Beaufort County library offers access to a wealth of books, databases on the Civil War

info@islandpacket.comOctober 13, 2013 

"Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief" by James McPherson

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The American Civil War (1861 - 1865) was a seminal event in our country's history, and estimates are that 50,000 books and pamphlets have been published on the subject. An abundance of resources can be found on the Internet as well.

Your Beaufort County Library provides access to many resources on the Civil War:

  • Did you know that the official war records of the United States refer to the 1861-1865 conflict as the "War of the Rebellion"? The Bluffton library has a 120-volume collection entitled "The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies," published by the United States War Department.

  • Shelby Foote and James McPherson are two well-known and respected historians on the Civil War. Perhaps Foote's most well-known work is the three-volume set, "A Civil War Narrative" with volume one, Fort Sumter to Perryville; volume 2, Fredericksburg to Meridian; and volume three, Red River to Appomattox.

  • "Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief" is just one of McPherson's many excellent contributions.

  • "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion" by Allen Guelzo has recently been published for the 150th anniversary of the battle.

  • For enthusiasts of South Carolina history, there is much to offer. "The Civil War in South Carolina," edited by Lawrence Rowland and Stephen Hoffius, is highly recommended, as is "Department of the South: Hilton Head Island in the Civil War" by Robert Car. Other worthwhile reads include "America's Longest Siege: Charleston, Slavery, and the Slow March Toward Civil War" by Joseph Kelly and "Lift Up Thy Voice: the Grimke Family's Journey from Slaveholders to Civil Rights Leaders" by Mark Perry.

    From the perspective of African-Americans, the Civil War had a very different meaning. Slavery was the issue. Notable books on the African-American experience include:

  • "The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves" by Andrew Ward, and "Nineteenth Century Freedom Fighters: The 1st South Carolina Volunteers" by Bennie J. McRae, Jr., Curtis M. Miller, and Cheryl Trowbridge-Miller.

  • If you saw the movie "Glory," you will be familiar with the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. Check out the library's selection on this topic.

  • Robert Smalls was a slave and later became a Gullah statesman. In 1861, he steered a Confederate vessel into Union hands. Read about it in "Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls" by Dorothy Sterling.

  • The following resources are available through the library's databases; a reference librarian will gladly show you how to access them.

  • Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers ( is a searchable database of American and South Carolina newspapers, from 1836-1922.

  • The History Reference Center can be used to access scholarly articles on topics such as Fort Sumter, Emancipation Proclamation, and the Freedmen's Bureau, to name a few.

  • For those interested in genealogy, we have Library Edition. This database will allow you to search Civil War veterans through the U.S. Civil War Pension Index, U.S. Civil War soldiers 1861-1865, and U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records. Library Edition is available only in the library.

  • An excellent website to visit is American Civil War Homepage from the University of Tennessee, This site "gathers in one place hypertext links to the most useful identified electronic files about the American Civil War (1861-1865)."

  • Bratton DeLoach is the reference librarian at the Bluffton library.

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