Lesson Title Sherman’s March/Grant at Petersburg (Civil War 1864-1865) Teacher

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Lesson Title

Sherman’s March/Grant at Petersburg (Civil War 1864-1865)


A. Ludwig

Grade Level


Duration of Lesson

1-2 Class Periods

Lesson Topic

Sherman’s March/Election of 1864

SC Standards and Indicators

USHC 4.3 - Outline the course and outcome of the Civil War, including the role of African American military units; the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation; and the geographic, political, and economic factors involved in the defeat of the Confederacy. (H, G, E, P)

Common Core Strategy(ies) addressed

Students will READ primary sources from the era

Students will DISCUSS/SPEAK their opinions/answers on various questions

Students will LISTEN to Civil War era music

Students will WRITE rules for Civil War soldiers to follow

Academic Vocabulary

Lesson Materials Needed (attached at end of lesson)

PowerPoint, Lyrics Sheet, Question Sheet Attached in PDF form

Content Narrative

(What is the background information that needs to be taught to understand the context of the lesson? Be sure to include necessary citations)

The Civil War had been raging on for over 3 years. Millions of families had been touched by the War itself, with tens of thousands losing loved ones. The South had aimed to fight a war similar to the one fought by Washington against the British – the main objective being not to lose. At the helm of the Southern Armies was the imposing figure of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Lee had outwitted a slew of Union commanders over the War’s tumultuous course; and had avoided capture after seemingly crippling defeats at Antietam and Gettysburg. Lee was beginning to show cracks, however. The Confederacy had only so many men left in its proverbial barrel for Lee to scoop out, currency was quickly becoming worthless, and many Confederate States began to assist the war effort less and less. Lee had a glimmer of hope however; in the form of the Democratic principles of the United States – it was an Election year in 1864.
Entering the summer of 1864, The Union was in a difficult position. Civil War had brought the country to a new low, hundreds of thousands Americans were dead, hundreds of thousands were wounded, and untold numbers were psychologically damaged. The Northern public had grown tired of a war which seemingly had no end. Southern progress in the war had ceased since the previous summer at Gettysburg, yet Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia still lingered on, and showed no signs of being defeated. The Confederacy was showing cracks, economically and politically, but most Americans were unwilling to wait for these cracks to develop. Abraham Lincoln, the sitting President, had replaced Union General after General; desperately searching for someone who could lead the superior Union forces to a final victory over the Confederates and reunite the United States. Lincoln’s time, however, was reaching a possible end. In the fall of 1864, a Presidential Election would be held. Lincoln’s opponent in that election would be the former Union General; George B. McClellan. Lincoln had twice fired McClellan for failing to capture Lee’s Army. McClellan’s platform included plans to end the war and let the Confederacy continue as a new and separate nation. Also on the campaign was a denouncement of ‘negro equality’. Lincoln found himself in a difficult position; needing to be reelected as the candidate supporting the continuation of an unpopular war with no real end foreseeable. Lincoln promoted US Grant, the hero of the War in the West as head of all Union Armies in early 1864. Grant, Lincoln, and Grant’s favorite lieutenant William T. Sherman devised a massive plan which would defeat the Confederacy. That plan required a two pronged attack on the ‘heart’ of the Confederacy, with Sherman swooping in through enemy territory from the west, and Grant engaging Lee from the North. All three men realized the importance of victory in these campaigns - nothing short of victory would allow Lincoln to be reelected.

Lesson Set

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