Children’s and Young Adult Literature for Teaching Different Perspectives on the Civil War


Dr. Ava L. McCall

Children’s and Young Adult Books

Adler, D. A. (1994). A picture book of Sojourner Truth. New York: Holiday House.


Picture book, elementary level. Adler depicts Sojourner Truth's life from birth on when she carried the name of her owner and the injustices of slavery including having her brothers and sisters sold away from her parents, living in cold, wet, one-room cellars, and being kept from choosing one's own mate. After Sojourner was promised freedom by her owner and then denied it, she ran away and her freedom was paid for by someone sympathetic to the unfairness of her servitude. Sojourner became a preacher who spoke out against slavery and women's inequality. She became an inspirational speaker despite being unable to read or write. During the Civil War, Sojourner raised money to feed African American soldiers, worked with soldiers in chasing away slave traders, counseled freed slaves in the Freedman's Hospital, and protested against segregated streetcars until they were integrated.

Beatty, P. (1984). Turn homeward, Hannalee. New York: Troll.


Chapter book, upper elementary and middle school level. The text is historical fiction, but based on facts. The extensive author’s notes clarify the author’s intent to provide a poor, working-class, southern perspective on the Civil War. The author focuses on the fictional Reed family from Roswell, Georgia who are textile mill workers, children as well as parents. During the Civil War, both the father and son serve with the Confederate Army, although the son survives despite his wounds while the father dies from “camp fever.” The text dramatizes the displacement of the main character Hannalee and her brother Jem, along with 400 other Roswell textile mill workers. The Yankee military considers the mill workers traitors to the Union because they produce cloth and rope for the Confederate Army. The Yankee troops burn the mills, round up the mostly women and children mill workers, and transport them to Tennessee, Kentucky, or Indiana. Here, they are forced to work for anyone who needed an employee. Anyone who refuses to work is jailed as a traitor. Some work in northern textile mills, others serve as hired girls or boys, as household servants, or seamstresses. The author notes that no historical records exist for what happened to these textile mill workers after their northern journey, so she creates a fictional story of the hardships Hannalee and her brother experience working for “blue-bellied Yankees” and their struggle to return home to their mother.

Chang, I. (1991). A separate battle: Women and the Civil War. New York: Puffin.


Upper elementary and middle school level. The author focuses on women involved in different roles during the Civil War period. She includes women as writers and speakers against slavery; as producers of clothing and distributors of supplies for soldiers; as nurses for wounded and ill soldiers; as soldiers and spies for both the Confederacy and Union; as workers in factories and at home; as teachers for “contraband” or former slave children; and as survivors of the war. The text provides not only a description of women’s activities, but also their hardships and views regarding the war.

Denenberg, B. (1996). When will this cruel war be over? The Civil War diary of Emma Simpson, Gordonsville, Virginia, 1864. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary and middle school level. The text is part of the Dear America series, a collection of historical fiction in the form of diaries written by young girls and providing their perspectives on historical events. Although the diary is fictional, the author includes “historical notes” which provides an historical context for the diary. The author summarizes the issues of slavery and states’ rights as the primary reasons for the Civil War, the southern view of African American slaves as inferior to European Americans, and the economic and military differences between the South and North. The diary is written by a fictional 14-year-old girl from the South who, before the Civil War, lives a life of privilege, but during the war experiences many hardships among her family and friends. In “About the Author,” Denenberg consulted diaries and letters from the Civil War in preparing the text. The diary itself includes a southern perspective on the joys of a life of privilege; the ability of southern women to handle the households, food shortages, illnesses and deaths while most men are away fighting; slavery and relationships with slaves; anger at abolitionists who are bent on destroying the southern way of life, the many hardships among southern soldiers, including improper food, clothing, and shelter and suffering from wounds and illness; and dealing with raids from Union soldiers. Throughout the diary, Emma longs for a return to life as it once was, although she finally realizes she has been changed by her experiences in dealing with the war.

Forrester, S. (1995). Sound the jubilee. New York: Puffin Books.


