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Major TV network broadcasts cadets’ history class

By John Van Winkle, U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs / Published March 14, 2017.  


Cadets and faculty can be seen round-the-clock on a CSPAN-3 special feature documenting a history class here.

The inside look at leadership lessons from the Civil War hit the national airwaves March 4 but can be seen online on demand at www.c-span.org/video/?418778-2/civil-war-fall-1864  and www.c-span.org/podcasts/#lecturesInHistory.

It is also scheduled to be shown again on CSPAN-3, 8:40 p.m. (ET) March 12.

CSPAN-3 reporters visited a History 339: The Civil War, taught last fall by Dr. Charles Dusch, the Air Force Academy’s history professor and deputy command historian.

The show debuted as part of C-SPAN 3’s “American History TV” series.

Dusch’s class focused on the fall of 1864, the military actions affecting that year’s presidential election and the eventual outcome of the Civil War. The principal discussion in the class centered on the Aug. 5, 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay and on leadership.

The battle pitted a Union force of four ironclad Monitor-class ships and 14 wooden ships against several Confederate forts protected by minefields.

At the start of the battle, the Union sustained a heavy loss when the ironclad USS Tecumseh hits a mine – or “torpedo,” as called in that era — and sank rapidly, stifling the Union’s advance.

Dusch said humans bunch-up under intense fire.

“It’s instinctual, it’s primordial and it gets people killed,” he said.

Union commander Adm. David Farragut assessed the situation and rallied his forces. He issued his famous “damn the torpedoes” quote, and stepped down from his flagship’s rigging to signal “four bells” — or full speed ahead — to the engine room.

Farragut directed his wooden ship to the head of the line, climbed back up the ship’s rigging to show his conviction and led from the front.

“He runs that risk,” Dusch said. “You’ve heard it a million times, but the two most useful words for a second lieutenant are to say ‘follow me.’ Show your commitment. Show your conviction by leading from the front.”