The Toll of War — 6,655

Carol Porter for The Washington Post)
Major stories and subthemes — Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson at the turning point of the war, women in combat and friendly fire, strategy and resolve — are found in the suggested lessons and Washington Post articles that focus on March-September 1863. Students focus on leadership, map reading and geography, close reading and annotation, as well as a variety of research topics and writing genres. 
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In March through September 1863, Northern and Southern armies advanced and retreated, ever hopeful that the war would end and victory would be theirs. At Chancellorsville, casualties totaled more than 30,000 and respected Confederate General Stonewall Jackson died from friendly fire. The three-day battle at Gettysburg resulted in 6,655 deaths. West Virginia became a state, Lincoln instituted a draft as contracts for service ended for more than 100,000 volunteer troops, units of black men engaged in battle, and women disguised themselves as men to enter combat.

Activities in this curriculum guide provide discussion questions and map reading exercises. Students are asked to annotate the Gettysburg Address, do close reading of Post articles and write profiles, readers theatre scripts and commentary. Students may research the role of women in combat, their ancestors and generals who fought at Gettysburg. Or review music of the Civil War, from “From Johnny Comes Marching Home” to Taps that added dimension to the life of a soldier.


May 2013

Women in the Military
Resource Graphic 
Gene Thorp/The Washington Post

Develop Vocabulary
English, Social Studies, U.S. History
The Word Study found in this curriculum guide focuses on the etymology of “combat.” Students will understand the relation of "combat," "battalion" and "battery." Since reference is made to women who disguised themselves as men in order to engage in combat, “Combat Revealed” may be paired with “Women Disguised — in Dress and Combat.”

Terms found in Joel Achenbach’s “Gettysburg” are compiled in In the Know. Terms that students cannot determine from context should be defined.

Read Maps to Follow War's Progress
Geography, U.S. History
As the war continues into 1863, the North outnumbers the South on the battlefield. Campaigns and offensives are held to gain victory over the Confederacy before the terms of service for more than 100,000 expire in the summer. Washington Post cartographer Gene Thorp created a timeline for the period March-September 15, 1863. Eleven of the maps have been excerpted in "Turning Point | Mapping March-September 15, 1863." 

These maps, presented in chronological order, reflect troop movement, military activity in the southern front, the formation of West Virginia and the Battle of Gettysburg. A larger map of the Battle of Gettysburg is also found in “Gettysburg | July 1-3, 1863.” Read the text that accompanies each map. A summary of the action, individuals who were involved and significance of the military action is given.

A map is a graphic representation of earth’s surface. The area covered and detail may vary considerably depending on the purpose of the cartographer and need of the reader. Some of the discussion questions regarding reading these 11 maps include:
• Where is the legend of each map found?
• How are rivers, mountains (elevation), railroads and state borders represented?
• How can you distinguish Union from Confederate troops? Their relative numbers? Their movement?
• What symbol indicates place of battle or combat?
• What is the number of casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg? In this time period, what other military action resulted in the most Northern casualties? Southern casualties?
• Study "Seceding from secessionists." How does this map differ from the others? What can students tell about the borders of the newly formed state of West Virginia? 

These maps may be supplemented with The Washington Post’s online interactive map, “Battles and Casualties of the Civil War." Review previous Civil War 150 curriculum guides for additional map activities.


Research Your Family Tree
Character Education, English, Family Life, U.S. History
Ask students if they know the names of their grandparents and great grandparents. What other kinds of information do they know about them? Where and when they were born? Careers and education, children and siblings, honors and interests? Who gave them this information?

Washington Post reporter Neely Tucker writes about “The Confederate soldier in the family tree.” Give students a copy of the article to read.

Give students “Who Is in the Family Tree?” Ten close reading questions are provided for use with Tucker's article. These will serve as guides to locating and incorporating information from different sources. Students are to select one of their ancestors to research. Teachers may wish to add requirements to the basic ones given in this reproducible.

Before students begin their research, teachers may wish to use the PowerPoint tutorial prepared by the National Archives, “Beginning Your Genealogical Research at the National Archives and Records Administration.” Be sure to cover how to use military records, census records, and other documents.



