Americans Remember Their Civil War

by Barbara A. Gannon


The Civil War was one of the most divisive, dramatic, and deadly events in the course of American history. Not surprisingly, the ways in which this conflict is remembered and commemorated vary widely.

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Cover image for Americans Remember Their Civil War

July 2017


Pages 170
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics American History/Conflict

This book provides readers with an overview of how Americans have commemorated and remembered the Civil War.

Most Americans are aware of statues or other outdoor art dedicated to the memory of the Civil War. Indeed, the erection of Civil War monuments permanently changed the landscape of U.S. public parks and cemeteries by the turn of the century. But monuments are only one way that the Civil War is memorialized.

This book describes the different ways in which Americans have publicly remembered their Civil War, from the immediate postwar era to the early 21st century. Each chapter covers a specific historical period. Within each chapter, the author highlights important individuals, groups, and social factors, helping readers to understand the process of memory. The author further notes the conflicting tensions between disparate groups as they sought to commemorate "their" war. A final chapter examines the present-day memory of the war and current debates and controversies.


  • Presents events related to the commemoration of public memory of the Civil War chronologically, from 1865 to the present
  • Illustrated with photographs of monuments, individuals, and events related to commemoration activities, as well as selected political cartoons related to Civil War memory from popular publications
  • Bibliography includes both primary and secondary sources on the subject of Civil War memory


  • Provides readers with a broad overview of an extremely popular topic in Civil War history in an easy-to-read, narrative form
  • Summarizes the most recent scholarship on the subject into one volume
  • Provides both in-depth critical analyses and clear summaries of the key themes
  • The role of memory in shaping historical consciousness is a timely scholarly topic
Author Info

Barbara A. Gannon is associate professor of history, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL. She is the author of The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic, winner of the Wiley-Silver Prize for the best first book on the Civil War.



"A comprehensively compiled, clearly written, annotated bibliography that explores the evolution of our memory of [the Civil War] that helps answer the prescient question, 'Why do Americans remember it differently?'" Civil War Times

"A very valuable and digestible introduction to Civil War historiography specifically and a tremendous demonstration of historiography generally. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."Choice


"Barbara Gannon has provided a tremendously wide-ranging and insightful roadmap for the complicated terrain of Civil War remembrance. Using an extensive body of material—including the memories of Civil War participants, scholars, and representations in popular culture—Gannon convincingly demonstrates how much contemporary concerns, our continuing history of warfare above all else, have shaped our memories of the Civil War."—Nina Silber, Professor of History & American Studies, Boston University

"An invaluable resource for students, teachers, and researchers wading into this complex field, Gannon's Americans Remember Their Civil War provides a comprehensive overview of scholarship on Civil War memory. Drawing a crucial distinction between collective and historical memory, the book brims with insights into how our memories of the past fulfill present-day needs."—Elizabeth R. Varon, Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History, University of Virginia

"Yet again, Barbara A. Gannon has led us to rethink Americans' notions about race, war, and memory. Tracing the Civil War's influence from Appomattox to the 2015 Charleston shooting, this important book provides a keen insight into how each generation has refracted the nation's bloodiest war through their own interests and experiences. Artfully combining history and historiography, Americans Remember Their Civil War reveals much about what both divides and binds us together as a nation."—Caroline E. Janney, Professor of History, Purdue University, and Author of Remembering the Civil War

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