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Civil War Trust

Civil War Primer - April 22, 2009

Civil War Teacher Newsletter

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) is America's largest non-profit organization (501-C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields.

CWPT's Education Department promotes Civil War battlefield preservation by encouraging the study of the war's timeless lessons, provoking thought about the vital roles these battlefields play in our nation's history.


1.  April 22nd - This Day in Civil War History
    Additional - April 26, 1865

2.  Great Web Sites

3.  Two Post-War Remembrances:

     a.  "Ode for Decoration Day", by Henry Peterson
     b.  "To E.S. Salomon, Who in a Memorial Day oration protested bitterly against decorating the graves of Confederate dead", by Ambrose Bierce

4.  Trivia

5.  Mapping the Civil War - Middle School Activity

6.  Selected CWPT Education Programs


1.  April 22nd - This Day in Civil War History
Additional - April 26, 1865


April 22, 1863 - Col. Benjamin Grierson's raid cuts telegraph wires near Macon, MS

This was part of a two-week raid bringing destruction to Mississippi.  According to History, "This action was a diversion in General Ulysses S. Grant's campaign to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last remaining Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. Grant had his army on the western shore of the river, but he was planning to cross the mighty river south of Vicksburg, and move against Vicksburg from the west. Grierson's orders were to destroy enemy supplies, telegraph lines, and railroads in Mississippi."  History continues, "Grierson crafted a brilliant campaign. He left La Grange, Tennessee, on April 17 with 1,700 cavalry troopers and began traveling down the eastern side of the state. Whenever Confederate cavalry approached, Grierson sent out a diversionary force to draw them away. The diversionary units then rode back to La Grange, while the main force continued south. On April 22, he dispatched Company B of the 7th Illinois regiment to destroy telegraph lines at Macon, Mississippi, while Grierson rode to Newton Station. Here, Grierson could inflict damage on the Southern Mississippi Railroad, the one specific target identified by Grant. On April 24, his men tore up the tracks and destroyed two trainloads of ammunition bound for Vicksburg."

==> Read a contemporary biography of Grierson at


April 22, 1865 - Congress passes legislation authorizing the minting of a two-cent coin.  The phrase "In God We Trust" first appears on the 1864 two-cent coin.

==>  Learn more at
==>  View an 1869 two-cent coin at


April 26, 1865 - Joseph E. Johnston surrenders the Army of Tennessee to William T. Sherman at the Bennett House, near Durham, NC. 
==> - New York Times column with several articles.  Sherman and Johnston in peace negotiations; Mary Todd Lincoln not ready to vacate the White House yet; return of a "secession doctor"; Sen. Sumner threatened; other bits of information from Washington.  This article was published on April 23rd, before news of the official surrender reached the North.
==> - Surrender of the Southern Armies
==> - terms of the surrender.  Also has supplemental articles, April 18th agreement, parole signed by officers, and organization of the Army of Tennessee.



2.  Great Web Sites


Many, many education resources from the Library of Congress.  Exhibits, primary sources, collections and exhibitions.

"Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" – compare this to "When Johnny Comes Marching Home".  High school level.

Civil War Field Trip Planning - a guide for new teachers

Primary Sources at E-History (Ohio State University)

"Memoirs of the Union's Three Great Civil War Generals" at Project Gutenberg (Grant, Sherman, Sheridan)

Finding Civil War Primary Sources - University of Maryland

Civil War Slave Narratives



3.  Two Post-War Remembrances:

     a.  "Ode for Decoration Day", by Henry Peterson
     b.  "To E.S. Salomon, Who in a Memorial Day oration protested bitterly against decorating the graves of Confederate dead", by Ambrose Bierce

"Ode for Decoration Day"
by Henry Peterson

O gallant brothers of the generous South,
 Foes for a day and brothers for all time!
I charge you by the memories of our youth,
 By Yorktown's field and Montezuma's clime,
 Hold our dead sacred--let them quietly rest
In your unnumbered vales, where God thought best.
Your vines and flowers learned long since to forgive,
And o'er their graves a broidered mantle weave:
Be you as kind as they are, and the word
Shall reach the Northland with each summer bird,
And thoughts as sweet as summer shall awake
Responsive to your kindness, and shall make
Our peace the peace of brothers once again,
And banish utterly the days of pain.

And ye, O Northmen! be ye not outdone
 In generous thought and deed.
We all do need forgiveness, every one;
 And they that give shall find it in their need.
Spare of your flowers to deck the stranger's grave,
 Who died for a lost cause:--
A soul more daring, resolute, and brave,
 Ne'er won a world's applause.
A brave man's hatred pauses at the tomb.
For him some Southern home was robed in gloom,
Some wife or mother looked with longing eyes
Through sad days and nights with tears and sighs,
Hope slowly hardening into gaunt Despair.
Then let your foeman's grave remembrance share:
Pity a higher charm to Valor lends,
And in the realm of Sorrow all are friends.


