Historical Scene Investigations

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How did the Civil War affect the lives of teenagers?

The case

SoldierWar affects all aspects of life, whether you are a soldier fighting in battle or a family member supporting your loved ones back home.

Children played an important role in the American Civil War. Many soldiers were under the age of 13, having either lied about their ages or used fake names when they joined. They thought of war as an exciting adventure. Many of the boys who joined as musicians or drummer boys were shot at because they were in the lead. There were also many heroic children and teenagers who were not soldiers.

Your job is to investigate the many voices of children and teenagers who witnessed the horrific events of the Civil War, and explore how the war affected their lives.

 

Becoming a detective

First, your class will be reading aloud and discussing these two books:

Pink and Say Children of the Civil War
Patricia Polacco, Pink and Say Candice Ransom, Children of the Civil War

 

Next, read the quotes from children of different backgrounds who experienced the Civil War, and answer the questions on the Children's Voices from the Civil War sheet.

You can also read the following for background information:

Calvin Dickinson, "Tennessee Teens in the Civil War" The Courier (October 2008)

Joy Hakim, A History of Us (Book 6) - War, Terrible War: 1855-1865

The Civil War (website including pages from Harper's Weekly and other resources)

The American Civil War Center's online exhibit (see pages on Union, War, Emancipation, Home Front, and Legacy)

Investigating the evidence

Examine the sources listed above, looking for evidence about how the Civil War affected the lives of different young people.

Consider the following questions:

  • How did young soldiers feel? Describe their emotions.
  • What were the various roles teenagers played during the Civil War?
  • How was the experience different for teenage girls and boys?
  • How did the teenage experience during the Civil War influence lives after the war?

Searching for clues

Use the following graphic organizers to help you organize evidence from the primary sources:

Photo Analysis Sheet

Fact Pyramid

Familiar and Unfamiliar T-chart

Perspectives Sheet

Cracking the case

Use the RAFT grid worksheet to write from the viewpoint of one of the people living through the Civil War.

R=Role (who is writing?)

A=Audience (whom is the writer addressing?)

F=Format (what is the genre or type of writing?)

T=Topic (what is being written about?)

To learn more

Jim Murphy, The Boys' War: Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk about the Civil War

Emmy Werner, Reluctant Witnesses: Children's Voices from the Civil War

See links to online resources, books, and more at PBS' "The Civil War " site

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