End of the U.S. Civil War Lesson Plan

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

Most students can explain how the Civil War began but do they know the details of how it ended? This lesson plan explores how five Confederate generals surrendered or fled. Students will watch a video, answer questions, complete an activity and take a quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe why the Confederate leaders surrendered
  • discuss the morale of Confederate soldiers toward the end of the Civil War
  • analyze the timeline of events that ended the Civil War


60 minutes; extension an additional 30 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.5

Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.6

Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).



  • Ask students if they remember why the Civil War started.
  • Allow them to share their responses.
  • Then explain that this lesson explores the end of the Civil War.
  • Distribute The End of the Civil War: Summary & Timeline, begin the video, pause at 0:59, then start the following discussion:
    • How do most believe the Civil War ended?
    • Which side was not ready to end the Civil War, why?
    • Discuss how the Union and Confederate conflict continued.
  • Now restart the video, pause at 03:54, then pose these discussion questions:
    • Explain how Johnston surrendered.
    • Discuss how Sherman overstepped his authority.
    • Describe Taylor's surrender.
    • Davis's leadership ended quite differently than has peers, explain.
  • Next play the remainder of the video and ask students to answer the following:
    • How did hearing about others surrendering impact Smith's troops?
    • Why were the generals more enthusiastic to continue the war than their troops?
    • Did the US Government treat Native Americans fairly? Explain.
    • Who was the last leader to surrender? Explain the significance.
  • Afterwards, distribute the lesson quiz, allow students to partner to answer the questions, then review the answers.

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