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Sherman's Meridian Campaign: A Practice Run for the March to the Sea

OVERVIEW

In February 1864, Union General William T. Sherman destroyed the city of Meridian, Mississippi. It took General Sherman less than a week to leave no more than six buildings standing in Meridian. Many scholars agree that the destruction that occurred in Mississippi gave not only General Sherman, but the Union command, the practice they needed to launch the war strategy of “total war,” which would ultimately bring an end to the Civil War. Historically, Sherman’s march through Georgia overshadows the fury he launched in Mississippi during the winter of 1864.


CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 3 and 4. 


TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 7 through 12


MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

Mississippi History Now article, “Sherman’s Meridian Campaign”

Blackboard/chalk

Overhead/transparency and pen

Notebook paper

Pen or pencil


OBJECTIVES

The student will:

Create a map that lists the locations significant to the Meridian campaign.

Determine the reasons why Meridian was the target for destruction by the Union.

Compose a journal entry or a news article that represents various viewpoints of the Meridian campaign.


OPENING THE LESSON

The teacher will ask the students to name the Civil War battles and Union campaigns that took place in Mississippi. The teacher will list the student responses on the board. If Meridian is not mentioned, add it to the list. The teacher will tell the students that over the next several days they will study General William T. Sherman’s Meridian campaign.


DEVELOPING THE LESSON

1.

Instruct students to label the following items on a map: Meridian, Vicksburg, Jackson, Clinton, Morton, New Orleans, Mobile, the Yazoo River, and the Mississippi River. Students can be provided a map of the state and the Gulf Region or students can be instructed to draw their own maps. Students can work alone or with a partner on this map activity.

2.

After students have completed the maps, the teacher will lead a class discussion on the importance of each location in the attack on the city of Meridian during the Civil War. Students will be allowed to display their maps in the classroom.

3.

Students will be asked to copy the chart listed below into their notebooks. Along with a partner, students will complete the information requested on the chart as they read the Mississippi History Now article.

 


The Meridian Campaign during the Civil War

Importance of Meridian

im

General Sherman's Goals

gr

General Sherman's battle strategy

sd

Results of battle

re

4.

Once the students have completed the chart, the teacher will ask for student volunteers to share information from their charts. The student responses can be listed on the chalkboard, or on an overhead transparency.

5.

For the next portion of the lesson, allow students to choose one of the following formats to complete the lesson



 

News article that might be found in a southern newspaper about Sherman's attack on the city of Meridian;



 

News article that might be found in a northern newspaper about Sherman's attack on the city of Meridian;


 

Journal entry of a Union soldier under Sherman's command at Meridian;

• 

Journal entry of a citizen of Meridian at the time of Sherman's attack;

6.

Once the students have composed their assignment, allow them to move into groups of four and read their assignments to the group. Have each group choose one assignment to be read to the class.


CONCLUDING THE LESSON

1.

Allow students to read their journal/news article to the class.


ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

1.

Class participation

2.

Maps

3.

Charts

4.

Journal entries/news articles


EXTENDING THE LESSON

1.

Students can compare and contrast General William T. Sherman and General Leonidas Polk.

2.

Students can compare and contrast Sherman’s campaign launched against Meridian, Mississippi and his March to the Sea in Georgia.

3.

Students can research Civil War battles fought in Mississippi.

4.

Allow students to create a political cartoon about Sherman’s quests in Mississippi that might have been published in a northern newspaper and/or a southern newspaper.

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