The Civil War: The Second Year (1862)

Course InstructorDr. Joseph Fitzharris is a retired Professor of Military History at the University of St. Thomas, where he taught courses on American Military History, the Civil War, and World War II.  He has published on both wars.  The Great Plains Regional Coordinator for the Society for Military History, he received the Simmons Memorial Service Award for service to the SMH.  He is active in both the Twin Cities Civil War Round Table and the Dr. Harold C. Deutsch World War II History Roundtable.

Course Information:  Tuesdays, September 18-October 23, 2012, 9:30-11:30 a.m., University of St. Thomas St. Paul Campus, O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium

Course Description:  In this course, the second in a five-year series, we will examine the technology of war, the battles in east and west, guerrilla war, and the Minnesota-Dakota war as we pursue the "War of the Rebellion."

Suggested Background Reading:

  • James McPherson:  Battle Cry of Freedom (chs. 1-11)
  • McPherson & Hogue:  Ordeal by Fire (chs. 1-10, 12-13)
  • Donald, Baker & Holt:  The Civil War and Reconstruction (chs. 1-9)

Link to the 1861 course material, maps, Civil War Round tables, and other resources:

Registration fee for the series:  $70.00 per person

Link to registration formFall 2012 Registration Form

Link to campus mapSt. Paul Campus Map

Detailed Course Syllabus (subject to change):

September 18

 Overview:  Lincoln, Davis, Their Politicians, and Their Generals

This session will provide a short review of 1861, and an overview of 1862-1865 to put this year's material in context.  We will examine the two Presidents-turned dictators, key members of their Cabinets, and select generals and admirals, particularly the few really good ones.  Suggested reading:  Battle Cry (ch. 11), Ordeal (ch. 16), Civil War (chs. 11-13)

 Additional Suggested Readings

 These readings are suggested for the rest of the course

The readings are approximate, since the instructor has organized this course differently than these authors did.  The readings will supplement the lecture materials.  Battle Cry (chs. 12-19), Ordeal (chs. 14-18), Civil War (chs. 10-16)

 September 25

 Technology, Enterprise, and War

Most officers of the new railroads were army engineers first.  Railroads and river steamboats were the logistics lifelines of military movement.  The telegraph knitted Lincoln and his commanders together in "real time."  Businesses produced armored vests, armor-clad vessels, better mule-drawn ambulances, and canned food.  The war saw the first steps toward modern medical science.

 October 2

 The War in the Eastern Theater (Peninsular Campaign to Fredericksburg)

Little Mac lacked will and inflated intelligence but he planned a good strategic war and built a superb Army of the Potomac.  Once Lee took the field, he outclassed McClellan and Mr. Lincoln sought new generals.  Often viewed as the war, the conflict in the east became a holding action.

 October 9

 The War in the Western Theater (Forts Henry and Donelson to Stones' River)

Vast unpopulated forests with no strategic points, the joint (Army and Navy) western war moved by water and rail, seeking out and attacking the enemy's forces, resources and public will to fight.  It is here, starting in 1862, that the war was won and lost, and the campaigns and battles of 1862 were lost opportunities to shorten the war.

October 16

The Guerrilla Wars

The Confederates in Eastern Tennessee and the Unionists in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia fought guerrillas in the "no-man's lands" between the lines.  Ostensibly fighting for their cause, most quickly became sociopathic rapists, thieves, and murderers.  It became a war of spies, conciliation, and retributive burning.

 October 23

 Minnesota's War with the Dakota

After losing land, drought, oppression and harassment, frustration boiled over on the Lower Sioux reservation on August 19, 1862, and Mdewakanton Dakota warriors began massacring white settlers of Minnesota.  Fearing depopulation of the state, Governor Alexander Ramsey mobilized the resistance that led to crushing the Indians and the removal of almost all the Dakota from Minnesota for decades.