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Civil War Trust

Civil War Primer - March 25, 2009

Civil War Teacher Update

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. We Need You To Share Your Best Lesson Plan!

2. Great Web Sites

3. Can Your Students Stop a Developer?
    Poster or Essay Competition
    “It’s Our Turn: Fight to Save Civil War Battlefields”

4. Professional Development!
    Eighth Annual Summer Teacher Institute
    July 24-26, 2009: Fredericksburg, VA

5. Trivia

6. History Under Siege: 
    Most Endangered Battlefields

7. Selected CWPT Education Programs


1. We Need You to Share Your Best Lesson Plan!

Sponsored by History and the Civil War Preservation Trust

We know you have a great Civil War lesson plan up your sleeves - one that is challenging and relevant to today’s students.  So enter the Best Civil War Lesson Plan contest for your chance at awards and recognition.  K-12 teachers nationwide in public, private and home schools - may enter.

Awards are generously donated by The History Channel.  They are one thousand for first place, seven hundred and fifty for second, and five hundred for third place.

All submissions must be received by May 1, 2009.
Winning teachers will be notified in September 2009. 

All lesson plans must include the following elements in order to be considered:

 - The teacher’s complete contact information including the name of the teacher’s
   school with complete mailing address, complete home address, and preferred
   phone number and/or email address. 
 - The lesson goals and objectives;
 - A list of the materials to be used, as well as copies of teacher-created handouts;
 - An approximation of the time involved;
 - An explanation of the methods to be used and procedure of the lesson;
 - A list of correlating state standards for social studies / history in the teacher’s
   home state,
   OR the appropriate NCSS strands (;
 - Use of at least one primary source -- this could be an historic photograph, document,
   letter, diary, artifact, etc.,
 - Inclusion of elements that are engaging and thought provoking for students with a
   variety of learning styles.

If possible, teachers are encouraged to introduce the concept of battlefield preservation within their lesson.  However, lack of this component will not cause an entry to be disqualified; teachers are also encouraged, but not required, to submit a method of evaluation with their lesson plan.

Submissions become the property of the Civil War Preservation Trust and History, and may be reprinted, posted on their respective web sites, and/or shared via other forms of media.

Send your lesson plan to:

Education Department
Civil War Preservation Trust
11 Public Square, Suite 200
Hagerstown, MD  21740


2. Great Web Sites

        The Dixie Primer for Little Folks, by Documenting the American South
        A sample "textbook" for very young students - 1863

        General Hancock Reports from Gettysburg
        If your class visits Gettysburg, stand at the Evergreen Cemetery
        gates and read this report, which Gen. Winfield Hancock "hastily scribbled" to
        General Meade.

        A basic Civil War timeline, with links to information about specific battles
        and events. 

        "A Regiment of Immigrants: The 82nd Illinois Volunteer
        Infantry."  "A fascinating group of German, Jewish and
        Scandinavian immigrants and their experiences in the Union

        From the Tax History Museum.  How did the Confederacy and the Union
        fund the Civil War?  Includes interesting images.

        The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the
        Life of Abraham Lincoln".  What was Abraham Lincoln doing this
        day in history?

==> ==> ==> The CWPT history pages have moved to


3. Can Your Students Stop a Developer?
    Poster or Essay Competition
    “It’s Our Turn: Fight to Save Civil War Battlefields”

If you had only one minute to convince your elected officials to stop a developer from destroying a Civil War battlefield what would you say?  Why does preserving a battlefield make us better people in the long run?

The 2009 motto is “It’s Our Turn: Fight to Save Civil War Battlefields”.  Use and develop this slogan in either a poster or an essay.

          ==> Posters -- Elementary (4-5-6), Junior (7-8-9) and Senior (10-11-12) Divisions
          ==> Essays -- Junior (7-8-9) and Senior (10-11-12) Divisions

         ==> First Place $200            Second Place $100          Third Place $50
          History (The History Channel) has donated cash awards for students and
          A&E / History online gift certificates in equivalent amounts for teachers.

