Revised September 6, 2010

AMH 4571


The American Civil War and Reconstruction


Fall 2010


Matt Gallman



Office: 203 Keene-Flint        

Office hours Wednesdays 2:30-4:30

(352) 273-3368


Teaching Assistants:

  Clay Cooper

  Allison Fredette


Course Summary

This course is a broad survey of the events and issues surrounding the Civil War.  The course falls into three (uneven) chronological periods.  In the first four weeks or so we will consider the chain of events leading up to the Civil War.  We will then turn to a close analysis of the war years themselves, considering events and issues on the battlefield and on the home front.  The final few weeks will consider some aspects of the wars impact.


Although this is a large lecture course, it is not intended to be an introductory level course.  You will find that the readings are fairly heavy and the expectations are high.  This is not a good course for students who have a hard time showing up for class or doing the readings.


Course Requirements


The following books should be available in various local bookstores or on line.  The full titles and ISBN numbers are on the registrars web page.

     James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom.   This is the Pulitzer-prize winning history of the Civil War era, by one of the greatest Civil War historians of all time.  It is a really good read.  It is also really long.  You should read it because it is really good.    And it will cover much of the terrain covered in this course.  It also lists (used) for $15.00.   The #1 real textbook for this course costs about $75.00.   Do not under any circumstances sell this book back at the end of the semester.   Wrap it up and give it to your Uncle Leo for Christmas.

     Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War (Oxford University Press, 2009).   This is a really cool book.   It is an atlas of maps describing the social, economic, political and military history of the period.   I have a suspicion that if you memorized this book and did nothing else you would probably get an A in this course.   I am not sure about that.  You will be writing a paper based on this book.

     Stanley Harrold, The Civil War and Reconstruction:  A Documentary Reader (Blackwell, 2007).   This is a very useful collection of documents.   In the reading assignment it is referred to as Harrold.  The T.A.s will have a lot of control over which documents to emphasize.   Most documents could support a half hour discussion.

     Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Bedford, 2010).  Be sure to buy this edition!!!   This is the powerful story about a slave woman who escapes to freedom.   When I took this course in college (with James McPherson) we thought that the story was fictional.  But now we know it is a true story.   The discussion on this day will be great.

     Charles B. Dew, Apostles of Disunion Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War  (Univ. of Virginia, 2002).   A short account of the events that led up to secession.   Provocative and a good read.

     Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels  (1974).  The Pulitzer prize winning novel about the Battle of Gettysburg.  Even people who hate this course will love this book.   Give this one to Aunt Mildred for Christmas.

     Louisa May Alcott, Civil War Hospital Sketches (Dover edition).   The first published writings by the author of Little Women and other classics.   It is sort of fictional, largely based on truth.  Lots of good stuff to discuss here.

     Michael Fitzgerald, Splendid Failure (Ivan Dee, 2007).   This is the best short history of the Reconstruction period.  You will write a paper using this book as a key source.

     LeeAnna Keith, The Colfax Massacre (Oxford University Press, 2009).   This is a pretty good book about a really fascinating (and depressing) moment in American history.  You will be angry that nobody ever told you about this.



       Although this is a fairly large lecture class, please keep in mind that you are neither invisible nor anonymous.   I find that my ability to do my best job is undermined when people in the audience are not paying attention.  So when class begins please put aside your newspapers and other reading materials.  Similarly, I expect you to be on time for each class meeting.   I am easily distracted when folks are wandering in after I have begun class.


       I am of two minds about computers in the classroom.   I do not think that you will need one to take notes, but some folks prefer to take notes on a laptop.   However, students with computers should not divide their attention between note taking and surfing the web, working on other projects, IM. FB, and free pornography.   If you are like me and cannot resist bouncing from one function to another, please leave the computer at home.   [If you choose to bring a computer and we notice you using it for anything but note taking the impact on your grade will be really really unpleasant.]


       Lecture attendance is required. We will take attendance occasionally.  Students who miss more than one lecture (or who are persistently late) will see a reduction in their grades.   Students who ignore the above requests about newspapers, computers, etc. will be treated as absent for the purpose of final grades.


