Welcome to Teaching the Civil War with Technology

The purpose of this website is to provide you with lesson plans, tools, tips, and strategies for teaching the American Civil War.

Overview of the need to teach the American Civil War

“The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”  This simple sentence was spoken on November 19, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln when he gave the now famous Gettysburg Address and it reminds us of how important it is that we take every opportunity to teach our students about the American Civil War.  The reason for this can be summed up by the late author and historian Shelby Foote:

“Any understanding of this nation has to be based and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. I believed that firmly. It defined us. The Revolution did what it did. Our involvement with the European wars, beginning with the First World War, did what it did. But the Civil War defined us what we are, and it opened to us what we became, good and bad things. And it is very necessary, if you are going to understand the American character in the twentieth century, to learn about this enormous catastrophe of the nineteenth century. It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads” (Foote, 1990).

Why Teach the American Civil War?tentipad

In addition to Foote’s comments, because the notion that our public school curricula should place a great emphasis on the importance of the Civil War is highlighted by the fact that 46% of high school students could not identify the years during which the American Civil War was fought (Wineburg, 2004). This is significant because other than the American Revolution, while open for discussion, many historians have written that the Civil War was one of the most defining moments in our history and no event since our nation began has had such an impact, both positive and negative, on all aspects of American life (Foote, 1990; Robertson & Davis, 2002). The American Civil War had an impact on the society, the economy, the role of women in society, the powers of the President and government, and many other aspects.

The Civil War was at the same time the greatest tragedy and the most important event in the history of the United States and there is no question that the topic remains a focus today as more has been written about that four-year conflict than any other topic in our history.  It is also important to note that the strategies and tactics that were used during the Civil War are still studied in leading military academies such as West Point (Robertson & Davis, 2002).  In both its geography and its brutality, the U.S. Civil War remains vastly different from other conflicts experienced by Americans and there are a number of issues that may be taught to students.