book that I think would help you understand the mindset of the CSA soldier - James McPherson's "For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War." About ten years old now, McPherson used a collections of correspondence and diaries written by soldiers on both sides in an attempt to draw conclusions or at least sketch out some of the reasons why soldiers fought, what they thought about different issues, etc. The research is as impressive as the careful way in which McPherson presents his results - extensively supported by quotes form the original cast. Personally, this is the one book by McPherson I need on my shelf and I'm glad I found a copy. Amazon.com offers about 100 new and used copies starting at about six bucks.
BTW - McPherson also praised Bill Irvin Wiley's books - "The Life of Johnny Reb" and "The Life of Billy Yank" for the way they covered some of the same ground.
Robert A. Mosher
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