FSEM 100RR—First-Year Seminar
When Americans Came Marching Home: The Veteran in US History
Fall 2010
TR 9:30-10:45 AM

Dr. Jeffrey McClurken

Course Description

This course will examine the experiences of soldiers and their families after the Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam.  The class will deal with the homecoming of soldiers, the emotional and physical impact of war, the attempt to reenter civilian life, and the role veterans played in politics and society.  While the course will be centered on the soldiers and their families, it will also emphasize postwar societies and cultures.

Course Requirements

Students are expected to attend all classes, read all assigned texts, participate in all class discussions, write two papers, keep a weekly blog, conduct an interview with an American veteran, and constructively comment on the ideas and writings put forth by and in the seminar.

Final Grades

Final grades will be determined based on class participation (35%), performance on the first paper (10%), the weekly blog postings and comments (25%), and the interview assignment and a paper based on the interview (30%).  Both papers have an option for a single revision, due one week after the first version is handed back.  Grades on rewritten papers are averaged with the grades from the first version.


Class participation includes actively participating in our daily discussions.  Each of you will also be expected to co-lead group discussion with another person (or persons) during two weeks.  I encourage these leaders to talk with me ahead of time about how to facilitate discussion for their particular week.

Reading List — From Bookstore

Fussell, Paul. Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic. Boston: Little, Brown, & Company, 1996.

Gambone, Michael D. The Greatest Generation Comes Home: The Veteran in American Society. College Station, TX: Texas A&M Press, 2003.

Keene, Jennifer.  Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Kovic, Ron. Born on the Fourth of July. New York: Pocket Books, 1976.

Logue, Larry.  To Appomattox and Beyond: The Civil War Soldier in War and Peace, New York: Ivan R. Dee, 1996.

Watkins, Sam.  Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War, 1881; reprint, New York: Touchstone, 1997.

Online Readings (From Readings Tab)

Martin, Joseph Plumb. A narrative of some of the adventures, dangers and sufferings of a revolutionary soldier; interspersed with anecdotes of incidents that occurred within his own observation, 1830.

Piehler, Kurt.  Remembering War the American Way. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press, 1995.

Resch, John Phillips  Suffering Soldiers: Revolutionary War Veterans, Moral Sentiment and Political Culture in the Early Republic, Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000.

Severo, Richard and Lewis Millford.  The Wages of War: When America’s Soldiers Came Home. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989.

Blog Postings and Comments

Your grade includes regular and consistent contributions to online blogs.  The course blog is located at and each of you will need to create your own blog at  [If you already have a blog that you’d like to use, talk to me about how also to use that preexisting blog for this course.]  These online spaces will be employed largely as a place to react to and discuss our readings, but it will also be used in a variety of ways–an assignment location, a place to discuss your project and the projects of others.  Ultimately the goal is to allow you to create a shared space where you can display your work and begin to reflect on your learning, an electronic portfolio of your time in this class, and hopefully in connections to other courses as well. [Additional information on creating and editing a blog can be found at]

You are expected to attend each class having read the assigned material and having posted on your blog a brief reaction to the readings (1-2 paragraphs). Extra credit for those blog postings which also include links to, and comments on, materials on veteran and veteran families in the news.  I will read your blogs and briefly comment at various times on your postings.  You are expected to comment on at least two of your classmates’ blogs each weekRegister for a blog at and make your first posting (a brief introduction of yourself and your interest in this course) by class time on Thursday, August 26, emailing me with your blog name and web address.  Comment on at least two other people’s blogs by Monday, August 30.

Interview Assignment

Each of you will need to interview an American veteran, following the guidelines established by the Veterans History Project at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress (  You will then use that interview as the basis for your second paper.  You must turn in your interview notes with the second paper.  [For extra credit, you can also submit your interview to the Veterans History Project, something I encourage each of you to do.]  You should record your interview in any case, something for which I can provide advice (and potentially recording devices).  You must tell me who you are interviewing by September 14.

Papers – Both with 1-inch margins, 12-point font and double spacing.  We will do peer reviews for both papers.

1) Comparison of Revolutionary and Civil War veterans (3-4 pages, plus footnotes & work-cited bibliography).

2) Paper based on interview with an American veteran (7-10 pages, plus footnotes & works-cited bibliography).

All submitted papers should be polished, finished versions.  Failure to meet this expectation will result in a reduction in the grade for the paper.  Papers will be graded on content (including originality and the quality and use of evidence), grammar, and proper formatting (including footnotes and bibliography).

FSEM Topics

Since this class is in many ways an introduction to college as well as a study of American veterans, from time to time we’ll go over topics and skills related to a successful college experience.  See the calendar below for more details.

Class Calendar

Week 1 — Introduction — Week of August 24

— The Veteran in American History

Reading — Thursday: On readings tab of course blog: The Wages of War, Prologue

Week 2 — Revolutionary War, Part 1 — Week of August 31

Context: Who were Revolutionary Veterans?

Reading — Tuesday: Four selections from Joseph Plumb Martin’s diary (under Readings tab).

