American Civil War


1. Book Title: The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts also published as Our Incredible Civil War

2. Author: Burke Davis

3. Publisher and Date: Wings Books, 1994

4. Curriculum Developer: Scott Schaley


5. Summary: This book is a collection of short stories from or about the American Civil War. Each story has its own chapter and some strange and interesting facts that relate to the story. Many of the stories were taken from the diaries and memoirs of people of the time. It gives a more personal perspective on the War.


6. Social Studies Relevance: This book can be part of a larger unit on the American Civil War. It can be used to see the people of the war on a more personal level. It addresses the family unit and the responsibilities of children during the war . It also fits into the history category. It includes many important issues from the Civil War, some of which still impact the students' lives.


7. Grade Level Focus: 8th grade


8. Relationship to Social Studies State Core:

Lesson Plans


Title of Lesson: Civil War Time Line


*Students will be able to place important events of the Civil War in the appropriate order.

*Given the book, The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts, students will be able to place events in the story at the correct date and share why they are important.


Materials Needed:

Ten feet of paper for the time line

Strips of paper [some blank, some with important events on them (see Appendix)]

The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts



1. Ask the students to recall what they have already learned in class and what they think the most important events of the Civil War are. Hand out the strips of paper that have interesting and important events on them to the students After all of the strips are handed out, begin construction of the time line. The students should make each year one foot long and each month being one inch long with the first month being December, 1860. Hang the time line in a place where it is out of the way but yet easily acceptable. Split the students in groups of 3 to 5.

2. Begin reading the book. Have students make note of important or fascinating events from the book that can be placed on the time line. Some research may be needed to find the dates of the events. Allow students, by groups, to leave classroom to research their events in school's library or resource center. After each reading session, have each group place their event on the time line and explain why they choose the one they did. (Students will need to elect a spokesperson to speak for their group and come to an agreement about their choice).

3. After finishing the book, discuss all of the events on the time line and have each student write a one page report on what event they thought was most important or interesting and why.



Read each of the reports to see if the students have been able to express the importance or interest of their topic of the Civil War. Observation of student's participation and placement of events on the timeline.




Title of Lesson: The McLean Plantation Map



*Students will be able to create a map from the story and from research.

*Given the story, "The Travail of Wilmer McLean," students will be able to locate and explain important features, events and people on the map.


Materials Needed:

The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts

Poster board (enough to cover section of floor where the map will lay)


Cardboard boxes


Paints and brushes

Small plastic Army figures



1. Ask students how they think it is possible that the Civil War could begin and end in Wilmer McLean's front yard. Read the story. Discuss the oddity of the War beginning at Wilmer McLean's first home by Bull Run and ending across the street from his last home by Appomatix Courthouse. Split the class into two groups, one to research the Battle of Bull Run and the Union role in the battle and the other to research the Confederate's role in the Battle of Manassas, (They are both the same battle but called by different names by each side.)

2. Use guided discussion to explain and discuss how the North and the South named their battles. Give an example of other battles that have different names other then Bull Run. Have students think about other things that have different names depending on perspective (e.g., football- in Europe soccer is called football; whereas in America, football is a totally different sport).

2. Both groups will create a map of the Battle of Bull Run/Battle of Manassas. Allow students to research their battle and bring materials to class. Once they have collected enough reference material, they may begin their map. Find a suitable area in the room where the maps will be safe and lay down the sheets of poster board. (1) They should create the physical landscape of the area. They can use the clay to form hills, gullies and other natural landmarks. (2) They can create the human-made features like buildings or trenches. Cardboard and clay may be used. (3) They can paint the miniature Army figures with the colors (blue or gray) of their side and place them where they should be.

3. After both maps are completed, slide them together to compare. Look for similarities and differences and discuss them. Guide a discussion on the importance of the Battle of Bull Run/Battle of Manassas.



Observe the contributions of the students during the project and discussions.



Title of Lesson: Reports on Civil War Firsts



*Students will be able to research information on Civil War firsts and share its historical and present values.

