Historical gaming is for the history/war buff. Most of the games are actually a subdomain call Wargames. Most of the games use miniatures. In the wargames players re-create wars through history using miniatures. When we go to gaming conventions (future post) we always walk by the wargames area. It is usually several rows of tables filled with intricate scenery depicting the Civil War, World I, and World War II. The gamers are intently moving their soldiers, cannons, tanks, ships, or planes. Just watching will spark interest in brushing up on your American history! There are also games of European history. One of the things I like most when watching the wargames is seeing the age difference of everyone. You see children with their grandparents enthralled in the game! Young children are fascinated by the scenery and miniatures. It really looks like history coming to life.
My 13 year old came home just this week and mentioned that two of friends play Memoir 44, a miniatures World War II game. This game uses battle cards and dice rolling. It is recommended for ages 8 and up. If there is a particular time in history or battle you are particularly interested in, you can most likely find a game for it!
You don't have to be a history buff to enjoy wargames. My father-in-law has a private airplane license. His hobby is flying his Beechcraft Skipper. He likes to play the game Wings of Glory. Players are fighter pilots during World War I/II and use their miniatures to perform moves to win. Wings of Glory is also recommended for ages 8 and up.
This may be stretching it as for as historical, but 7 Wonders is a good game for 2-7 players. Players use cards and trading to build their architectural wonder of world! This game will spark interest in the wonders of world. These games are great to use as students study American and World history. They really bring a chapter of history to life!