Writing guides08 October 2019

How to Write a Civil War Essay and Get High Grade

Do history papers make you sick? With this complete guide, we will help you deal with your Civil War essay easily! Here you will learn how to pick the right topic, analyze sources, and write a well-structured paper.

The work of any historian is based on analyzing various pieces of information for a certain period to build up a picture of a particular event or historical time frame. The basis of any historical paper lies in the careful study of primary resources, finding the right topics for investigation, stating the right questions, and thoughtful selection of arguments.

Writing a Civil War essay may be similar to any other history paper that you have already written. In this article, we want to share with you some insights, recommendations, and topics to help you complete this assignment successfully. In fact, your assignment may ask you to conduct a literary analysis, write an argumentative essay, or make research on a particular event of the Civil War. No matter the situation, the following guide should help you.

How to Choose Civil War Essay Topics

Sometimes teachers don’t assign specific topics and give students freedom of choice. If you look at the list of events that have happened during the Civil War and the people involved in the battles, it may seem overwhelming. What will suit you the best?

First, you need to look carefully through the requirements of your assignment. What is the teacher asking you to do in your paper? Maybe the paper should be dedicated to a specific period of time, analyze several articles, or debate the causes of the Civil War. Write down the keywords from the requirements.

When you have completely understood what the teacher wants from you, look through the available sources of information, including Wikipedia and other sources. You need to get an overall perspective of the information available. Also, you can search through the recommended literature in your history textbooks or a list of recommended literature created by your teacher.

Take notes while reading and write down the ideas. Make sure that the topic is interesting to you, as it will boost your motivation to conduct research and write a good paper. As a result, you will have a list of Civil War topics, and you can look through and pick the most interesting one. To help you a bit, here are some topics about the Civil War to choose from:

  • Discuss the Hollywood interpretation of the Civil War and its historical accuracy.
  • Analyze the life of a Civil War personality and evaluate the quality of existing information.
  • Choose one memoir or account from the Civil War and share your opinion about the author’s thoughts, visions, and ideas.
  • Compare and contrast ideas and approaches of two prominent figures from the Civil War.
  • Explore political cartoons that were created during the Civil War.
  • Describe the impact of the Civil War on American history.
  • Analyze important battles and their significance.
  • Compare the North and the South in 1861.
  • Choose and analyze at least ten events from the period of 1850-1877.
  • Explore several personal letters from individuals who lived during the Civil War and analyze the content.
  • Define the roles and responsibilities of president Lincoln during wartime.
  • Analyze Lincoln’s Reconstruction plans after the Civil War and define issues that surrounded those plans.
  • Discuss the methods African Americans used to fight for freedom and how these actions affected US history and the African American population.
  • Explore common misconceptions about particular events from the Civil War.

Steps to Write a Civil War Essay

When you have chosen the topic and narrowed it down, you can proceed to the following list of steps to complete your Civil War essay.

1. Choose and analyze primary and secondary sources related to your topic.

Pick evidence that you can use to back up your arguments and point of view. Jot down ideas and highlight quotations while you read. For example, you may need to look through the following list of primary documents created during the years of the Civil War:

  • Homestead Act (1862)
  • Pacific Railway Act (1862)
  • Morrill Act (1862)
  • Emancipation Proclamation (1863)
  • Gettysburg Address (1863)
  • 13th Amendment to the US Constitution (1865)
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (1865)
  • Treaty With Russia (Alaska Purchase) (1867)
  • 14th Amendment to the US Constitution (1868)
  • 15th Amendment to the US Constitution (1870)

2. Make a plan for your paper.

Create a list of questions that you plan to answer, and it will be the basis of your paper. A history paper should have a clear structure that includes an introduction, main body, and conclusion. If you plan to create several body paragraphs, make sure that each paragraph focuses on one particular idea or argument.

3. Create the first draft.

Start answering the most simple questions and move further to the more difficult ones. Make sure that you use the right evidence and quotations from relevant sources. Test your assumptions and ask questions while writing to be sure that your opinion is correct.

