Civil War Quotes

A collection of Civil War quotes can serve as a great window into the conflict. It shows us the character, thoughts, and ideals of those who are quoted...

There are many famous people who stand out when one studies the Civil War, and most of them had something interesting to say. This is the place to find and share some of those interesting quotations. In this collection I will gather some of the most famous Civil War quotes, along with a few that are just favorites of mine, and I welcome your additions as well.

We also have pages dedicated to the Civil War quotes of some of the most famous individuals of that era. To see their pages, just click on their pictures below... 

Robert E. Lee Quotes

Robert E. Lee

Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Abraham Lincoln

Stonewall Jackson Quotes

Stonewall Jackson

William T. Sherman Quotes

William T. Sherman

Jefferson Davis Quotes

Jefferson Davis

Ulysses S. Grant Quotes

Ulysses S. Grant

Of course I have to start with my favorite Civil War quote, the one you see at the bottom of the left column of every page on this site. Vice President Stevenson uttered these immortal words at the dedication of the Chickamauga Battlefield as a National Park:

"Here, in the dread tribunal of last resort, valor contended against valor. Here brave men struggled and died for the right as God gave them to see the right."

-Adlai E. Stevenson I

Following is a brief selection of Civil War quotes, please feel free to suggest the addition of your favorite quote...

Quotes From The Civil War

Robert E. Lee

"It is well that war is so terrible, or we would grow too fond of it."

Robert E. Lee (right)


"War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."

William Tecumseh Sherman


"War means fighting, and fighting means killing."

- Nathan Bedford Forrest


"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln


"Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees."

- Last words of Thomas “Stonewall" Jackson


"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast."

- William Tecumseh Sherman

General "Fighting" Joe Hooker


"General Lee, this is no place for you. These men behind you are Georgians and Virginians. They have never failed you and will not fail you here. Will you boys? "

- John Brown Gordon


"My plans are perfect, and when I start to carry them out, may God have mercy on Bobby Lee, for I shall have none."

'Fighting' Joe Hooker (left)


"I have just read your dispatch about sore-tongued and fatigued horses, Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the Battle of Antietam that fatigues anything? "

Abraham Lincoln in response to General McClellan.


"A Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me." 

Robert E. Lee


"The past is dead; let it bury its dead, its hopes and its aspirations; before you lies the future--a future full of golden promise." 

Jefferson Davis

General Ulysses S. Grant


"Let me say no danger and no hardship ever makes me wish to get back to that college life again."

Joshua Chamberlain


"We talked the matter over and could have settled the war in thirty minutes had it been left to us." 

Unknown Confederate Soldier referencing a meeting he had with a Union soldier between the lines.


"Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what are we going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do."

Ulysses S. Grant (right)


"The Army of Northern Virginia was never defeated. It merely wore itself out whipping the enemy." 

Jubal Early


"If I owned Texas and Hell, I'd rent out Texas and live in Hell."

Phillip H. Sheridan

Belle Boyd


"If it is a crime to love the South, its cause and its President, then I am a criminal. I would rather lie down in this prison and die than leave it owing allegiance to a government such as yours."

-Belle Boyd (left)


"I appeal to you as a soldier to spare me the humiliation of seeing my regiment march to meet the enemy and I not share its dangers."

George Armstrong Custer


"I know Mr. [Jefferson] Davis thinks he can do a great many things other men would hesitate to attempt. For instance, he tried to do what God failed to do. He tried to make a soldier of Braxton Bragg."

Joseph Johnston


"The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on."

- Ulysses S. Grant


That's all for now. If you have some favorite Civil War quotes, please feel free to share them in the comments below...

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