Middle school level/adult resource. The main characters in the text are fictional, but the text is based on real events which happened during the Civil War. Maddie, her older sister Angeline, younger brother Pride, and their parents were slaves on a North Carolina plantation during the Civil War. Maddie’s parents were consistently teaching their children how to survive as slaves and endure the regular humiliation of being owned by others. When the owners were concerned that the Union army may attack them and burn their property, they decided to escape to their vacation home on Nags Head, an island on the North Carolina coast, and take Maddie’s family to care for them. While they were here, Maddie’s family escaped from slavery and moved to Roanoke Island, which was recently captured by the Union army and a safe haven for escaped slaves. Unfortunately, Maddie and her family encountered the racism of some of the Northern soldiers who were supposed to help the escaped slaves settle on the island. Soldiers destroyed the simple church the growing African American community built to use for worship services and a school, threatened to whip any African Americans who came near government property, and ridiculed the African American recruits while they trained for battle. In addition, the African American soldiers were paid less than the European American soldiers and often the Union Army delayed or failed to pay this smaller amount. Although the U.S. Government initially gave land and helped the African Americans build homes on Roanoke Island, they eventually restored the land to the previous European American owners and forced the African Americans to leave.

Hansen, J. (1986). Which way freedom? New York: Avon Camelot.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This text precedes Out From This Place and is also a fictional story based on factual accounts of the Civil War. The main characters, Obi, Easter, and Jason are slave children and adolescents with no other family except each other working on a small farm in South Carolina. Although their owners are more humane than many, they still endure the brutal treatment of being owned and worked hard. When the Civil War breaks out, their owners respond with increased restrictions and cruelty. After they learn they are about to be sold, Obi and Easter escape only to be captured by Confederate soldiers who force Obi to work with other slaves in hard labor and Easter cooks for one of the colonels. Obi escapes from this Confederate camp and eventually fights in an African American regiment for the Union, but still encounters much inequality directed at African American soldiers.

Hansen, J. (1988). Out from this place. New York: Walker.


Upper elementary/middle school level. This book is fiction, but is based on actual events that happened during the Civil War. In 1861, when the Union army gained control of the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina, most of the planters fled to the mainland. African Americans were Confederate property confiscated by the army. They worked on the abandoned plantations for wages from the federal government. In January, 1865, the former slaves were given temporary title to the abandoned lands; however, in May, this decision was reversed and the land was returned to the former owners. The community New Canaan in the text is based on an African American community in South Carolina developed after the Civil War. The book portrays the experiences of Easter, an adolescent slave, in her efforts to find Obi and Jason, the only family she knew from the farm where they all worked as slaves. The text reveals the hardships of life for former slaves immediately following the abolishment of slavery.

Holland, I. (1994). Behind the lines. New York: Scholastic.


Middle school level/adult resource. The main character Katie O’Farrell is part of a recent Irish immigrant family struggling to survive in a New York city slum in 1863. The father, older brother, as well as Katie must work in order to provide the necessary income for the family. Katie worked as a kitchen maid for a wealthy Protestant English family and regularly suffered humiliating anti-Irish comments from her supervisors. Despite the disruption of the Civil War, many Irish immigrants refused to fight for the Union because they believed freed slaves would move north and take the few jobs the Irish have. Since Irish immigrants came to the U.S. with few resources and regularly experienced discrimination in hiring, they often remained among the poorest citizens. The conflicts between wealthy and poor, Irish and African Americans were illustrated by Katie’s wealthy employer’s offer that Katie’s brother take his son’s place in the Union Army for a price. The money offered exceeded what her brother made working on the docks and could be used to buy land in the west after the war. When young Irish male immigrants were among those drafted into the Union Army, they retaliated by rioting, attacking the draft offices, and hanging African Americans. Despite the racial tensions between the Irish and African Americans, Katie developed a friendship with an African American. The text illustrates the cross cultural alliances which can be formed amidst racial tensions.

Hoose, P. (2001). We were there, too! Young people in U.S. history. New York: Melanie Kroupa Books.


