Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2018/2019

HIST 342: American Civil War

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  Course Description

Analysis of the American Civil War during the nineteenth century. The course assesses the causes and the consequences of the sectional conflict between the North and the South. In particular, it examines the politics of chattel slavery, the crisis of the federal Constitution, the campaigns of the Union and Confederate forces, and the plans for postwar reconstruction. Furthermore, significant themes of politics, gender, warfare and labor are considered.

Prerequisite: HIST 121

Proctored Exams: Final



  • McPherson, James M. and Hogue, James K. Ordeal By Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction. 4th ed. McGraw Hill, 2010.  
    • ISBN-978-0-07-743035-1
  • Perman, Michael and Taylor, Amy M. Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction. 3rd ed. DC Heath and Company, 2011.  
    • ISBN-978-0-618-87520-7
      • Note: You must have the 3rd edition; many of the readings are not found in prior editions.
  • McPherson, James M. For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. Oxford University Press, 1997.  
    • ISBN-978-0-19-512499-6
  • Rampolla, Mary Lynn. A Pocket Guide to Writing in History. 8th ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015.  
    • ISBN-978-1-4576-9088-4

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

This course is about the Civil War as well as fundamental change in the United States. An entire way of life was swept away. We will examine the roots of this conflict in the context of states’ rights and slavery with a basis in the Constitution itself. Our study will involve the political, social, and economic factors in the first half of the 19th century that led to the outbreak of war in 1861. Personalities, military campaigns, and political strategy will be discussed, and attention will be given to life on the home front and the impact of the war on the everyday citizen, both North and South.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the significant people, places, and events of the American Civil War.
  2. Analyze the comparative advantages of the Northern and Southern military forces during wartime.
  3. Explain the Emancipation Proclamation and its impact on the war effort.
  4. Analyze the political doctrines influencing sectionalism, secession, and reconstruction.
  5. Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and trends in the historiography of the American Civil War.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 450-500 90-100%
B 400-449 80-89%
C 350-399 70-79%
D 300-349 60-69%
F 0-299 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions 100 20%
Term Paper 100 20%
Critical Analysis 75 15%
Quizzes 75 15%
Final Exam 150 30%
Total 500 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introductions 4 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 1 4
Discussion 2 4
Discussion 3 4

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 4 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 5 4
Discussion 6 4
Term Paper Topic 0 Sunday
Quiz 1 25
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 4 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 8 4
Discussion 9 4
Term Paper Thesis and Outline 0 Sunday
Quiz 2 25

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 10 3 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 11 3
Discussion 12 3
Discussion 13 3
Quiz 3 25 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 14 4 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 15 4
Discussion 16 4
Critical Analysis 75 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 17 6 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 18 6

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 19 6 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 20 6
Term Paper 100 Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 21 6 Thursday/Saturday
Discussion 22 6
Final Exam 150 Saturday
Total Points: 500

  Assignment Overview


Participation in weekly discussions will improve your performance in quizzes and exam. In each week there will be 2-4 discussion topics. You must actively participate in each discussion topic assigned for that week. You must post first in order to reply to your classmates. You must reply to at least two classmates per discussion topic.

Guidelines for discussion posts:
Initial posts are due on Thursday 11.59 p.m. CT. Follow up posts are due on Sunday 11.59 p.m. CT, except for week 8 when they are due on Saturday. The quality of the posts is more important than the number of the words. There must be an initial post and then at least two replies to classmates for each of the discussion posts.

Term Paper

Write one 10-page paper on a topic relevant to the course. The topic must be submitted and approved prior to undertaking the work. Topic submission is due by 11:59 p.m. CT, Sunday of Week 2. You will critically analyze primary sources and then research related secondary sources as you develop the paper. Upon receiving approval on the paper, you will need to submit a thesis statement of no more than two sentences and an outline showing at least three main topics with three subtopics for each main topic.

Your two-sentence thesis statement and term paper outline must be submitted to the Dropbox by 11:59 p.m. CT, Sunday of Week 3. The thesis statement should present your historical argument. The Chicago Manual Style is to be used when writing the paper.

Recycled work from a previous course in whole or in part will not be accepted. All work must be in your own words.

Critical Analysis

You must complete a critical analysis of the McPherson book, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. The criteria for the review will be found in the Content Area. No recycled work from a previous course, in whole or in part, will be accepted. All work must be in your own words.

Guidelines for assignment:
You must include a brief outline of your expectations. Ensure it is at least 3 pages in length. You must use 12-point font, 1-inch margins, double-spaced, and the Chicago Manual of Style. Use correct grammar and other mechanics. State the author’s thesis, purpose, and description of the book; do not make it a chapter-by-chapter breakdown. Note any perceived biases. Upload your submission in the Dropbox area by 11:59 p.m. CT Sunday of week 5.


You will be required to complete three 25-point open-book quizzes in the course, during weeks 2, 3, and 4. The quizzes can be found in the Quiz section. Each quiz consists of 21-25 short answer questions, based on the readings from McPherson. You will have 50 minutes to complete the quiz.

