Military History Syllabus


Course title: Military History: Combat and Culture in the Western Civilization
Course #: 04361,-01, -02, -03
Course Instructor: Mr. McNamara, C228    email:

Summary: This semester long course will explore the patterns of warfare from the Dawn of Modern Warfare in The Renaissance to today’s war in Afghanistan. Emphasis will be placed on the continuity and change within the military experience and strategic thought, as well as highlight the manner in which military, culture, and society influence each other. While wars and battles will be discussed, the primary goal of this course is to gain an understanding of why and how nations choose to fight. 
Course Requirements: Eligible students must have completed Western Civilization and United States History I. Open to grades 11 and 12. 
Materials: Notebook, Writing Instrument, and Three Ring Binder (all handouts must be saved!)
Text: Hanson, Victor Davis. Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power. New York: Random House, 2002. 
Select Chapters from : Morillo, Stephen, Jeremy Black, and Paul Lococo. War in World History: society, technology, and war from ancient times to the present. Vol. I+II New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2009.
Select Chapters from: Makers of Modern Strategy: From  Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Ed., Peter Paret. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.
Select Chapters from: Weigley, Russell F. The American Way of War: A History of United States Strategy and Policy. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1977.

Course Objectives: 
1. Students will be able to describe, analyze, and evaluate major conceptual ideas of military thought. 
2. Students will be able to understand and identify the historical argument / controversy in each era of military history 
3. Students will be able to analyze and use primary and secondary source material in both research and in the synthesis of arguments. 
4. Students will be able to research historical topics at an advanced level. 
5. Students will achieve a basic understanding of military theory and practice across time. 
6. Students will be able to identify the change over time between societies / cultures and their respective militaries. 

Grading Criteria:  
Quarterly:                Semester:
Quiz    25%                Quarter 1 = 40%
Tests    35%                Quarter 2 = 40%
Essays    25%                Portfolio = 20%
Discussion 15%
No Final Examination.  A Portfolio will take the place of final exam and be worth 20% of course grade
Begin Term 1
Week One: What is War? Why do we fight? Examining War as an agent of change and as an instrument of politics.  
•    Background to modern warfare – The Western tradition, Greeks, Romans, Charlemagne, and Warfare of the Middle Ages
•    Begin Discussion Victor Davis Hanson’s theorized Western way of war in Carnage and Culture: Read Chapter 1 pg. 1-24 “Why the West has Won”
Week Two: Warfare in the Dark and Middle Ages, and Feudal Warrior Kings
•    Battles: Battle of Poitiers, Battle of Hastings
•    Societal change: Feudalism, and a culture of Killing, Monarch vs. Monarch
•    Long Bow and Pike – beginning of conscript armies and social equality
•    Read 119-138 in War in World History
•    Holy War: increase in secular power
•    Seige of Jerusalem, Crecy, Agincourt 
•    Read Felix Gilbert – Machiavelli: The Renaissance and the Art of War 
•    Carnage and Culture: Read Chapter 2 pg. 27-59 “Freedom” and Chapter 3 pg. 60-98 “Decisive Battle”
Week Three: Beginnings of Global warfare and the Warfare of Nation Building
•    Societal Change: Technological overload and a Military Revolution?
•    Read pg 304-342 in War in World History
•    30 Years War
•    Read Gunther Rothenberg – Maurice of Nassau, Gustavus Adolphus et al., and the “Military Revolution” of the 17th Century
•     Continue Carnage and Culture: Chapter 4 pg. 99-132 “Citizen Soldiers” 
Week Four: Revolutionary and Napoleonic Warfare
•    Societal Change: Linear Tactics and the Levee en Masse  
•    Read pg 404-441in War in World History
•    Battle of Jena, Austerlitz, Waterloo
•    Read Peter Paret – Napoleon and the Revolution in War 
•    Continue Carnage and Culture: Chapter 5 pg. 135-169 “Landed Infantry”
•    Test 1
Week Five and Six: War in the Age of Industry and Imperialism
•    Societal Change: Mobility and Machine Guns
•    Read 442-481 in War in World History
•    Battles/conflicts: Franco- Prussian War, Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift, Adowa
•    Read Gunther Rothenberg – Moltke, Schlieffen and the Doctrine of Strategic Envelopment
•     Continue Carnage and Culture pg 170-232, “Technology and the Wages of Reason”
Week Seven and Eight: Global European Dominance, the Great War
•    Societal Change: Total War
•    Read 462-48 and 506-523 in War in World History
•    Read Michael Howard: The Doctrine of the Offensive in 1914 
•    Read Carnage and Culture 233-278, “The Market or Capitalism Kills.”
•    TEST 2