==>  All entries must be received in our office by May 15, 2009.

Students may enter either the poster contest or the essay contest in their age group, but not both. (Note that there is no elementary essay contest.)  There is no group entry category one student per essay or poster.  Essays must be approximately 300 words.  Preservation of Civil War battlefields is the main idea to be expressed not just an overview of the war.

For complete details visit

Need More Information?
Call 1-888-606-1400 or email


4.  Professional Development!
     Eighth Annual Summer Teacher Institute
     July 24-26, 2009: Fredericksburg, VA


The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) will host its Eighth Annual Teacher Institute from July 24-26, 2009 in Spotsylvania County, VA. This free weekend will feature workshops, battlefield tours of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, entertainment, speakers, and networking opportunities.  Teachers or librarian / media specialists who work with students in grades K through 12 are eligible to attend.

This year the institute will include teacher exhibits, giving teachers the chance to show off what they have been doing in their classroom to teach the Civil War. Teachers are encouraged to bring student work samples, lesson plans, and ideas that have proven successful.

The institute registration page is now online.  Register at the link above for both the program in general and the teacher exhibit area.  Directions, workshop information and frequently asked questions are also available on our updated Institute page.  Stipend applications will be available online soon.

Friday and Sunday workshops include African American Leadership During the Civil War Era - Using Primary Sources to Create First Person Narratives; Local Civil War History: How to use Your Local History to Learn About and Teach the Civil War; Using Technology to Teach the Civil War: Web 2.0 Tools and Techniques; From Antietam to Chancellorsville: The Civil War Diary of C.D.M. Broomhall, 124th Pennsylvania; Math and the Civil War: Using Graphs, Charts, and Stats to Learn About the Civil War; From Dred Scott to Emancipation: Evolving Views on Slavery; Civil War Multimedia Journals: Using Technology to Create a Civil War Journal; The Civil War and the Library of Congress: Best Practices for Searching the Library of Congress; Liverpool and Confederacy: Exploring the Relationship Between Liverpool and the Confederacy; and The Civil War and Fiction: Using Fictional Stories to Teach the Civil War.

Saturday field trip choices are Chancellorsville - featuring CWPT property The First Day at Chancellorsville OR Fredericksburg - featuring CWPT property at Slaughter Pen Farm.

Virginia Tech's Center for Civil War Studies will be an active partner in the institute. Dr. James I. "Bud" Robertson, Director of the Center, will be a keynote speaker at the institute and will be joined by William C. Davis, Director of Programs for the Center. Through our partnership with Virginia Tech, CWPT is able to offer Continuing Education Unit credits to participating educators.  Also participating will be The Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission, History, and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Parks. 

Accommodations are reserved at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House and Conference Center.  Hotel reservations must be made by June 30th, 2009 to receive the Teacher Institute rate. When you call be sure to indicate that you are with the Civil War Preservation Trust Teacher Institute.

More details are available on the web site.  If you need additional information, call (202) 367-1861 ext. 223 or email

5.  Trivia

A.  What is on the Great Seal of the Confederacy?  (Words and images.)  What do the words mean?

B.  What is the only Confederate state capital east of the Mississippi River NOT to fall into Union hands?

C.  Philippe Regis de Trobriand (Bvt. Maj. Gen.) wrote the following words about which battle?

"On our side, we should have been satisfied to rest there, the object of the charge having been fully accomplished. But the regiments were already in motion. They wished to obtain a more decisive success, by getting possession of the railroad. While the right pursued the flying enemy into the woods where they had disappeared, the left found itself suddenly halted by a deep ditch, concealed by the high grass. An increase of the fire proved immediately that the enemy awaited them there. Meanwhile, our men, not being able to pass the ditch by a leap, hesitated. Some jumped into it, and stopped there to take breath; others fell killed or wounded, while endeavoring to get out of it. The officers on horseback galloped right and left encouraging their men, and looking for a crossing which did not exist.

