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Civil War Trust

Civil War Primer May 22, 2009

Teacher Newsletter

Civil War Teacher Newsletter

We hope you enjoy a good Memorial Day weekend.  Please pause and remember our nation's veterans.  From the Revolutionary War - to the Civil War - to Afghanistan and Iraq, so many Americans have laid down their lives as "the last full measure of devotion" to their home.

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.  Memorial Day: 
     "The Blue and the Gray", by Francis Miles Finch
     Classroom Discussion Ideas

2.  Education Contact List

3.  Great Web Sites

4.  State Criticizes Wal-Mart Report [Virginia - re: Wilderness Battlefield]
     Classroom Discussion Ideas

5.  Trivia

6.  Selected CWPT Education Programs


1. Memorial Day:
    "The Blue and the Gray," by Francis Miles Finch
     Classroom Discussion Ideas

*The Blue and the Gray*

By the flow of the inland river,
   Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
   Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
      Under the sod and the dew,
         Waiting the judgment-day;
      Under the one, the Blue,
         Under the other, the Gray.
These in the robings of glory,
   Those in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
   In the dusk of eternity meet:
      Under the sod and the dew,
         Waiting the judgment-day,
      Under the laurel, the Blue,
         Under the willow, the Gray.
From the silence of sorrowful hours
   The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
   Alike for the friend and the foe:
      Under the sod and the dew,
         Waiting the judgment-day,
      Under the roses, the Blue,
         Under the lilies, the Gray.
So, with an equal splendor,
   The morning sun-rays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
   On the blossoms blooming for all:
      Under the sod and the dew,
         Waiting the judgment-day,
      Broidered with gold, the Blue,
         Mellowed with gold, the Gray.
So, when the summer calleth,
   On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
   The cooling drip of the rain:
      Under the sod and the dew,
         Waiting the judgment-day,
      Wet with the rain, the Blue,
         Wet with the rain, the Gray.
Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
   The generous deed was done,
In the storm of the years that are fading
   No braver battle was won:
      Under the sod and the dew,
         Waiting the judgment-day,
      Under the blossoms, the Blue,
         Under the garlands, the Gray.
No more shall the war cry sever,
   Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
   When they laurel the graves of our dead!
      Under the sod and the dew,
         Waiting the judgment-day,
      Love and tears for the Blue,
         Tears and love for the Gray.                         

Some background on the first "official" Memorial Day, and the source of this poem -

"Southern women decorated the graves of soldiers even before the end of the Civil War. After the war, a women's memorial association in Columbus, Mississippi, put flowers on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers in 1866, an act of generosity that inspired the poem by Francis Miles Finch, "The Blue and the Grey," published in the Atlantic Monthly."  (Library of Congress)

-->  *Classroom Discussion Ideas*

*  Students could compare and contrast mourning and memorial customs in "Western" culture versus customs in other cultures. Also, far too many soldiers in the Civil War (and all wars) are buried as "unknowns".  Families of the deceased, therefore, lack the closure of burying their loved one(s) and / or having a grave site to visit. How do grieving family members cope - in the Victorian era and now?   Students should understand that after the Civil War, an entire generation of young men was devastated. How did this catastrophe affect families and society as a whole?  (Ripple effect.)

*  What does the author mean when he writes, "Under the laurel, the Blue /  Under the willow, the Gray"?  (What is the symbolism of the laurel and the willow?)

*  What does the author mean when he writes, "Sadly, but not with upbraiding / The generous deed was done / In the storm of the years that are fading / No braver battle was won"?

*  Compare and contrast post-war remembrances from Northerners and Southerners.  This may be a good opportunity to introduce the concept of the "Lost Cause".  Older students may want to read "We Wish to be Remembered" ( 


2.  Education Contact List

CWPT is updating its *K-12* education contact list.  We are looking for curriculum coordinators and writers, professional development staff, administrators, department heads, members of the various state social studies councils, faculty members who train aspiring teachers, members of history and education organizations, members of homeschool cooperatives, editors of educational newsletters, and so on. 

We would like to keep in touch with these professionals - as well as other energetic teachers who would be willing to spread the word about CWPT's education programs.  As you know, we have created many educational opportunities that benefit both students and their teachers - such as the Teacher Institute, Two-Week Civil War Curriculum, Gifted and Talented Curriculum, Adopt a Battlefield Program, Traveling Trunk, "Best Lesson Plan" and "Poster & Essay" competitions, and so on.  (A more complete list is at the bottom of this newsletter.)

