Civil War Battle Strategy Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan is a tool for helping students learn about Civil War battle strategies. Students will watch a video and answer questions that will enable them to compare the Union and Confederate strategies.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion, students will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the battle strategies of the North and South.
  • Define the difference between strategies and tactics.


90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.


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.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).


  • abolition
  • Anaconda plan
  • Confederacy
  • cordon defense
  • counterattacks
  • deployed
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • offensive
  • offensive-defensive
  • retreat
  • reunification
  • secede
  • strategy
  • tactics
  • unified
  • Union


  • Copies of the quiz
  • Copies of the lesson
  • 1' Graph paper
  • Pens
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

Video & Discussion Questions

  • Preview vocabulary words.
  • Hand out a paper copy of the transcript for students to follow along.
  • Watch Comparing Union & Confederate Civil War Strategies as a class, and discuss the following questions:
    • What were the goals of the Union army?
    • What were the goals of the Confederate army?
    • What is the difference between strategy and tactics?
    • What strategies did the Union army use to accomplish their goals?
    • Describe the First Battle of Bull Run.
    • What challenge did President Abraham Lincoln face?
    • Describe the Anaconda Plan.
    • What advantages did the Union have that the Confederacy did not?
    • Why wasn't the cordon defense successful?
    • Who was the Confederate president?
    • What strategy did the Confederacy adopt?
    • Describe the Battle of Glorieta Pass.
    • Describe the Second Battle of Bull Run.
    • What advantages did the Confederacy have over the Union?
    • Why was the Emancipation Proclamation a successful tactic?
    • How did the Union Army cut off Confederate supplies?
    • Who was Ulysses S. Grant?
    • Who was Robert E. Lee?
    • What happened on April 26, 1885?
  • Pass out the printable worksheet. Have students complete the questions independently, then check the answers together.

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