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Regional Teacher Institute -- Boston

This October 8-9, the Civil War Trust will host another of its popular Teacher Institutes in Boston, Massachusetts. The Institute is a two-day professional development for K-12 educators focused exclusively on the American Civil War and its relationship to Massachusetts. The professional development is free, thanks to Connecticut-based touring company Tauck, but space is limited to 50 attendees. Teachers who attend are treated to outstanding workshops led by educators specializing in the history of the Civil War and instructional strategies for teaching the War; a hard copy of the Trust's Civil War Curriculum complete with 27 lesson plans, including all associated worksheets and a disk with all digital materials; a tour of the Black Heritage Trail, led by the National Park Service; a tour of Fort Warren, led by the National Park Service; Continuing Education Units; breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the first day, as well as breakfast on the second day; a Seven Day Link Pass and, best of all, two wonderful days in historic Boston! There are still spaces available but they will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis, so sign up now!

Learn More »

See photos from our last Teacher Institute in Nashville »

From the Educators

August 2011
Dear Civil War Educator and Preservationist,

The Education Department is shrinking in the short run and growing in the long run. At the beginning of this month, longtime senior manager of education programs, Nicole Osier, went on maternity leave and, lo and behold, on August 9th the newest member of the department, Samuel Evan Osier, was born! All are well and we wish them quality time during their short break from Civil War land.

Our regular summer staffer, Sheralyn Morehouse, who stepped in and ran the last Teacher Institute, just departed as well to get ready to do what most of you are doing right about now—teaching. That leaves the capable education assistant, Clayton Butler, who does much of the departmental work behind the scenes, and me manning the ship. And yet, we have lots going on.

We hope that many of you will be able to join us for our Boston Teacher Institute in October and perhaps even our follow up Institute in Los Angeles this winter. I promise you a meaningful experience at either event. In gearing up for these Institutes—and the school year—make sure you check out our new Civil War FAQ page to answer your most basic Civil War questions. Most of the questions link to more in-depth information that you can share in the classroom.

Check out all the resources below and of course at Civilwar.org throughout the fall. We'll keep putting up new content and better resources as long as you want us to. Thanks for your support and for your continued interest in bringing history to life.


Garry Adelman, Director of History and Education


Best Lesson Plan

Best Lesson Plan

Mr. Warner Ferratier has won the Best Lesson Plan Contest of 2010-2011 with his "Remembering the Fallen" Lesson Plan. In his plan, students analyze battlefield monuments and memorials and compare and contrast the ways North and South memorialized those who died. The lesson plan calls for students to demonstrate their understanding through charts, oral discussion and formal writing. Best of all, it gets students out on the battlefield!

Download the Lesson Plan »


New Civil War FAQ Page

Civil War FAQ

Our new Civil War Frequently Asked Questions page answers the frequently asked -- and frequently confused -- Civil War questions for students and teachers alike. Was secession legal? What did soldiers eat? What did they do in their spare time? Why are there alternate names of Civil War battles? These and other questions are answered simply and succinctly on this new page, which pulls together the resources of the Education section of the website.

See the FAQ page »


New Mine Run Content

Mine Run

Check out the new and growing Battle of Mine Run content available on our website. In the video ‘Payne's Farm in Four Minutes' historian and author Garry Adelman leads a brief tour of the newly-installed interpretive trail at the Civil War Trust's Payne's Farm section of the Battlefield. Also be sure to check out the virtual tour and the new article on the Mine Run campaign by the education department's own Clayton Butler.

Start at the battlefield hub »


Photo Contest: Vote for Your Favorite

Photo Contest Peoples' Choice

Vote for your favorite Civil War photo in our 2011 Peoples' choice category. This year's finalists cover battlefield landscapes from Vicksburg and Olustee to Stones River and Antietam.

See the Finalists »


Perryville: Then & Now

Peryville Then and Now

Kurt Holman, manager of the Perryville Battlefield State Park in Kentucky, describes the importance of the battle, the historical value of the new tract that we are working to save, and the state of the battlefield today.

