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Lesson Plans
The Civil War
A Five Day Unit Plan for a 98 Minute Block Class
Barbara Beemer
This is a unit plan of five lessons for a high school class on a 98-minute block schedule. This unit on the Civil War would follow a unit on the causes of the war. It does not allow time for a detailed military history of the war but could be expanded to include more information on significant battles. A unit on the period of Reconstruction should follow this unit. The study of the Civil War would be enhanced by a project such as requiring students to produce a Civil War newspaper. This plan does not allocate the necessary time for a long-term project, but it offers ideas and information that would contribute to such a project that would be due at a later date.

These lessons take a thematic and student-centered approach that can be adapted to different ability levels and are intended to meet the needs of students with different learning styles. Students are evaluated in a variety of ways in an attempt to promote student success. The necessary materials for multi-media activities are listed at the end of this plan.

Course of Study Correlation: 10 th grade, 9 & 10


National Standards for United States History – Era 5, Standards 1&2
Table of Contents
Day 1: Action and Reaction
Day 2: Strategy and Politics
Day 3: Soldiers and Freedom
Day 4: Home front and Alabama
Day 5: Victory and Defeat
Unit Test
Evaluation Rubric
List of resources
Topic: Action and Reaction – The events of secession and the attack on Ft. Sumter
Objectives: Students will give reasons for secession and analyze the order of secession and the response of the U.S. government. Students will evaluate the South’s readiness for war. Students will analyze the causes and effects of the attack on Ft. Sumter.
Initiating Activity: Question on board – Why was the South anxiously awaiting the results of the Presidential election of 1860? 5 minutes

  1. Lecture/Discussion - The election of 1860. 15 minutes
  2. Video clip from Schlesinger series. 5 minutes
  3. Document activity with Declaration of Secession from South Carolina
    and Mississippi. Divide class into four groups. Two groups will read
    one declaration and two will read the other. Students will be instructed
    to use the 5 Ws procedure. Each group will report their findings to the
    class with reasons for secession, and the class will compare and contrast
    the two documents. 20 minutes
  4. Lecture/Discussion – The response by Buchanan and Lincoln and the
    formation of the Confederate government under Davis. Students will
    read Lincoln’s letter to Horace Greeley (written later in 1862), and they
    will briefly compare the Constitution of the Confederacy with the U.S.
    Constitution. 10 minutes
  5. Video clip from Gone with the Wind showing the men debating the
    South’s readiness for war and their eagerness to fight. Viewing the
    video clip will be followed by discussion. 15 minutes
  6. Music activity with “The Bonnie Blue Flag” from the Civil War Songs
    CD set and a handout with introduction, words, and music from the
    Civil War Songbook. Students will use Map 15-A for the dates of
    Secession. Students will discuss the order and the rationale. 10 minutes
  7. Video clip from Schlesinger series showing the attack on Ft. Sumter. 5 minutes
  8. Students will write a brief essay on the significance of the attack. 13 minutes
Evaluation: Analysis of two Declarations of Secession
Materials: Video from Schlesinger series
Declarations of Secession from South Carolina and Mississippi
Lincoln’s letter to Horace Greeley (1862)
Constitution of the Confederate States of America
Video of Gone with the Wind
Civil War Songs CD and Songbook handout
Map 15-A
Topic: Strategy and Politics – The war strategies of the Union and Confederacy, political issues, and diplomatic efforts.

Objectives: Students will analyze the effectiveness of Union and Confederate war strategies including military plans and civilian issues. Students will discuss and analyze political issues such as the draft, paper money, and the Copperheads, and diplomatic efforts with European powers.

Initiating Activity: Assignment on board - List strengths and weaknesses of the Union and Confederacy at the beginning of the war. 5 minutes

  1. Lecture/Discussion – War strategies of the North and South including
    the Anaconda Plan. Students will view maps from Atlas pages 42-44. 10 minutes
  2. Music activity with “God Save the South,” “The Virginia Marseillaise,”
    and “Ellsworth Avengers” from the Civil War Songs CD and handouts
    from the Songbook with introductions, words, and music. Students will
    make a list of patriotic words and phrases appealing to the emotions of
    Northerners and Southerners. 15 minutes
  3. Lecture/Discussion – Battles of Bull Run, Fts.Henry & Donelson, and
    Shiloh. 10 minutes
  4. Video clip from Schlesinger series on the battle of Shiloh. 5 minutes
  5. Lecture/Discussion of issues including the draft, paper money, and
    Copperheads using Document 11.8 (sheet music for “How are you,
    Conscript”) 10 minutes
  6. Students will do a written analysis of a political cartoon showing
    Copperheads. Students will use the National Archives Cartoon Analysis
    Worksheet and work in groups. 5 minutes
  7. Lecture/Discussion – The battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg and
    the Emancipation Proclamation. 10 minutes
  8. Students will re-read Lincoln’s letter to H. Greeley and discuss the
    Emancipation Proclamation as a political decision. 10 minutes
  9. Lecture/Discussion – Diplomatic efforts to gain or prevent British and
    French aid for the Confederacy. 5 minutes
  10. Students make a chart showing what helped each side during the war. 13 minutes
Evaluation: Music activity
Analysis of political cartoon
Materials: Maps, pages 42, 43, and 44
Civil War Songs CD and Songbook handouts
Video from Schlesinger series
Document 11.8, song, “How Are You, Conscript”
Political cartoon
Document 11.2, Lincoln’s letter to H. Greeley
U.S. National Archives & Records Administration Cartoon Analysis Worksheet
Topic: Soldiers and Freedom – Realities of war, motives and experiences of soldiers, and the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Students will compare the realities and the romanticism of the war and analyze the motives and experiences of the soldiers. Students will evaluate the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation on slaves and on the war.

