The American Military University (AMU) and the Weider History Group will be presenting a series of live webcasts on the Civil War that look promising. I’m excited to see this line up and think it a terrific educational venue made accessible to anyone. Here’s a quick run down. Oh and HEADS UP! The first webinar is tomorrow so be sure to register! The last one was terrific.
There is a renewed and growing interest in the common soldier of the Civil War. From battling in muddy trenches to charging through fields of enemy fire, the common soldier also combated the equally-deadly diseases that plagued the theater of war. But what motivated him to fight? This live webcast will bring light to what it must have been like for these men to “see the elephant” and how they spent their time both on active campaigning and winter camp.
Could a decisive victory at Shiloh have changed the outcome of the war? This webcast will highlight the importance of the Battle of Shiloh and the effect it had on the outcome of the Civil War. Our speakers will also discuss what would have happened in case of a decisive Confederate victory at Shiloh.
How important is the Battle of Gettysburg to the study, discussion and portrayal of the Civil War today? How do historians interpret a single battle that changed the way Lincoln viewed the Civil War? This live webcast event will bring to light aspects of the Battle of Gettysburg ranging from the importance of the battle, to our memory of the Civil War, to how the battle is still being fought as Americans debate various interpretations of the battlefield.
I am going to begin in earnest to find a suitable topic for my thesis. I don’t expect to have one locked in until I get another course or two under my belt but I am interested in the opinions of many of you who I would consider expert on topics of Civil War military history. Where are there gaps in scholarship that need filling from your perspective?
I just registered for my next course, Civil War Strategy and Tactics, which will start March 2nd. Book list looks terrific and is on order. It’s also loaded on my virtual bookshelves which you can access by clicking on any of the books. I’ve updated “the courses” page here.
Course Description: This course is a study of the American Civil War with emphasis on operational contributions of Union and Confederate military leadership. Students examine Civil War battles on two levels: the strategic doctrine as formed by the major commanders and tactical developments that affected the conduct of battle at a lower echelon of command. Special emphasis is on the interplay between these levels in order to gain a comprehensive view of strategy and tactics in both armies from 1861-1865.
After a short break, I’ll be diving into my next class which starts November 3rd. As is my custom, I’ve added this to “The Courses” page.
“Antebellum America: Prelude to Civil War” (starts November 3rd)
This course is an analysis of the conditions existing in the United States in the first half of the 19th century. The course focuses on the political, cultural/social, economic, security, leadership, and other issues that played roles in starting and shaping the Civil War. We will analyze the issues in the context of war and peace to determine whether or not such conflicts as civil wars can be avoided prior to their inception.
TBD once the syllabus is available. For now, the list is as follows which is very light in comparison with my last class:
This post continues on the theme introduced in post 1 here and continued in post 2 here.
The growth in level of focus that the United States has placed on technology as manifested by the Vietnam War era cannot be stated better than by Andrew F. Krepinevich (The Army and Vietnam)who posited that the United States’ army was “equipped with the most sophisticated technology in an age when technology had assumed the role of a god of war.” 
Air power technologies continued to grow in importance throughout the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The helicopter was used in the Korean War for both removal of wounded and the shuttling of commanders to and from the front. Use of helicopters in Vietnam was extensive as a tool for troop mobility and weapon. Roy E. Appleton (East of Chosin) describes the masterful albeit not flawless use of Marine Corsairs in support of ground troops and their ability to deliver deadly machine gun and rocket fire as well as napalm.  Use of radio communication between ground personnel (air controllers of the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) and fighter and bomber pilots was also impressive in ensuring that strikes hit their mark.
More in Part 4.
 Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr. The Army and Vietnam. Reprint. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988.
 Roy E. Appleman. East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950. Reprint. Texas A&M University Press, 1991
This post continues on the theme introduced in post 1 here.
The growth in technological firepower was certainly evident in the Korean War. Roy Appleton in his fascinating work, East of Chosin (see previous post here) brings to life the murderous effect of mobile artillery including the M19 full-track (dual-40) below as used by trained American soldiers in their desperate defense of positions east of the Chosin Reservoir in 1950.
