Voices of the Civil War


This course explores major themes relating to the American Civil War through the words of individuals who experienced it. Using wartime and postwar writings, fiction and nonfiction, as well as photography and film, students will focus on why the war came; how it evolved from a struggle for Union to one for Union and freedom; how the conflict affected civilians; why soldiers fought; and how participants on each side chose to remember the conflict. The “voices” in the course will include men and women, white and black, military and nonmilitary, and Union and Confederate. Among the writers the syllabus is likely to include are Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ambrose Bierce, Kate Stone, Robert Gould Shaw, Sam Watkins, Edward Porter Alexander, Phoebe Yates Pember, Walt Whitman, Louisa May Alcott, and African Americans engaged in the process of emancipation. The reading load is approximately 300 pages per week, and regular attendance and significant participation in class discussion are essential. Students must secure instructor’s permission to enroll.

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