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A Union Soldier's View of the Battle of Raymond lesson plan

(Thinking Critically About War)

OVERVIEW

The Mississippi History Now article concerning the affair on Raymond Road was first printed in the New York Tribune, a semi-weekly newspaper, in 1886. While certainly not one of the most decisive battles of the American Civil War, the Battle of Raymond is significant because it was one of many encounters necessitated by the Union push toward their major military objective of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Much can be learned from a study of a primary resource such as this first-hand description. This lesson will ask students to examine, in a much broader sense, their views of war and to consider similarities and differences between historical and modern wars.


CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3, and 4.


TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 4 (with modifications) through 12.


MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

Mississippi History Now article

Overhead transparency (optional)


OBJECTIVES

Students will:

use a primary resource to collect information about a Civil War battle in Mississippi;

examine the sacrifices required of soldiers in war;

clarify and/or revise their perceptions of war;

identify similarities and differences between historical wars and modern wars.


OPENING THE LESSON

Ask students to identify for the class, family and friends with military/war experiences. Have them work with a partner to brainstorm and list all words and terms they associate with war. Ask students to move into small groups where they will add to their individual lists and will develop a method to categorize their lists. Collect at least one copy of this activity from each group.


DEVELOPING THE LESSON

1.

Explain to students that while the Mississippi History Now article deals with one specific event in the Civil War, the focus of the lesson will be on war in a broader sense.

2.

Type and distribute copies of the "WHAT DO YOU THINK?" activity, printed at the conclusion of the lesson plan. Allow sufficient time for students to "wrestle" with their responses. Collect these for use later.

3.

Ask students to read the Mississippi History Now article and do the following as they read:

a.

Make a list of the battles mentioned in the article, in order, if possible.

b.

Determine the long-range objective of the southern Mississippi campaign and suggest the military strategy used to obtain it.

c.

Find examples of humor.

d.

Describe the terrain of the area.

e.

Determine the outcome of the affair on Raymond Road and assess the significance of the battle.

4.

Teacher can lead a large-group discussion to determine mastery of objective 1 or allow students in small groups to evaluate their responses. In some way, the teacher should lead students to make general observations about the story. A list could be compiled.
Example 1: Even in desperate, hard times, some people can find humor.
Example 2: Reaching a major military objective often requires a circuitous route.

5.

In small groups, have students discuss what they would imagine life would be like for Henry O. Dwight (the soldier) back home in Ohio, prior to the war. They should consider his family and friends, education, work, leisure activities, etc.

6.

Students will write an essay suggesting how Lt. Dwight's life was changed as a result of his decision to volunteer for the infantry. They should also speculate on why they think he joined the army.

7.

Distribute to students their "WHAT DO YOU THINK?" activities. Ask them to think about their responses as they read through the article once again and to change any responses they would like. They should find specific examples in the article to support their conclusions about each statement and add the example (s) to their activity sheet. (Teacher may wish to use small groups for this exercise and assign specific statements to each one.)

8.

Ask students to use a Venn diagram (or another graphic) to show the differences and similarities of historical wars and modern wars. Students can work with a partner or in small groups. Have students review their "brainstorm" list and make associations with both historical and modern wars.

9.

Teacher will write responses on transparency, butcher paper, or board, and lead a class discussion to examine all student replies.


CLOSING THE LESSON

Ask students to collect their learning activities and to use them in writing a thoughtful essay indicating what they have learned as a result of the lesson, how their perceptions of war were impacted by the lesson, etc. Teacher may wish to provide a rubric with specific points for students to address.


ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

1.

Participation in "WHAT DO YOU THINK?" activity

2.

Completion of reading assignment and data collection

3.

Participation in group activities and class discussions

4.

Essay writings

5.

Graphic (Venn diagram)


EXTENDING THE LESSON

1.

Acting as newspaper reporters, students may wish to compile questions to "ask" Lt. Dwight upon his return to Ohio. Some students may use the questions to interview persons they know who have had recent military experiences.

2.

Using the information in the article, students will write a piece of historical fiction from the perspective of a Southern soldier involved in the battle.

3.

Students may wish to view images of the Civil War from the American Memory Collection available on the Library of Congress Web Site. http://www.loc.gov There are photographs from the Raymond Road/Big Black River areas of Mississippi.

4.

Have students find examples of the AGREE/DISAGREE statements in more recent conflicts/war.

5.

Using clay or play dough, students can construct a map of Mississippi which shows the battles leading to the siege of Vicksburg.

6.

A mural of the Battle of Raymond could be developed.

7.

Students could devise a series of political cartoons regarding historical and recent wars.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Numerous diary/journal entries written by Civil War soldiers from Mississippi are available through Mississippi History Now article, "Mississippi Soldiers in the Civil War," which can be found on the archive page.

Several Civil War videos on the Civil War in Mississippi can be acquired through the Mississippi History on Loan program of the Department of Archives and History. Search the catalog at:

http://teacherexchange.mde.k12.ms.us/new/Announcements/
History_on_Loan.htm

Phone: 601-961-4724; Fax: 601-354-6043.

"WHAT DO YOU THINK ACTIVITY?"

NOTE: Set up this activity on a page with an AGREE and a DISAGREE column on the left side. Several spaces should be left below each statement.

1.

A soldier's life is a life of sacrifice.

2.

Geography plays only a minor role in warfare.

3.

Soldiers of opposing sides are often close enough to each other to hear conversations, music, etc.

4.

Soldiers are rarely afraid as they go into battle.

5.

Primary sources, such as letters and diaries, frequently inform us not only of historical facts but also of the emotions of the participants.

6.

Enemy soldiers often have very little in common with each other.

7.

Serious environmental damage can result from warfare.

8.

Battles often seem longer than they actually are.

9.

There are rarely any single-issue wars.

10.

The reason an individual soldier gives for fighting may be different from the reasons given by his leaders.

11.

To have a clear understanding of the over-all objective of the war is essential to the effectiveness of the soldiers in the field.

12.

To capture a site of military importance may require a battle plan that does not follow the shortest route.

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