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Life of a U.S. Civil War Soldier Lesson Plan

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

This lesson plan utilizes a text lesson, discussion questions and a writing activity to explore the similarities and differences between life as a Confederate and Union soldier. Extension activities are also included to expand the lesson further.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify the similarities and differences in the experiences of soldiers who fought in the Confederate and Union armies.
  • Describe the typical soldier fighting in the U.S. Civil War.
  • Create graphic organizers to show the similarities and differences between the lives of a Confederate soldier versus a Union soldier.

Length

45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7

Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.3.a

Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.9

Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.

Key Vocabulary

  • Civil War
  • Confederacy
  • Union
  • Diseases (lice, dysentery, typhoid, malaria, pneumonia, and tuberculosis)

Materials

  • Copies of the lesson Life of a U.S. Soldier During the Civil War: Confederate & Union
  • Notebook paper and writing utensils
  • Computers for word processing or additional research if necessary

Instructions

  • To begin, post the words Civil War up on the board. Give students 1 minute to write down all the words that come to mind when seeing those words.
  • When the minute it up, ask volunteers to read their lists. Write down examples on the board.
  • Hand out copies of the lesson Life of a Soldier During the U.S. Civil War: Confederate & Union Read the section titled Uniqueness of Civil Wars together as a class.
  • Point out any similarities between the list written on the board and this section. Add in ideas like brother versus brother or the closeness of soldiers on opposite sides (if not already added).
    • Discussion Question: Why is a Civil War different from a war between two different nations? Is it more devastating? Why or why not?
  • Return to the lesson and read the section titled The Typical Soldier.
  • Break the class into groups of 4 or 5. Have each group create a concept map of the typical soldier using information read in that section. They should focus on the details given that describe the typical soldier. This map could be a web, table, chart, or any sort of graphic organizer. If your students need it, provide an example for them to follow. If you have high-level students, allow them to come up with their own graphic organizer.
  • Another option is to create the visual on the board. Have the groups brainstorm the ideas for a few minutes, and then each group can come up to the board to add the details to the visual.
  • Be sure to give each group a chance to share the details they discussed with the class.
  • Return to the lesson and read the section titled Daily Life in Camp.
  • Have students return to their groups and create a Venn diagram. This diagram should show the Confederate soldier on one side and the Union soldier on the other with the similarities in the overlapping sections and the differences outside those sections.
  • Give 5 minutes for students to fill in the Venn Diagrams and then share as a class.
  • Return to the lesson and read the sections titled Health and Food and Water.
  • In their groups, have students add to their Venn Diagrams about the differences between Union and Confederate soldiers. Share ideas with the class.
    • Discussion Question: What is the importance of resources in a war? Are they more important than actual fighting strategy? Why or why not?
    • Discussion Question: If you had the choice between superior battle skills or the best resources in battle, which would you choose and why?

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