Why the Confederates fled NC

Research Paper Option # 1—HIS 3823


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Your assignment is to write a paper analyzing why North Carolinians deserted from the Confederate army during the Civil War.  You must utilize primary and secondary sources (many provided) to make an argument and support it with evidence from those sources.  Some pointers:


1) You must have a clear thesis.

Your thesis is your argument.  Every history paper should be making an argument.  You are not just telling a story for the sake of it.  You are proving your argument.


2) A thesis is a statement that answers a historical question, and can be debated.  Nothing is accepted as gospel truth in history.  Every event is up for interpretation.  Your thesis should make clear what your interpretation (or argument) is, and then you spend the paper proving that argument with the evidence you have accumulated.


3)  Do not rely too heavily on one source.

You become too dependent on SOMEONE ELSE’S thesis when you rely on one source.


4) Acknowledge what other historians have said about your topic.

Briefly state what other historians have said about your particular topic, and then state what your argument is, and how it is different from theirs.  This need not take more than one or two paragraphs.  You should acknowledge that you are not the first person to ever write about your topic, but that you are making an argument in a way that no one else has.


5) Find an interesting way of opening your paper.

Engage the reader; capture their attention.  Perhaps open with an anecdote, or vignette, or quote, or action sequence—something to pique the reader’s interest and make them want to read further.  Then clearly and articulately state your thesis.


6) Write in clear, concise, and direct prose.  Don’t be verbose.  Don’t use 14 words when 7 will do.  Don’t use 5 sentences when you can convey the same point in 2.


7) Be precise in your language.  Know the difference between whether and weather; led and lead; there and their; its and it’s; cavalry and Calvary.


You can also look at our library newspaper databases and search by keyword, and you can use the The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.  Now searchable online through Cornell: http://collections.library.cornell.edu/moa_new/waro.html



1) You must type the essay.

2) Double-space it.

3) 12-point font.

4) Set 1 inch margins all around (Microsoft Word has 1.25 inch margins by default on the left and right; you will have to change that in Page Setup).

5) The paper should be 12-15 pages.

6) Specifically reference all sources that you use.

7) You will use footnotes whenever you reference a source.  If you do not know how to use footnotes, learn how!

8) DO NOT USE FIRST PERSON.  Write in 3rd person.


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