Initiating Activity:
Question on board – Who did the Emancipation Proclamation free?

  1. Video of Gone with the Wind showing scene at the train station with
    wounded and dying soldiers. 5 minutes
  2. Students discuss this scene and compare it with the GWTW clip viewed
    on Day 1. 5 minutes
  3. Students work in groups to read and analyze Document 11.3a (Letter
    from Guy C. Ward) using the 5 Ws. Students make a list of his complaints
    and things that please him. 15 minutes
  4. Read and discuss document of medical case reports. 5 minutes
  5. Music activity with “Just Before the Battle, Mother” from the Civil War
    Songs CD and handout from the Songbook. 5 minutes
  6. Video clip from Schlesinger series on the battle of Gettysburg. 5 minutes
  7. In groups, students will do a written analysis of two paintings with
    Documents 11.9a and 11.9b using the 5Ws and identifying attitudes,
    loyalties, emotions, and the intent of the artists. 10 minutes
  8. Music activity with “Goober Peas” from the Civil War Songs CD and
    handout from the Songbook. (This song illustrates the food shortages
    experienced by the soldiers in a lighthearted way.) 5 minutes
  9. Students compare soldiers’ letters and list motives for fighting with
    documents from Far, Far from Home, pages 71-73, a letter from a
    Confederate soldier, and “Peter Walsh, 1863 Letters,” a letter from a
    Union soldier. 15 minutes
  10. Teacher reads Document 11.5b, a slave narrative about events
    following the Emancipation Proclamation. Warn students about an
    offensive word and consider replacing it with a less offensive term
    when reading aloud. Class will discuss the document. 10 minutes
  11. Lecture/Discussion – Issues and attitudes involving African-
    American soldiers using documents, The Negro’s Civil War, pages
    16 and 17, and Document 11.5b, H. Ford Douglas’s letter. 10 minutes
  12. Video clip from Glory. 8 minutes
Evaluation: Analysis of Document 11.3a
Analysis of paintings in Documents 11.9a and 11.9b
List of soldiers’ motives
Materials: Video of Gone with the Wind
Document 11.3a
Document “Medical Reports”
Civil War Songs CD and Songbook handouts
Video from Schlesinger series
Documents 11.9a and 11.9b
Document from Far, Far from Home
Document from “Peter Welsh, 1863 Letters”
Document 11.5b
Document from The Negro’s Civil War
Document 11.4b
Video of Glory
Day 4
Topic: Home Front and Alabama – The impact of war at home and state and local history.

Students will identify the impact of war on the home front. Students will analyze events in Alabama and Tuscaloosa.

Initiating Activity:
Activity on board – Write a list of choices that a freed slave had.

  1. Discuss options for freed slaves and the impact on the Union effort. 10 minutes
  2. Music activity with “Free at Last” from the Civil War Songs CD and
    a handout from the Songbook. Discuss use of the song again during
    Civil Rights Movement of the 20 th Century. 5 minutes
  3. Lecture/Discussion to review the impact of the battle of Gettysburg,
    and discuss the battle of Vicksburg using Maps pages 43 and 44. 10 minutes
  4. Video clip from Gone with the Wind showing families waiting for
    casualty reports. 5 minutes
  5. Lecture/Discussion – Hardships and dangers on the home front and
    Sherman’s March to the Sea. 10 minutes
  6. Lecture/Discussion of Alabama’s role including the first capital of the
    Confederacy, the Free State of Winston, “Gallant Pelham,” Emma
    Sansom, Selma, the battle of Mobile Bay, and the C.S.S. Alabama.
    Students will explore the Alabama Moments in American History
    Website. 25 minutes
  7. Music activity with “The Alabama” from Civil War Songs and
    Songbook handout. 5 minutes
  8. Video on CD made of the University of Alabama in HY 500. View
    video and discuss slavery at the University and the Union raid on
    Tuscaloosa. 10 minutes
  9. Students write an imaginary interview with a citizen of Tuscaloosa
    April 1865. 18 minutes
Evaluation: Imaginary interview
Materials: Civil War CD and Songbook handouts
Maps, pages 43 and 44
Video of Gone with the Wind
“Alabama Moments in American History” Website
HY 500 CD
Day 5
Topic: Victory and Defeat – The end of the Civil War.

Students will identify events leading to the end of the war and evaluate the victory and the defeat.

Initiating Activity:
Questions on board – In which war did the most Americans die?
What caused most of these deaths?