Those Who Fought at Gettysburg

Gather at Gettysburg
Geography, U.S. History
Post reporter Joel Achenbach visits the Gettysburg Battlefield. Read the first four paragraphs of "Gettysburg: A furious battle and a fatal mistake lead to an epic slaughter." Discuss how the headline, subheadline and the lede summarize and prepare the reader for the remaining article.

Vocabulary that is used by Achenbach is found In the Know. Review these terms. As students read the article they should be aware of these words, especially the ones they could not define. How does context assist in defining each term?

Books have been written about the three-day battle. To summarize the key actions and individuals is the challenge that Achenbach faces. Annotate "The first day" to locate dates, specific locations, key individuals, and actions. Underline verbs that help to bring the generals to life and move the action forward. How does Achenbach put the first day into context of the larger war? 

What questions arise when reading "The second day"? About which generals would they want to learn more? Ask students to discuss the quotations that are included in "The third day." How do they relate to the questions raised in the fourth paragraph of Achenbach's article?

Discuss the National Park Service's decision not to permit a reenactment of the three-day battle as part of the sesquicentennial celebration. What are different ways that battles and wars may be commemorated? What is it fitting for the Gettysburg battle remembrance to end with the playing of taps?


Become a General
English, Social Studies, History, U.S. History
Many of the generals who fought at Gettysburg in July 1863 are listed in the "Those Who Fought at Gettysburg" sidebar. Teachers, note that several different online sources are used as the starting point for research. Discuss with students the different kinds of sources for biographical and military history: Civil War historians, government agencies including the National Park Service, state and individual historical societies, and public television.

Younger students could be asked to become a general. Read about the individual so when called upon the student can give voice to the motives and actions of the assigned military officer. A group of six or more students could research the three-day battle of Gettysburg to write a narrative into which they intertwine the assigned generals. Older students would be expected to produce a more detailed script, perhaps with a dialogue between generals, a presentation of opposing points of view of what took place at different ridges and fields of battle, and each general providing a personal conclusion of what Gettysburg meant to him.
If students had ancestors who lived in Gettysburg and witnessed their property become a battlefield, the citizens' voice could be added. Music of the time period could also be added to the presentation. Review "Music of the Civil War" for possible songs. 

Acknowledge a Speech
Civics, Debate, English, Media Arts, Social Studies
The famous orator Edward Everett was the main speaker on November 19, 1863. After two hours, the president was called to the speakers stand to speak. “Four score and seven years ago,” began the 273-word speech. One hundred years later, in retrospect, the speech’s power and eloquence were recognized.

The Gettysburg Address was recorded in newspaper accounts of the event and rewritten by hand when Lincoln was asked for a copy.

The handwritten speech is in the Library of Congress collection. Listen to LOC archivist Dr. John Sellers discuss the original manuscript in “273 Words to a New America.” Jay Allison, who revived the This I Believe essays, found a 1938 recording of an eyewitness to the dedication ceremony. Other eyewitness accounts may be read in Recollections of Abraham Lincoln


Annotate the Gettysburg Address
English, Government, Social Studies, U.S. History
Lincoln’s brief comments [LINK to PDF] at the consecration of the Gettysburg battlefield are now known as the Gettysburg Address. It is considered one of the great American speeches.  
• Why was President Lincoln in Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863?
• Discuss historic pictures and Lincoln’s place in the day’s schedule
• Read the speech aloud. What tone is appropriate in which to read it? [LINK to PDF]

Annotate the text of the Gettysburg Address. Have students underscore key ideas, write any questions they have in the margin and highlight significant words.
• What main ideas does Lincoln present?
• Outline the main ideas. Do students note development toward a key concept in the short speech?
• Summarize the speech, including the main concept.
• What was Lincoln’s purpose?  How does he use rhetoric to meet the immediate purpose as well as a larger goal?
• What do students believe Lincoln hoped to be his audience’s reaction?

If students were to give a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, what would be their topic? What idea from Lincoln’s speech would they include?