If you know an education professional who should be on our contact list, please email


3.  Great Web Sites

Besides the fact that battlefields are hallowed ground, what *tangible* reasons can you give your students for saving battlefields?  The guide entitled "Blue, Gray and Green:  A Battlefield Benefits Guide for Community Leaders" will get you up to speed so you can explain the economic benefits of preserving battlefields. 

This site reprints several of Lincoln's most famous writings:  Gettysburg Address, First and Second Inaugural Address, House Divided Speech, Lyceum Address, Emancipation Proclamation, Letter to Mrs. Bixby and Letter to General Hooker.  There are 4 images of Lincoln as well - 1846, 1860, 1864, and the last known photo from 1865.

New from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History:  "U.S. Senator Charles Sumner."  Share an excellent description of the caning of Senator Sumner by Senator Preston Brooks - as well as an 1870 Carte de Visite of Sen. Sumner.  While this assault - and Northern and Southern reactions - are usually mentioned in textbooks, textbooks do not touch the severity of this beating.  "... Brooks began to beat [Sumner] with the golden head of his cane. Sumner fell under his desk but Brooks continued to swing the cane until he had broken through the desk and beat Sumner, by then blinded by his own blood, as he lay crouched on the floor. Brooks finally relented when his cane snapped. When other Senators moved to help the unconscious Sumner, (South Carolina Senator] Keitt drew a pistol and warded them off." 

Can students imagine a 2009 conflict getting to be so heated that one Senator would attack another Senator - **on the Senate floor**?  When you transport the event from 1856 to 2009, the caning is no longer a line in a textbook - it is an outrageous event.  Of course, it's also outrageous that one Senator would describe another as a "noisome, squat and nameless animal"!

Not Civil War related, but appropriate to Memorial Day.  "Many people are aware of the famous American military cemetery at Omaha Beach, Normandy, site of one of the D-Day landings in 1944. But few know there are twenty-one other American military cemeteries in eight different countries memorializing those who were not brought back to the United States after World War I and World War II. Each of these commemorative places is powerful and unique, and has is own stories to tell."  From Public Broadcasting.

The Abraham Lincoln Blog.
"... [A] repository of information about Lincoln, including facts about his life, presidency, assassination, humor, and politics. Included is a smattering of commentary about modern-day events and politics but only as they pertain to Lincoln."

*Finally!*  A good Civil War clip art site!  A wonderful collection of black and white line images from Florida's Educational Technology Clearinghouse.

This is a good discussion of Lost Cause theory, dissent within the south, post-war reunions, African American history, North/South "reconciliation" - and Southern historian Edward A. Pollard.  Before one points an accusing finger at Lost Cause followers, however - remember that the post-war oppression of African-Americans can be blamed on the North just as much as the South. 

Good article:  "Helping Restore the Bay, One Battlefield at a Time".  "The future health of the Chesapeake Bay may well depend in part upon how much respect we pay to history. Granted, it may be a small part. But as we struggle to piece together workable plans to improve bay water quality, the little pieces are what make up the big picture. For proof, we need only to recognize the link between muskets and mollusks."  Muskets and mollusks?  Read on. 
*  This is a good cross-curriculum tie-in -- connecting science and history.


4.  State Criticizes Wal-Mart Report [Virginia - re: Wilderness Battlefield]

State Criticizes Wal-Mart Report
May 21, 2009 - Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

Virginia officials want "to set the record straight" about a proposed Wal-Mart's impact on the Wilderness battlefield.

Kathleen Kilpatrick, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, wrote the Orange County Planning Commission yesterday after learning that the county's planning staff "appears to suggest" that the Wal-Mart site "is not historically significant."

The Orange Planning Commission will hold a public hearing tonight on JDC Ventures' request for a special-use permit to build a 138,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter and other retail stores north of State Routes 3 and 20.

"Construction of a Wal-Mart facility at the scale and on the site proposed will, in our professional judgment, have a serious adverse effect both on the Wilderness Battlefield and on the National Park," Kilpatrick wrote in a letter to commission Chairman Will Likins, who could not be reached for comment last night.