Of course, the enemy had, in his turn, concentrated the fire of his artillery on this point. The place was not tenable. In a very short time everything which was not in the ditch would be swept away. They must get back in any way possible, by parts of regiments and by companies. The right did the same, having fared no better in the woods.

Two-thirds of those who had made the charge in the four regiments of our brigade did not answer to roll- call. How many remained in the ditch watching for a chance to escape, we did not know. What we did know was that we had left a great many wounded or dead in the dry grass."

D.  The Battle of Tupelo, Mississippi (July 14-15, 1864) is also known by what northern-sounding name?

E.  On March 25, 1865, what Petersburg "fort" was attacked by the Confederates? 

Answers at Bottom


6. History Under Siege: Most Endangered Battlefields

Do your students think that "all of the battlefields are already saved"?  Do they think the Park Service owns them?  Think again!  Your students need to know about the threat to our nation's hallowed grounds.  How much do YOU know about these sites?

   WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Development threatens to engulf Civil War battlefields,
   a preservationist group said as it released its annual list of endangered battle sites
   on Wednesday.  "In town after town, the irreplaceable battlefields that define
   those communities are being marred forever," said James Lighthizer, the head
   of the Civil War Preservation Trust.

==> Read the entire report at:

The Top Ten Endangered Sites are:

       * Monocacy, Maryland
HISTORY:  In summer 1864, Jubal Early's forces marched down the Shenandoah Valley and into Maryland. A force of largely inexperienced Union soldiers under Lew Wallace moved to block the Southern force before it could threaten Washington or Baltimore.  By the time they met on July 9, Wallace had received veteran reinforcements but was still outnumbered three to one. His men took up strong positions at bridges and fords across the Monocacy River and braced for battle. Confederates attacked all along Wallace’s front, outflanking and overpowering Union troops. They fell back after suffering over 20 percent casualties. Still, Wallace’s “Battle that Saved Washington” bought time and allowed veteran troops to reinforce the Union capital before Early arrived at its outskirts.

THREAT:  Officials in Frederick County are thinking of building a “waste-to-energy facility” along the banks of the Monocacy River. The $527 million facility would process trash from Frederick and Carroll counties, burning up to 1,500 tons per day. The 350-foot smokestack would dominate the skyline across virtually all of Monocacy National Battlefield. The 100-foot-tall main facility would also be visible from many vantage points.  Citizens are concerned that in addition to affecting the battlefield, building the facility alongside the river could have serious ecological ramifications, some of which may not become apparent for years.

       * The Wilderness, Virginia
HISTORY:  Wilderness was the first action in Ulysses S. Grant’s horrific Overland Campaign. On May 5, 1864, parts of Grant’s army attacked Robert E. Lee’s troops on Orange Turnpike and Plank Road. In the thick undergrowth, fighting was confusing, difficult and deadly.  At dawn the next day Grant launched a savage attack on Plank Road and drove the Rebels back until Southern reinforcements stemmed the tide. Other Union attacks were repulsed with devastating loss to both sides. The results were inconclusive but the large human toll was not in doubt: more than 25,000 combined casualties, including 13 general officers.

THREAT:  Preservationists are facing an uphill battle to stop Walmart from building a supercenter less than a quarter mile from the Wilderness National Battlefield, but within the historic boundaries of that battlefield. If built, the store would be the fifth Walmart within a 20-mile radius and would increase pressure for additional development in the battlefield gateway area. 

       * Port Gibson, Mississippi
HISTORY:  Hoping to capture Vicksburg, Ulysses S. Grant moved south through Louisiana from his camps at Milliken’s Bend and Young’s Point.  They crossed the Mississippi and moving inland, they met Confederates around midnight, near the Shaifer House.  Heavy skirmishing ensued. Early next morning, May 1, battle erupted in earnest. Yankee brigades forced the outmatched Rebels back again and again. Confederate soldiers from Missouri counterattacked, but their efforts were in vain; Grant’s 23,000 men forced the 8,000 Confederates to retire with 800 casualties. Grant lost slightly more men but gained a beachhead on Mississippi soil, which helped to capture Vicksburg.

