Classes and Presentations


Allen presenting Civil War lecture



Allen giving talk on C. F. Smith





Previous Classes for SAIL Program at Collin College

  • Hydraulic Fracturing – What You Should Know – Hydraulic fracturing technology has helped the US tap oil and gas resources in shale deposits. This technology in combination with other drilling innovations made America the world’s leading oil and gas producer in 2014. This class will explain the fundamentals of exploration and production operations with an emphasis on shale oil and gas exploitation. We will discuss OPEC’s role in setting oil prices and the impact of lower prices on shale oil economics. The issues surrounding development of shale oil and gas reservoirs will be presented including seismic events, ground water contamination, problems with shale oil transportation, and jurisdiction and regulatory oversight. Mondays, 1:00 – 2:15 p.m. September 28, October 5 and 12
  • Texas in the Civil War – Texas played an important role in the American Civil War. This three-session class will trace the State’s part in the conflict from secession to reconstruction. We will examine the battles that units from Texas fought in and the Confederate leaders from Texas. The class will review the battles that occurred in the state at Galveston, Sabine Pass, and Palmetto Ranch. The conflicts on the home front will be discussed including the Nueces massacre and Gainesville hangings. We will also discuss the events following the Union occupation of the state, the origins of Juneteenth, and the early stages of reconstruction. [Fall 2015] Comments: “Clearly an expert an expert on topics. Good Presenter,” “He is so knowledgeable and interesting. Loved the class,” “Look forward to future courses by this instructor”
  • April 1865 – This class will trace the last days of the Civil War using Jay Winik’s book, April 1865.  The class will cover each day of the war during that historic month including the collapse of Confederate defenses around Petersburg, the flight of the Confederate government from Richmond, Lee’s desperate retreat to and surrender at Appomattox Court House, Lincoln’s assassination, and Booth’s capture. [Spring 2015]
  • The Siege of Vicksburg – The Confederate surrender following the siege at Vicksburg is sometimes considered, when combined with Gen. Robert E. Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg the previous day, the turning point of the war. It also cut off communications with Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department for the remainder of the war.  Comments: “Allen made the Civil War and its participants come to life,” Mr. Mesch did an outstanding presentation of the military campaign and in a manner making it easy to understand how the battles were fought and the campaign came to a siege.”
  • The Three Days of Gettysburg – This class discusses the three-days of the Battle of Gettysburg. The class will uses the the film Gettysburg based on Michael Shaara’s novel The Killer Angels.  The class will review battlefield animations and examine the events of this historic battle. Comments: “A very good presentation on a very complex subject,” “A very knowledgeable instructor who talked to us without notes as though telling a story. I would love to take other classes with this instructor,” “I liked the multi-media presentation which kept the class active and moving. Mr. Mesch obviously has a passion for the Civil War and it comes through.”
  • Union Leadership Crises in the East –  Following the failure of the Peninsular Campaign, the command structure in the Eastern Theater underwent several changes. The leadership of George McClellan, John Pope and Ambrose Burnside is examined in the battles at Manassas (Second Bull Run) – August 28-30, 1862, Antietam, MD – September 16-18, 1862, and Fredericksburg, VA – December 11-15, 1862. [Fall 2012]
  • Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign – The class covers Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign from March through May.  The battles discussed will include Kernstown I, Winchester I, Cross Keys, Port Republic, and Front Royal. Evaluation:  3.8 out of 4.  Comments: “An excellent use of visual aids and power point.” “Great presentation.”
  • Union Victories in the West Turn the Tide – The class discusses the battles at Fort Donelson, TN (February 11-16, 1862), New Madrid/Island No. 10, MO (February 28-April 8, 1862), Shiloh, TN (April 6-7, 1862), Glorieta Pass, NM (March 26-28, 1862), Forts Jackson & St. Philip, LA (April 16-28, 1862),  Pea Ridge, AR, and (March 7-8, 1862), and Hampton Roads, VA (March 8-9, 1862). Evaluation:  3.5 out of 4.  Comments: “Allen was great as always.”  Another great job!  Allen has a real solid interest and knowledge of the Civil War.” “The visuals were very well done and easily understood.”
  • The Armies Clash – First Bull Run and Wilson’s Creek – The class covers the battles at Manassas (First Bull Run), VA on July 21, 1861 and Wilson’s Creek, MO on August 10, 1861. Evaluation: 3.9 out 4. Comments: “The instructor was well prepared and made excellent use of the media.  I enjoyed his sense of humor.” “Allen does an excellent job of teaching.  He knows the Civil War and having visited so many of the sites is able to give one the feeling of having been there.”
  • From Springfield to Fort Sumter – The class traces the events from Lincoln’s election to the Union response to the capture of Fort Sumter.
  • The Turning Point of the Civil War – An analysis of the turning point(s) of the American Civil War.  Using statistics to identify the battles and campaigns that changed the course of the Civil War.
  • The American Civil War – The American Civil War (1861–1865), also known as the War Between the States, was a civil war in the United States of America. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America, also known as “the Confederacy.” Led by Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy fought against the United States (the Union), which was supported by all the free states (where slavery had been abolished) and by five slave states that became known as the border states. Comments: “An excellent, well prepared, and very interesting course.  One of the very best history courses I’ve taken.”  “This was an outstanding course.  Mr. Mesch is very interesting to listen to.  I really appreciate his obvious enthusiasm on the subject.”
  • The War of 1812 – America’s fragile neutrality between the British and French came to an end with the war of 1812.  The war was fought in three major theaters: on the oceans, along the American coast, and on the broad frontier along the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River. The conflict was fueled by America’s efforts to gain world respect and expand its borders.  The war broke the confederation of Native Tribes, produced American heroes such as Andrew Jackson, and gave birth to our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
  • Voices of the Civil War – The speeches, writings and music of the Civil War. Comments: “Great information, interesting presentation.” “Allen did a wonderful job presenting the facts and people. Questions he could not answer were research and answered the next week.”
  • Civil War Photography – The American Civil War created photojournalism through such photographers as Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan.  Nearly every Civil War soldier had his photograph taken by one of the more than 5,000 American photographers.  The documentary photographers took thousands of images on the battlefields and in the army camps to bring the horror of battle to the home front. The class will examine the history of photography, and students will put on glasses to view a new exhibit of 3D images. Evaluation: 4 out 4. Comments: “Super research on his part.” “Great content – both techniques, history of photography and photographs.”
  • From West Point to Fort Sumter – This class explores the development of future Union (Grant, McClellan, Sherman and Sheridan) and Confederate (Lee, Jackson, Longstreet, and Stuart) generals from plebes at West Point to the beginning of the Civil War. Comments: “Excellent presentation, great information,” “Interesting and informative class. Instructor very knowledgeable.”


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