Read the Interview »


August Civil War Battles

August Civil War battles

Expand your knowledge of the Civil War by learning more about some of the great Civil War battles that occurred in the month of August. Access our history articles, photos, maps, and links for the battles listed below:

Wilson's Creek »

Cedar Mountain »

Second Manassas »

Richmond »

Mobile Bay »

Second Deep Bottom »

Ream's Station »

Jonesborough »


Book of the Month

Lincoln's Flying Spies

Lincoln's Flying Spies: Thaddeous Lowe and the Civil War Balloon Corps
By Gail Jarrow. Honesdale, Pa.: Calkins Creek, 2010.

Information on Thaddeus Lowe and his balloon corps has frequently been hard to come by for middle and high school readers, until now. Jarrow's study on the Union spy in the sky is a treat to read. Informative, factual and comprehensive, Jarrow traces the achievements of Lowe's balloon corps and his efforts to establish the corps as a military branch of the Union Army. And although he wasn't successful in that regard, "the most shot-at man in the war" certainly contributed to the war effort as a civilian when he used his balloons to spy on Confederate troop dispositions during the early years of the Civil War.

Lowe was an experienced aeronaut and showman at the start of the war. He mastered the art of hot air ballooning and made a living by providing balloon ascents as entertainment and charging the public to watch before eventually taking on paying customers. The self-educated Professor Lowe was convinced that a trans-Atlantic balloon crossing was a possibility, and so he built a balloon and conducted a test flight that took him from Ohio, over the Blue Ridge Mountains and Virginia, where he landed on the coast of South Carolina, which only eight days before had fired upon Ft. Sumter. His arrest and detention as a Union spy gave Lowe the idea that balloons would be used more effectively for spying than using scouts, and in June 1861 he met with President Lincoln and described how the new technology could be used to direct artillery fire or to assist mapmakers. He faced competition from other aeronauts and received no encouragement from Gen.Winfield Scott, but, with Lincolns' support Lowe was hired by the Topographical Engineers.

Jarrow describes how Lowe staffed the balloons, how portable gas machines were used to inflate the balloons, and how various generals made use of his services. Lowe provided intelligence to the Army of the Potomac both during battles and while the armies were in camp, although as Jarrow points out, historians debate whether or not Lowe's observations were useful to the Union army. However, she notes, there is evidence that their presence was a concern to the Confederate forces. Lowe's balloon observations beginning with the Battle of Fair Oaks through Chancellorsville, are well documented, as Jarrow describes the role of the balloon corps in those battles. The role was short lived, as Lowe clashed with the army officer in charge of supervising the balloons, which eventually led to Lowe's resignation from the Balloon Corps.

After the summer of 1863, the military use of balloons fell out of favor. Lowe capitalized on his fame, becoming an inventor and a wealthy man after the war. Sidebar text touches upon the construction and nomenclature of the balloons, as well as providing brief biographical sketches of Lowe's competitors and Civil War generals. The lively text is generously interspersed with primary source photographs and sketches, and is a valuable addition to any middle or high school Civil War curriculum for both pleasure reading and research.

Purchase Lincoln's Flying Spies »

See More Book Reviews »


Trivia from the Archives

Trivia from the Archives

Q. In August, 1861, at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, he became the first Union general to be killed in the Civil War.

Q. In August, 1864, Admiral David Farragut famously declared, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" in the heat of this battle.

Answers from the Archives »


Civil War on the Web

  • The Civil War Day by Day -- UNC Blog
    Drawing on the vast holdings of the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, this fantastic UNC blog presents samples of the Civil War's "documentary remains." Every day for the next four years, they plan to present a document that is 150 years old to the day. Contributions will include newspapers, pamphlets, books, broadsides, legislation, photographs, sheet music, letters, diaries, order books, and telegrams.
  • The Southern Homefront: 1861-1865 -- Digital Archive
    "The Southern Homefront" offers documents related to all aspects of Southern life during the Civil War. government and civilian publications demonstrate the Confederate States of America's unsuccessful attempt to create a viable nation state. This collection includes over four hundred Civil War era maps, broadsides, photographs, printed works, Confederate currency, and manuscript letters and diaries.
  • Mysteries and Conundrums: Exploring the Civil War-era landscape in the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania Region
    This is a fantastic blog concerned with the Civil War's effect on the perceptible modern-day landscape of the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania region. Every week features a new contribution from members of the park staff, including John Hennessy, discussing a new photograph, new source or new idea relating to the Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Spotsylvania battlefields.

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