History 3900, section 001

Modern Military History

Mon-Wed-Fri, 12:20-1:10, Hardin 201
Fall Term, 2023

Prof. Edwin E. Moise
Office: Hardin 102
Phone: 650-8845

Messages can be left in my mailbox in Hardin 124, or in the box on my office door.

Office Hours: I will try to be in my office at the following hours, but it won't always be possible. On the other hand, I will be in my office, and available to you, for much more of the week than my official office hours. E-mail me, or just check and see if my door is open.

    Monday                    2:30-3:20
    Tuesday    11:00-12:00,   2:00-3:15
    Wednesday  11:15-12:00    2:30-3:20
    Thursday   (none officially scheduled but I will often be available)
    Friday     (none officially scheduled but I will often be available) 

Course Description

Survey of the development of modern warfare and the influence of technological change on warfare. Particular attention is given to the major conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries.

There are no prerequisites for HIST 3900.

Learning Environment

If something unfortunate happens I might have to change my plans, but I plan to teach this as a traditional history class. Lectures, the quiz, and tests will take place in the classroom. Most discussion will be in the classroom, though some will take place through Canvas. You will turn in written assignments (other than the quiz and tests) through Canvas.

Course Objectives

To give students an overview of the nature of modern warfare (primarily but not exclusively land warfare), including discussion of strategy, tactics, technology, and the relationship of the military to society. The main focus will be on the period from the late 19th century to the present, but there will be some background on earlier periods.

Learning Outcomes

What goes into your grade

Your grade in the course will be based mainly on the written work I have assigned. You cannot do extra papers for extra credit. You can improve your grade a bit by participating in class discussion. The best way to pick up extra points is to argue against me in class; If you can point out to me that I have made a mistake you get two points extra in the gradebook. If you present a good clear argument that I am wrong about something, with evidence, then your grade may be boosted even if you do not succeed in convincing me.

I do not emphasize trivial factual details in this course. On tests and quizzes I will NOT ask you to tell me the dates of the battle of Arnhem, or the names of the commanders in it. There are some facts you need to know, but they are more important things than dates and names. On the other hand, I will expect you to get an idea of the sequence of events, what came first and what came later.

The most important single part of your grade will be the course paper. You can write it on whatever topic you please, within the limit of the subject matter of this course. The papers should be at least eight pages long typed double spaced for the actual text (not including title page, maps, illustrations, or Works Cited page). Longer papers are acceptable. If footnotes take up a lot of each page, make it at least nine pages.

For more detailed guidelines on the term paper, see Writing a Term Paper in Military History.

The paper is due Wednesday, December 6. I request that you turn it in electronically through Canvas, which records the date you submitted it. If Canvas says it was turned in on December 6 (in other words, if it got in before midnight), it will be considered on time. There will be a five point penalty if the paper is submitted on December 7 or 8. The penalty will be fifteen points if it is not in by midnight December 8.

You can have a pretty free choice of topics for this paper, within the limits of the subject matter of this course. You must come in and talk to me about your paper, and discuss the sources you will be using. It is not enough to say to me as we are walking out of the classroom one morning "Professor Moise, is it OK if I write about the Battle of Chancellorsville?" You will need to talk things over with me for ten or fifteen minutes, not just a few seconds. After we have talked, I will give you a blank topic sheet, which you will then fill out and return to me. The sheet should describe your topic, with a list of the main sources you plan to use. There will be a five point penalty if you have not given this to me by October 25, and an additional five points if it is not in by November 3. If it still is not in by November 10, I will either give you yet another five-point penalty, or else simply hand you a sheet of paper telling you what topic you must write on, and what sources you must use.

If you give me a preliminary draft of your paper as an e-mail attachment by November 17 (preferably before that), I will look it over and give you suggestions about how you could improve it.

The paper is worth 150 points. The other work will be:
    --Two newspaper research exercises, worth 40 points each.
    --One essay quiz (20 points).
    --The midterm test (70 points) and the final exam (120 points), which will be mostly essay questions.
    --Class participation, either in class or through the Discussion section on Canvas. If you are the sort of person who feels comfortable speaking up in class, do so. If you don't feel comfortable with that, post in the discussion section on Canvas so you won't lose out on this. 20 points.