  1. Discuss initiating activity questions. 3 minutes
  2. Read and discuss Document 11.10a ( Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address).
    Question – Is it likely that it was written on a train? 10 minutes
    3. Read and discuss Document 11.10b ( Lincoln’s Second Inaugural
    Address). 10 minutes
  3. Lecture/discussion – The last battles and the surrender at Appomattox.
    Discuss Lee and Grant. 10 minutes
  4. Video clip from Schlesinger series showing the events at Appomattox. 5 minutes
  5. Group activity:
    The class will be divided into five groups. Each group will be assigned
    to play the role of “The Country,” “The South,” “The North,” “A Freed
    Slave,” or “A Woman.” Each group will brainstorm to make a list to
    identify and analyze the victories and defeats that have been experienced
    by the group’s role. After making the list, the group will write a paragraph
    to be presented to the class by the member selected to play the role. One
    member of the group will produce creative visuals to be used in the
    presentation. Depending upon class size, these are the duties:
    1 student serves as leader and shows visuals during the presentation.
    1 student presents to the class.
    1 student produces the visuals.
    1 student serves as the recorder to make a written copy of the
    paragraph composed by the group. 35 minutes
  6. Students view “The Civil War Name Game” site on the “ Alabama
    Moments in American History” website to discuss viewpoints. 5 minutes
  7. Civil War Unit test. Students will show what they have learned,
    and celebrate the end of the war with cookies or cupcakes decorated
    in red, white, and blue. The Cookie Company can make a class-size
    cookie. 20 minutes
Evaluation: Group Project
Unit Test
Materials: Document 11.10a
Document 11.10b
Video from the Schlesinger series
Paper, markers, scissors, stapler, glue, etc.
“Alabama Moments in American History” Website
Cookies or cupcakes
Civil War Unit Test
Directions: Answer each question briefly. Each question is worth 5 points.
  1. Which state was the first to secede from the Union?
  2. How many states seceded?
  3. How did the Civil War begin?
  4. What reasons did the South give for secession?
  5. Briefly explain Union and Confederate strategies for the war.
  6. Who were the Copperheads?
  7. What was the first land battle of the Civil War?
  8. What did both sides realize after the battle of Shiloh?
  9. What was Lincoln’s main goal in going to war?
  10. Who did the Emancipation Proclamation free? Be precise.
  11. Which countries did the South hope would officially recognize the Confederacy?
  12. What caused most of the deaths during the Civil War?
  13. Explain how both Union and Confederate soldiers said that they were fighting for liberty.
  14. What is the subject of the movie Glory?
  15. . What was the purpose of Sherman’s “March to the Sea”?
  16. Why is the C.S.S. Alabama famous?
  17. Where was the first capital of the Confederacy, where Davis took office?
  18. Briefly describe the Union raid on Tuscaloosa.
  19. On what battlefield did Lincoln make his most famous speech?
  20. Who met at Appomattox Court House to end the war?
Evaluation Rubric for Civil War Unit
Unit Test 20%
Essay, Day 1 15%
Imaginary Interview, Day 4 15%
Group Project, Day 5 15%
7 Written Daily Activities (Participation) 35%
Maps: Rand McNally Atlas of American History
Page 42, Session
Page 43, Military map showing battle sites and areas of control
Page 44, Military maps with major battles
Map 15-A: Secession by Scott, Foresman and Company
Videos: Schlesinger video series, Civil War video
CD-ROM of University of Alabama (HY 500)
Gone with the Wind
Music: Civil War Songs, by Keith and Rusty McNeil, CD set
Civil War Songbook by Keith and Rusty McNeil
Documents: Step into the Past, American History in a Box, Volume 1
Document 11.1 Constitution of the Confederate States of America
Document 11.2 Lincoln’s letter to Horace Greeley
Document 11.3a Letter from Guy C. Ward to Joseph B. Boyd
Document 11.4 Letter from H. Ford Douglas to Frederick Douglass’s Monthly
Document 11.5b Slave Narrative of Annie L. Burton, “Memories of Childhood’s Slavery Days”
Document 11.8 Sheet music for the song “How Are You Conscript”
Document 11.9a Painting of “The Burial of Latane” by William D. Washington
Document 11.9b Painting of “Prisoners form the Front” by Winslow Homer
Document 11.10a Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “First Draft”
Document 11.10b Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
“A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the
Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union”
“ South Carolina Declaration of Causes of Secession” from F. Moore, editor, The rebellion Record, Volume I, page 3 ff.
The Negro’s Civil War, pages 16 and 17
“Peter Welsh, 1863 Letters,” pages 64-67
Far, Far from Home [a collection of letters], pages 70-73
Medical case reports [source unknown]
Political Cartoon of Lincoln and Copperheads
Worksheet: U.S. National Archives & Records Administration, Cartoon Analysis
Unit test
Evaluation Rubric
Website for “ Alabama Moments in American History”:
(Also found through University of Alabama libraries sites.)

Marjorie Freyer, Coordinator, Teaching American History Program | The University of Alabama
35 McLure Library Box 870266 Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0266
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