President Lincoln Visits Antietam

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1 President Lincoln Visits Antietam President Abraham Lincoln paid an unexpected visit to Sharpsburg, Maryland, on the first of October, In his three days there, President Lincoln reviewed the troops and saw the Antietam battlefield for himself. The fierce battle had taken place over two weeks before his visit and had cost both sides thousands of casualties. While visiting the battlefield, Lincoln met with the commander of the Army of the Potomac, General George McClellan. In the two weeks since the battle, General McClellan had not pursued and forced a fight with the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, and the President meant to insist McClellan take the necessary action. Describe the people in the picture. What are they doing? Which person is McClellan? What do you notice about Lincoln? Does this appear to be a posed picture or a candid shot? How would you describe the camp conditions? What do you think the soldiers had been doing since the battle ended two weeks earlier? Is there any difference between the soldiers on the left and those on the right? The president and general are facing each other. What does their body language tell you about their meeting? What seems unusual about a president visiting an army camp to talk directly to a general? Contrast this battle at Antietam with the battles at Gettysburg and Cold Harbor. Contrast the battle casualties, the battle strategies, and the winning sides. Predict what happened directly after this photographed meeting took place. Then, research to find out if there are any descriptions of the president s visit. Assume you are President Lincoln. Defend your decision to have General McClellan plow ahead and force a battle with Lee s southern troops. Assume you are the photographer who took this picture. Write a diary entry about what you saw and how it affected you. Defend or refute the following statement: Even though Antietam was a tactical draw, the battle was a major turning point in the war. s Find out General Lee s reasons for invading the North. For an extra challenge, try to locate Lee s Proclamation to the People of Maryland explaining his invasion. What was he trying to do with this invasion? Did he accomplish his goal? Read what happened to McClellan after this meeting. What was his military future?

2 Union Balloon Ascension Hydrogen-filled balloons were becoming more predictable in the mid-1800s, and several men proposed using them for scientific experiments and for observation missions in the Civil War. Two men, Thaddeus Lowe and John LaMountain, competed for the right to have a Union army contract. Lowe won the endorsement and was assigned to lead the Balloon Corps, a civilian organization that would serve under the supervision of the Union s Bureau of Topographical Engineers. His corps participated in several battles by sending telegraphic messages back to the base regarding the Confederate positions. The aeronauts also drew maps of troop movement. The Corps lasted from and was terminated when General McClellan, their supporter, was relieved of duty. What do these men appear to be doing? What year was this photo taken? Who took the photo? What appears to be the use of the thick cables or hoses? Using the picture and background information, write a short news report on witnessing a balloon ascension in Compare and contrast the use of balloons by the Union and the use of balloons by the Confederacy. Create a dialogue. The scene is Lowe and Lincoln meeting at the White House to discuss the use of balloons in war-time spying. Why do you think the Balloon Corps lost its popularity and did not impress the new general replacing McClellan? Assume the role of Thaddeus Lowe. Write a formal letter to the new Union commander who replaced McClellan and state your case for keeping the Balloon Corps as a military unit. Defend or refute the following statement by using facts and logic: The continued use of the Balloon Corps by the Union could have brought about a more rapid series of victories and ended the war much earlier. Search resource materials to answer these questions: Why did balloon aerostats stop using hydrogen as a fuel source? What did they use for a new fuel source? What is the fuel source used today for recreational balloons?

3 Ruins of Charleston This photo of Charleston, South Carolina, was taken after Union troops had spent eighteen months shelling the city from their fort location on Morris Island. Charleston was only one of many southern cities that were destroyed after the northern armies invaded the South. The huge northern victories of Gettysburg and Vicksburg were considered the turning point of the war. The destruction of the southern cities was one of the prices paid by the southerners for seceding from the Union. Describe the buildings in the picture. What is the damage done to each? What do you notice that tells you this was once a thriving beautiful city? From what vantage point was this picture taken? Compare this photo to photos of World War IIera London. What is similar and what is different? Why do you think the Union s strategy was to destroy southern cities and buildings, rather than just conduct engagements on battlefields? How did this policy add to the problems during the Reconstruction era? Assume you are a citizen of Charleston. Write a story telling about your experiences during the bombing of your city. Defend or refute the following statement: To beat the Confederate troops in South Carolina, it was not necessary to completely devastate the city of Charleston. All this accomplished was adding to the hatred of the Yankees after the war. Research what hurricane devastation Charleston has faced during the last 50 years. Why could one say that the citizens of this city are accustomed to rebuilding? Compose a short eulogy for the city of Charleston, South Carolina. Assume you are the Union general who controls Morris Island. The leaders of Charleston have refused to surrender. Defend your decision to continue to shell Charleston.