Read About Gettysburg

Find the Woman in Uniform
Civics, Social Studies, U.S. History
Although the exact number of women who entered military service in disguise and fought in the Civil War will never be known, personal and government records exist to document the service of some. Read and discuss “On the front lines in disguise” by Brigid Schulte.
Several resources are provided in this curriculum guide to supplement the article. Use the Word Study, “Combat Revealed,” to understand the centuries-old meaning of “combat.” “Women Disguised — in Dress and Combat” outlines a research project. Sources for this study are categorized with examples for each one.

Teachers can determine how extensive the research should be. To introduce students to using reliable sources, they could be divided into seven groups, each using a different type of resource. Students could compare and contrast the information that they find.

To update the issue of whether women should serve in combat, read about the January 2013 Department of Defense decision to allow American women in combat. Begin with “Pentagon removes ban on women in combat.” Reporter Ernesto Londono presents the January 17 announcement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the facts of the decision as well as favorable and negative responses. Either conduct a debate on the topic or write a commentary.

Remember Stonewall Jackson
Social Studies, U.S. History
 Stonewall Jackson was a gifted general, a hero of the Confederacy, and a tragic example of friendly fire. As Post reporter Michael E. Ruane writes in “The South gains a crucial victory — but loses Stonewall Jackson," “some historians believe Jackson’s death began the ruin of the Confederacy.

Michael Ruane begins his account of the death of one of “history’s best military leaders” at 5:15 p.m. on May 2, 1863. Read and discuss the first eight paragraphs with students. Discuss the elements of good writing that are utilized to inform and to pull the reader into the story: details, description, a story with impact, quotations and interaction, import and tragedy.

Discuss the use of flashback. Rather than interrupting the narrative, it fills out the story of Jackson, making the war hero a religious and kind man. The poignancy of 5-year-old Jane Corbin’s interaction with him counterbalances the visit of his wife and young child.

Jackson’s early success in the Valley Campaign of 1862, with article and activity, can be reviewed in Innovations of the Civil War

One of the details included by Michael Ruane is the moonlight. Some historians and scientists believe this was a factor in his being shot. Another footnote in Jackson’s funeral is the flag that draped his coffin — the second national flag of the Confederacy.

Preserve the Past for the Future
Science, U.S. History
The Washington Post’s chief arts critic Philip Kennicott discusses the why and how of battlefield preservation in “The shifting strategy of preservation.” Before reading Kennicott’s article, review these words: “accretion,” “amorphous,” “funerary,” “noxious,” “quintessence,” “rancor,” “reconciliation” and “wanton.”

Students may be asked to write a journal entry on one of these topics: Impressions of a visit to a battlefield, reasons to preserve Civil War and other major battlefields, cemeteries and other ways to honor those who served in the military, or preserving history through national parks. Share ideas and listen to different points of view.

Ask students if they have visited a Civil War battlefield. If they have, what do they recall about the time there? Did the visitors center, monuments or land make a lasting impression? Did it help them to understand the battle, the war, and/or reasons that fighting took place?

Read Kennicott’s feature. He describes an evolving philosophy of preservation. Summarize two or more ideas towards preservation and examples of each.

Kennicott won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. It is not surprising that his opinion is included in this feature. What are his views concerning observation towers, monuments and use of land? What purposes does he think a battlefield should serve if it is to be preserved? Do students agree or disagree with him?

For more information about the efforts to preserve lands adjacent to the Second Battle of Manassas grounds, read Preserve, Restore or Toss? 

In The Know 
Allegiance Lure
Blunder Magnitude
Commemorative Martial
Consecrate Mercurial
Debunk Mortally
Devastate Pivotal
Enfilading Rehabilitate
Equestrian Slaughter
Fatal Sluice
Fratricide Tarry

ANSWERS. Who Is in the Family Tree?

1. This is his namesake and great-great-great-uncle, John Thomas Neeley.

2. He has done research to know what the history and military records show about the Confederate troop position, the movement of Company F of the 21st Mississippi Regiment, and what Southern writer William Faulkner wrote about the way this day was still viewed in the South.

