The American Civil War: A Handbook of Literature and Research

By Robin Higham; Steven E. Woodworth | Go to book overview

2 General Reference Works

Daniel E. Sutherland

Several categories of work fall under the rubric of general reference, but this chapter organizes the most important contributions to the literature under five broad headings: biographical directories, dictionaries and encyclopedias, compendiums, almanacs, and battlefield guides. Some of the works assigned to these categories may be discussed under other headings elsewhere in this book, but this chapter will concentrate on their usefulness as general reference tools. Even the most casual researcher will find some of these works indispensable.


BIOGRAPHICAL DIRECTORIES

Most basic are the biographical directories, which are heavily slanted toward the Confederacy. Ezra J. Warner's two volumes on Union and Confederate generals, Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders ( 1959) and Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders ( 1964), remain the handiest references for their subjects. Each sketch is brief, averaging roughly 250 words in the Confederate volume and 400 words for the Union, but they include all 425 Confederates and all 583 Federals who received appointments as general officers from Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln, respectively. Each entry is accompanied by a photograph of the subject. The sketches are supplemented by excellent introductions that explain the appointment process in both armies and provide composite information about average occupations, age, and wartime casualties. Both books contain bibliographies, although the one for the Confederacy is more detailed, including all known biographies of the subjects.

In some important ways, Warner's Confederate volume, while still useful, has

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