As the country prepares to commemorate the 150 anniversary of the American Civil War, interest in the politics, battles, and personalities of the War is on the rise. A simple Yahoo! keyword search for ‘Civil War’ results in more than 5 million results. Included in these results are unrelated, poorly designed, personal opinion and a few purely academic sites intended for degree candidates and research assistants. Weeding out the good from the bad can be a daunting and not altogether satisfying task but for those willing to dig, there are a number of excellent websites available.
The Weider History Group publishes eleven history magazines including America’s Civil War and Civil War Times. Articles appearing in these publications as well as several of the Group’s other titles are available on their websites. Topics include everything from the political issues of the times to battlefield tactics to soldiers’ letters home, each with accompanying photography or illustrations. Neither subscription nor registration is required to access the content on History.net . Podcasts and a popular community forum are also on the site.
The Civil War Preservation Trust is a non-profit that works to safeguard Civil War battlefields and keep the interest in our common heritage alive. The organization’s content and graphically rich website, civilwar.org, includes articles from their magazine, Hallowed Ground, materials for educators, book recommendations, maps and an extensive battlefields database. The CWPT is currently working to prevent unalterable loss of land and heritage at nine battlefields in five states. Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania and The Wilderness battlefield in Virginia where Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was killed are among those considered at risk.
In observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Washington Post developed a section in the Arts & Living section of their website for continuing coverage of Civil War news. Reports of current events regarding the conflict, commemorations, opinion pieces, and breaking news all make their way onto the pages of the special section. Although the war has been over for 145 years, new stories do present themselves. On Nov. 15, 2010, Linda Wheeler reported in the Post’s blog, A House Divided, that archeologists discovered the graves of African American Civil War veterans in a community park near the Adams Morgan neighborhood.
Billed as a Civil War newspaper, Civil War Interactive is updated each weekday with stories gathered from around the globe. The site is organized by category and tag, making it extremely search friendly. In addition to news items, CWI has biographies of combatants on both sides of the conflict, officers and men. A healthy discussion board, Civil War cooking blog, and directories of other related websites and blogs are also available on the site.
U.S. Government websites devoted to the Civil War are also an excellent source of information. The National Archives has hundreds of records, photos, articles, and exhibits related to various aspects of the War. One of the more interesting pieces on the site is “Sweltering with Treason” by Jonathan W. White that appeared in the National Archives magazine Prologue. White’s article is the story of the politics, treason, and the media and its affect on a sitting federal judge, William Matthew Merrick .
The information presented in these top American Civil War history websites is in turn thought provoking, tragic, and poignant. Whether you think of this chapter in our country’s history as the Late Unpleasantness or the War of the Rebellion, or simply the Civil War, the stories you find among the pages of these top rated websites will bring the plight of the country and her citizens into stark relief. As you march through the Shenandoah Valley with the Army of Northern Virginia or prepare for siege at Vicksburg, Mississippi with the Army of the Tennessee, the innumerable stories illustrating America’s horrific growing pains are some of history’s most riveting and most entertaining.