End of Term 1
Begin Term 2
Week Nine: Tanks and Tasking – Interwar Years 1918-1937
•    Read 524- 534 War in World History
•    Societal Change: Attempt to apply “lessons learned” Creation of Military Doctrine – decisive warfare?
•    Read Bond and Alexander – Liddell Hart and De Gaulle   and   MacIsaac- Voices from the Central Blue
•    TEST 4
Week Ten through Twelve: The Good War – World War II 1937-1945
•    Read 535-564 In War in World History
•    Read  Condoleeza Rice – The Making of Soviet Strategy
•    Read Matloff – Allied Strategy in Europe, 1939-1945
•    Read James- American and Japanese Strategies in the Pacific War 
•    Carnage and Culture pg 279-333, “Discipline:  or, Warriors are Not Always Soldiers”

Week Thirteen: Cold War and the Nuclear Age
•    Read 565-583 in War in World History
•    Read Freedman – The First Two Generations of Nuclear Strategists
•    Read Carver- Conventional Warfare in the Nuclear Age
•    TEST 5
“The American Way of War”
Week Fourteen: The American Revolution and the War of 1812
•    Article: The Early American Way of War: A Reconnaisance
•    Pre-Revolutionary Petite Guerre- Indian Warfare
•    From Weigley: George Washington: A Strategy of Attrition pg 3-17
•    From Weigley: Strategy of a Partisan War: Nathanael Greene pg 18-39
•    Societal Change: Guerrilla Warfare or Conventional?
•    Carnage and Culture: pg 334-388 “Individualism”
Week Fifteen: The American Civil War 
•    From Weigley: Napoleonic Strategy: R.E. Lee and the Confederacy pg 92-127
•    From Weigley: A strategy of Annihilation: U.S. Grant and the Union pg 128-152
•    Societal Change: Total War
•    (If time Permits we will also look at Frontier warfare and the Indian Wars)
•    Carnage and Culture: 389-439, “Dissent and Self Critique”
Week Sixteen: The Doughboys- America in World War I
•    From Weigley: Strategy and the Great War of 1914-1918  pg 192-222
•    Carnage and Culture: 440-462, “Epilogue”, and “Afterword”.
Week Seventeen: America comes into its own: World War II
•    Societal Change: Total War
•    From Weigley: Strategy for Pacific Ocean War: Naval Strategy of 1920s and 1930s  pg 269-311
•    From Weigley: The Strategic Tradition of U.S. Grant: Strategies for the European War pg 312-362

Week 18 Final Week – Portfolio Due! The portfolio will hopefully demonstrate both competence in the subject matter as well as academic and intellectual growth over time.
Portfolio Requirements:
1.    All Tests (in order and corrected)
2.    Portfolio Paper: 
 Victor Davis Hanson’s historical recitation is impeccable and beyond questioning, many of his conclusions are controversial in historical circles. Using what you have learned this semester examine Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power. Write an analysis of the conclusions Hanson draws in regards to seven events in Carnage and Culture and give your opinion why or why not Hanson was correct or incorrect in each case. Conclude your paper with a summary of your arguments.
1500 Words +/- 10%
Typewritten, Double Spaced
Chicago style format
Footnotes (not end notes)
Bibliography ( This can be done with just War in World History and Carnage and Culture, but feel free to research other sources to make your arguments)
Note: This portfolio paper requires thinking and originality, I do not want to see a recitation of the events!