Battle of Gettysburg Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest and most decisive battle of the Civil War. This lesson plan from helps your students really understand what happened those three June days.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson students will be able to do the following:

  • Recognize the importance of the Battle of Gettysburg
  • Analyze the tactical situation faced by each army


40 minutes plus 30 minutes for the activity

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

Key Words

Students should pay special attention to these terms during the lesson:

  • Robert E. Lee
  • George Meade
  • Gettysburg
  • George Pickett


Review the progress of the Civil War up to this point. What major battle did Lee win that allowed him to invade the North? What general died at that battle?


Watch the video Battle of Gettysburg: Summary & Outcome, pausing at the following prompts:

  • 1:23 - Why did the Union come to Gettysburg from the south? What was the Confederate army even doing in Pennsylvania?
  • 3:51 - Why do historians refer to the Union (blue) lines as the 'Union Fishhook'? Imagine that you were trying to move soldiers between parts of the line. Why might the Union position be better than the Confederate position?
  • 6:27 - Remember that Lee had proved himself a very gifted general - what do you think was going through his mind during the retreat? How do you think the attitudes of his soldiers changed?

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