Online Primary Sources for American History: Civil War Personal Narratives

Scattered throughout various sites pertaining to the Civil War, one can find personal letters and reminiscences by participants on both sides. A simple search through HathiTrust turns up over 1000 titles for both the Confederate and Union sides. But there are other multi-volume sources that might be missed, depending on one’s search strategy. Herewith are some excellent sites. The Military Order of the Loyal Legions of the United States (MOLLUS), was founded in 1865 and was composed of Union veterans. Between 1887 and 1915 a 70-volume War Papers series  (index here) was published under its auspices containing hundreds of first-hand accounts of Union soldiers and sailors. Almost 50% of the above volumes are available at the MOLLUS site with selected excerpts from other tomes. Additional publications from the various states are found here; you can also look at minutes of annual meetings as well. The Confederate side is represented by two series: Confederate Veteran and the Southern Historical Society Papers. The  former title is comprised of 40 volumes published between 1893 and 1932; the first 30 volumes are accessible online. A personal name index is available. The latter title was published in 52 volumes between 1876 and 1943; the first 41 volumes are accessible along with an author/subject index for the first 38 volumes. Altogether, these three series provide thousands of eyewitness accounts from both sides of the struggle. Well worth the time.

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