Sean Hough


    Civil War Battles

    Final Project Essay


                   The U.S. Civil War has always been and interesting subject to me. I have often endeavored to read books and articles relating to the Civil War to learn about some random fact or battle. There is a plethora of information on the Civil War, but, as what has often been my issue, it is often difficult to relate the small facts and battles to the large campaigns and events that you already have a decent knowledge. The many names and units of generals and units also add to the confusion that goes along with the Civil War. This class, along with our web page project, has helped give me a more linear perspective on the Civil War and gain a helpful sense of order in ascertaining what general or unit did what and where.

                   There were thousands of battles during the Civil War and it is difficult to understand how each campaign flows into the other. Before this class, I had an established knowledge on the Eastern Theater of the War, but not so much in the Western or the Naval Theater. The Eastern Theater receives much more attention because of the dense collection of major battles in Virginia and Maryland along with the famous personalities that orchestrated them such as McClellan, Robert E. Lee, and “Stonewall” Jackson. Previous classes I had on the Civil War and books I have read reiterated the Eastern Theater so much that it was refreshing to learn more about the Western Theater and the ever forgotten Naval Theater. The notes from the class were so interesting to me that I plan on keeping them for future reference.

                   The project was helpful in both the minutia of details I learned and the practice at in depth research I received. My artillery unit was extremely active during the entire war and was everywhere the Army of the Potomac was, which gave me more than enough information to use. Although the Eastern Theater of the war was already familiar to me, the project enlightened me on many details and lesser known battles fought in the East such as Malvern Hill and Dranesville. On the research aspect, the project gave me practice on conducting much more in depth investigations on given topics. Much of the information such as letters, memoirs, and battle movements weren’t something to be found in the first couple results in a Google search, but required a serious and intense attempt. It often took close to half an hour researching on a Civil War database for more precise information on my unit. This experience will be indispensable as student who will be attending college the upcoming fall as a history major. I will be spending hours opposed to minutes researching and it will be best getting myself prepared now than later.

                   I thoroughly enjoyed this mini course and got a lot out of it. Although we most likely will not get through the whole war, it has left enough of an impression. Learning more about the Western and Naval campaigns has sparked my interest enough to do some reading of my own the subjects. The new information on the Eastern campaign I recently learned only adds to my year to learn more. The project also gave a new and interesting way to conduct research, which could be beneficial for my upcoming time in college. Civil War Battles was an intriguing class and was so helpful in understanding the war that I plan on keeping the notes from the class for future reference.