John Hall's profile picture.

John Hall


Department of History

Hometown: Palmyra, Eagle

John W. Hall is the Ambrose-Hesseltine Professor of U.S. Military History at UW–Madison. He holds a B.S. in History from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a PhD in History from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He specializes in American military history with particular emphasis on early and Native American warfare. He is the author of Uncommon Defense: Indian Allies in the Black Hawk War (Harvard University Press, 2009) and numerous essays on early American warfare, including “An Irregular Reconsideration of George Washington and the American Military Tradition,” Journal of Military History (July 2014), which won an Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Prize. He is a past president of the Society for Military History and a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, with past assignments as a historian to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


The Black Hawk War

Outside of Wisconsin, the Black Hawk War is best known as the conflict in which Abraham Lincoln earned his limited military experience. Within Wisconsin, it is somewhat better known if only because its namesake and his Sauk tribe are memorialized by parks, towns, inns, and roads throughout the state. But what was the war actually over, and what did it mean? Professor John Hall explores the colonial roots of a war far more significant than most realize – one that settled at last a 200-year contest for control of the region by great powers both Indian and European.

Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour

Irregular Warfare during the American Revolution

American fables tell us that the Americans won their independence from Great Britain by using woodland tactics and superior marksmanship against British troops and Hessian “mercenaries” who foolishly marched into battle using dated, linear tactics. Military historians have pushed back, arguing that the British were quite adept at woodland warfare and that George Washington labored throughout the war to make the Continental Army more European in its organization and methods. Military historian John Hall will reweigh the relative importance of frontier traditions and European influences on the American Revolution and offer a new assessment of the generalship of George Washington.

Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour

Automatons and Carabinieri: The Future of Armed Conflict

Although at the peak of its military power, the United States has struggled to find military solutions to security problems in Asia and the Middle East, leading some to question whether military capabilities designed in the last century have any place in the twenty-first. Prof. John Hall, military historian and former army strategist, will address fundamental shifts in armed conflict that have been underway for generations and are likely to change the face of warfare for those to come.

Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour

Warriors, Soldiers, and Managers: The Evolution of Military Occupations from Antiquity into the Future

After millenia in which warfare was an almost exclusively male domain predominated by armed combatants, industrialization increased the scale, lethality, and complexity of war in unprecedented ways. Professor John Hall, military historian at the University of Wisconsin, will trace the evolution of these changes, including the dramatic expansion of non-combat roles in the military. Taking a broad view of military history, this talk will shed new light on contentious issues such as the role of women in combat and the future of armed conflict.

Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour

Indian Alliance Politics in the Western Great Lakes
No talk details available.
The Future of Warfare
No talk details available.
Indian Removal as Ethnic Cleansing
No talk details available.
The Citizen Soldier in Myth and History
No talk details available.


A/V and Set-Up Needs:

  • Podium
  • Projector
  • Presentation Table
  • Sound System
  • Extension Cord
  • Laptop Type: Mac