Battle of Gettysburg Activities

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Many students have heard of the Battle of Gettysburg, but not all truly understand its significance. These activities can build on your students' knowledge while letting them explore the topic in new ways.

The Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg remains one of the most famous battles in the American Civil War, due to both to its tactical significance and Abraham Lincoln's speech memorializing the dead. The following in-class activities can provide you with several ways to get your students engaged in the battle and its consequences. These activities are designed to be adaptable for various grade levels and are flexible to meet the needs of your specific classroom.

Union Letter

Students can either work on this activity after having learned about the Battle of Gettysburg through readings or lecture, or you can provide each student with a packet of primary and secondary sources to review. In either case, once students are comfortable with the material they will compose a letter from the perspective of a Union soldier who is writing back home on November 20, 1863. This letter will describe the events leading up to the battle, the events of the battle itself, the impacts felt in the following four months, and President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address on November 19. Students should strive to write in personal and emotional language, imagining what it would be like to live through these events, and not simply describe the history in an academic tone.

  • Materials: Writing supplies, packet of primary and secondary sources (optional)

Gettysburg Memorial

Divide the class into groups, and inform them that they are now historical preservation design teams competing to win a commission from the city of Gettysburg to create a new memorial of the battle. Each group will review the events of the battle and the battle's overall historical significance and will come up with a sketch of their proposed memorial. They will then pitch their memorial design to the rest of the class.

  • Materials: Art and craft supplies as desired

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