Paul Semmes to Emily Semmes, July 9, 1863. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Letters and documents recount the secession crisis and the American Civil War through general orders, orderly books, recruitment broadsides, maps, photographs, newspapers, and the journals, official dispatches, and personal letters of military commanders, politicians, soldiers, and civilians. This archive includes letters and diaries written by statesmen, soldiers, and civilians that provide unique perspectives on virtually every aspect of the Civil War including battles, life on the home front, Lee’s surrender, Lincoln’s assassination, and prisoner-of-war experiences. Thousands of soldiers’ letters and diaries, most of them unpublished, capture the experience of the common soldier and his family in great detail.

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Educational materials including essays, timelines, multimedia, interactives, featured primary sources, and other teaching resources can be found in the History by Era section of our website. Our Featured Primary Sources include introductions, transcriptions, and images of documents, available to all educators, with additional content of questions for discussion and printable hand-outs for Affiliate School members.

Civil War & Reconstruction, 1861–1877

Common Core Units for this Era

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