Upper elementary, middle school level, and adult resource. Although the text does not exclusively focus on girls and young women, nearly half the stories portray young female contributions to U.S. history. The first section deals with the encounter of Europeans and Native Americans and includes the activities of Taino girls and boys. In the second section, “Strangers in Paradise: The British Colonies” readers consider the stories of Pocahontas, Salem girls considered “witches,” a young girl captured by the Mohawks, a female indigo planter, and Phillis Wheatley, poet. Within the section on the American Revolution are stories about girls who spun their own cloth rather than use English imports, young female spies, and the contributions of Sybil Ludington and Deborah Sampson during the war. The fourth section deals with becoming a nation and focuses on two sisters who scared away a British ship during the War of 1812, a young girl who helped sew the large flag which inspired the song “The Star Spangled Banner,” mill girl workers and strike leaders, and a determined young slave who escaped to Canada. Section five focuses on the Civil War and portrays an African American teacher, a European American girl’s experience during the burning of Atlanta, and Vinnie Ream’s talent in creating Abraham Lincoln’s statue. Stories of Sacajewa and a young girl who traveled with her family to Salt Lake City, Utah are included in “The West” section. The “New Century” section focuses on young women sweatshop workers, strike leaders, and suffragists. Section eight concentrates on “Wars, Depression, and Dust” and includes portrayals of young women and the sacrifices and conflicts they experienced during World War I, teen girls who “rode the rails” during the Great Depression, and a young Japanese American girl whose family was sent to an internment camp during World War II. The final section provides stories of girls participating in the civil rights movement, integrating racially segregated Little Rock, Arkansas schools, becoming a United Farm Workers organizer, becoming a championship girls’ basketball team, and becoming an environmental activist.

Kann, B. (2011). Cordelia Harvey: Civil War angel. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author describes the life of Cordelia Perrine Harvey and her accomplishments in improving the life of wounded Civil War soldiers from Wisconsin. She visited soldiers in hospitals along the Mississippi River during the Civil War to determine how well they were being taken care of. Cordelia Harvey often found crowded, unsanitary conditions and soldiers suffering from serious diseases. She solicited needed medical supplies, food, and additional doctors and nurses from the governor and asked Wisconsin women to donate food, clothing, blankets, towels, and medical supplies to help the wounded and ill soldiers. Cordelia Harvey also advocated for wounded and ill soldiers to be able to return home to Wisconsin to recover, some who were too ill to ever fight again and others who could recover and return to service. She met with President Lincoln to advocate for opening northern hospitals to wounded soldiers to allow them to recuperate in a better environment. Despite Lincoln’s concern that Union soldiers would desert if they recovered in northern hospitals, he agreed to open the Harvey United States Army General Hospital in Madison. Later, two other military hospitals were opened in Wisconsin to care for wounded and ill soldiers. However, Cordelia Harvey continued to visit southern hospitals and improve the food and medical supplies available to ill and wounded soldiers.

King, W. (2000). Children of the emancipation. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.


Picture book, elementary level. The author uses old photographs to illustrate brief descriptions of African American children who were slaves, children who were free before slavery was legally abolished, and children who were free after the 13th Constitutional Amendment which freed all slaves. Readers gain some insight into African American children’s work, play, educational opportunities, family struggles, and racial discrimination while enslaved and free. The author clarifies which slaves were freed with the Emancipation Proclamation, how the mother’s status as free or slave determined her children’s freedom, and how being free did not correspond to equal opportunities and the elimination of racist oppression.


Lyon, G. E. (1991). Cecil’s story. New York: Orchard Books.


Picture book, lower elementary level. A young boy imagines what might happen if his father goes off to fight in the Civil War, is hurt, and his mother leaves to bring him home. He imagines staying with neighbors, completing chores, wondering what happened, and crying. He imagines all the responsibilities he would have if his father does not return and his happiness if his father returns from war, even with wounds.

McGovern, A. (1965). Wanted dead or alive: The true story of Harriet Tubman. New York: Scholastic.


Upper elementary level. The text provides a biography of Harriet Tubman and portrays the cruelties of slavery she endured as a child, including beatings and suffering a serious head injury when she aided an escaping slave. Despite such hardships, Harriet became very strong physically and dreamed of freedom. When Harriet discovered she was going to be sold to work in the deep South, she and her brothers began their escape, but her brothers turned back. With the aid of station masters along the Underground Railroad, Harriet escaped to Pennsylvania and became a free Black. Harriet then helped the rest of her family escape and led so many others to freedom that she earned the name of Moses. The book portrays Harriet Tubman's cleverness and strength in guiding slaves to freedom, her work as a nurse and spy during the Civil War, and ways she continued to help free Blacks after the war.

