Cecily N. Zander

Cecily N. Zander

PhD Candidate

Nineteenth-Century US History

Pennsylvania State University




I am a historian of the Civil War era, specializing in the region of the American West. My dissertation, “Agents of Empire: The U.S. Army, Native Americans, and the Civil War in the Making of the American West,” asks how the nineteenth-century U.S. Army understood its long-term mission of expanding national sovereignty in the American West—over contested territory and the Native peoples who lived there—in relation to its role in the tumultuous events of the Civil War and Reconstruction.


A born and raised Coloradan, I spent countless summer vacations in the backseat of a pickup truck driving across the vast American West. Childhood photo albums filled with photos posed in front of Western forts, monuments, and scenery confirm that my love of history runs deep. I attended the University of Virginia before moving to the Pennsylvania State University to pursue my PhD.


I still enjoy trips to visit historical sites, much to the chagrin of unsuspecting family members. I love climbing Colorado’s 14,000 foot mountain peaks and hiking in any National Park. I can often be found cheering on Arsenal FC, Virginia basketball, or the Colorado Rockies when I am not reading and writing. Many of my happiest days have been spent wandering Civil War battlefields with friends.



In-Progress - PhD, Pennsylvania State University

Fields: Nineteenth Century US History; Twentieth Century US History; Medieval History

2017 - M.A., History, Pennsylvania State University

Thesis: “The Grand Review of Union Armies and the Disappearance of the Classical Past”
Advisor: Dr. William A. Blair

2015 - B.A. (With Highest Distinction), History, University of Virginia


Articles (Refereed):

“‘Victory’s Long Review:’ The Grand Review of Union Armies and the Meaning of the Civil War,” Civil War History (Forthcoming: March 2020)

Articles (Nonrefereed)

“More Than A Widow: Libbie Custer Steps Out of George’s Shadow,” Civil War Times (forthcoming: March 2020)

Essays (In Edited Volumes)

“One Widow’s Wars: The Civil War, Reconstruction, and the West in Elizabeth Bacon Custer’s Memoirs,” for inclusion in a companion volume to Gary W. Gallagher and Stephen Cushman, eds., Civil War Writing: New Perspectives on Iconic Texts (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2019) [Forthcoming, 2020]

Book Reviews:

Engineering Victory: The Union Siege of Vicksburg, Justin S. Solonick, American Nineteenth Century History, Volume 19, Issue 2 (2018) (link)

Charging up San Juan Hill: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of Imperial America, John R. Van Atta, Western Historical Quarterly Volume 50, Issue 2 (Summer 2019) (link)

Other Book Reviews For:

H-Net (H-CivWar)
The Civil War Monitor
North Carolina Historical Review

Other Writing:

“Men Go to Battle and the Dark Humor of the Civil War,” Muster (a blog from the Journal of the Civil War Era) (2017)

“Reflecting on the Civil War and Colorado’s Purple Mountain Majesties,” The Denver Post (June 30, 2017)


External Fellowships (long-term):

2019-2020 - U.S. Army Center of Military History Dissertation Fellowship

2019 - The Huntington Library, Wilbur R. Jacobs Fellow

2019 - Masterson Fellowship, Western Historical Collection, University of Oklahoma (link)

External Research Grants:

2019 - William and Madeline Smith Travel Award, The Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas

2018 - Filson Historical Society Fellowship

2018 - Clements Center-DeGolyer Library Research Travel Grant, Southern Methodist University

2018 - Western History Association Graduate Student Prize (Unable to Accept)

2016 - Virginia Center for Civil War Studies Research Grant


2019 - Raymond E. Lombra and Roberta Lombra Outstanding Graduate Research Award, Penn State College of the Liberal Arts

2017 - Ann Richards Award for Best Research Paper (Pre-ABD), Penn State Department of History

2015 - Ted H. and Tracy Winfree McCourtney Family Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in American History, The Pennsylvania State University


2019 - “The Great Task Remaining: The Reconstruction Era Army in Texas,” Southern Historical Association, Louisville, Kentucky (November 7-10, 2019) [Panel Organizer]

2019 - “Agents of Empire: The Army and American Expansion in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction,” Organization of American Historians, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (April 4-6)

2018 - “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Contemplating Reconstruction West of the Mississippi River,” Society of Civil War Historians Bi- annual Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (May 31-June 2)

2017 - “Improvised Warfare: The United States, Canada, and the Sioux in a Civil War Borderland,” Western History Association Annual Conference, San Diego, California (November 1-4)

2017 - “The United States and the Sioux During the Civil War,” Society for Military History Annual Conference, Jacksonville, Florida (March 30-April 2)


2019 - “The US Army in Reconstruction,” The American Civil War Museum, Richmond, Virginia (July 18) (interview)

2019 - “Frontier Soldiers,” The Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College (June 15)

2018 - “Two Invasions of the North: Gettysburg and the Canadian Frontier in 1863,” The Gettysburg Foundation, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (June 30)


2018 - John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History, University of Virginia Dissertation Chapter Presentation (February 21)

2017 - Bavarian American International Summer Academy


2017-2019 - Editorial Assistant to Judith Giesberg, The Journal of the Civil War Era


Summer 2019 — Instructor, HIST 130, The Civil War Era

Spring 2017 - Teaching Assistant, HIST 150, America in the Long 1960’s

Fall 2016 - Teaching Assistant, HIST 020, American Civilization To 1877

Spring 2016 - Teaching Assistant, HIST 021, American Civilization Since 1877


2018 - Chair, Graduate Student Connections Committee, Society of Civil War Historians

2018 - Member, Outreach Committee, Society of Civil War Historians

2016-2018 - Member, Graduate Student Connections Committee, Society of Civil War Historians


AHA (American Historical Association)
OAH (Organization of American Historians)
WHA (Western Historical Association)
SHA (Southern Historical Association)
SMH (Society for Military History)
SCWH (Society of Civil War Historians)



BROOMALL: Private Confederacies (2019) | Book Reviews | Civil War Monitor

James J. Broomall's Private Confederacies: The Emotional Worlds of Southern Men as Citizens and Soldiers joins a growing wave of new scholarship investigating the Civil War experiences of common soldiers. Like Peter Carmichael's The War for the Common Soldier (2018) and Lorien Foote's The Gentlemen and the Roughs (2010), Broomall considers the thoughts, feelings, and cultures of Civil War soldiers.

Reflecting on the Civil War and Colorado's purple mountain majesties

On July 4, 1889, William Tecumseh Sherman delivered an address to the citizens of Denver, reflecting on the natural majesty of Colorado's mountains - and the character of the men and women who had settled the state's plains, peaks and valleys.

H-Net Reviews

Andrew E. Masich. Civil War in the Southwest Borderlands, 1861-1867. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017. x + 454 pp. $34.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8061-5572-2. Reviewed by Cecily Zander (Penn State University) Published on H-CivWar (February, 2019) Commissioned by G. David Schieffler (Crowder College) Andrew E.

Men Go to Battle and the Civil War's Dark Turn - The Journal of the Civil War Era

ABRUPT, adj. Sudden, without ceremony, like the arrival of a cannonshot and the departure of the soldier whose interests are most affected by it. Dr. Samuel Johnson beautifully said of another author's ideas that they were "concatenated without abruption." ... Read More Read More

WERT: Civil War Barons (2018) | Book Reviews | Civil War Monitor

Civil War Barons is arranged thematically, with each of the ten main chapters following a pair of entrepreneurs and industrialists. In chapter five, for example, Wert looks at "The Improvisers," Robert P. Parrott and Christopher Miner Spencer, men whose names would become attached to technological innovations in artillery and shoulder weapons.


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