Film has been used to tell historical stories since its invention. From Birth of a Nation to the present, Hollywood has been telling stories of Civil War history. These films are important not just for their historical content, but also for what they tell us about the era in which they were produced. Below is a list of films and documentaries that containing significant Civil War era content. Please click on the posters to see a short overview of each film, as well as its historical context and cultural significance. You’ll also find a list of books, articles and films reviews if you want to learn more about the subject of each film. If you don’t see a film or documentary please let us know and we will try to add it to our list.
This site was originally created by Emily Wild, a History MA student and VCCWS graduate assistant who graduated in 2019. Editing and page development by Katelyn Brown.
A screenshot from the Civil War film “Glory.”
Brian Willis, Gone with the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).
Bruce Chadwick, The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film (New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009).
Jenny Barrett, Shooting the Civil War: Cinema, History, and American National Identity (New York: IB Tauris, 2009).
Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr. and Randall Allred, The Civil War in Popular Culture: Memory and Meaning (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2013).
Gary Gallagher, Causes Won, Lost and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know About the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008).
William Davis, The Cause Lost: Myths and Realities of the Confederacy (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996).
Tom Foley, “Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: The Civil War Era,” Journal of the Civil War Era, May 23, 2016.
Kevin Levin, “Teaching Civil War Mobilization With Film,” OAH Magazine of History, 26, no.2 (April 2012): 33-36.
Stephen Dalton, “Critics Picks: The 10 Best Civil War Films,” The Hollywood Reporter, June 23, 2016.