THREAT:  Studies predict that traffic along U.S. Highway 61 (Church Street) will increase by 45 percent in the next 20 years, prompting the Mississippi Department of Transportation to propose a major road widening. Local officials are lobbying for a bypass which would skirt the battlefield more widely and avoid historic neighborhoods. 

       * Cedar Creek, Virginia
HISTORY:  Virginia's Shenandoah Valley was known as the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy".  It was also a transportation corridor useful to both sides.  On October 19, 1864, Philip Sheridan arrived at this battle just in time to rally his Union troops and launch a devastating counterattack against Jubal Early.  Not only did Sheridan’s destructive assault win the battle, but it also shattered any hope of further Confederate offensives in the Valley.

THREAT:  Limestone mining operations across portions of the Cedar Creek Battlefield have long been one of the most dramatic and visible threats facing any Civil War battlefield. Despite strong public opposition and the local planning department’s recommendations, in May 2008 the Frederick County Board of Supervisors rezoned 394 acres for extractive manufacturing, increasing the size of the mine and threatening to destroy significant sections of the northern part of the battlefield. Cedar Creek is also one of about 15 battlefields across MD, PA, VA and WV threatened by a proposed network of high-voltage electric transmission lines.

       * Fort Gaines, Alabama
HISTORY:  Sitting on Dauphin Island at the entrance to Mobile Bay, Fort Gaines is a highly strategic site.  The strong, pentagonal fort was built in the mid 1800s to deter naval attacks on Mobile Bay.  On August 5, 1864, 800 Confederate troops held Fort Gaines as Adm. David Farragut’s fleet of 18 ships began its attack. Despite Confederate mines and intense fire from Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan, Farragut overpowered Confederate naval resistance in the bay, allowing Union troops to lay siege to Fort Gaines. Outnumbered and outgunned, Fort Gaines surrendered on August 8; Fort Morgan fell 15 days later.

THREAT:  Today, Fort Gaines is threatened by the Gulf of Mexico. Each year waves reclaim 10 feet of land — 400 feet of historic battlefield have been lost — complicating the continued operation of Fort Gaines Historic Site. The loss of established dune systems will turn Dauphin Island’s freshwater lake and swamp into a salt-water environment, requiring residents to find a new source of drinking water. Eventually, the Gulf could bisect the island, stranding Fort Gaines and other culturally important areas. Erosion is a natural process, but a 2007 U.S. Geological Survey report concluded that dredging practices in the Gulf have significantly hastened the loss of the island.

       * Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
HISTORY:  Robert E. Lee’s second Northern invasion was stopped at Gettysburg.  Elements of his army met a portion of George Meade’s force. For three days 160,000 men punished each other there. Lee’s attacks carried the first day, but Meade blunted Confederate assaults on the second. On July 3, 1863, US forces repelled a massive Confederate frontal assault known as Pickett’s Charge.  The Union claimed victory - but at a price - more than 50,000 casualties. Four months later, President Abraham Lincoln came to Gettysburg to utter “a few appropriate remarks” to honor the fallen and give purpose to the ongoing struggle.

THREAT:  Even though Gettysburg is the best-known of all battlefields, historically significant locations lie outside the boundaries of Gettysburg National Military Park and are vulnerable to development. A Comfort Suites hotel is under construction on Cemetery Hill, next to Evergreen Cemetery on Baltimore Pike, the road to the newly built visitor center. Another threatened property is along Route 30, the Chambersburg Pike. The Gettysburg Country Club, scene of Confederate attacks on McPherson Ridge, went bankrupt in 2008. Although the Park Service and other groups pursued the land, the huge asking price has prevented a preservation solution.

