Suggested Reading List

Citizens Guard


Several years ago we started a Suggested Reading List… We have decided to revitalize this initiative. The goal is to have a sound list of reading material for anyone wanting to improve their overall first-person impression by seeing the “big picture” through the eyes of those who actually served. These books are rich in soldier stories that tell us a great deal about the attitude, deportment, uniform and equipage, and drill standards of the Civil War soldier.


While the possibilities are endless, we initially concentrate on books about the Second Wisconsin and Iron Brigade as well as some “how to soldier” books told in the words of those who were there. These books are generally in addition to the titles we include at the end of our Uniform and Equipage List.


This list will be updated as we learn of new titles. It will be included in our Newsletter, from time to time, and will be on our Web site.


We encourage all members of the company to share their ideas about this list and provide us with book titles that they have found helpful. If you have suggestions, comments or additions, you can contact Minor Palmer (aka Mike John) at


Second Wisconsin and Iron Brigade


  • Those Damned Black Hats!: The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign by our comrade Lance J. Herdegen. (2008)
  • The Iron Brigade: A Military History (Great Lakes Connections: The Civil War) by Alan T. Nolan. A must read.
  • Giants in Their Tall Black Hats: Essays on the Iron Brigade.  Edited by Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.
  • On Many a Bloody Field: Four Years in the Iron Brigade by Alan D. Gaff. A must read… From the perspective of Co. B, 19th Indiana. Available in many bookstores and through Amazon.
  • If This Is War by Alan D. Gaff. Exclusively about the forming of the unit and the first Bull Run Campaign of the Second Wisconsin.  Locally in bookstores at time and through Amazon.
  • In the Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg at Gettysburg by our very own Lance J. Herdegen.
  • An Irishman in the Iron Brigade: The Civil War Memoirs of James P. Sullivan, Sergt., Company K, 6th Wisconsin Volunteers (Irish in the Civil War (Paperback)) by William J. K. Beaudot and Lance J. Herdegen.
  • The Men Stood Like Iron: How the Iron Brigade Won Its Name by Lance J. Herdegen.
  • Brave Men’s Tears by Alan D. Gaff. Dayton:  Morningside House, 1988. 
  • A Full Blown Yankee of the Iron Brigade: Service With the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers by Rufus R. Dawes (the latest version, with notes and edited by Alan T. Nolan).
  • The Second Wisconsin Infantry by George H. Otis, edited by Alan D. Gaff. Currently out of print but copies are available at some Barnes and Noble stores (very reasonable cost) and through Amazon (used book service but can be pricey]. Dayton, OH: Morningside House, 1984. 
  • The Empty Sleeve: A Biography of Lucius Fairchild by Sam Ross. A bit hard to locate.
  • Echoes from the marches of the famous Iron Brigade 1861 - 1865: Unwritten stories of that famous organization by Cullen Bryant “Doc” Aubery of the 7th Wisconsin. Actually, about 80 percent of the book is from Cornelius Wheeler’s personal diary from the war but the book is credited to Doc Aubery because he compiled it. Gaithersburg: Ron R. Van Sickle Military Books, 1988. 
  • History of the 24th Michigan of the Iron Brigade by Orson B. Curtis.
  • The Twenty-Fourth Michigan by Donald L. Smith.
  • The 24th Wisconsin Infantry in the Civil War: The Biography of a Regiment by William J.K. Beaudot.
  • Diary of a Soldier edited by Francis D. Rowan. This book is a diary of Jonathan White, Co. H, Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry from 1862. White was wounded at the battle of Second Bull Run and moved to Minnesota after the war. It includes his military records and elaborative material on the war and his family. It’s available for $10 + $1.50 S&H through Frances D. Rowan, 463 Grove St., Bishop, CA 93514
  • History of the Sauk County Riflemmen, Known As Company "A," Sixth Wisconsin Veteran Volunteer Infantry , 1861-1865.  Gaithersburg:  Butternut Press, 1909. Hard to find but excellent.
  • Four Years with the Iron Brigade: The Civil War Journal of William Ray, Company F, Seventh Wisconsin Volunteers.  Edited by Lance Herdegen and Sherry Murphy. An excellent first person account of the forgotten details of life in the famed Huckleberry Seventh.
  • Haskell of Gettysburg: His Life and Civil War Papers.  Edited by Frank L. Byrne & Andrew T. Weaver.  A wonderful book on the letters of Frank Haskell who became a staff officer on John Gibbon's Staff from the 6th Wisconsin.
  • Personal Recollections of the Civil War by John Gibbon.  This is another great account of the war from the "Boss Soldier" of the Iron Brigade - General John Gibbon.
  • Letters Home: Henry Matrau of the Iron Brigade.  Edited by Marcia Reid-Green. A great account from one of the Calico Boys.
  • Letters from the Iron Brigade by George Washington Partridge Jr.  Edited by Hugh L. Whitehouse.
  • Private Elisha Stockwell Jr. Sees the Civil War: Company I 14th Wisconsin by Byron R. Abernethy.
  • Exploring Civil War Wisconsin: A Survival Guide for Researchers by Brett Barker.