3. Family lore had passed down “your ancestor who lost a leg at Gettysburg, he’s part of where your name comes from.”

4. He uses census data, regimental documents, letters, books, the U.S. National Archives, antebellum tax records, cemetery plots, family papers, county paperwork. Using information about the job he held after the war, he found a portrait of his ancestor. His great-great-great-uncle now had a face. He is transparent in telling his readers his sources. In paragraphs, beginning with paragraph 13, he weaves the information he has found in these sources into his narrative. NOTE: Tucker could have told the story in pure chronological order, beginning the article with paragraph 13. What is the impact of beginning at Gettysburg, then going to the beginning of John Thomas Neeley’s story?

5. In the 11th paragraph, Neely Tucker reveals the “chest-length beard,” the looping handwriting and “flat gaze” trouble him. The next sentence acts as the transition into the specifics he has found about this man.

6. The census records give an overview of the population, as well as the particulars of land ownership and taxes.

7. Death certificates for Neeley’s father and mother, his brothers’ status and the 1860 Census that records his living with another family.

8. Records of the Seminary Hospital set up on the battlefield indicate he was captured on July 4 and his left leg was amputated. This is confirmed by a second document, his regimental history.

9. By knowing how elemental amputation was, survival a matter of chance given the lack of a sterile environment, readers have some empathy for the young John Neeley. This also comes after the author’s speculation that military service would be a break for the orphan.

10. Neely Tucker expressed a negative view of his ancestor. Students’ responses will vary. Using the history written by Neeley’s daughter, actions of those who lived there after the Civil War and his reelection to office, students will come to their conclusions.

ANSWERS. Combat Revealed
1. They have the same Latin root word, battuere, meaning to beat, to strike.
2. The same root, battuere. “Embattled” (adj) means under attack and ready for battle. “Combat” means to oppose vigorously (verb) and the fight against (noun)
3. A battle royal refers to a fight to the finish involving many combatants.
4. A battering ram originally was a large heavy beam used to break down the walls and doors of fortifications during a siege. In modern times it is a heavy metal bar used by police and firefighters to break down walls.
5. Answers will vary.

District of Columbia Public Schools Academic Content Standards 

District of Columbia History and Government: Students describe the effect the Civil War had on life in Washington, D.C., and they explain the effects of Compensated Emancipation and the Emancipation Proclamation on the city.
4. Explain the participation of white and black residents in the Union and Confederate armies. (Slavery, War and Emancipation, 12.D.C.7)

Social Studies Skills: Students evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past, including an analysis of authors’ use of evidence and the distinctions between sound generalizations and misleading oversimplifications. (Historical Research, Evidence and Point of View, 3)

Social Studies Skills: Students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate, and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations. (Historical Research, Evidence and Point of View, 4)


Academic content standards for D.C. are found at


Maryland Academic Content Standards 

Political Science: Protecting Rights and Maintaining Order, Explain how the United States government protected or failed to protect the rights of individuals and groups (Standard 1. Topic C, Grade 8)

Political Science: Examine and explain the role of religious, social and political institutions in America at the end of the American Revolution. Analyze the institution of slavery and its influence on societies in the United States. Analyze the experiences of African-American slaves, and free blacks (Indicator 4, Objective b)



Academic content standards for Maryland are found at

Virginia Academic Content Standards 

Geography: The student will use maps, globes, photographs, pictures, or tables to
d) Recognize key geographic features on maps, diagrams, and/or photographs. (USI.2)

U.S. History, Civil War: 1861 to 1865: The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes, major events, and effects of the Civil War by
d) describing the roles of Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Frederick Douglass in events leading to and during the war;
e) using maps to explain critical developments in the war, including major battles:
f) describing the effects of war from the perspectives of Union and Confederate soldiers (including African American soldiers), women and enslaved African Americans.


Academic content standards for Virginia are found at

Common Core Standards 

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10). (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.4)

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7)

Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6)

Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.1)

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2)

Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9)


Common Core academic content standards in Literacy in History/Social Studies and English Language Arts may be found at