Meltzer, M. (1989). Voices from the Civil War. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.


Chapter book, upper elementary/middle school level. The author endeavors to provide ordinary people’s perspectives on the Civil War from the North and South. He explains the context for each speaker, then provides direct quotations from letters, diaries, memoirs, interviews, ballads, newspaper articles and speeches to depict life and events during the Civil War. These first-person accounts reflect people’s views on: slavery and African Americans, the right of states to secede from the Union, President Lincoln and President Davis, the beginning of the Civil War, and their concerns about brothers fighting against brothers. Additional accounts provide the perspectives of men who volunteered to serve in the Union and Confederate forces and their battle experiences as well as those of their officers, views on the conditions of slaves who escaped to Union army camps, northern and southern sentiments about the war depicted in songs, reactions to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, evaluations of African American Union troops’ performance, descriptions of attacks on African Americans in the North during draft riots, how women coped with the war at home after men left to fight, economic changes during the war, punishments for deserters, pacifists who refused to fight in the war, soldiers’ experiences in war prisons, volunteer nurses’ challenges in caring for wounded and ill soldiers, people’s many hardships during sieges, a description of the fall of Richmond and the death of President Lincoln, and the end of the Civil War.

Myers, W. D. (1991). Now is your time! The African-American struggle for freedom. New York: HarperTrophy.


Middle school level and adult resource. The author intersperses general descriptions of historical eras with stories of individuals. He begins with a brief review of the beginning of the slave trade as European Americans recognized the need for cheap labor in the Americas. The author includes a story of one African brought to the U.S. as a slave, kept in slavery for 40 years, then was able to return to Africa. The development of the plantation society is described which necessitated a large labor force to raise one main crop for income and complete other work needed for life on a large estate. One chapter describes the inhumane strategies slave owners used to exercise complete control over slaves and make them dependent on their “masters,” as well as slave resistance to slavery. The author also explores the contradictions in the ideals of the American Revolution and slavery, provides a profile of one free Black (James Forten) living during the Revolutionary era, the place of slavery in the Constitution, different slave rebellions, and the struggle of one couple to escape from slavery. As a way to understand the Civil War, the author describes laws regarding slavery, the growing abolitionist movement, the secession of southern states from the Union, and significant activities of the Civil War itself. Following the Civil War, African Americans still had to struggle for survival and move toward greater equality. Court cases and the accomplishments of African American individuals bring readers up to the final chapter, which focuses on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the modern Civil Rights Movement.


Pinkney, A. D. (2001). Dear Mr. President Abraham Lincoln: Letters from a slave girl. New York: Winslow.


Upper elementary, middle school level. The text is letters exchanged between President Abraham Lincoln and Lettie Tucker, a young slave girl living on a plantation in Charleston, South Carolina from 1861-1863. The letters are fictional, but are based on research. Although it was illegal for slaves to learn to read and write, many did develop literacy and were courageous enough to write to the president. The author portrays Lettie as an intelligent, thoughtful, bold 12-year-old girl. She was very aware of her status as property of her owner, that slave families were usually sold away from each other, and the relentless work slave owners demanded of their slaves. Lettie asked Lincoln to free the slaves even though her father accused Lincoln of being more concerned about keeping the Union together than ending slavery. Lincoln’s letters revealed his contradictory views on slavery while Lettie’s letters disclosed the great joy among slaves when they learned of Lincoln’s decision to end slavery in the Confederate states.

Polacco, P. (1994). Pink and say. New York: Philomel.


Picture book, upper elementary level. This book is based on a story passed orally from one generation to another until the author created this text. Say was Polacco's great great grandfather and the story takes place when he was a youth from Ohio fighting on the Union's side in the Civil War. Say was wounded and lying in a Georgia field when he was found by Pink, a young African American Union soldier. Say took him home to his mother to care for on the deserted, burned plantation. Say described the harshness of slavery for Pink and the importance of fighting the war to end it. When Confederate marauders came by, Pink and Say hid, but Pink's mother was killed. Later both Pink and Say were captured by Confederate soldiers and taken to prison. Pink was hanged in prison whereas Say lived to tell the story.

Polcovar, J. (1988). What was it like? Harriet Tubman. Stamford, CT: Longmeadow.


