DVD’s. Movie choices for Civil War buffs are quite numerous. You do need, of course, to see what your giftee already has. There’s the modern classic Glory, with Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman about the all-black 54th Massachusetts which distinguished itself in battle. There’s Gettysburg and the prequel, Gods and Generals. Also, titles like Cold Mountain, Andersonville, Gone With the Wind, and more. Scout out your giftee’s particular Civil war interest. There are also the numerous fine documentaries including the multi-part PBS series, Ken Burns’ Civil War, and numerous others, many inspired by the Ken Burns series, ranging from TV series like Civil War Journal to documentaries on individual battles or topics.
MUSIC. You can acquire CD’s with authentic Civil War era music. This may be something your giftee never even thought of for himself and easily acquired online through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
CALENDARS. A crowd-pleaser for anyone with a special interest and I’m certain Civil War enthusiasts are no exception.
T-SHIRTS. There’s a T-shirt for everything and the Civil War is no exception. Do some online shopping with a Google search. At the Civil War Online Merchandise Store, I found a T-shirt for the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, another featuring a 1960’s Fort Sumter stamp, a number featuring Civil War generals from both sides, and some battlefield themes.
BOOKS. Subject matter is unlimited. Again, does your giftee prefer gorgeously-illustrated coffee table books or solid narrative in a more compact size? You can acquire a biography, a book on a particular battle, or details about the common soldier’s lot. Check Google first, then see if Amazon or Half.com have less expensive used copies that are in very good condition (aside from possible overstock marks). One alternate approach is to attend library book sales and begin picking up $1.00 and $2.00 copies of used books on the Civil War to bring together a nice, cheap collection for your giftee.
MAGAZINES. There are a few good Civil War history magazines on the better-equipped newsstands. Buy a selection or get your giftee a subscription.
PHOTOS, POSTERS. Photos are widely available online in coffee table books. You can even order 8X10 glossies of Civil War photographer Matthew Brady’s originals from the National Archives which owns them.
HOT AIR BALLOON. If you want to lay out a few bucks, buy your giftee a three-hour hot air balloon ride. It’ll cost around a couple hundred dollars. There was a Civil War Air Force. Federal aviator Professor Thaddeus Lowe soared with the eagles above battlefields to watch enemy movements, despite the indifference of the gold-braided turkeys in blue on the ground. For most it is unlikely, but for those living in the east or South, if you were to take your balloon ride in the vicinity of a Civil War battlefield, that would make the connection even better. With a little coordination, you could turn a quick road trip into a rendezvous with a balloonist in your target area, such as Gettysburg or Atlanta.
MAPS. You can get a map called Civil War At a Glance for $2.00 from the Federal Citizen Information Center in Pueblo, California (http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/). Run a search on eBay for Civil War maps, including selections of maps on CD.
MEMORABILIA. If you live close to a Civil War-related site, you have an opportunity to buy any number of interesting souvenirs. An all-too-brief visit to the Chickamauga battlefield resulted in my purchase of a packaged reproduction of a mine’ ball used by Civil War riflemen. A visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum got me an ink pen with a Lincoln signature reproduction from the gift shop. You are only limited by how much you want to spend. Naturally, if you do not have such a site nearby, let your fingers do the walking across the keyboard. A Google search will undoubtedly turn up tons of items to spend money on. You can buy a single big item, or acquire a numer of smaller “stockling stuffer” items and present them as a collection.