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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 370
Course Title: American Military History
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Analysis of the military history of the United States from the colonial period to the present. This course considers the role and use of armed forces in relation to the social, cultural, political, economic, and technological development of the United States. It will not only address such themes as wartime strategy, operational tactics, and combat technology, but also the impact of warfare on society and on the remembrances of ordinary men and women in uniform. Significant attention will be given to the evolution of civil-military relations, the advent of professionalism in the military, the non-military uses of the military, and the military's role as a tool for global power. Prerequisite: Junior standing or instructor's permission. Offered odd Fall.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): Junior standing.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered odd Fall.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

The required text must be assigned and supplemented with a minimum of two recommended texts. Additional primary and secondary sources may be assigned as well.

Other appropriate scholarly monographs may be assigned.

Major Problems in American Military History
By Chambers II, John W. & G. Kurt Peihler (Houghton Mifflin)
American Military History: A Documentary Reader
By Lookingbill, Brad (Wiley-Blackwell)
American Military History: A Survey From Colonial Times to the Present
By William T. Allison, Jeffrey Grey, and Janet G. Valentine (Prentice Hall)
The American Military: A Narrative History
By Brad Lookingbill (Wiley-Blackwell)
America's Army: The Making of the All Volunteer Force
By Beth Bailey (Harvard)
For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America
By Allen R. Millett, Peter Maslowski (Simon and Schuster)
Course Objectives
  • To appreciate the American approach to warfare, the principle of civilian control of the military, and the evolution of military forces, strategies, doctrine, and tactics.
  • To explore the interrelationships between domestic events, foreign policy, and military affairs.
  • To compare and contrast various historiographical perspectives on the American armed forces.
    Measurable Learning

  • Describe the structure and employment of American military forces in each major period of American history.
  • Analyze significant factors that shaped American military operations.
  • Explain the American "ways of war" within the context of domestic and global events.
  • Differentiate the major objectives, actions, and outcomes of America’s wars.
  • Describe the strategies and doctrines of military leaders as well as the tactics used in combat.
  • Study the experiences of ordinary soldiers from their first-hand accounts.
  • Analyze the factors contributing to American military successes and failures.
  • Describe the influence of American society on military affairs and the role of the military as a national institution.
  • Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and trends in the historiography of the American military.

    Topical Outline:

    Because the course represents an upper-level history elective, it bears a distinctive responsibility for teaching advanced knowledge within the discipline. It must be distinguished as an advanced course by three structural components: extensive reading, intensive writing, and historiographical thinking. It must require advanced students to complete both in-class and out-of-class projects (i.e., midterms, finals, team reports, quizzes, research papers). It must demand a minimum of 1,000 pages of required text reading, 1,000 words of type-written work, and a consideration of the range and variance of historical scholarship. Finally, it must develop student skills and abilities for researching diverse sources of knowledge and organizing findings through synthesis.

  • The Colonial period and the American militia
  • The American Revolution
  • Military establishment of the early republic
  • Naval power and the War of 1812
  • Westward expansion and the Mexican War
  • The Civil War
  • The Indian Wars
  • The rise of sea power
  • Modernization of force
  • America’s role in “The Great War”
  • The development of mechanized warfare and air power
  • World War II
  • Waging the Cold War
  • Reshaping the post-Cold War military

    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 35

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Brad Lookingbill Date: January 1, 2013
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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