Final Exam

There is a proctored Final Exam at the end of this course. It will be a mix of short answer and essay questions based on the McPherson readings for Weeks 5-8. You will have two hours to complete your final exam. No notes, books, or other resources are allowed.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

McPherson and Hogue, Chapters 1-5
Perman and Taylor, pp. 3-24; pp. 41-50
Rampolla, Chapter 6
Introduce yourself in the "Introductions" topic of the Discussions area of the course. Please share more than just your name. Include your major, profession, hobbies, and any other information that can help us get to know you.
Discussion 1
Based on the essay by LeeAnn Whites, how can the Civil War be regarded as a crisis of gender? What does the Jackson deposition and the video on slavery tell you about the legal, social and economic structure of the antebellum South?
Discussion 2
Based on the readings, do you find the antebellum North and South to be more alike or more different? What is your response to McPherson's essay on exceptionalism and his statement of the Civil War as the Second American Revolution?
Discussion 3
From Rampolla chapter 6, address the definition of plagiarism and the ways it can be avoided.

McPherson and Hogue: Chapters 6-9

Perman and Taylor:

  • Chapter 2, documents 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and pp. 50-65
  • Chapter 3, documents 1, 2, 3, 4, and pp. 74-98
  • Chapter 4, documents 2 and 3
Discussion 4
In what ways did the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dred Scott decision impact the political environment of the 1850s?
Discussion 5
Were Southerners justified in believing their way of life was threatened?
Discussion 6
Was secession inevitable?
Term Paper Topic
Submit Term Paper topic for approval.
Quiz 1
Complete the 25-point, 25-question quiz you will find in the Quiz section. It is open-book, short answer, and based on the reading for Weeks 1 and 2 from McPherson.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.

McPherson and Hogue: Chapters 10-13

Perman and Taylor: Chapter 5, documents 1, 2, 3, and pp. 150-161

Discussion 7
Search the Ordeal By Fire website for information on jayhawkers and bushwhackers. Share your observations with the class.
Discussion 8
Provide your impressions of Generals McClellan and Lee as well as an analysis of the Gallagher document on the Richmond campaign.
Discussion 9
In your opinion, how realistic were the South’s chances for European recognition?
Term Paper Thesis and Outline
Submit your two sentence thesis statement and term paper outline.
Quiz 2
Complete the 25-point, 21-question quiz you will find in the Quiz section. It is open-book, short answer, and based on the readings for Week 3 from McPherson.

McPherson and Hogue: Chapters 14-16

Perman and Taylor: 

  • Chapter 6, and documents 1 and 2
  • Chapter 9, documents 1, 2, 3, & 4; and pp. 298-308
Google search for letters written during the Civil War.
Discussion 10
Use a Google search and find a letter written by a Civil War soldier or sailor and share it with the class.
Discussion 11
Discuss the motivation behind issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.
Discussion 12
Would you consider emancipation as revolutionary or cautious?
Discussion 13
Assess Lincoln’s use of his powers as Commander-in-Chief.
Quiz 3
Complete the 25-point, 25-question quiz you will find in the Quiz section. It is open-book, short answer, and based on the readings for Week 4 from McPherson.

McPherson and Hogue: Chapters 17-20

Perman and Taylor: Chapter 6, documents 3,4,5 and pp. 187-208.

Lieber Code document

Gettysburg Address

Discussion 14
Use the Google search tool and look up “laws of war” and "Lieber’s Code.” Discuss the resources you find of interest there.
Discussion 15
Discuss how the “laws of war” affect the principles of “faith, justice, and honor.”
Discussion 16
Discuss the significance of the development of Lieber’s Code.
Critical Analysis
Write critical analysis of For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War.

McPherson and Hogue: Chapters 21-25

Perman and Taylor:

  • Chapter 7, documents 1-7, and pp. 220-231
  • Chapter 8, documents 1-7, and pp. 256-275
Discussion 17
Would you agree with the observation that the campaign against the South in 1864 be described as “total war?”
Discussion 18
Compare and contrast the impact of the war on women in the North and the South.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

McPherson and Hogue: Chapters 26-29

Perman and Taylor:

  • Chapter 10, documents 1-7, and pp. 335-354
  • Chapter 11, documents 1-6, and pp. 380-391
Discussion 19
What factors led to the conflict between Johnson and Congress over Reconstruction?
Discussion 20
What acts and actions of Reconstruction actually helped the freed slaves, and which did not, and why?
Term Paper
Submit your Term Paper to the Dropbox area.

McPherson and Hogue: Chapters 30-33

Perman and Taylor:

  • Chapter 13, documents 1-7, and pp. 438-461
  • Chapter 14, documents 1-7 and pp. 478-489
Discussion 21
What are the legacies of Reconstruction, both positive and negative, that you feel are most important, and why?
Discussion 22
Do you believe the Civil War was a revolution or counter-revolution? Why?
Final Exam
The proctored Final Exam is based on the McPherson readings for Week 5-8. No notes, books, or other resources are allowed. You have two hours to complete your exam.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

No late assignments will be accepted without documented extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the student and with instructor notification prior to the due date.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.