This adds up to 460 points for the course. The basic grade scale is that 90% (414 points) is the bottom of the A range, 80% (368 points) is the bottom of the B range, and so on. Sometimes I alter the scale in the students' favor, never against them. Thus 414 points is a guaranteed A; 410 or even 406 points might be an A, if the average for the class is low.

DO NOT TRUST WHAT CANVAS SAYS ABOUT YOUR AVERAGE GRADE. If Canvas says you got 36 points on a particular paper, that should be reliable. But if Canvas says your average for the semester so far is 90.32%, that might be wrong by a significant margin.

Academic Integrity Policy

All work submitted in this course must be your own, completed in accordance with the University’s academic regulations. You may not engage in unauthorized collaboration or make use of ChatGPT or other AI composition software. AI-generated submissions will be therefore treated as plagiarism, handled in accordance with existing university policy.

All infractions of academic dishonesty by undergraduates must be reported to Undergraduate Studies for resolution through that office. In cases of plagiarism instructors may use the Plagiarism Resolution Form.

See the Undergraduate Academic Integrity Policy website for additional information and the current catalogue for the policy.

The ways students have gotten into problems of academic dishonesty in this course, in past years, have been:

    Large portions of a term paper copied from a book or web site, without any indication that the material was copied. Typically this involves both large amounts of material quoted word-for-word, without quotation marks, and also a serious shortage of source notes pointing to the book from which the material came. Often there are misleading source notes claiming the material came from some source other than the one from which it was actually copied word-for-word. These false source notes are especially strong evidence that the copying was dishonesty and not just carelessness.

    Whole term paper obtained from some source (a commercial term paper service, or the Internet, or the collection of term papers that one of the fraternities used to have, and may still have).

    One student copies another student's 40-point newspaper research exercise, maybe changing a few words and substituting synonyms, but leaving the two papers still so similar that it is obvious the resemblance could not be coincidence. I would be likely to bring charges both against the student who copied and the student who allowed his or her paper to be copied.

    A less likely possibility would be one student looking sideways during a test, and copying the answers being written by the student in the adjacent seat.

If a student copied a paper from someplace without citing that source, but rephrased it, substituting synonyms for enough words so that the copied paper was not identical, word for word, to the original, this would still be academic dishonesty, but would be more difficult for me to prove.

There are some ways in which it is all right for students to help each other. If two students want to study together getting ready for a test, that is perfectly OK. Only after I have handed out the questions does help on a test become improper. But if two people work together on a newspaper research exercise, and turn in papers that are very similar because each has been getting a lot of help from the other in writing it, both will be in deep trouble. If one of your fellow students asks to look at your paper, to get a better idea of how the assignment was to be done, please say no. They should come to me to ask for further explanations of the assignment, rather than looking at a completed paper to give them their clues. If two papers are so similar it is obvious the author of one must have seen the other, I will file charges.

In furtherance of its Academic Integrity policy, Clemson University has a license agreement with, a service that helps prevent plagiarism in student assignments. I will request that you submit your research papers, at the end of the semester, to Turnitin through Canvas. You will have the right to refuse to do this, if you wish. Turnitin will provide me with an originality rating and notation of possible text or contextual matches with other source documents. Turnitin does not make any determination of plagiarism. Rather, it identifies parts of an assignment that may have significant matches with other source documents found on the Internet, in the Turnitin database, or from other sources. If matches are identified and indicate the possibility of inclusion of material that is not properly cited, I will discuss this information with you before reaching any judgment or decision.

Do not turn in a paper in this course that you have also submitted in some other course, in this semester or a previous one, without consulting me first.

Policy on late work

Under normal circumstances, my policy for most written assignments is: If you do not turn it in on time, you will be able to make it up. However, you will be marked off for lateness. You will be marked off even if your excuse is very, very good. You can avoid a penalty only if I have told you before the work was due that you would be able to do it late without penalty. 40-point papers will not usually be accepted at all (you just get an F) if they are more than seven days late.