4. Polish the final version.

When the main job is over, it’s time to reread your paper and edit it if necessary. Make sure that you have listed the right dates and all names are spelled correctly. Rewrite the text or add citations to make your text more appealing and credible. Correct the grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors to make your paper perfect.

To make your paper even better, we have created a list of tips based on the common issues and mistakes students encounter while writing history papers. Check it out in the following paragraph.

General Advice on How to Write a Civil War Essay

The following tips can be used both for an essay on the Civil War and any other history paper. Consider this advice to avoid common mistakes and surprise your teacher with a well-written academic text.

  • Start early. Usually, history papers require some time to choose a topic and analyze primary sources, so be sure that you have enough time not to be in a rush.
  • Stick to the past tense. This is quite logical: the historical events took place some time ago, which is why it is correct to use the past tense.
  • Exclude generalizations. Be as specific as you can. Even if you use one, support it with a quotation or evidence from sources.
  • Stick to the chronology. It’s crucial to use the right dates for each event and avoid jumping around various dates. Double-check all dates you mention in your paper.
  • Use only appropriate and reliable sources. Avoid citing Wikipedia and blogs. Try to stick to primary sources as well, or use articles from secondary scholarly sources.
  • Pick evidence attentively. Imagine that you are a detective trying to look at sources critically to find any inconsistencies. Cross-check the reliability of sources you plan to use in your paper.
  • Avoid cheap moralizing. What does this mean? This is about critically judging or accusing people from the past and not considering the values and situation of the era they lived in.
  • If you are writing a college level essay, resist using quotations from dictionaries or encyclopedias, unless you are a high-school student and your teacher appreciates such sources.

Causes of the Civil War Essay Sample

The causes of the Civil War are still argued among historians and are surrounded by various misconceptions. Next, you can read an excerpt of a history essay about the causes of the Civil War.

The causes of the Civil War are frequently associated with various myths. For example, the most common misconception is that the Civil War was caused by the idea of conflict between the North, which was considered to be a proponent of progress, and the South, which consisted of ruthless exploiters. In fact, the primary reason that forced Abraham Lincoln’s administration to war was an urgent necessity to protect the Union.

The United States, despite the economic complexity and being made up of self-governed states, still had a singular, federal structure. As a result, integrative processes were relatively gradual, since every state had its own political and economic life. The majority of immigrants and entrepreneurs strove to the North, as this region focused on machine building, metal working, and light manufacturing. There was no lack of workforce, as immigrants worked in factories and other facilities. The South, however, was an agricultural region with vast amounts of fields and a constant lack of workforce. As most of the immigrants moved to the North, the South continued to utilize African slaves. Slavery itself was an undeniable part of the Union from the very beginning, and wasn’t the sole reason for the war. (…)

A List of Civil War Movies

The Civil War left a significant imprint on American history, and it’s no surprise that filmmakers have created a great list of movies dedicated to the Civil War. While films give us a general overview of historical events, you need to watch them as a film critic and historian rolled into one. Evaluate the historical accuracy of the presented event, and look at the costumes, the dialogue, and other details that the director may choose to respect or change.

  • “The Birth of a Nation” (1915)
  • “The General” (1926)
  • “Gone With the Wind” (1939)
  • “The Red Badge of Courage” (1951)
  • “The Raid” (1954)
  • “Friendly Persuasion” (1956)
  • “The Horse Soldiers” (1959)
  • “How the West Was Won” (1962)
  • “Major Dundee” (1965)
  • “Shenandoah” (1965)
  • “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)
  • “The Beguiled” (1971)
  • “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (1976)
  • “Roots” (1977)
  • “North and South,” Books I-II (1985-1986)
  • “Glory” (1989)
  • “Gettysburg” (1993)
  • “Ride With the Devil” (1999)
  • “Gangs of New York” (2002)
  • “Cold Mountain” (2003)
  • “Lincoln” (2012)
  • “Field of Lost Shoes” (2015)
  • “Free State of Jones” (2016)

We hope that our guide will serve you well when writing a Civil War essay or other history paper. Consider the tips and get inspired by the topics. If you still don’t know how to write an argumentative essay on the Civil War, place an order on our website and our writers will gladly help you.

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