This course covers the military and political contexts of the Battle of Gettysburg. In five video lectures, roughly an hour in total, the course will situate students in the American Civil War during the early summer of 1863. They will learn a military landscape leading up to and including the Gettysburg Campaign, and the delve into the three-day battle in greater detail. A final lecture will cover the aftermath of the battle and how the legacy of the fight continues to shape our understanding of the Civil War today. Each lecture is accompanied by a helpful and downloadable list of key terms. While there is no reading required for this course, I have provided a brief list of suggested readings, for those who want to dig deeper into detail.
High school and college students, history buffs, people planning a visit to the battlefield, and anyone with even a passing interest in Civil War history should find this course rewarding. I encourage all students to take an active and engaged role - and reach out to me personally via this platform and social media. This is the future of education, friends - let's talk :)
This lecture situates the Battle of Gettysburg within the context of the American Civil War. We will begin with a very general look at the military and political landscapes for both the Union and Confederacy in the early summer of 1863. We will assess General Robert E. Lee's decision to invade the North and the Union response. From there we will position both armies in southern Pennsylvania as they prepare for battle.
In this lecture, the fighting begins in earnest. We will look in some detail at how the fight began to the north and west of the town of Gettysburg, the position of the armies as they came on to the field of battle in piecemeal fashion, and how how the fighting unfolded on July 1, 1863. Finally, we will explore the successes and failures of both Union and Confederate armies and then look at each commander's strategic and tactical options.
In this lecture, we will look closely at the final day of fighting - July 3, 1863. First, we will assess Robert E. Lee's initial plan and see how that plan changed on the morning of the 3rd. In addition, we will briefly assess the cavalry action to the east and south of Gettysburg - assessing the performance of both Union and Confederate cavalry. Finally, we will discuss the execution and ultimate failure of Pickett's Charge - perhaps the most well-know charge of the Civil War.
In out final lecture, we will go over the aftermath of the battle and the immediate reactions form both the citizens of the United States and Confederacy - you may be surprised by their responses. We will also question the battle as a "turning point." In addition, we will see how veterans used the battlefield in the 1880s, 90s, and beyond - to commemorate their fight. Finally, we will assess the legacy of the battle today and ask...why is this battlefield so important?
Keith Harris is a historian, an author, a runner, a social media aficionado, and an animal rights advocate. He received his BA at the University of California at Los Angeles (summa cum laude) and his Ph.D. in United States history at the University of Virginia. He has taught courses in US history at UVa and UC Riverside, and currently teaches at a private high school in Los Angeles. His work focuses on nineteenth and twentieth-century American history with a special emphasis on the Civil War, Reconstruction, memory, the Progressive Era, and national Reconciliation. His first book, Across the Bloody Chasm: the Culture of Commemoration Among Civil War Veterans, is available from the Louisiana State University Press. Keith is the creator and host of Keith Harris History, a multi-media American history network. He is currently researching for a project on the making of the controversial silent film, The Birth of a Nation. He lives and works in Hollywood, California