       * New Market Heights, Virginia
HISTORY:  Benjamin Butler’s attacks on Robert E. Lee’s defenses north of the James River in September 1864 are known as the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm. Among the participants were 3,000 African American solders anxious to prove themselves.  These United States Colored Troops (USCTs) were responsible for the eastern half of Butler’s two-pronged attack. They seized the opportunity and charged their objective, the entrenched Confederate position at New Market Heights. Their attack was bloody but valorous; they lost more than 800 men in one hour. Of 16 Medals of Honor awarded to African American troops during the Civil War, 14 were earned at New Market Heights.

THREAT:  No part of the battlefield has been protected by any preservation organization, including the Park Service. Henrico County purchased land within the core of the battlefield several years ago, but it is not open to the public. Only one roadside marker acknowledges the location of the battlefield. Parts of the battlefield close to where Union troops crossed the James River at Deep Bottom have already been destroyed by housing. Additional residential construction underway on the north side of Virginia Route 5, historic New Market Road, will destroy Confederate artillery positions. Growing traffic in the region will cause the widening of Route 5, threatening 75 acres of land fronting the road.

       * Sabine Pass, Texas
HISTORY:  Anxious to stop a Confederate trade route through Mexico, Lincoln sent a force to capture Sabine Pass, near the Louisiana border, to occupy Texas. The only Confederate line of defense here was Fort Griffin, with a few dozen artillerists manning six cannons.  On September 8, 1863, four Union gunboats, followed by transports carrying several thousand Union soldiers, steamed into Sabine Pass. Fort Griffin’s artillerymen — who held frequent target practice to pass the time — pounded the Union gunboats. So lethal was their fire that the flotilla was forced to retire, losing two gunboats and 200 men. This was one of the most lopsided victories of the Civil War.

THREAT:  Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site received an almost direct hit from Hurricane Rita, causing damage so severe that the site was closed for years to the public. Repair efforts were hurt further when Hurricane Ike landed in September 2008. The site is closed again, but will re-open to the public in April or May 2009.

       * South Mountain, Maryland
HISTORY:  Robert E. Lee split his army into several pieces to achieve specific objectives. A copy of one of his orders fell into Union hands, though, and (normally timid) George McClellan seized the opportunity, moving to South Mountain.  Lee sent what forces he could to defend the mountain passes but could not spare enough men. Hopelessly outnumbered, the Rebels fought savagely at Crampton’s Gap, Fox’s Gap and Turner’s Gap, but they were driven back from all three passes by dusk. There were 2,600 Rebel and 2,300 Yankee casualties. The next day McClellan’s typical meekness returned and he missed an opportunity to destroy Lee’s army piecemeal.  This set the stage for Antietam two days later.

THREAT:  Like many other battlefields in MD, PA, VA and WV, South Mountain will be affected by planned electric transmission corridors in the region. A more immediate threat, however, comes from Dominion Power.  In December, Dominion purchased a 135-acre site near Fox’s Tavern in Middletown, MD, as part of a plan to build a $55 million natural gas compression station. A previous application for a similar project drew more than 200 comments from local citizens, most of them negative, and was withdrawn. Dominion has not publicized a timeframe for the project.

       * Spring Hill, Tennessee
HISTORY:  On November 28, 1864, John Bell Hood’s troops moved to Spring Hill to block US Gen. John Schofield's supply line. The next day, Hood’s troops converged on Spring Hill to find Yankees at the crossroads. Hood launched a poorly executed, piecemeal attack which Schofield repulsed at dusk.  Hood’s command was breaking down and reinforcements failed to press the attack. As fighting ended, Confederates missed a chance to block Schofield’s route of retreat. During the night he retreated to Franklin.  The next day, Yankees punished Hood’s Rebels for their failures at Spring Hill.

