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American History 1--HIST 2111 (OER): Chapter 14: The Civil War

American Yawp Chapter Summary

The American Civil War, the bloodiest in the nation’s history, resulted in approximately 750,000 deaths.1 The war touched the life of nearly every American as military mobilization reached levels never seen before or since. The vast majority of northerners went to war to preserve the Union, but the war ultimately transformed into a struggle to eradicate slavery. African Americans, both enslaved and free pressed the issue of emancipation and nurtured this transformation. Simultaneously, women thrust themselves into critical wartime roles while navigating a world without many men of military age. The Civil War was a defining event in the history of the United States and, for the Americans thrust into it, a wrenching one. Read more of Chapter 14 from the American Yawp.

Things to Consider

Questions to be thinking about as you move through the content of this chapter

  1. Why did some southern states decide to secede from the Union?  In what ways was that decision tied to the issue of slavery?
  2. Why is the American Civil war considered the first modern war?
  3. Compare and contrast the military (meta-) strategies of the North and South.
  4. What is meant by the phrase “confederate nationalism?”  What role did it play in the war and why did it ultimately fail? 
  5. How did the Civil War change the South?  What factors led to the erosion of support for the Confederacy within the South?
  6. What were the effects of the war in the North?  How did the Civil War expand the role and power of the federal government?
  7. What factors led to the anti-war sentiment in the North and the South?
  8. In what ways did the Civil War change the soldiers’ experience of war?
  9. In what ways was the Civil War "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight" in both the North and the South?
  10. What was the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation? What effect did it have on the North and on the South? 
  11. In what ways could 1863 be considered a “turning point” in the Civil War?
  12. Describe the Union’s ultimate path to victory, between 1864 and 1865.

Learning Objectives and Assessment

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Distinguish between primary and secondary materials and decide when to use each
  • Explore the complexity of the human experience, across time and space
  • Distinguish between historical facts and historical interpretations
  • Evaluate a variety of historical sources for their credibility, position, significance, and perspective

Course Objectives

  • Students will be able to understand the relationship between events connected to Manifest Destiny & the causes of sectionalism & the Civil War
  • Students will be able to identify decisive events of the Civil War & explain the regional & national consequences of Reconstruction
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