Upper elementary level. The text is a biography of Harriet Tubman and she is the narrator of highlights of her life. The book portrays briefly the physical cruelty she endured as a slave, the physical strength she developed, and her escape from slavery along the Underground Railroad. It also reveals how Harriet Tubman became a conductor on the Underground Railroad and her bravery in helping slaves escape along its route. Harriet Tubman explains the route she took after the Fugitive Slave Law was passed which necessitated slaves going to Canada and ways she helped inform slaves of their freedom during the Civil War. One valuable aspect of the book is the explanation of the meaning of singing to slaves as they worked in the fields.

Shura, M. F. (1991). Gentle Annie: The true story of a Civil War nurse. New York: Scholastic.


Chapter book, upper elementary/middle school level. The text is a fictionalized biography based on a real person, Anna B. Etheridge who provides a northern perspective on the Civil War. The author completed research from soldiers’ journals and newspaper accounts of a Civil War nurse named Annie Etheridge from Michigan, who nursed Union soldiers. The author found eyewitness accounts of Annie’s participation on the front line of almost every major battle from Blackburn’s Ford in 1861 through Petersburg’s in 1865. She attended to wounded soldiers on the front lines, in hospital tents, and on boats as part of the Hospital Transport Service. She also nursed soldiers who were ill with malaria. Annie’s descriptions of battles and wounded and dying soldiers reveal the great human costs and tragedies of war. Although Annie admires President Lincoln and his attention to wounded Union soldiers and the leadership skills of several Union officers, she grieves the loss of life and maiming of healthy soldiers.

Stotts, S. (2010). Lucius Fairchild: Civil War hero. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.


Upper elementary/middle school level. The author describes the life of Lucius Fairchild who became well known in Wisconsin for his leadership in the Civil War leading to his political leadership during three terms as governor of Wisconsin. As a young man Lucius Fairchild traveled from Wisconsin to California to mine gold, but instead made money by selling beef to miners. When the Civil War began, he volunteered to serve and eventually became a colonel in the army. He was respected by his men who fought bravely and became part of the Iron Brigade who fought in many important Civil War battles, including Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Antietam, and Gettysburg. Lucius Fairchild was wounded and lost his arm at Gettysburg, but he grieved over the loss of most of his men. As governor, he gave African Americans the right to vote in Wisconsin and dealt with the questions of the future of freed slaves and southern states. During his second term, he supported more money for education, helped children who were orphaned by the Civil War, and improved transportation while his third term was focused on helping people recover and rebuild from the huge Peshtigo Fire in 1871.

Walter, M. P. (2004). Alec’s primer. Middlebury, VT: Vermont Folklife Center.


Picture book, elementary level. The text is based on the childhood of Alec Turner who was born a slave in 1845 in Virginia and eventually moved to Vermont as a free man. His story and the history of the Turner family were shared by one of Alec’s daughters with the Vermont Folklife Center. As a child Alec was forced to work hard as a slave, but his mistress’ granddaughter Miss Zephie defied the law and her grandmother and taught Alec to read. During the Civil War, Alec ran away from his plantation and joined the Union army. The text illustrates the power of literacy and the courage of slaves and slave owners to defy legal barriers to reading as a step toward freedom for enslaved people.

Weber, J. L. (2010). Summer’s bloodiest days: The Battle of Gettysburg as told from all sides. Washington DC: National Geographic.


Chapter book illustrated by drawings and photographs, upper elementary and middle school level. The author reviews the purposes of the Civil War according to Lincoln: to live up to statement of equality in the Declaration of Independence, free the slaves, and preserve the union. The chapters focus on events leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg as well as details of the three-day battle and the aftermath She includes quotes from Union and Confederate military leaders, their intentions and actions, descriptions of the conditions of Union and Confederate soldiers, and details and outcomes of each day of battle. Although General Lee of the Confederacy was considered a victor for the first day of battle, he lost 6,500 soldiers (wounded, killed, or taken prisoner) while 9,000 Union soldiers were lost on the first day. The second day was a draw for the Union and Confederacy with each side losing about 9,000 soldiers. The last day was a Union victory with Lee admitting he made an error in leading a charge against the Union soldiers. Overall, 23,000 Union and 28,000 Confederate soldiers had been killed, wounded, or captured and Lee would never be able to go on the offensive again nor invade the North on a large scale. The battle did not end the Civil War, but Gettysburg was considered a turning point in the war. The text also includes a time line of the Civil War, recommended web sites for additional research, and a list of resources used in the text and the sources for quotations.