THREAT:  Intense development around Nashville has posed major challenges for Spring Hill.  General Motors wants to sell about 500 acres of unused land around Rippavilla Plantation. There is an interested buyer, but the sale has been delayed.  GM is stipulating that the development firm buying the land donate the 100 acres closest to Rippavilla to the nonprofit foundation that runs the site, and will itself contribute $1 million to the cause over the next decade. However, plans for the remainder of the land call for residential areas, apartments, a hotel, a theater, restaurants, retail stores, office space and other high-density development next to the plantation and battlefield.

In 2008, CWPT rescued hallowed ground in eight states, at legendary battlefields like Morris Island, S.C., Shiloh, Tenn., and Appomattox Court House, Va. Despite such success, our work is far from done. We need you and your students to help us.  See for ways you can help save battlefields. 


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

==>     CWPT Gifted & Talented Curriculum: Character & Leadership in the Civil War.
Examine Civil War leaders through the lenses of character and leadership.  Designed for “gifted and talented” students — or for students with a special interest in the Civil War — this adaptable enrichment experience may be used alone or in addition to your existing curriculum.  Follows the NCSS Thematic Strands as well as Character Counts!(sm) and the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

==>     Two-Week Civil War Curriculum CD-ROM:
For grades 5, 8 & 11.  Download online, or send your land address. The classroom curriculum guide is endorsed by History (The History Channel). According to Dr. Libby O'Connell, Chief Historian at History, the CWPT Civil War curriculum guide is "the best two-week curriculum on the Civil War available to teachers today."

==>     Teacher Institute: July 24-26, 2009, Spotsylvania County Virginia.
Eighth Annual Teacher Institute from July 24-26, 2009 in Spotsylvania County, VA. Features "field trip" tours of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, focusing on techniques teachers can use to make a battlefield visit a central part of their Civil War curriculum. Open to all teachers and school librarians grades K-12, not just history teachers.  For more information contact the Civil War Preservation Trust at (202) 367-1861 ext. 223 or email

==>     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.

==>     Civil War Preservation Trust Book Lists

 ==>     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.  According to the Southern Historical Society Papers (1888), the seal contains the following:
"...a device representing an equestrian portrait of Washington (after the statue which surmounts his monument in the capitol square at Richmond), surrounded with a wreath, composed of the principal agricultural products of the Confederacy, and having around its margin the words: 'Confederate States of America, 22d February, 1862,' with the motto, 'Deo vindice.'"  "Deo Vindice" means "God Will Vindicate".

Read the entire article at
For comparison, learn about the Great Seal of the United States at

==> Classroom discussion:  Why would the image of Washington be significant?  What did the motto mean to the fledgling Confederacy?  Why is this significant?


B. Tallahassee, Florida, did not fall into Union hands.   The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida, had much to do with this.


C.  This was written about the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862.  de Trobriand's men were positioned at the Slaughter Pen Farm - a property which CWPT has helped to save.  This particular passage is from de Trobriand's military memoirs, "Four Years with the Arrmy of the Potomac", page 370-371.  This book is available through Google Books.

==> For more information about this battle - including an animated map, historical accounts and videos, OR to learn how you can help save Slaughter Pen Farm, visit


D.  Harrisburg!


E.   Fort Stedman at Petersburg, VA was attacked.

According to Civil War Day by Day (E.B. Long), "Southerners who said they were deserters showed up about 3 A.M. at the Union lines near Fort Stedman on the east side of the Petersburg, VA, siege fortifications.  In fact, they were advance men aiming at sabotage when, an hour later, Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon launched his massive attack at Fort Stedman and surrounding entrenchments."  While the Confederates quickly overwhelmed this stronghold, they lost momentum and "by seven forty-five the Federal line was restored and the entire attack defeated."  There were about 1500 Federal casualties versus 4000 Confederate casualties.



Jennifer Rosenberry
Education Coordinator

==> CWPT is working to save land at Sailor's Creek.  Go to to see how you can help.

Civil War Preservation Trust   |   11 Public Square, Suite 200   |   Hagerstown, MD 21740   |   301.665.1400


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