In this lesson students will analyze print sources such as book excerpts and soldier letters as well as photographs of battlefields, forts, and railroads. Students will make inferences about the short-term and long-term consequences of the Civil War in Tennessee. Students will express their learning in a letter or journal entry. 

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Explain the significance and outcome of the major battles and identify their location on a map or visual representation, including:
Evaluate each candidate in the campaign of 1860 and analyze how that campaign reflected the sectional turmoil of the country.
Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
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Learning objectives: 

Social Studies—The learner will:

  • Analyze a photograph, book excerpt, and handwritten document.
  • Draw conclusions based on his or her analysis of the source.
  • Synthesize information to create a letter or diary entry from a civilian describing the Tennessee home front.

Language Arts—The learner will:

  • Select vivid words for a writing passage.
  • Make inferences and draw appropriate conclusions from text.
  • Select illustrations, explanations, anecdotes, descriptions and/or facts to support opinions and inferences.
Essential and guiding questions: 

What would it have been like to be a civilian in Tennessee during the Civil War?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 

Incorporate literature into the lesson. Select passages from a work of fiction such as The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman. Read the passage aloud but stop before the climax. Ask the students to write their own climaxes to the scene based on their analyses of the primary sources. Read their versions and compare them to the book. Discuss.
Ask the students to repeat the diary activity from the perspective of a former slave. Have students compare their diary entries with interviews conducted with former slaves as part of the Federal Writers project. Interviews with subjects from Tennessee can be found in Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 by searching for “Tennessee” as the keyword.

Helpful Hints

There is a list of materials on the document, there are lists for resources at different libraries.