Civil War Book Group

After years of conflict over the institution of slavery, the Civil War would be the turning point that set the course of the United States into the 20th century and beyond. An enormous amount of literature surrounds this time in American history. Americans wrote to document their experiences, to understand the war, to memorialize lost loved ones, and to influence popular perceptions of the conflict. Join us as we explore the meaning of the Civil War and how the past has shaped who we are today through a diverse selection of narratives, novels, and histories. This program is in partnership with the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

This book club meets on first Thursdays, from 6pm-7:30pm at Chatham Manor or the Fredericksburg Branch (check meeting description for location, inclement weather aside, meetings are outside Chatham Manor through October and at the Fredericksburg Branch beginning in November).

Upcoming Meetings

January 6

Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara (New York: Ballentine Books, 1996)
Meet at Fredericksburg Library Branch (1201 Caroline St., Fredericksburg)

Jeff Shaara imagines the personalities and times of US and Confederate military leaders in his 1996 historical novel, Gods and Generals.

February 3

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Meet at Fredericksburg Library Branch (1201 Caroline St., Fredericksburg)

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was an instant bestseller in 1852 and entered the national conversation about slavery at a critical moment in history, prompting a divided reaction that would only intensify in the years leading to the Civil War.
This work is in the public domain, available in print, and online:
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe - Free Ebook (


Previous Meetings

  • December 2021, A Worse Place Than Hell by John Matteson (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2021)
    • Explore the lives of five people in John Matteson’s A Worse Place Than Hell, and discuss how these individuals’ experiences surrounding the Battle of Fredericksburg reflect a changed America born out of the Civil War.
  • November 2021, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
  • October 2021, Ambrose Bierce Short Stories: "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "Killed at Resaca," "What I Saw of Shiloh"
    • A Civil War veteran, Ambrose Bierce used his service as a soldier to write his dark and realist works. We will discuss three of his short stories - two fictional, one autobiographical, and all perfect for October reading. Available in Ambrose Bierce's Civil War (New York: Wings Books, 1996) or download the stories here: Three Stories by Ambrose Bierce (pdf).
  • September 2021, Hospital Days by Jane Woolsey
    • Public domain, available at In her superbly written memoir, Jane Woolsey recounts her experiences as a matron and nurse at a Civil War hospital.

Last updated: December 4, 2021

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