How To Soldier Titles


  • Hardtack and Coffee or the Unwritten Story of Army Life
    by John D. Billings (and edited by Charles W. Reed). Most bookstores that carry CW titles and Amazon.
  • Soldiering: The Civil War Diary of Rice C. Bull by Rice C. Bull (K. Jack Bauer editor). Available at some bookstores and through Amazon.
  • Corporal Si Klegg and his "pard": How they lived and talked and what they did and suffered while fighting for the flag by Wilbur F. Hinman. Amazon.
  • Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union by Bell Irvin Wiley. General information, most pretty good. Amazon.
  • Company Aytch: Or, a Side Show of the Big Show and Other Sketches by Sam Watkins (edited by M. Thomas Inge). About being a southern soldier but excellent material about how they lived. Most bookstores that have any CW material and Amazon.
  • Customs of Service: for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers by August V. Kautz. This is a must read for everyone.
  • Customs of Service: for Officers of the Army by August V. Kautz.
  • The Company Clerk by August V. Kautz.
  • D. W. Baxter's Volunteer's Manual
  • United States Infantry Tactics
  • Casey's Tactics
  • George B. McClellan's Manual of Bayonet Exercise
  • Dominic J. Dal Bello's Parade, Inspection and Basic Evolutions of the Infantry Battalion, 4th Edition.
  • Dominic J. Dal Bello's Instructions for Guards & Pickets, 2nd Edition. 


Uniform and Equipage Titles


  • The Civil War Shelter Tent by Frederick C. Gaede. THE definitive work on the Shelter Tent. 134 pages loaded with illustrations. If you thought you knew something about tentage, you might want to read this first.
  • Thoughts on Men’s Shirts in America 1750-1900 by William Brown III. Excellent resource on “all things shirts.” 128 pages.
  • Civil War Cartridge Boxes of the Union Infantryman by Paul D. Johnson. Superb reference and it is available through Amazon.
  • “For Fatigue Purposes…" The Army Sack Coat of 1857-1872 by Pat Brown. THE book on Sack Coats.
  • Army Blue - The Uniforms of Uncle Sam's Regulars 1848-1873, by John P. Langellier. U.S. uniforms - including enlisted soldiers, officers, insignia, and headgear - from the years 1848-1873 are examined in exacting detail. Has original accounts, information from army records … 352 pages and over 470 photos. Try Amazon.
  • U.S. Army Headgear 1812-1872 by military historian John P. Langallier and Civil War authority C. Paul Loane, whose own examples of Union headgear constitute one of the finest individually owned collections in the country. Represents more than three decades of research and has more than 350 photographs of specimens and period images. Try Amazon, Barnes or Noble.


Fox Lake soldier stories

  • Fox Lake's Civil War News & Letters, complied by the Fox Lake Library.  A treasure trove of research on all the units raised out of Fox Lake. 
  • Berdan’s United States Sharpshooters in the Army of the Potomac, by Fox Lake’s own Charles A. Stevens – Citizens Guard militia member from 1860-1861 & brother to Citizens Guard founder George H Stevens.  1892.  Follow the narrative of Charles and Company “G” 1st USSS from September of 1861 to the conclusion of the war.  Try Amazon or Morningside Bookshop.
  • Brother to the Eagle: The Civil War Journal of Sgt. Ambrose Armitage 8th Wisconsin Infantry edited by Alden R. Carter. (2006) A wonderful journal from Ambrose’s time in Fox Lake as a student at the Fox Lake College that both men and women could attend, his time going to the Congregational Church of Christ in Fox Lake, signing up in Fox Lake to be part of Captain William Dawes’ Fox Lake Rifles, and his full story of Company D, 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  Try Amazon.