The staff report, which recommends granting the permit, says staffers reviewed VDHR files and maps and confirmed with VDHR that "there are no known significant resources" on the Wal-Mart tract. The report states the site is in "the near vicinity" of the Wilderness battlefield.

Kilpatrick took issue with those conclusions. "Please be advised that the proposed Wal-Mart site is located entirely within the boundaries of the Wilderness Battlefield," she wrote.

Of 10,500 sites identified by the federal Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, only 45 were ranked "A" as having decisively influenced a military campaign and directly affected the course of the war, Kilpatrick noted. Wilderness, "is counted among this very elite class of national battlefields for possessing the highest level of historical significance and meriting the highest priority for preservation."

The 51.6-acre Wal-Mart site is "clearly eligible" for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the rest of the battlefield, she said.

Orange Board of Supervisors Chairman Lee Frame said last night that he didn't see the letter until after the close of business yesterday.

"I'm really not in a position to say anything about it until I have a chance to go over it and discuss it in detail with [Community Development Director David] Grover," he said. "I'll be talking with him [today]."

Grover could not be reached last night.

Late yesterday, Kilpatrick said VDHR recognizes that it's up to local officials to decide the Wal-Mart land-use issue, but the department wanted to make sure Orange has accurate data. She responded after DHR became aware Monday of statements in the planners' report.

"The property is important, it is historic, and we felt that information was absolutely critical to the decision-making," she said.

Robert Carter, director of DHR's Community Services Division, said Orange officials "did not send us information about this project and ask us to comment."

But County Attorney Sharon Pandak said Orange officials did talk with DHR.

"The county staff met with DHR in Richmond months ago," she said, "and it's my understanding that DHR didn't raise any issues in respect to Wal-Mart at that time.

"We have a real sense of dismay since we initiated contact with them. It's very troubling that they are only now bringing this to the Planning Commission, but if DHR wants to come up and meet with our staff, the county is receptive."

Kilpatrick said a senior DHR staff member will attend tonight's meeting should the commissioners have questions, she said.

Bill Speiden, a longtime Planning Commission member and its former chairman, welcomes that.

"The land has been zoned commercial since 1973 and apparently known to be part of the battlefield since 1993," he said. "Why has it not been put on the National Register? These are questions that need to be answered."

Last night, Wal-Mart spokesman Keith Morris repeated the company's prior statements that its store site isn't on the battlefield and won't harm the nearby national park.

"It gets into a matter of semantics," he said. "Are we talking about the Wilderness battlefield park or a 1993 study that was done?

"What that fails to take into account is that there are 4,000 homes in Lake of the Woods that are abutting the battlefield, 1,800 homes in the other direction that are abutting the battlefield, and all of the other commercial strip development that's there right now."

Staff reporter Robin Knepper contributed to this story.

--> *Classroom Discussion Ideas*

*  Civics / Government teachers may want to discuss zoning, planning commissions, and how the public hearing process works in their local community. 

*  Compare and contrast the following official positions about a potential Wal-Mart on the Wilderness Battlefield.  As a preservationist, how would your students respond to Wal-Mart's claims?  How would you convince the Orange County Government to preserve the historical treasure at the Wilderness?  You may want to hold a debate.  Use "Blue, Gray and Green" (above, Great Web Sites) and as resources.         [Orange County Government]         [Wal-Mart]   [CWPT and the Preservation Community]

*  Get involved by writing letters to the Orange County government.  You can do that from the CWPT web site:


5.  Trivia

A.  Union soldiers captured what Virginia city on May 24, 1861?

B.  What was unusual about CS Lieutenant Harry T. Buford?

C.  Which Confederate general was called "the terror of ugly husbands" by a reporter?

D.  At West Point, this future Union General was one of William T. Sherman and Henry Halleck's classmates.  In October 1862, he pushed Earl Van Dorn's army back five miles, then across Davis' Bridge (TN).  He was wounded shortly thereafter.  In 1883, while traveling to Central America, he contracted Yellow Fever while on the ship.  The general died at Havana Cuba in July 1883.  His middle names are "Otho Cresap".  Who is this man? 

E.  Who was the first African American soldier to receive the Medal of Honor?

Answers at bottom.


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

-->     CWPT Gifted & Talented Curriculum
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.