Children’s Periodicals

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (1995, October). Ulysses S. Grant. Cobblestone, 16.


Elementary level. The articles elaborate on Grant’s love of horses and his reluctant entrance into West Point; his early financial problems and closeness to his wife and children; Grant’s uneven, but growing victories as a military leader during the Civil War leading to his becoming the most successful Union general and promoted to general in chief of all Union armies; and his ability to remain cool in battle, rally his men, plan strategy, fight aggressively, and not underestimate the enemy. Additional articles summarize other significant Union officers; Grant’s popularity after the war helped him become president, but his misjudgments marred his presidency; and his final efforts to write his memoirs.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (1997, October). The battle of Antietam: September 17, 1862.      Cobblestone, 18.


Elementary level. The articles explain what led to the battle of Antietam and the main events of the battle, which lasted only one day, but is now considered the bloodiest one-day battle in American history with more than 23,000 to 36,000 (numbers vary in the articles) soldiers dead and thousands more wounded or missing and is considered a turning point in the war in favor of the North with most remaining battles fought in the South. Additional articles profile the Union and Confederate generals of the battle, the reporter and photographer who captured the battle in words and pictures, the efforts of volunteer Clara Barton to take care of wounded and hungry soldiers during the battle, the artillery or canons used in the battle, and efforts to deal with the dead and wounded after the battle.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (1998, December). The battle of Vicksburg. Cobblestone, 19.


Elementary level. Articles explain the importance of Vicksburg, one of the last Confederate-controlled cities along the Mississippi River, in the Civil War; the final strategy Grant and other Union officers used to capture Vicksburg; and details of the siege of Vicksburg which led to food shortages, destruction of homes, and Vicksburg citizens’ use of caves for shelter. Additional articles describe the different ranks of Civil War soldiers, although many officers from both the North and South graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; the story of a young woman from Illinois who disguised herself as a man, served in the Union army at Vicksburg, and kept her identity a secret for almost 50 years; and the contributions of boys from the North and South who fought as soldiers or served as drummers or messengers.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (2005, February). Women in the Civil War. Cobblestone, 26.


Elementary level. Articles focus on descriptions of women who served as nurses, secret soldiers, spies, and volunteers for the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. One article concentrates on Mary Todd Lincoln and Varina Howell Davis, first ladies of the Union and Confederacy, during the war while another article portrays a young female Civil War reenactor who explains children’s lives to audiences during this period.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (2008, February). Art and the Civil War. Cobblestone, 29.


Elementary level. The articles focus on the depiction of the Civil War in artist sketches published in weeklies (part newspapers and part magazines published during the Civil War); artists who became cartographers and created maps for army officers to use to prepare for battle; Matthew Brady’s and his assistants’ photographs of soldiers and the aftermaths of battle scenes; landscape paintings of battles, camp life, and generals; and a cyclorama or a 360-degree huge painting of the battle of Gettysburg. One of the most interesting articles encourages readers to analyze the artists’ intentions and messages in their Civil War paintings. Women and men sculptors of the

Civil War time period are also portrayed.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (2008, October). Lincoln: With malice toward none. Cobblestone, 29.


Elementary level. The articles briefly describe Lincoln’s childhood and the first public offices he held. A main focus of the remaining articles is Lincoln’s experiences as president during the Civil War. The articles clarify important events of the war, including main battles, his relationship with Union generals, the thoughtful decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, the legal authority Lincoln had for freeing slaves in the Confederate states, but not the Union, and the effects of this action on the Confederacy and the Union. Readers also learn about Lincoln’s unusual strategy to bring together political rivals to serve in his Cabinet and significant outcomes of Lincoln’s presidency, such as the establishment of land grant colleges, passage of the Homestead Act, and completion of the new dome on the Capitol building. Articles inform readers about Mary Todd Lincoln, their sons, Lincoln’s plans to offer amnesty to the South, and reasons for his assassination.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (2009, January). The West and the Civil War. Cobblestone, 30.


