My Top 5 Civil War Military Movies of All Time

The following is a guest post by Charles Holmes, an Army MAJ-turned-civilian and creator of It is his second article for DBS in his series on military movies. Check out the first here

What are the top five Civil War movies of all time? That’s a tough question to answer. Let me begin by telling you that I love old military movies, especially from the Civil War era. There are probably several hundred different movies covering at least one aspect or battle from the Civil War. I haven’t seen them all, but listed below are my top five favorites.

# 5 The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns

The Civil WarI have to admit that I am big fan of Ken Burns and his films. This is a documentary that first appeared on PBS®. This film uses photographs, speeches, music, maps and historical context to tell the story of the Civil War. If you are a nature buff you should order this documentary and watch it in entirety. What I really enjoy about the movie is the facts and that he covers both sides of the war objectively. I give this movie a 9 of 10.

# 4 The Red Badge of Courage

Red Badge of CourageI first read this book while I was in college. It wasn’t until many years later that I saw the movie. The Red Badge of Courage was released in 1951 and starred Audie Murphy. This is the shortest movie on my list at just one hour and nine minutes. The film covers war, nature and human courage. It is a must see for any military buff. I give it a 9 of 10.

# 3 North and South

North and SouthThis Civil War movie came out as an ABC® miniseries on television. Starring Patrick Swayze, David Carradine and many other actors, this star-loaded cast creates a must see movie. This was the first Civil War movie I ever watched. The movie covers two families that are placed on opposite sides of the war. It is entertaining, gut wrenching, and enjoyable to watch. I give this movie a 10 of 10.

# 2 Gettysburg

GettysburgAlthough Gettysburg comes up as second on my list, it was a close call with my # 1 pick. Gettysburg covers the Battle of Gettysburg and the Battle of Little Round Top. Being a kid growing up in Maine, I was a big fan of the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment and MG Joshua Chamberlain. This film is loaded with realistic fight scenes and is very entertaining and educational. I give it a 10 of 10.

# 1 Glory

GloryGlory tops my list for favorite Civil War movies. This movie stars Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman and many others. Matthew Broderick is chosen to lead an all black unit, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. It portrays the challenges that black Soldiers dealt with during the Civil War. I’ve watched Glory at least 50 times now and never get tired of it. I give it a 10 of 10.

Final Thoughts

In summary, these are my top five favorite Civil War movies of all time. I would love to hear your thoughts. What is your favorite Civil War movie and why?

Charles Holmes Charles Holmes is a former Army Major. He is the author of 12 books and creator of the popular website His website provides helpful leadership tips and training advice for Soldiers in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves. Charles spent 15 years in the Army as an enlisted man and officer. He served on Active Duty, in the Army National Guard and in the Army Reserves. Some of his previous duty assignments include Platoon Leader, Company XO, Battalion S4, Shop Officer, G4 Plans Officer, Fuels Officer, Company Commander, Brigade S4 and Brigade S3. He is currently the owner of Holmes Internet Marketing, a company that specializes in internet marketing and affiliate marketing.