Thursday:  Under Readings tab, The Wages of War, Ch. 1-2

(TH) FSEM TOPIC #1 — Reading Secondary Sources in Social Science Classes — Read link on class blog under FSEM Topics

Week 3 — Revolutionary War, Part 2 — Week of September 7

Topics: Veterans’ “Organizations”–Officers: Newburgh Conspiracy and the Society of the Cincinnati;  Enlisted Men: Impoverished Veterans and Shays’ Rebellion

Reading — Tuesday: Under Readings tab: The Wages of War,  Ch. 3-5

(TU) FSEM TOPIC #2 — Leading Discussions

Thursday: Under Readings tab: John Resch, Suffering Soldiers, 1-10, 65-92, 197-201, 210-231

(TH) FSEM TOPIC #3 — Reading Charts — (Review Resch, 210-231)


Week 4 — The Civil War, Part 1 — Week of September 14

Context: Yankee and Confederate Soldiers; Civil War Soldiers and PTSD

Reading — Tuesday: Sam Watkins, Co. Aytch, Ch. 1-12

Thursday: Sam Watkins, Co. Aytch, Ch. 13-17, Larry Logue, To Appomattox and Beyond, 3-82

(TH) FSEM TOPIC #4 — Plagiarism & Citing Sources — Read link on class blog under FSEM Topics


Compare the postwar experiences and perspectives of veterans of the Revolution and the Civil War.  Be sure to use specific examples from class discussions, readings, and Martin and Watkins’s memoirs. Cite your sources in footnotes.

Week 5 — The Civil War, Part 2 — Week of September 21

Topics: Pensions and Politics, Veterans’ Groups and National Reconciliation

Reading — Tuesday: Logue, To Appomattox and Beyond, 82-148.

Thursday: Under Readings tab: Wages of War, Ch. 9, 11, 12

(TH) FSEM TOPIC #5 — Digital Tools for Research — Zotero and

Week 6 — World War I, Part 1 — Week of September 28

Context: Fighting in the Trenches in the “Great War”; War Psychiatry and the “Discovery” of Shell Shock; The American Legion

Reading — Tuesday: Jennifer Keene, Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America, Preface, 1-34; Diary of Alvin York,

Thursday: Under Readings tab: Wages of War, Ch.15

(TH) FSEM TOPIC #6 — Research, Note-taking, and Organizing Papers

Week 7 — World War I, Part 2 — Week of October 5

—     Topics: The Great Depression, the Veterans Bureau, and the Bonus March

Reading — Tuesday: Jennifer Keene, Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America, 132-205.

Thursday: Under Readings tab: Wages of War, Ch. 16-18

Week 8 — World War II, Part 1 — Week of October 12

Fall Break — No class Tuesday, October 12

Context: Fighting the Dictators?: WWII Soldiers’ Ideology and Motivation

Reading — Thursday: Paul Fussell, Doing Battle, To the Reader, 1-8, 41-48, 65-169 [Including images]; Michael Gambone, Greatest Generation Comes Home, 10-37

Week 9 — World War II, Part 2 — Week of October 19

Topics: Unfounded Fears: Returning Soldiers and the Post-1945 Economy; Veterans and McCarthyism

Reading — Tuesday: Paul Fussell, Doing Battle, 171-217, 284-299

Thursday: Michael Gambone, Greatest Generation Comes Home, 38-89


Week 10 — World War II, Part 3 — Week of October 26

—     Topics: Minority and Female Veterans Come Home; Veterans in Film

Reading — Tuesday: Gambone, Greatest Generation Comes Home, Ch. 4-6, 8; Under Readings tab, Wages of War, Ch. 20.

(TU) FSEM TOPIC #7 — History Goes to the Movies

Thursday: Movie instead of class meeting Thursday, October 28 – Simpson Library 225 — 6-9:15 pm

Week 11 — Vietnam, Part 1 — Week of November 2

Context: American Combat Soldiers: A Working-Class War?; My Lai, Veterans and Anti-War Sentiment

Reading — Tuesday: Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July, 1-93 (Sections 1-3)

Thursday: Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July, 96-224 (The remainder of the book)

Week 12 — Vietnam, Part 2 — Week of November 9

Topics: Economic and Social Reintegration; Addictions, Agent Orange, and PTSD

Reading — Tuesday: Under Readings tab: Wages of War, Ch. 23-27

Thursday: Under Readings tab: Kurt Piehler, Remembering War the American Way, 154-182.


The final paper will be based on the interview, but asks you to integrate your interviewee’s experiences into the larger context of US veterans’ experiences.  How did your veteran’s life compare and contrast with the experiences of others we discussed?  Would he/she say that his/her experiences were typical? In what ways?

Week 13 — Week of November 16

Context: America’s Female Veterans

Reading — Tuesday & Thursday: Selections from the Veterans History Project (

Week 14 — Week of November 23

Context: Veterans of Other Wars – French & Indian, Spanish-American, Korean War

— Thanksgiving — No Class

Reading — Tuesday: Michael Gambone, Greatest Generation Comes Home, Ch. 7; Under Readings tab: Wages of War, Ch. 6-8, 13-14, 21-22

Week 15 — Week of November 30

— Discussion: Thinking About the American Veteran Over 200 Years

Reading — Tuesday: No reading — Discuss interviews

Thursday: Michael Gambone, Greatest Generation Comes Home, 3-10 (review pp. 10-14); Under Readings tab: Wages of War, Epilogue

Exam Period – December 7, 8:30-11 AM — Looking back & forward — A discussion of the history of American veterans, the liberal arts & digital tools

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