Attendance policy

You are allowed up to six cuts INCLUDING EXCUSED ABSENCES. You lose two points for every unexcused absense after that. I would advise you not to take even five. I am going to be saying quite a few things in lectures that are not in the reading. Even if you are very careful about doing all the assigned reading, you will have trouble answering the questions on my tests if you have not been at the lectures.

If I am Late

If I have not gotten to class by five minutes after it was supposed to begin, I would be grateful if a student would go bang on my office door and see whether I am there. If I still have not arrived by ten minutes after the time the class was supposed to begin, you can give up on me and leave.

If Class Is Cancelled Due To Weather

If class is cancelled due to weather, on a day when an assignment was due or a test or quiz was scheduled, the date of the assignment, test, or quiz will simply be postponed to the next class, unless I inform you otherwise by e-mail.

Title IX Statement

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This Title IX policy is located on the Campus Life website. Ms. Alesia Smith is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator, and the Executive Director of Equity Compliance. Her office is located at 223 Brackett Hall, 864.656.0620. Remember, email is not a fully secured method of communication and should not be used to discuss Title IX issues.

Accessibility Statement

Clemson University values the diversity of our student body as a strength and a critical component of our dynamic community. Students with disabilities or temporary injuries/conditions may require accommodations due to barriers in the structure of facilities, course design, technology used for curricular purposes, or other campus resources. Students who experience a barrier to full access to this class should let the instructor know and make an appointment to meet with a staff member in Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. You can make an appointment by calling 864-656-6848, by emailing, or by visiting Suite 239 in the Academic Success Center building. Appointments are strongly encouraged – drop-ins will be seen, if at all possible, but there could be a significant wait due to scheduled appointments. Students who have accommodations are strongly encouraged to request, obtain and send these to their instructors through the AIM portal as early in the semester as possible so that accommodations can be made in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to follow this process each semester.

You can access further information at the Student Accessibility Website. Other information is at the university’s Accessibility Portal.

Emergency Preparedness Statement

Emergency procedures have been posted in all buildings and on all elevators. Students should be reminded to review these procedures for their own safety. All students and employees should be familiar with guidelines from the Clemson Police Department. Visit here for information about safety.

Assigned reading

There are three books you should buy:
    The Face of Battle, by John Keegan
    Warfare in the Western World, volume II, by Doughty, Gruber, et al.
    Grunts, by John C. McManus

There will also be reading assignments that I will make available online.

Course Outline

August 23: Introduction to the course.

August 25: The Battle of Agincourt, 1415: One of the last important battles in which gunpowder weapons played no significant role.
    >>> Read the chapter on Agincourt in Keegan, The Face of Battle

August 28: Gunpowder weapons change the nature of battle.

August 30, September 1: The American Revolution, the French Revolution, and Napoleon
    >>> Keegan, The Face of Battle, pp. 117-203
Major Campaigns of the Revolutionary War
Europe in 1809
Map: Waterloo

September 4: LABOR DAY - NO CLASS

September 6: The War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the runup to the Civil War.
    >>> Matloff, American Military History, pp. 178-189 on the Mexican War, and pp. 197-207 on the runup to the Civil War.
Map: The American Civil War

September 8: The Civil War Begins;       QUIZ
    >>> Matloff, American Military History, pp. 207-213, on the Battle of Bull Run and its aftermath.
Map: The Battle of Bull Run

September 11: The serious fighting begins
    >>> Attack and Die, by Grady McWhiney and Perry D. Jamieson (University of Alabama Press, 1982), Chapter One. I have placed this in Canvas. Click on "Files" and then click on attack1.html.
Map: The Shiloh Campaign

