Civil War Special Forces
The Elite and Distinct Fighting Units of the Union and Confederate Armies
by Robert P. Broadwater
August 2014, 285pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3057-0
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3058-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Technologies that emerged during the Civil War changed the way wars were fought.

This timely addition to Civil War history shares the stories of 25 unique military organizations, showing how past and future collided in the first modern war.

The Civil War, of course, pitted North against South. It also pitted ancient ways of war against new, technology-inspired weaponry and tactics. In surveying the war’s elite fighting units, this work covers both. The book showcases novel weapons and unorthodox strategies, including machine gunners, rocket battalions, chemical corps, the Union balloon corps, and the Confederate submarine service, all of which harnessed new technologies and were forerunners of the modern military. Chapters also cover archaic special forces, such as lancers and pikers, that had their last hurrah during this transformational conflict.

Readers will also meet the fighting youth of the North Carolina Junior Reserves, the “Graybeards” of North Carolina, and the female combatants of the Nancy Harts Militia of Georgia. Going where few other studies have gone, the book fills a gap in existing Civil War literature and brings to life the stories of many of the most extraordinary units that ever served in an American army. The tales it tells will prove fascinating to Civil War and weapons buffs and to general readers alike.


  • Covers all of the varied and unique units that emerged during the Civil War, including machine gunners, submariners, and others made possible by advances related to the Industrial Revolution
  • Examines what happened when archaic military units met new and innovative units that saw their first service in this game-changing conflict
  • Shares the histories of African American and Native American units and of women and children who fought
  • Connects past and future and provides insights into how the application of new technologies during the Civil War impacted warfare for future generations
Robert P. Broadwater is an independent scholar and historian. He has authored or contributed to more than 30 books on the American Revolution and the Civil War, including ABC-CLIO's William T. Sherman: A Biography and Ulysses S. Grant: A Biography.


"Summing Up: Recommended. General and academic collections."—Choice, March 1, 2015
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