Published Date

January 1, 2016

Resource Type

AHA Resource, For the Classroom

AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning, Undergraduate Education


United States, World

This resource was developed as part of the AHA’s Globalizing the US History Survey project


By Timothy Draper and Amy Powers

Institution: Waubonsee Community College

Location: Sugar Grove, Illinois

Year: 2016

The Global Civil War

In the following, Timothy Draper and Amy Powers provide ideas for ways of bringing global contexts into a unit or course on the American Civil War. They include useful topics to cover, along with primary and secondary source readings. You may also download the original PowerPoint presentation: The Global Civil War (PDF)


Changing Nature of Warfare


  • Comparison between the US Civil War and the German Wars of Unification
  • Total war, modern war, or a “people’s war”?
  • Mobilization
  • Women and the home front
  • An era of nation-building


  • Bender, Thomas. A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006.
  • Förster, Stig and Jörg Nagler, eds. On the Road to Total War: The American Civil War and the German Wars of Unification, 1861-1871. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Foreign Nationals and the War


  • Chinese soldiers
  • Irish soliders
  • English soldiers
  • Latino soldiers


  • Foreman, Amanda. A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War. New York: Random House, 2010.
  • Gleeson, David T. The Green and the Gray: The Irish in the Confederate States of America. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2013.
  • Worner, William Frederic. 1921. “A Chinese soldier in the civil war”. Historical Papers and Addresses 25: 52-55.

Personal Case Studies

  • Woo Hong Neok (1834-1919)
  • The Fenian Brotherhood
  • Henry Wemyss Feilden

Nationalism and Europe

Discuss with relation to:

  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Ireland

Nationalism and the Pacific

Discuss with relation to:

  • Japan
  • China
  • Hawaii

Nationalism and the Americas

Discuss with relation to:

  • Mexico
  • United States

Ideology and the War


  • Abolitionism: World Anti-Slavery Convention (1840)
  • Transatlantic liberalism
  • Socialism: Marx on America

Applicable Themes for the Classroom

  • Changing nature of 19th-century warfare
  • Global peoples participating in a civil war
  • Civil war, nationalism, and ideology
  • Forgotten theaters of the American Civil War

Resources for Curriculum Design

Resources for the Classroom

Questions for the Classroom

  • Why the need to teach transnational history?
  • What is global and what is national?
  • What is the correct balance between the locality, nation, and the world?
  • How might interdisciplinary connections be made?
  • How may chronology and topicality influence global approaches?