September 13: The battles of 1863.
    >>>Matloff, American Military History, pp. 253-67, on the Battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, in the Eastern Theater, in 1863.
Map: The Chancellorsville Campaign, up to April 30, 1863
Map: The Gettysburg Campaign: Lee Moves North
Map: Gettysburg, July 1, morning
Map: Gettysburg, July 1, late afternoon
Map: Gettysburg, July 2, afternoon
Map: Pickett's Charge, July 3, 1863

September 15: The Civil War, 1864-65; the Franco-Prussian War
    >>>Matloff, American Military History, pp. 283-304
Map: Sherman Advances Toward Atlanta, May-July 1864
Map: Sherman's March
Map: Map: Grant against Lee, initial stages
Map: Grant against Lee at Petersburg, July-August 1864

September 18: Making War More Lethal, 1871-1914
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 16

September 20: The Beginning of World War I
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 17
Europe 1914
The Western Front: The Plans
The German advance, August 2-26
Allied Retreat, August 26-30
Allied Retreat, August 30-September 5
The Battle of the Marne
The Front Extends to the North, and Stabilizes

September 22: World War I, 1914-1916
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 18

September 25: The Battle of the Somme, 1916
    >>> Keegan, the chapter on the Battle of the Somme
The Stabilized Front, 1915-1916
The Somme

September 27: World War I: Air and Naval

September 29: 1917
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 19

October 2: The End of World War I
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 20

October 4: The Interwar Period and the Beginning of World war II
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 21

October 6: Germany's War Spreads more Widely
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 22
Map: Western Europe in June 1940
Map: The Mediterranean and North Africa
Map: The Eastern Front, June-August 1941
Map: The German Advance toward Moscow, August to December 1941
Map: The Soviet Winter Counteroffensive, December 1941 to May 1942

October 9: TEST

October 11: Air and Naval War; The Pacific Theater
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 23
Map: The Pacific Theater

October 13: The Mediterranean Theater; the Eastern Front
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 24

FALL BREAK: No class October 16

October 18: Germany in Retreat
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, pp. 775-796
Map: The Plan for Overlord (the Normandy Invasion)
Map: The Normandy Invasion, June 6-12, 1944
Map: Expansion of the Normandy Beachhead up to July 24
Map: After the Breakout: August 1-13
Map: The Drive across France, August 26 to September 14

October 20: The Battle of Aachen
    >>> McManus, chapter 3
Map: 21st Army Group Operations September 15 to December 15

October 23: The Defeat of Germany
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, pp. 797-808
    >>> McManus, chapter 4
Map: Battle of the Bulge, December 16-25

Due date for term paper topic sheets: October 25

October 25: Japan in Retreat
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, pp. 809-823
    >>> McManus, chapter 1

October 27: The Defeat of Japan
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, pp. 824-42
    >>> McManus, chapter 2

October 30: The Nuclear Era
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 27

November 1: The Korean War
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 28
Map: The Korean War

November 3: The Vietnam War: Background and Early Stages
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, pp. 901-921

Map of Indochina

Photos of Vietnam

November 6: The Vietnam War: Large American combat forces
    >>> McManus, Chapter 5

November 8: Marine Corps Counterinsurgency; combat intensifies further, and American will cracks
    >>> McManus, Chapter 6
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, pp. 922-928

November 10: Hand in newspaper research exercise. Choose at least four articles, editorials, or other items, about the fighting in Vietnam, and/or the political disputes in the United States over the Vietnam War, published during May and/or June 1968. Write an essay of about two pages (typed double spaced), or more, about what you found. What was there in the articles that you found interesting or surprising?

Evaluate the attitudes of the authors. Is there anything that leads you to distrust them, or to think that the facts may be being distorted to fit the author's viewpoint? Notice the source; did the reporter say that something was true, or only that somebody else had said it was true? If you say there is bias, please make it clear exactly what was said, that you consider biased. What kind of bias was it (false statements, or use of emotionally loaded language, or just careful selection of facts so that only facts favorable to one side get mentioned)? Notice what you are reading:
    --A news article is not supposed to have too much of the reporter's own opinions in it, but there is nothing inherently wrong with the reporter quoting the opinions of other people. If a reporter is quoting some very opinionated person, try to judge whether the reporter agrees with the person's opinions.
    --An editorial is supposed to present the opinions of the newspaper; there is nothing inherently wrong about it being opinionated. But you can still complain about bias if the editorial is illogical or deceptive in the way it pushes that opinion.
    --The same applies to an opinion piece written by someone who does not represent the newspaper.

