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10+ Best Civil War Movies

The Civil War has been one of America’s bloodiest periods in history. If you are looking for the best Civil War movies of all time, consider it done! Prepare to be enthralled by our expertly curated collection of outstanding historical films.

a picture of the American flag with caption "Best Civil War Movies"

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Civil War Movies

The Civil War was a major conflict in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between the Northern states (the Union) and the Southern states (the Confederacy) over issues like slavery and state rights. It ended with the abolition of slavery and the Union's preservation but caused significant destruction and casualties.

Here are some of out favorite Civil War movies:

The Torchlighters - Heroes of the Faith
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Stephen Larriva, Russell Boulter (Actors)

Torchlighters: The Harriet Tubman Story (Season 1: Episode 17)

Can prayers find answers? Each day, Harriet Tubman sought deliverance from the horrors of slavery through her prayers. What she didn't realize was that God had a purpose, and she played a vital role in it.

Explore the remarkable tale of faith, determination, and prayer in the newest Torchlighters episode: The Harriet Tubman Story!

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To continue this unit study, check out Harriet Movie Study.

Abraham Lincoln - Inspiring Heroes DVD
  • Abraham Lincoln (Actor)
  • Richard Rich (Director)

Abraham Lincoln – Inspiring Heroes

A hundred years ago, the United States' unity hinged on a lone figure, a tall and folksy lawyer from Illinois, who lacked national-level political expertise.

Yet, through his unwavering determination and steadfast positions on vital matters, Abraham Lincoln not only preserved the nation but also secured an enduring legacy in global history.

Gettysburg: Extended Edition
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen (Actors)

Gettysburg: Extended Edition

This sweeping drama tells the monumental tale of a three-day battle that permanently altered the trajectory of the American Civil War. It offers a compassionate perspective on the event, narrated from the viewpoint of the soldiers who lived through it.

The Outlaw Josey Wales
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Dan George (Actors)

The Outlaw Josey Wales

Josey Wales, a modest Missouri farmer, faces a brutal group of Union Red Legs, led by Terrill, who destroy his home, resulting in the death of his wife and son.

The Red Badge of Courage
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Audie Murphy, Bill Mauldin, Douglas Dick (Actors)

The Red Badge of Courage

Audie Murphy, a genuine war hero, takes on the role of a young Union soldier striving to make amends for a lapse of bravery during the Civil War.

The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns Season 1
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sam Waterston, Jason Robards, Morgan Freeman (Actors)

The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns

The Emmy Award-winning nine-part series has been digitally restored to deliver the best possible picture quality in high definition.

Friendly Persuasion (DVD)
  • NTSC - Color - Widescreen
  • Subtitled: English & French (Main Feature Only)

Friendly Persuasion

For two years, the Civil War has been far away, but now Confederate forces are close, causing destruction. Jess Birdwell's neighbors want to fight back, but as a Quaker, he believes there must be a more peaceful solution.

a black and white picture of people during Civil War

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn (Actors)


An epic movie from DreamWorks Pictures and renowned director Steven Spielberg unfolds the lesser-known tale of the last four months in the life of the man celebrated as America's finest President.

Gone with the Wind (1939)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard (Actors)

Gone with the Wind

Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, and Hattie McDaniel feature in David O. Selznick's Academy Award-winning film set during the Civil War.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jarrod Emick, Frederic Forrest, Ted Marcoux (Actors)


A strong and captivating story of determination during war, directed by Emmy Award winner John Frankenheimer.

Gods and Generals (DVD) (WS)
  • Gods and Generals - DVD Brand New
  • Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang, Robert Duvall (Actors)

Gods and Generals

This epic story follows the early years of the Civil War, including four major battles from Manassas to Fredericksburg.

Horse Soldiers
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • William Holden, Judson Pratt, John Wayne (Actors)

Horse Soldiers

John Wayne, Constance Towers, and William Holden feature in this 1863 true story about a Union mission to sabotage a Confederate railroad junction.