Who in a Memorial Day oration protested bitterly
against decorating the graves of Confederate dead"
by Ambrose Bierce

What! Salomon! such words from you,
  Who call yourself a soldier? Well,
  The Southern brother where he fell
Slept all your base oration through.

Alike to him -- he cannot know
  Your praise or blame: as little harm
  Your tongue can do him as your arm
A quarter-century ago.

The brave respect the brave. The brave
  Respect the dead; but you -- you draw
  That ancient blade, the ass's jaw,
And shake it o'er a hero's grave.

Are you not he who makes to-day
  A merchandise of old [renown]
  Which he persuades this easy town
He won in battle far away?

Nay, those the fallen who revile
  Have ne'er before the living stood
  And stoutly made their battle good
And greeted danger with a smile.

What if the dead whom still you hate
  Were wrong? Are you so surely right?
  We know the issues of the fight --
The sword is but an advocate.

Men live and die, and other men
  Arise with knowledges diverse:
  What seemed a blessing seems a curse,
And Now is still at odds with Then.

The years go on, the old comes back
  To mock the new -- beneath the sun
  Is nothing new; ideas run
Recurrent in an endless track.

What most we censure, men as wise
  Have reverently practiced; nor
  Will future wisdom fail to war
On principles we dearly prize.

We do not know -- we can but deem,
  And he is loyalest and best
  Who takes the light full on his breast
And follows it throughout the dream.

The broken light, the shadows wide --
  Behold the battle-field displayed!
  God save the vanquished from the blade,
The victor from the victor's pride.

If, Salomon, the blessed dew
  That falls upon the Blue and Gray
  Is powerless to wash away
The sin of differing from you,

Remember how the flood of years
  Has rolled across the erring slain;
  Remember, too, the cleansing rain
Of widows' and of orphans' tears.

The dead are dead -- let that atone:
  And though with equal hand we strew
  The blooms on saint and sinner too,
Yet God will know to choose his own.

The wretch, whate'er his life and lot,
  Who does not love the harmless dead
  With all his heart and all his head --
May God forgive him, I shall not.

When, Salomon, you come to quaff
  The Darker Cup with meeker face,
  I, loving you at last, shall trace
Upon your tomb this epitaph:

"Draw near, ye generous and brave --
  Kneel round this monument and weep
  For one who tried in vain to keep
A flower from a soldier's grave."


4.  Trivia

A.  Who was Boston Corbett and for what two things is he most notable?

B.  Who was George C. Strong?

C.  Out of 17,077 Civil War burials at Vicksburg National Military Park, about how many are "unknowns"?

D.  In his dying words, "Stonewall" Jackson spoke of which famous general?

E.  Which man said, "it was found very difficult to raise infantry in Texas as no Texan walks a yard if he can help it"?

Answers at bottom.


5.  Mapping the Civil War - Middle School Activity

==>  From

As a teacher, ask yourself, "how could I adapt this activity to suit my students' needs and the standards of learning?"  What changes, additions or improvements could you make?

==>  Does this get your creative juices flowing?  Can you send us an outstanding lesson, worthy of recognition - for a chance at recognition and a nice reward?  Enter the Best Lesson Competition - deadline May 1, 2009.

Mapping the Civil War

Mapmakers like Jed Hotchkiss were very important to Civil War generals. The generals used maps to figure out how to move their armies from one place to another. They used maps to try to trap the enemy forces against rivers or high bluffs. If the maps were wrong, the army could be late getting to a battle…or worse! Jed Hotchkiss did not have modern technology to help him. He had to draw what he saw. Often, for accuracy, he would pace off the distance between two points to get a precise measurement.

In this activity, you will be a mapmaker. Your job is to survey the land for your general so you can pick sheltered places for your army to camp and open areas where they can march and fight. You will need:

  -a ruler, yardstick, or measuring tape
  -a pencil and paper to write on
  -colored pencils, colored markers, or crayons
  -graph paper
  -a friend to be the general

1.) Pick a place you want to map. Your backyard, school playground, or a nearby park are good examples.

2.) Make a rough sketch of the place you are mapping. Draw in everything you see, like trees, fences, and streams. Try to notice anything that might give your army shelter or let them hide from the enemy. Is there any ground they would not be able to haul heavy wagons or cannon over?

