Houghton Mifflin Social Studies
A More Perfect Union

Battles of the Civil War

Objective: Students research Civil War battles and use their notes to create a class encyclopedia.

What You Need:

Suggested Time:
3-4 hours over 4 days

Building Background:
Ask the class to help you list battles of the Civil War. Record the list on the board and encourage volunteers to locate the battle sites on a current map or on a historical map of the Civil War. (See the map on p. 671 of the textbook.) If any part of the Civil War was fought near your community, ask students if they have ever visited one of the battlefields. Have them describe what they saw and what they learned of the battle and its significance in the war. Point out that Civil War battles were fought not only in cities and at major forts, but also on farms, in small towns, along rivers, and on the ocean. Tell students that they will research selected Civil War battles and record information in a class encyclopedia.

What To Do:

1. Have students review their textbook or other books about the Civil War to choose different battle sites for their research. Students may work individually or in small groups.

2. Distribute the Fighting the War worksheet. Send students to the school or local library to research their battle sites and fill out the worksheet. If you have Internet access, students can use these sites for online research:

ParkNet: The National Park Service

Students can search this site for information on major battle sites that are now part of the National Park Service. Have students enter terms such as "Civil War battles" or the name of a specific battle in the search box.

3. Have students use the information on their worksheets to write encyclopedia entries on their battles. Students should include information on the name, date, and location of the battle as well as narrative details on the course of the battle and its outcome. In addition, students should explain the reasons for that outcome, such as control of geographic features, larger numbers of troops, or some other factor. Encourage students to draw maps, diagrams, and illustrations to help illustrate the details of the battle.

4. Organize students' entries by date and bind them in a class encyclopedia. Have volunteers read different entries to the class.

Have students use the encyclopedia they created to create a mural timeline of the Civil War.


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