Top Six Civil War Movies

The American Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865. The United States was and still is profoundly affected by the events of the Civil War. Even today, controversies arise about the use of the Confederate flag by states and individuals across the nation. It is not surprising that many movies have used this dramatic part of American History as its backdrop. Here are the top six dramatic movies that utilize the Civil War as an integral theme.

This film is one of the very best Civil War movies ever made. It gives a stirring account of African-Americans in the Civil War, specifically the 54th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. This regiment led an assault on Fort Wagner at the Battle of Fort Wagner that helped turn the tide of battle. The film is historically accurate and rich in detail with superb acting from an all-star cast that included Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick, and Morgan Freeman. 

This excellent film is based on one of the best war novels ever written, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara about the Battle of Gettysburg. Well-staged battle scenes were actually filmed at Gettysburg lending the film greater authenticity. Gettysburg offers multifaceted character development and a superb performance by Jeff Daniels. With great music and an excellent screenplay, this movie is a must-see.

This classic uses the Civil War as a backdrop to tell the tale of a strong-willed Southern woman. Gone With the Wind does a good job of depicting the South's point of view without moralizing. The burning of Atlanta and confiscating of Tara provides a compelling look at the effect of Sherman's March to the Sea on the Southern people.

This made for TV mini-series is an excellent telling of one of the most important periods of American History. The compelling story based on the writings of John Jakes offers a well-balanced look at a very dark period by portraying good and bad people on both sides. Patrick Swayze, James Read, and David Carradine offered superb performances in a movie that everyone should see.

This movie based on the classic novel by Stephen Crane captures a young Union soldiers struggle with cowardice. Even though this film was reduced drastically from its original length by studio editors it still has stood the test of time. The movie offers some great battle scenes and narration from the novel. The Red Badge of Courage stars in World War II's most decorated combat veteran, Audie Murphy.

A successful planter in Virginia is unwilling to take sides in the American Civil War. However, he is forced to become involved when Union soldiers mistakenly capture his son. The family then proceeds to retrieve the son and along the way discover the horrors of war and the importance of family values. The movie offers superb scenery, a great story and tremendous acting from Jimmy Stewart.