The Civil War and Reconstruction


This course explores the era of the American Civil War with emphasis on the period 1861-1865. It combines lectures, readings, films, and class discussion to address such questions as why the war came, why the North won (or the Confederacy lost), how the war affected various elements of society, what was left unresolved at the end of the fighting, and how subsequent generations of Americans understood the conflict's meanings. Although this is not a course on Civil War battles and generals, about 50 per cent of the time in class will be devoted to military affairs, and we will make a special effort to tie events on the battlefield to life behind the lines.

The course will be organized in two lecture meetings a week. Grades will be based on two geography quizzes (each 5% of the course grade), two take-home examinations (each 35% of the course grade), and a 7-page paper that integrates material from the lectures, readings, and films (20% of the course grade).


Note:  This course does not satisfy the second writing requirement.


Required Books (some substitutions may be made):

David W. Blight, Frederick Douglass’ Civil War

Robert Bonner, The Soldier’s Pen

Jacqueline G. Campbell, When Sherman Marched North from the Sea

William J. Cooper, ed., Jefferson Davis: The Essential Writings

Andrew Delbanco, ed., The Portable Abraham Lincoln

Charles B. Dew, Apostles of Disunion

Gary W. Gallagher, Becoming Confederates

Gary W. Gallagher and Joan Waugh, The American War

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts