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Corinth in the Civil War: At the Crossroads of History lesson plan

OVERVIEW

Located at the intersection of two major railroads, the town of Corinth was destined to be a Union target during the American Civil War. From the spring of 1862 until the winter of 1864, Union troops occupied this northeast Mississippi town. Like other places in north and central Mississippi, Corinth’s Civil War story is one of bloodshed, occupation, and destruction.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3, 4

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 7 through 12

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

OBJECTIVES

The students will:

  1. Determine the importance of Corinth during the Civil War.
  2. Compose a journal entry or letter.

OPENING THE LESSON

The teacher will ask students to name the Civil War battles fought in Mississippi. Corinth should be added to the list if it is not mentioned by the students. The teacher will tell the class that over the next several days they will learn about the role Corinth played in the Civil War.

DEVELOPING THE LESSON


  1. The students should read the Mississippi History Now article, “Corinth in the Civil War: At the Crossroads of History,” prior to class.

  2. The students will be instructed to copy the questions listed below into their notebooks and work with a partner to answer the questions. The students can copy the questions from the chalkboard or an overhead transparency.

    • Why was Corinth important militarily to both the Confederacy and the Union?

    • How were the citizens of Corinth affected by the Civil War?

    • How did the Siege of Corinth in May contrast with the October Battle of Corinth?

    • How did the Union occupation of Corinth affect the local slaves?

    • How significant do you think the loss of Corinth was to the defeat of the Confederacy?

  3. The teacher will lead a class discussion about the article by asking for student volunteers to share answers to the questions.

  4. The teacher will explain to the students that journals and letters sent home by soldiers are common primary sources for this period of history. For this reason, students will write either a journal entry or a letter home for one of the characters listed below. Students can use various reference books and the Internet for research. Students will work alone for this portion of the assignment.

    • Union soldier at the Siege of Corinth

    • Confederate soldier at the Battle of Corinth

    • Citizen living in Corinth during the Civil War

    • Freed black living in the “contraband camp”

    • Freed slave serving in the 55th Regiment Infantry

  5. Once the students have completed their written assignment, allow students to move into groups of three or four. The teacher will ask the students to read their journal entry or letter to their group members. The group will choose one entry or letter to be read to the class.

CLOSING THE LESSON

The teacher will ask the students to reflect on the title of the Mississippi History Now article, “Corinth in the Civil War: At the Crossroads of History.” The teacher will ask the students to write an answer to the question listed below. The teacher will ask for student volunteers to share their answers with the class.

  • Why does the author refer to Corinth as being at “the Crossroads of History?”

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

  • Class discussion
  • Journal entry or letter home

EXTENDING THE LESSON

  • The students can research the Union and Confederate leaders mentioned in the Mississippi History Now article.
  • The teacher can use other Mississippi History Now articles and lesson plans in order to teach a unit on Mississippi during the American Civil War. Go to Archives in Mississippi History Now and click on the Civil War category.
  • The students can conduct a debate on Corinth’s role in the defeat of the Confederacy.
  • The students can create a map that shows the location of Civil War battles fought in Mississippi.
  • Students can take a tour of the Corinth Interpretive Center.
  • The students can write a newspaper article about the Union occupation of Corinth.
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