Discussion Sections / Weekly Papers / Reading Quizzes

       You should attend each discussion section with notes on the assigned readings and with issues in mind that you would like to raise in discussion.   As a way of ensuring good preparation, you will write a short (250 word) analytic summary of the readings for each week.  These are due at the beginning of the Tuesday lecture prior to the discussion section.  You should hand them directly to your Teaching Assistant (no fair sending them through a buddy).  The Teaching Assistants will also give periodic open note quizzes on the assigned readings.


       As with the lectures, students who miss more than one discussion section (or who are persistently late) will have their final grade reduced.



       In addition to the weekly essays on the readings, you will write three short essays in this course, each based on a very small research project.   Assignments will be handed out prior to the due dates.   All essays are due in discussion section on the date assigned.   Extensions will only be approved under unusual circumstances.



       There will be a midterm and a final.   The midterm will be taken in the discussion sections.   The final will combine a short take home essay and a one hour exam during the regular final period.

Final Examination Review


Academic Integrity 

       I assume that anything you do in this class is your own work unless I am told otherwise.  You also may not rely on someone else's notes in taking the reading quizzes.  Please review the section on Academic Integrity in the Student Handbook.  In your papers all direct quotes should be identified with quotation marks and cited properly.  Any instance of intentional dishonesty on any assignment -- no matter how small -- will result in an automatic F for the entire course. Please review the Universitys honesty policy at


Special accommodations

Feel free to contact me if you have any individual concerns or issues that need to be discussed. Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office (  The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the instructor when requesting accommodation.



       Midterm                               15%

       Final                                    20%

       Paper #1                              15%

       Paper #2                              15%

       Paper #3                              15%

       Class Discussion

and Preparation             20%

       ** Missed classes and lateness will result in extra reductions.

       ** In order to pass this course you must have a passing average for the two examinations and for the three papers.



Class Meetings and Assignments



     August 24          An expanding nation


  Battle Cry of Freedom, pp. 3-46.

  Sheehan-Dean, Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War, maps 1-4, 7, 10.


     August 31          Political tensions  (1820-1854)


  Battle Cry of Freedom, pp. 47-144.

  Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.


     September 7             Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Sumner


  Battle Cry of Freedom, 145-169.

  Harrold:  Chapter 1.


     September 14           1860 and the Road to Secession


  Battle Cry of Freedom. Pp. 172-233.

  Charles B. Dew, Apostles of Disunion.

  Harrold:  Chapter 2:  Disunion to War.

  Sheehan-Dean, Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War, maps 6-7.


     September 21           To Arms!


  Battle Cry of Freedom, 234-275.

  Harrold:  Chapter 3:  # 1, #2.

  Paper #1 Due:  Newspaper Responses to a Divisive Event.    Due in discussion sections. 

  Details to be distributed.



     September 28            The First Year of War (1861-1862)


  Battle Cry of Freedom, pp.  276-489.

  Sheehan-Dean, Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War, maps 8-9, 11-21, 23.


     October 5          Emancipation  

     Readings for lecture:  

  Battle Cry of Freedom, pp. 490-625.

  Harrold:   Chapter 6, # 2, 4, 6.

  Sheehan-Dean, Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War, map 22..



     October 12               The Road to Gettysburg  


  Battle Cry of Freedom, pp. 626-665.

  Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels.

  Sheehan-Dean, Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War, maps 25, 27-29, 31, 33.


     October 19               The War at Home 


  Harrold:  Chapter 3: #8; Chapter 5:  # 4, 5, 6;  Chapter 6: # 3, 5.

  Sheehan-Dean, Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War, maps 24, 26, 30, 32, 34.


      October 26              Women and Voluntarism

     Reading:  Louisa May Alcott, Hospital Sketches.


      November 2             The Soldiers Life  

     Reading:  Harrold: Chapter 4:  entire.



      November 9             The Road to Total War?  (1864-1865)


  Battle Cry of Freedom, 666-830.

  Sheehan-Dean, Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War, maps 35-45.

     Paper #2:  Analysis of Two Maps.    Due in discussion section.

  Description to be distributed.


       November 16          Reconstruction I


  Battle Cry of Freedom, pp. 831-862.

  Fitzgerald, Splendid Failure.

  Sheehan-Dean, Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War, maps 46-52.


     November 23            Thanksgiving



     November 30            Reconstruction II


  Harrold:  Chapter 8.

  Keith, The Colfax Massacre.


      December 7             The Civil War in Memory

     Readings:  TBA

     Paper #3:  Reporting Reconstruction.   Due in class.