Elementary level. The articles focus on the importance of the West in the Civil War, including reasons for its occurrence, battles fought there, turning points of the war in the West, and Native people’s participation in the war. In 1860, the West is considered everything west of the Appalachian Mountains. The issue of the spread of slavery in the West was one of the precipitating reasons for the Civil War. Southerners who supported slavery were concerned that without the growth of slavery in the West, free states would take control of the government and end slavery in all states. The importance of the Mississippi River during the Civil War is also emphasized since the river transported troops and supplies. The Union victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi on the Mississippi River meant that the Union could control the country’s major north-south waterway and split the Confederate states of Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas from the rest of the southern states. This was a turning point in the war in favor of the Union. An estimated 20,000 Native Americans served in the Civil War, two-thirds of whom fought for the Confederacy primarily in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). As a result, Native people lost land and people due to the struggle. Following the Civil War, U.S. troops concentrated on containing and controlling the Native nations on the plains to allow for settlers and miners to move onto and through Native lands, which resulted in many battles and deaths for Native people as well as their movement to reservations.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (2010, February). Gettysburg: Civil War turning point. Cobblestone, 31.


Elementary level. Articles describe the geographical landscape, leaders, and events of the three-day Battle of Gettysburg and why it was important to the Civil War. Although only about 8,000 soldiers, both Confederate and Union, died on the battlefield, a total of 51,000 were lost primarily due to infections from their wounds. Forty percent of the Confederate army ultimately became casualties. At this time, soldiers with serious wounds often had their arms or legs amputated. Articles also describe how the war was documented in newspapers, photographs, and paintings. The final article describes recent efforts to restore the battlefield and features of the new museum and visitor center at Gettysburg.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (2011, February). 1863: A year in the Civil War. Cobblestone, 32.


Elementary level. Articles describe Lincoln’s intention behind the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves only in the Confederate states, and his brief, but inspiring speech to commemorate the national cemetery at Gettysburg. Most articles focus on major battles and military leaders of the Civil War, describing military strategies, successes, and losses. One article portrays the notable 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the first all-Black unit recruited in the North. The unit demonstrated great courage and skill in attackingt Fort Wagner, even though the Union was unable to take it. The Black unit’s exceptional performance challenged the racist view that African Americans were not capable of serving as soldiers.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (2011, October). 1861: A year in the Civil War. Cobblestone, 32.


Elementary level. The opening article summarizes the different positions on slavery in the 1860 presidential election, including Lincoln’s promise that he would not bother slavery where it existed, but would stop it from spreading it to new territories. Excerpts from Lincoln’s inaugural address reveal his position on slavery and his opposition to secession from the Union; however, 11 states seceded between December, 1860 and June, 1861. One article describes the beginning of the war with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, which was held by Union soldiers who quickly surrendered. Other articles describe the importance of the Union blockade of the southern ports, the significance of railroad transportation to move supplies and troops for both the North and the South, and Congress’s efforts to fund the war by increasing tariffs on imported goods, taxing land, and taxing income. The first major battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Bull Run in July, 1861, was won by the Confederacy which led the Union to conclude the war would be longer and more expensive than originally predicted. Women’s contributions to the war as nurses and spies are briefly acknowledged in this issue.

Chorlian, M. (Ed.). (2014, January). 1864: A year in the Civil War. Cobblestone, 35. 


Elementary level. The opening article explains the changes in the U.S. as a result of three years of the Civil War. Such changes included the loss of power for southern states, the end of slavery and loss of wealth in the South, the end of the idea of small government allowing states’ rights, the increase in federal government’s power, the loss of life from both the South and the North, and the increase in economic production in the North. Many of the articles describe important battles in 1864 and the Union’s change in approach from isolated battles to a more coordinated effort under General Grant to weaken and destroy the largest Confederate armies and the economic centers that supplied these armies. The Union’s successes on the battlefield in 1864 also allowed Lincoln to be re-elected in the fall, allowing him to push for passage of the 13th amendment outlawing slavery.

Nankin, F. (Ed.). (1981, April). Highlights of the Civil War: 1861-1865. Cobblestone, 2.


