Sherman's March to the Sea 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 will help your students summarize the strategy behind Sherman's March to the Sea. Students will watch a video lesson, participate in group activities, and prove their knowledge with a short quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize Grant's strategy to take control of Richmond
  • explain the effect of the Atlanta campaign on the 1864 election
  • describe Sherman's March to the Sea


This lesson will take 45-90 minutes.

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.

Materials Needed

  • Video clip from 'Gone with the Wind'
  • Map of Georgia
  • Articles about presidential approval ratings during wartime
  • Photographs of Sherman's telegraph to Lincoln
  • Telegraph sounder (or photo)
  • Morse code translator


  • attrition
  • confrontation
  • evacuate
  • incumbent
  • retreat
  • siege
  • telegraph


Play the video clip of fleeing Atlanta from 'Gone with the Wind.' Discuss the military strategy they observed and the consequences to the Confederacy.

Watch the video lesson Sherman's March to the Sea as a class. Pause at 2:00.

Have students stand for their position by moving to one part of the room if they agree with Sherman's response to the Atlanta letter and another part of the room if they disagree with Sherman's response. Ask students to turn and talk to the people in their group about why they agree or disagree. Then have students in each group share their discussions with the class and engage in a friendly debate with the other side.

Continue watching the video. Pause at 3:06.

Have students do a 5-minute quick-write in which they explain the politics of the Civil War. Allow students to share the things they wrote. Discuss what might have happened if Frémont had remained in the election.

Watch the remainder of the video.

Show students a map of Georgia and mark it with the path of Sherman's march.

Use the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.


Divide the room into three stations and put your students into three groups.

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