The two 40-mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns which were mounted on revolving turret wreaked havoc among attacking Chinese soldiers as long as ammunition held out as did quad-50s.
That said, the effects of the extreme cold and lack of fuel also showed the weapon’s vulnerability as a mobile gun platform. Tanks were used by the American’s as well although Appleman covers well their limitations on icy terrain in Korea. The American’s use of 75-mm recoilless rifle (below) was also deadly, especially when in the hands of trained gunners. Likewise, the use by Chinese soldiers of American-made Thompson submachine guns showed the destructive power of automatic small arms against U.S. forces.
We have arrived in “Studies in U.S. Military History” (see course information here) at the American Civil War. We’ll spend two weeks on this war, more than any other. Millett and Maslowski’s For the Common Defense splits the war into two periods: chapter six, 1861 – 1862 and chapter seven, 1863-1865. It is chock full of interesting statistics, enough to begin to fill a “page” on the blog where I can keep them handy. And so, yet another new page: the statistics.
And so a few statistics from Millett and Maslowski – always fascinating for this student of mathematics and engineering.
1861 White Male Population: North – 20 million; South – 6 million
800,000 immigrants arrived in the North, betwee 1861 adn 1865, including a high proportion of males liable for military service
20 – 25 percent of the Union Army was foreign-born
2 million men served in the Union Army
750,000 men fought in the Confederate Army which was a maximum strenght in late 1863 with 464,500
Not all of these men on either side were “present for duty.” Out of the 464,500 Confederates, only 233,500 were “present for duty.”
Taxation produced less than 5% of the Confederacy’s income. It produced 21% of Union government income.
The Confederacy printed $1.5 billion in paper money, the Union $450 million in “greenbacks.”
In 1860, the nothern states had 110,000 manufacturing establishments, the southern states, 18,000.
During the year ending June 1, 1860, the states forming the Confederacy produced 36,790 tons of pig iron. The state of Pennsylvania alone produced 580,049 tons.
The South contained 9,000 miles of railroad track to the North’s 30,000 miles.
100,000 Southern Unionists fought for the North with every Confederate state except South Carolina providing at least a battalion of white soldiers for the Union Army. Millett and Maslowski call these the “missing” Southern Army and “a crucial element in the ultimate Confederate defeat.
I’ve added a new page to wig-wags titled, “the wars” which you can access here or on the sidebar any time. I am in the third week of a core course, “Studies in U.S. Military History” (see “The Courses here for more detail on this an other courses I’m taking at the American Military University). I am convinced that there has been mention of at least 20 – 30 “wars” so far in this class. I’m losing track. So as has been my practice on wigwags, I’m creating a page to log information I want to collect for reference, add to as I find more information, and be able to jump to quickly. I should have started this page with the first chapter read in the course!
I’ll begin with a chronicle of America’s wars. I will add to it as I discover and have time to post. I may also create sub-pages to dive into each war in more detail. I have a bit of catching up to do so won’t start “at the beginning” but rather where I am in my reading (War of 1812). But I’ll eventually get them all filled in. If interested, please come back from time-to-time to that page as I’ll hope to update regularly.
As always, I’ll try to make the page as visually interesting as possible.
Photo: Battle between the frigates HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake off Boston during the War of 1812; detail of a lithograph by J.C. Schetky.
Historiography is a wrap. The new class, Studies in U.S. Military History, started yesterday. There was a slight change in texts. For the Korean War, Roy E. Appleman’s East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950will be used rather than the one I mentioned earlier.
The class will be a challenging one. Thirteen books will be required reading as noted in my last post here. The pace will be more than one book per week in addition to writing assignments. Best get to it!
For those interested, I have posted the full program of study for my Masters program on “the courses” page here. It’s pretty solid at this point with the exception of an elective.
I’ve now purchased all required books for my upcoming course, “Studies in U.S. Military History” which starts April 7th. It’s a BIG stack. As is my custom, the full reading list is posted on “the courses” page. I had previously posted more detail on that course here. Recall that it covers most of America’s major wars and should provide an excellent survey. Can’t wait!