Elementary level. Articles portray photography Matthew Brady who put teams of photographers into the field to photograph Civil War battles and the destruction they caused; the important contributions women like Mary Ann Bickerdyke made in caring for ill or wounded soldiers, the activities of Rose Greenhow, a Confederate spy, to gather information on Union troops and share it with the Confederacy; how an eagle, Old Abe, became a mascot for a Wisconsin regiment serving with the Union, one family’s story of the destruction which Union General Sherman caused when he marched through Georgia; a short description of the main Union and Confederate officers; and a balloonist who became a spy for the Union.

Yoder, C. P. (Ed.). (1993, September). Robert E. Lee. Cobblestone, 14.


Elementary level. The articles praise the accomplishments of Lee, from his early years living in Virginia, his graduation second in his class from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, his early years of military service, Lincoln’s request that he command the Union forces at the beginning of the Civil War, Lee’s decision not to fight against his home state of Virginia, to his becoming “the greatest Confederate military hero of the war.” Articles summarize Lee’s military accomplishments during the Civil War, his dignity in surrender to Grant, the transformation of the Lee family home into Arlington National Cemetery, and his successes as president of Washington College, which became Washington and Lee University.

Yoder, C. P. (Ed.). (1994, May). Abraham Lincoln. Cobblestone, 15.


Elementary level. Articles describe Lincoln’s early years; his marriage to Mary Todd Lincoln and the death of two of their sons; his opposition to the spread of slavery through the Kansas-Nebraska Act which allowed the settlers of those territories to decide if they would be slave or free; a play depicting the debates between presidential candidates Lincoln and Stephen Douglas; and the many challenges of the Civil War, including coping with Union defeats in battle, finding the right Union generals, dealing with antiwar northerners, instituting the first military draft in which wealthy men could buy their way out of service, and deciding to run for re-election in 1864 despite his low popularity. One of the most interesting articles, “The ‘Great Emancipator,’” clarifies why Lincoln waited so long to issue the Emancipation Proclamation two years after the war began, which freed slaves only in the Confederate states. The remaining articles briefly describe Lincoln’s sense of humor, the Lincoln sons, and the reasons behind John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Lincoln.

Adult Books


Keckley, E. (2013). Behind the scenes, or thirty years a slave, and four years in the White House. New York: G. W. Carleton & Company.


Adult resource. The author, Elizabeth Keckley, was born a slave in Virginia, but eventually became Mary Todd Lincoln’s personal dressmaker and friend while Mrs. Lincoln was in the White House and in years following. Her slave duties began at the age of four when she was expected to care for her master’s baby girl. Keckley learned dressmaking skills from her mother, who created all the clothing for the master’s family of 12, in addition to all the slaves. Keckley began a dressmaking business in St. Louis to support her mother and the master’s family who had severe economic struggles. Keckley, with loans from many friends in St. Louis, was able to purchase her freedom and that of her son. In 1860, Keckley moved to Washington DC where she made dresses for Mrs. Jefferson Davis, and then Mrs. Lincoln. From Keckley’s descriptions of her interactions with Mrs. Lincoln, readers learn that the Lincolns have little money to spend on elaborate dresses and expect Mrs. Keckley to have reasonable prices. Readers also learn of the Lincolns’ need to be frugal during the Civil War and limit their entertainment to public receptions rather than state dinners; their deep grief over the death of their son Willie and Mrs. Lincoln’s lingering grief; the sadness that the war brought to President Lincoln; their great reluctance to allow their son Robert to join the union army; Mrs. Lincoln’s frank opinions of cabinet members, politicians, generals, and Southern views; her strong desire that President Lincoln be re-elected; and the secret debts she incurred in order to dress in the expensive clothes she believed necessary for her role, of which President Lincoln was not aware. The closeness between Mrs. Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley was also documented in Mrs. Lincoln’s request that Keckley be with her following President Lincoln’s assassination, and Mrs. Lincoln’s refusal to see anyone but her children and Keckley during the President’s lying in state, his funeral, and burial in Springfield, Illinois. The years following President Lincoln’s assassination were filled with Mary Todd Lincoln’s efforts to pay off her debts and find enough money to live. She asked for Keckley’s help in selling some of her clothing and jewelry, which was extremely difficult. The closing of the book depicts Mary Todd Lincoln as despondent over her economic struggles, but continuously reaching out to Elizabeth Keckley for assistance and friendship.

Annotated bibliography list