3.) Pacing is one of the ways Civil War mapmakers used to measure distance. It's important to be accurate. (If you're wrong when you pick the places to put your cannon, they might be too far away to hit the enemy.) To measure distance by pacing, first figure out the average length of your step. Mark a point on the ground and walk to another point a few yards away. (Try to walk with your steps the same length.) Count how many steps you take while you walk between the two points. Write down the number of steps on your paper. Now use your ruler, yardstick, or measuring tape to measure the exact distance between the points in inches. On your paper, divide the number of inches by the number of steps to get the length (in inches) of your step.

  ==>  Number of Inches x Number of Steps = Number of Inches in Your Step

3.) Now measure the distance to all the items you have drawn in your sketch by walking the distance between them and counting your steps. Make sure you write down the number of steps on your sketch as you measure.

4.) For each measurement, multiply the number of steps by the number of inches in your step to get the number of inches between each item on your sketch.

==>  Number of Inches in Your Step x Number of Steps = Number of Inches

Now divide the number of inches by 12 to get the number of feet. (There are 12 inches in 1 foot.)

==>  Number of Inches / 12 = Number of Feet

5.) Draw your sketch again, but this time, use graph paper and draw it to scale. Let each square on the graph paper be equal to 12 inches or 1 foot. For example, if a tree is 36 inches or 3 feet away from a sidewalk, leave 3 squares of graph paper between where you draw the tree and where you draw the sidewalk. Draw each item on your sketch in different colored pencils, crayons, or markers.

6.) Now give your map to the general (your friend) and have him or her use it to decide where the army will camp and what part of the ground would make a good battlefield. For the campsite, you can use the map to decide where to put your army's guards, where horses should be kept, where your men could get water or firewood, and where they should dig latrines. For the battlefield, you can use the map to decide how to place your men. Is there high ground they could take advantage of? Where should cannon go? Is there flat, open ground for cavalry? Will your men have trees to shield them from bullets or should they dig earthworks?

What else can you decide from your map?
Did you learn anything about map-making you did not expect?


6.  Selected CWPT Education Programs
Unless indicated otherwise, email for details.

==>     CWPT Gifted & Talented Curriculum

==>     Two-Week Civil War Curriculum CD-ROM

==>     Teacher Institute: July 24-26, 2009, Spotsylvania County Virginia

==>     More Civil War Lesson Plans

==>     Civil War Glossary

==>     Classroom Memberships
Monthly "Civil War Classroom" and quarterly "Hallowed Ground" magazine, classroom materials, curriculum CD-ROM & "It Happened in the Civil War". Email to sponsor a classroom, sign up, or review a newsletter.

==>     Adopt a Battlefield
Great for your springtime Civil War unit!  Receive free Civil War materials including a mix of fun and informative items with adaptable activities.  Participants pledge to become involved in preservation through fundraising, service and advocacy.  For youths, classrooms, scouts, and homeschoolers.  Email for more information.

==>     Traveling Trunk:
Reserve one for the 2009-2010 school year to access hands-on items, books, music and visuals. Email for more information.


Trivia Answers

A.  Boston Corbett was a Sergeant in the 16th New York Cavalry.  What's most notable is that he was a prisoner at Andersonville, and that he's credited with killing John Wilkes Booth. - Photograph and brief biography.  Almost everything about Sgt. Corbett was atypical!

B.  George Crocket Strong's claim to fame is his service at Battery Wagner, July 18, 1863.  It is Strong who approached the men of the 54th USCT on the fateful evening of the 18th.  He is said to have "pointed down the stretch of sand to the sinister hump of a Confederate earthwork that loomed amidst the roiling smoke and spitting fire of the guns. Loudly, Strong asked, ‘Is there a man here who thinks himself unable to sleep in that fort tonight?’ (Brian Pohanka, _America's Civil War_, September 1991).  The 54th emphatically shouted, "No!"  Pohanka continues: "the general called out the bearer of the national colors and grasped the flag.  'If this man should fall, who will lift the flag and carry it on?'"  After a brief gap, Robert Gould Shaw stepped forward and said, "I will."  Unfortunately, he failed at taking Battery Wagner and was wounded in the thigh.  He was taken to New York City, where he died on July 20th, after contracting tetanus.

C.  According to Vicksburg National Military Park, at the Vicksburg National Cemetery there are 17,077 graves of Civil War soldiers.  12,909 of these are unknown.  The cemetery covers almost 118 acres and also includes 1,280 soldiers who fought in the Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean Conflict.

D.  A.P. Hill.  Jackson's last words were "Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action ! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks -- Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees."

Could Jackson have survived his wound - had he not been sick earlier?

E.  This was said by Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle of the British Coldstream Guards, who visited Texas during the war.

Fremantle's book:  _Three Months in the Southern States_ (1864) -
The Texas cavalry statement is on page 39.


Jennifer Rosenberry
Education Coordinator

==> Go to to see how you can help us save battlefields!


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Hagerstown, MD  21740


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