-->     Two-Week Civil War Curriculum CD-ROM
Most Americans come to care about battlefields for one of three reasons:
either they had an ancestor who fought in the war, they read a great book
or watched a great movie about the Civil War, or they had a great
teacher — you! We hope that our curriculum will make your job easier.

-->     Adopt a Battlefield
Great for your springtime Civil War unit!  Participants pledge to become
involved in preservation through fundraising, service and advocacy. 
Receive in-depth information about sites CWPT has helped to preserve,
as well as classroom preservation ideas and adaptable activities. 
For youths, classrooms, scouts, and homeschoolers. 

Email for more information.

-->     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 sample classroom

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

-->     Teacher Institute: July 24-26, 2009, Spotsylvania County Virginia
        The program is now full, however, you can contact
to be included on the waiting list.  If you can't attend this year's program, we'd love to
see you next year when we visit Gettysburg.

-->     More Civil War Lesson Plans

-->     Civil War Glossary


Trivia Answers

A.  Alexandria, VA. 
It was on this day that Col. Elmer Ellsworth (with the 1st Fire Zouaves, 11th New York Volunteers) entered Alexandria, saw a Confederate flag flying from the Marshall House hotel, and rushed inside to take down the banner.  Ellsworth was shot by the hotel keeper, James Jackson.  Jackson was shot immediately by Private Francis Brownell.  The North grieved tremendously for the charismatic Ellsworth, who was also a friend of Abraham Lincoln.  Southerners, however, grieved the death of James Jackson.  Both sides were outraged. 

*  Read about the exciting early days of the 1st Fire Zouaves at
*  More information about the 1st Fire Zouaves - and the "Zouave Craze"  This site has a picture of Brownell standing on the captured flag.

B.  Lieutenant Harry T. Buford was actually Loretta Janeta Velazquez. 
At _Documenting the American South_ you can read an account of her life:  "The Woman in Battle:  A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velaszquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, Confederate States Army.  In Which is Given Full Descriptions of the numerous Battles in which she participated as a Confederate Officer; of her Perilous Performances as a Spy, as a Bearer of Despatches, as a Secret-Service Agent, and as a Blockade-Runner; of her Adventures Behind the Scenes at Washington, including the Bond Swindle; of her Career as a Bounty and Substitute Broker in New York; of her Travels in Europe and South America; her Mining Adventures on the Pacific Slope; her Residence among the Mormons; her Love Affairs, Courtships, Marriages, &c., &c." 

Despite this glorious title (!), Velasquez is apologetic about her work, as were many female writers.  [Margaret Junkin Preston, later dubbed the "Poet Laureate of the Confederacy", said, "Poetry has been only my pastime, not the occupation or mission of my life, which has been too busy a one with the duties of wifehood, motherhood, mistress, hostess, neighbor, and friend…. I think I can truly say that I have never neglected the concoction of a pudding for the sake of a poem, or a sauce for a sonnet. " (   Read her most famous poem, "Beechenbrook", here:  This is a poem of loss driven by her own fears.]

In her memoir Velazquez states, "If I expected by this story of my adventures to achieve any literary reputation, I might be disposed, on account of its many faults of style, to ask the indulgence of those who will do me the honor to undertake its perusal. As, however, I only attempted authorship because I had, as others assured me, and as I myself believed, something to tell that was worth telling, I have been more concerned about the matter than the manner of my book, and I hope that the narrative will prove of sufficient interest to compensate for a lack of literary elegance in setting forth. Mine has been a life too busily occupied in other matters for me to cultivate the graces of authorship; and the best I can hope to do is to relate my story with simplicity and truth, and then let it find its fate, whether it be praise or condemnation."

*  How did Velazquez pull off this deception?  Your students may learn more about Civil War soldiers through the National Archives:

C.  Earl Van Dorn.  His womanizing eventually led to his death - shot by a jealous husband.

D.  He is Edward Otho Cresap Ord. 
Learn more about him at and

E.  He was Sergeant William Carney. 
Carney received this honor due to "most distinguished gallantry in action" at Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863.  He was shot in the thigh, but managed to crawl uphill on his knees, "bearing the Union flag and urging his troops to follow" (National Archives).


Jennifer Rosenberry
Education Coordinator
Civil War Preservation Trust
11 Public Square, Suite 200
Hagerstown, MD  21740

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


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