American Civil War

The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection

by Spencer C. Tucker, Editor


More than 618,000 Americans died during the Civil War.

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Cover image for American Civil War

September 2013


Pages 2777
Volumes 6
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Military History/Conflict and Wars
  • Award Winner!




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This expansive, multivolume reference work provides a broad, multidisciplinary examination of the Civil War period ranging from pre-Civil War developments and catalysts such as the Mexican-American War to the rebuilding of the war-torn nation during Reconstruction.

The Civil War was undoubtedly the most important and seminal event in 19th-century American history. Students who understand the Civil War have a better grasp of the central dilemmas in the American historical narrative: states rights versus federalism, freedom versus slavery, the role of the military establishment, the extent of presidential powers, and individual rights versus collective rights. Many of these dilemmas continue to shape modern society and politics. This comprehensive work facilitates both detailed reading and quick referencing for readers from the high school level to senior scholars in the field.

The exhaustive coverage of this encyclopedia includes all significant battles and skirmishes; important figures, both civilian and military; weapons; government relations with Native Americans; and a plethora of social, political, cultural, military, and economic developments. The entries also address the many events that led to the conflict, the international diplomacy of the war, the rise of the Republican Party and the growing crisis and stalemate in American politics, slavery and its impact on the nation as a whole, the secession crisis, the emergence of the "total war" concept, and the complex challenges of the aftermath of the conflict.


  • Supplies detailed analyses of key battles, both land and sea, as well as descriptions of critical weapons used in the Civil War
  • Provides in-depth information about the cultural, social, political, and economic issues of the Civil War
  • Includes complete coverage of Native Americans and their role in the conflict
Author Info

Spencer C. Tucker, PhD, has been senior fellow in military history at ABC-CLIO since 2003. He is author or editor of more than 40 books and encyclopedias, many of which have won prestigious awards. He held the John Biggs Chair in Military History at the Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, VA, for six years before retiring from teaching in 2003; before that, he was professor of history at Texas Christian University for 30 years. His recently published works include The Encyclopedia of the War of 1812: A Political, Social, and Military History; The Encyclopedia of the Mexican-American War: A Political, Social, and Military History; and Almanac of American Military History, all published by ABC-CLIO.



"This is probably the finest reference source on the American Civil War. It is comprehensive and provides access to many primary source materials for students and users, along with the source of the documents so a user can access the original document, should they desire to do so. . . . [F]or now American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection stands at the forefront of sources to consult for those who wish to study the conflict."Reference Reviews

"This comprehensive encyclopedia is a must for high school, public library, and undergraduate library collections supporting students who need concise entries on the Civil War. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers."Choice

"Civil War aficionados will delight in this well-researched and well-organized encyclopedia. . . . The text is broad and comprehensive. . . . Give this set very serious consideration."School Library Journal, Starred Review

"The writing is consistently of high quality; cross-referencing is a breeze with the multitude of "see also" terms at the end of each entry. . . . With these wide-ranging, exhaustively researched volumes, Tucker has accomplished for the American Civil War what he has previously achieved for many other conflicts, from Korea to the Cold War. An excellent resource for school research projects and anyone with an interest in Civil War history."Library Journal, Starred Review

"This is another in a series of encyclopedias on major wars published by ABC-CLIO and edited by Spencer Tucker, and a fine addition it is. It is rich in features. . . . This encyclopedia is not only an excellent reference source for secondary and undergraduate students and the general reader but its many special features make it a useful starting point for advanced researchers. It is highly recommended for public and academic libraries."ARBA

"This remarkably thorough yet easy-to-digest encyclopedia is highly recommended for high school, public, and academic libraries."Booklist, Starred Review


2013 Top of the List Winner in Reference — Booklist

2014 RUSA Outstanding Reference Source — RUSA/ALA

2014 Distinguished Book Award—Best Reference — ABA Banking Journal

2013 Distinguished Writing Award — Army Historical Foundation

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