This week marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. Growing up I was a history buff - European History. The Civil War never held my interest and seemed remote growing up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The extent of my knowledge was what I gleened from reading Gone with the Wind and later seeing the movie.
Civil War Research
During the course of my research I found that Chuck's family had multiple soldiers that fought in the Civil War. Their pension files and their widow's pension requests have given me a motherlode of information. I have found affidavits outlining marriages and divorces, unknown first wives and copies of certificates for marriages I never knew existed!
The pension files and war records have guided me to read about battles they fought and where some were held as prisoners. I have read about their injuries and how it affected their lives after the war. It took over forty years, but I am finally doing the required reading from my high school American history class!
Helpful Research Sites:
Civil War Cooking
Civil War Soldiers and Sailor System
Civil War Diaries (Michigan and Midwest Soldiers)
Civil War biographies, chronologies, recipes and more
Civil War Interactive
Civil War Battles
Civil War - Alternative Research
Pension files, war records and such can be a bit dry. That is when some vintage movies and mini series can help round out the Civil War. While Gone with the Wind, The Blue and the Gray, North and South and Glory may not be documentaries but they can help you visualize the period, the agony of families divided and the loss of life.
Check out Netflix, Amazon or your local Red Box and watch some of the many movies about the Civil War. Be sure to include the kids and explain which of their ancestors may have fought or lived during this time period. It may be just the hook to get them interested in genealogy!