The Conspirator
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline (Actors)

The Conspirator

Director Robert Redford presents the gripping real account of the trial concerning Abraham Lincoln's assassination, shedding light on the sole woman accused of conspiring to kill him.

Dances with Wolves
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Mary McDonnell, Kevin Costner (Actors)

Dance with Wolves

“Dances With Wolves” follows Lieutenant John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) during the Civil War as he meets and gains acceptance within a Native American tribe.

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If you enjoyed this list of movies, I have a monthly membership for parents and educators that want to teach or supplement lessons with shows and movies.

“We love our Civil War movie nights! It all started with a fascinating documentary, and now it's a regular thing. We grab snacks, cozy up, and travel back in time to learn about resilience, sacrifice, and our nation's history. It's our own little time machine, passing down living history to the kids.” –a Homeschooling parent

With Homeschooling with Shows and Movies membership, you will get resources every month, including:

  • List of This Month’s Suggested Themes
  • List of Monthly Observances
  • List Of Movies for Unit Study
  • Unit Study Resource
  • Seasonal Activities (minimum of three)
  • (BONUSES) Resources for you, the teacher

These resources are worth it if you'd like to easily incorporate shows and movies into your homeschooling.

Grab your membership here. 

What to expect in these movies about Civil War?

Movies about the Civil War transport you back in time to a tumultuous period in American history. Expect gripping tales of conflict, personal struggles, and a deep dive into the complexities of the era, often with powerful performances and historical insights that leave you reflecting on the impact of the war on the nation and its people.

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Which subjects are included in studying Civil War in an elementary school setting?

Studying the Civil War in an elementary school setting typically includes topics like:

  1. Causes of the Civil War: Understanding what led to the conflict, including issues like slavery, states' rights, and economic differences.
  2. Key Figures: Learning about important figures like Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and notable generals.
  3. Major Battles: Exploring significant battles such as Gettysburg, Antietam, and Bull Run.
  4. Life during the Civil War: Examining the daily life of soldiers, civilians, and the impact of the war on families.
  5. The Emancipation Proclamation: Discussing the significance of this document and its impact on slavery.
  6. The Gettysburg Address: Analyzing Lincoln's famous speech and its importance.
  7. Reconstruction: Understanding the period after the war and its challenges in rebuilding the nation.
  8. Civil War Artifacts: Exploring artifacts, uniforms, and primary sources to connect with the era.

These topics provide a foundation for elementary students to grasp the basics of the American Civil War and its historical significance.

What themes are found in movies about Civil War?

Movies about the Civil War often revolve around themes like the cost of war, the struggle for freedom, and the profound impact of the conflict on individuals and families. They also delve into issues of unity and division, making you reflect on the complexities of this transformative period in American history.

Related Questions:

How were key historical events and battles depicted in these movies?

These movies show key historical events and battles in vivid detail, bringing the intensity of those moments right to your screen. It will make you feel the impact and significance of these crucial events during the Civil War.

How did these movies portray the causes and motivations of the Civil War?

These movie will give you a deep look at the causes and motivations behind the Civil War, presenting a complex web of issues like slavery, states' rights, and economic differences. It will make you understand that this wasn't just a simple conflict; it was a deeply rooted struggle with a multitude of factors driving it.

Were there themes of reconciliation and unity explored in the movies?

The movies did touch on themes of reconciliation and unity, especially in the aftermath of the war. It showed how people from opposing sides were trying to find common ground and rebuild a fractured nation, which was a powerful message of hope and healing.

How did the movie depict the freedom of African Americans and their involvement in the Civil War?

The movies showed the journey of African Americans toward freedom and their active participation in the Civil War. It highlighted their vital role in the conflict, emphasizing their quest for liberty and the sacrifices they made to achieve it.

Did the movies present a fair view of both the Union and Confederate sides in the conflict?

The movies did strive to provide a balanced view of the Union and Confederate perspectives during the conflict. They depicted the complexities and motivations of both sides, making it clear that the Civil War was not a simple battle between good and evil but a struggle with multifaceted issues.

a picture of a soldier during the Civil War with caption "Best Civil War Movies "


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