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Holly Kee - Johnston City High School

Civil War WebQuest
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Civil War Research Project

The Civil War brought out many emotions in the North as well as the South. Friends, families, and even states were torn apart. The purpose of this webquest is for you to understand what it was like to be a soldier in the U.S. Civil War. You will be required to produce a letter and a presentation. There is also an opportunity to earn extra credit.
April 13, 1861

Dear Citizen, United States of America,

Yesterday the Confederate States attacked Union forces at Fort Sumter. The secession of the southern states and this act of war have been precipitated by three main conflicts.

The first conflict concerns the Tariff Act, passed on European goods to encourage the South to buy the North's products. Southerners don't like having to choose between paying high taxes on imported goods or paying the high prices on goods made in the North.

The second conflict is embedded in politics. Even though the center of or national government is located in Washington D. C., the North has gained more power due to the increase in population. To balance this, the South is in favor of "state's rights," whereby states can set their own laws.

The third conflict is over the issue of slavery, which has been an integral part of Southern life for over 200 years. The large cotton plantations, which are the staple industry of the South, are only viable with the cheap or free labor which is performed by the slaves. The plantation owners also use slaves to help maintain the households and perform those duties. The North does not approve of Southerners owning slaves. The Constitution guarantees the right to own property and protect that property against seizure. The Southerners feel that their slaves are property.

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that you and your best friend have been called off to battle on opposing sides.


The United States Government
Your Task:

Your government has put you and your friend on opposing sides. It is important to both of you to retain contact with each other. Writing letters is the best way to communicate.

The two of you will be assigned a battle that you are both fighting. In your letter, you must give each other your own perspective of the battle. You want your friend to know, feel, understand, and see what you are going through. Your letter must include the following:

- The name of the battle
- Details of the battle
- How big is your unit?
- What kind of weapons are you using?
- Who is your leader[s] in this battle.?
- Your living conditions:
- What is it like to be a Confederate or a Union soldier?
- What kind of uniforms do you wear?
- What do you eat?
- Where do you sleep?
- Explain your feelings about the war:
- Do you agree or disagree about the cause of the battle you are fighting?

- Given a choice to fight on a different side, would you change sides? Why?

The Process:

Go to your resource page and do research on your battle. Take notes remembering what you need to include in your letter. You can copy these notes into a Microsoft Word file. These should be saved to a floppy disk. You should also print a hard copy of your work each day as a back up. You MAY NOT print full websites. If you are caught doing this, there will be consequences. The first offense will cost you a letter grade reduction. The second offense will cost you full points for the project (300 points). I will also write you a detention for insubordination and failure to abide by corrective measures.

When writing your letter, you should use as many of the Civil War slang terms as you can. Also, be descriptive . . . lots of adjectives. You want your friend to feel and see what you do.

Proofread your letters and make any revisions necessary before turning them in on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, at the beginning of class. You may use Microsoft Word to type them, or you may choose to get creative and make them look realistic. You will be graded on the following criteria:

- Ideas

- Content Accuracy

- Sentences & Paragraphs

- Grammar & Spelling

- Creativity

You may use the following resources as a starting point for your research. Remember, research is not limited solely to the Internet. Also, remember to construct a bibliography as you complete your project. You will be required to turn this in during your presentation.  WIKIPEDIA is NOT a source!




Fort Sumter

First Battle of Bull Run

Second Battle of Bull Run




On Thursday and Friday, you and your partner should present a 3-5 minute presentation about your battle. You may use any media/presentation style available including iMovie, PowerPoint, overhead, display posters, etc. If you wish to be eligible for extra credit, you may increase your presentation by at least 3 minutes and include another facet of the civil war era, such as literature, music, or the role of women. The links below will give you some ideas.

We will begin the presentations on Wednesday. All groups must turn in the presentation materials on Wednesday, regardless of whether or not the material is presented that day.

The order of presentations will be determined as follows: first by volunteers, second by blind draw, I will not accept any excuses for delay in presenting. If you are not ready when you are called, you will receive a grade of "0." This part of the project is worth 200 points. Up to 100 points of extra credit is available for the extra material described above.

Civil War Poetry

Civil War Music

Women Soldiers of the Civil War