Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Syllabus Archive

The following syllabi come from a variety of different terms. They illustrate the evolution of this course over time, and are intended to provide alternate views into the instruction of this course.

Fall 2010, Merritt Roe Smith (PDF)

Fall 2007, Merritt Roe Smith (PDF)

Fall 2005, Merritt Roe Smith (PDF)


Focus: Although attention will be devoted to the causes and long-term consequences of the Civil War, this class will focus primarily on the war years (1861-1865) with special emphasis on the military and technological aspects of the conflict. Four questions, long debated by historians, will receive close scrutiny:

  1. What caused the war?
  2. Why did the North win the war?
  3. Could the South have won?
  4. To what extent is the Civil War America's "defining moment"?

Course Requirements

This class will operate more like a reading seminar than a traditional lecture class (though a few lectures will be delivered during the term). Students are expected to participate in class discussions by reading the assigned materials by the date they are due. To guide class discussions, students are asked to prepare brief 1.5/2-page reflection papers (6 in all, as designated below) for each set of readings during the term. Please note that the final reflection paper topic is intended as an exercise in comparison and interpretation. Now is the time to start to think about how you want to frame it. Specific instructions about these assignments and how to do them will be discussed in class.

In addition to the reflection papers, there will be two (2) reading quizzes during the term. The final grade will be determined as follows:

Reflection Papers 50%
Quizzes 50%


Note: Regular attendance, participation, and a good attitude are essential. Without all three, you will not get much out of this course. Attendance will be taken and poor attendance will result in severe final grade penalties. Class participation is particularly important because it can determine your final grade in borderline situations.