*Students will be able to pictorially represent their Civil War first.


Materials Needed:

The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts



markers (enough for all students)

3 by 5 note cards (one for each student)



1. Ask the students what are some of the firsts they have experienced in 8th grade so far. Begin discussion on the many firsts (objects' or ideas' origins, e.g., Naval torpedoes, flame throwers, and repeating rifles) that arise from wars, especially the Civil War. Read chapter three of the book to the students. Let students choose one of the firsts from the list on pages 30-31. Allow no duplicates. Allow students several days to research their topic in the library and outside of class.

2. Have students start their reports in class stressing that the final product is an oral report to the class that will last at least five minutes. Allow them time to visit the library and resource centers in the school during their report time. Included in their reports should be the past and present uses or impacts that their topics have had on America. Allow them time to illustrate or find pictures of their topic. Also, let the students fill out a 3 by 5 note card with the most important information to cue them during their report.

3. Have several days allocated for student's oral reports. Display their pictures, drawings or artifacts throughout their presentations for the class to see. After each student's report, have a brief question and answer session. At the end of report time each day, have the students who were listening tell what they thought was the most interesting idea they learned that day.



Listen to the students reports to see if they understand what they have been researching.

Observe the students' pictures to see if they can accurately portray their topic.



Title of Lesson: Carousel Brainstorming



*Students will be able to recall ideas taken from The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts.

*Students will be able to express their beliefs on chosen issues of the Civil War.


Materials Needed:

Poster board (as many sheets as there are questions)

The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts

Colored markers (One for each group)



1. State the objective of the lesson. Write four open-ended questions (or more if the class is large) on sheets of poster board (see Appendix). Place the four questions on the walls of the corners of the room. Clearly number the questions on the wall. Let the students review the chapters that the questions come from for approximately ten minutes.

2. Split students into four groups, or how ever many questions that are used. Number the groups. Have the students arrange themselves in front the questions with the corresponding numbers.

3. Stress to the students that the activity is timed and they must hurry. Begin the activity, each group of students having a different colored marker so the teacher can see what each group contributed. Observe each group's progress and when each group has written three to four answers, stop the groups and have them rotate clockwise to the next question.

4. Once all of the groups have had a turn on each question, have each group elect a spokesperson and orally share five of the best answers written on the paper.


Evaluation: Examine each of the question sheets and make note of each group's contributions. Also, observe individual's contributions during the activity.




Event strips for time line

Dec. 20, 1860- South Carolina 1st State to Succeed

Feb. 4, 1861-Confederate States of America Created

Feb. 18, 1861-Jefferson Davis Inaugurated as Confederate President

April 12, 1861- Fort Sumpter battle

July 21, 1861- 1st Battle of Bull Run

May 1861- Richmond, VA becomes Confederate Capital

April 6, 1862- Battle of Shiloh

April 26, 1862- South loses New Orleans

March 9, 1862- Monitor vs. Merrimack

Sept. 18, 1862-Battle of Antietam

Oct. 8, 1862- Battle of Perryville

May 1, 1863- Battle of Chancellorsville

July 1, 1863- Battle of Vicksburg

July 1, 1863- Battle of Gettysburg

Sept. 19, 1863- Battle of Chickamunga

March 1864- Grant becomes commander of Union Army

May 1864- Wilderness Battles

Dec. 12, 1864- Sherman takes Savanna

April 9 1865- Lee surrenders to Grant

April 14, 1865- Lincoln Assassinated


Questions for carousel brainstorming

-Why do you think that John Burns was considered the hero of Gettysburg? (Chapter 25)

-What did you learn about the use of music during the Civil War? (Chapter 7)

-What do you think were the most important influences that foreign countries had on the Civil War? (Chapter 16)

-How would you describe John Brown? (Chapter 14)

-Why could one believe that Stonewall Jackson was a hypochondriac? (Chapter 20)

-What are some of the most important inventions created during the Civil War, and why? (Chapter 3)

-What do you think the worst atrocities of the Civil War were, and why? (Chapter 37)