HIST 389
American Military History

Professor Charles M. Dobbs

Fall 2002 


This is an upper division course in American military history. We are going to move serially through America's major wars beginning with the four colonial wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and end with the Gulf War to discuss how well America's military leaders did their job and to examine, if it exists at all, the American "way of war".

Hopefully, it will be educational, interesting, and will change perceptions of some leaders and their popular reputations. That is, we will concentrate on strategy, and discuss more specific issues - technology, weaponry, communication, transportation, logistics, etc. - only as we need to emphasize the on-going discussion about strategy.

Thus, in lecture, we will move through the wars, the strategies, each side's relative strengths and weaknesses, and then gauge the performance of military leaders. In discussion, you will concentrate on a theme or a point for the particular conflict we are discussing and pursue it in greater detail.

Assigned Readings

James M. Morris. America's Armed Forces. A History. Second Edition

Charles P. Roland. An American Iliad. The Story of the Civil War, 2nd Edition.

D. Clayton James and Anne Sharp Wells. From Pearl Harbor to V-J Day.

Larry Addington. America's War in Vietnam. A Short Narrative History.

Charles M. Dobbs. Course Packet for HIST 389.

Schedule of Readings

Due Date


September 25,2002

Morris, pp. 1-106.
Roland, all.

October 30, 2002

Morris, pp. 107-293.
James and Wells, all.

by Final Exam

Morris, pp. 209-390.
Addington, all.

Grading Procedure:

1st Examination Due

September 25, 2002


2nd Examination Due

October 30, 2002


Final Examination Due

Per Posted Schedule


Attendance/participation in Recitation Section



There will be three examinations; the first two will each cover material for the five weeks preceding the examination; the examinations will be a combination of essay and short answers. The final examination will cover both the preceding five weeks and will have a cumulative section. We will discuss exam format, possible questions, etc. prior to each exam. These are take-home examinations designed to achieve several goals. They seek to measure performance; they also seek to serve as a statement of what is a reasonable amount of material to master within each time frame; and, finally, I hope that they limit the stress that some students have with in-class testing procedures.


Students need to attend class. Excessive absences can be penalized by loss of up to and exceeding one grade on the final course grade. Few courses can succeed without regular attendance. Class also begins on time.

Course Grading

This course will use the +/- grading system.

Late Work

Late examinations without prior exception can be penalized by loss of one half-letter grade [5%] for each day late.

Office Hours, Etc

The Department of History is located in 603 Ross Hall; the telephone number is 294-7266. My office is located in 1750 Beardshear Hall; my telephone number is 294-2042. My e-mail address is cdobbs@iastate.edu - I read e-mail several times daily. I will have office hours Monday-Wednesday-Friday from 1:00-2:00 pm, Tuesday-Thursday from 7:30-8:00 am and by appointment.

Please visit, call, or e-mail about anything that interests or concerns you.