Notice whose opinions you are reading. Was the item written by a journalist? If not, mention what sort of person the author was. If it was written by a journalist, was the journalist presenting his/her own opinions, or summarizing or quoting other people's statements? If a journalist was summarizing or quoting other people's statements, did the journalist show signs of believing those statements, or doubting them, or did the journalist not show any signs one way or the other?

I want to see one essay based on several articles, not a string of essentially separate mini-essays, each based on a single article. Try to select articles that will allow you to have some unifying themes in your essay.

Please give source notes. I want to be able to tell in each section of your paper which article or articles you are discussing in that section. It is not enough to have a list at the end, if I can't tell as I read the paper which article you are discussing where. Source notes must give page numbers. I don't care about the format of source notes as long as they tell me what I need to know. Any format that allows me easily to discern the name of the author, the title of the article, the title of the publication, and the date and page, is OK.

There is no requirement that you use The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, or The Times of London, but those papers have the advantage that you can access them online through the Clemson Library's Databases Page. There also used to be a huge variety of news articles available through the "archive" section of Google News, but I can no longer find this on the Google News search page. It may still be there, somewhere.

Please turn in you paper electronically through Canvas buy midnight.

November 13: The end of the Vietnam War; assorted small conflicts
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, pp. 929-933, 965-979, 994-1003.
    Map of South America
    Map of Central America and the Caribbean

November 15: Wars in the Middle East
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, chapter 30
    >>> Moise, "Limited War"
    Map of Israel
    Map: The Eastern Mediterranean Area
    Map: The Iran-Iraq War
    Map: Asia

November 17: The First US-Iraq War: Triumph achieved largely by air power
    >>> Doughty, Warfare in the Western World, pp. 980-994

November 20: The First US-Iraq War: Ground Combat
    >>> McManus, Chapter 8

THANKSGIVING: No class November 22, 24

November 27: Terrorism and the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
    >>> James Dao and Thom Shanker, "Special Forces, On the Ground, Aid the Rebels", The New York Times, October 31, 2001. I
    >>> Jon Lee Anderson, "The Surrender: Double agents, defectors, disaffected Taliban, and a motley army battle for Kunduz." The New Yorker, December 10, 2001.
    >>> Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, "Afghans' Retreat Forced Americans to Lead a Battle", The New York Times, March 10, 2002.

November 29: The United States invaded Iraq in 2003, and seemed at first to have won a quick, easy victory. But soon, heavy fighting broke out against insurgents.
    >>> McManus, Chapter 9

December 1: The insurgency in Iraq became extremely messy.
    >>> McManus, Chapter 10

December 4: There was progress in Iraq, but it did not last
    >>> Dexter Filkins, "Back in Iraq, Jarred by the Calm.", The New York Times, September 21, 2008.

    December 6: Submit term papers online through Canvas

December 6: Endgame in Afghanistan
    >>> Lt. Col. Thomas Brouns, "Exploiting Insurgent Violence in Afghanistan" Military Review, LXXXIX:4 (July-August 2009), pp. 10-20.
    >>> Alissa J. Rubin, "U.S. Forces Close Post in Afghan 'Valley of Death'" New York Times, April 15, 2010.
    Some useful information can be found in the Afghanistan Index but you are not required to look at this.

December 8: The war in Ukraine, any other unpleasantness that may come up during the semester.

Final exam: Monday, December 11, 8:00 a.m.


Other Links

Web site of the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas

Military History Atlases (U.S. Military Academy, West Point)

Selected Statistics on the Vietnam War, With a Few from Iraq

French Cavalry on the Western Front, October 1916

Troop levels in Iraq

Troop levels in Afghanistan

Edwin Moïse's homepage

Revised November 27, 2023.