4 Drummer Boy Fiddlers, fifers, and drummers had a unique place in the Civil War. Boys as young as nine left their homes to take up instruments and join in the swelling war on both the northern and southern sides. Child labor laws did not yet protect young boys and many toiled in factories and fields. Running off to join the army was an adventure of a lifetime which, in many cases, turned from glory to a nightmare. After the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln decided to accept African Americans into the army. The Bureau of Colored Troops was created and General Lorenzo Thomas was sent to the Mississippi Valley where he raised 76,000 Black troops. A reasonable assumption is that this photo is from the 78 th U.S. Colored Infantry that was organized April 4, What side of the Civil War was this boy serving? How old do you guess he may be? Describe the possible setting for the photo and your overall impression of the photo. Why do you think this photo was chosen for you to study? Develop a possible daily schedule for this young drummer boy. Include times and reasons for drum calls. In what ways were the experiences of the White and the African-American drummer boys similar and in what ways were they different? Research about drummer boys in the Revolutionary War. What was similar to the Civil War drummer boys experiences? Why do you think Frederick Douglass and other Abolitionists supported the creation of Colored Troops to fight on the side of the Union army? Imagine that the young boy in this photo served at a major battle. Describe his duties and what may have happened to him. Use facts from the battle to make your writing credible. Write a letter to the editor of a New York City newspaper stating your objections to young boys serving in the line of duty as military musicians. Remember to put yourself into that era and its social situation. Assuming the role of a genealogist, use the National Park Service website listed below to find the names of all the drummers in the 78 th Regiment and try to determine who this young boy may be.

5 Burial at Cold Harbor The Battle of Cold Harbor claimed 15,500 lives 13,000 were Union soldiers and 2,500 were Confederate soldiers. As one of the bloodiest battles of the war, burial crews like the one in this picture were busy cleaning up the battlefield. During the war, the burial crews had the gruesome task of gathering the dead soldiers and preparing them for burial or to be sent home to loved ones. Although not a job filled with glory, it was a very important job to the army. This particular battle was so terrible, that in the final day of the battle, Union soldiers wrote their names on pieces of paper and pinned them on their uniforms so that their next of kin could be notified of their deaths. Describe the people in the picture. What tools do they have to use? What is the condition of the bodies to be buried? Knowing that there are thousands to be buried, what seems odd about this picture? Can you determine when you think this photo was taken right after the battle or much later? Which side, North or South, is this burial team representing? Describe why you chose the northern or southern side. Compare and contrast the Battle of Cold Harbor with the Battle of Gettysburg and/or the siege at Vicksburg. Include the battle casualties and the battle strategies in your analysis. As a member of the burial team, write a letter home to your family describing what you saw at the Battle of Cold Harbor and how it affected you. Defend or refute the following statement: The failure by Grant at Cold Harbor was a positive turning point in Grant s military career. Research what the cemetery at Cold Harbor is like today and who is responsible for its care and upkeep. Compose a short eulogy for the dead at Cold Harbor that is similar in tone to the Gettysburg Address. Assume you are General Grant. Defend your decision to plow ahead with this battle.

6 General Ulysses S. Grant Ulysses S. Grant served as the commander of the victorious Union Army during the final years of the Civil War. After his incredible courage and leadership at the siege of Vicksburg, President Lincoln asked him to assume command of the northern armies. As a soldier, Grant demonstrated energy, courage, determination, confidence, and a fighting spirit. Through his bravery and his military decisions, he gained the confidence of the soldiers on the line and the president. This photo was taken in June 1864, at Cold Harbor near Richmond. Six thousand northern troops died in this battle fought against General Lee s forces. This battle caused General Grant to rethink his strategies. When this picture was taken, Grant had lost approximately 55,000 men in one month. Describe what Grant is wearing. What is the setting? How old was Grant in this photo? How is this photograph the same or different from other photographs and paintings you ve seen of General Grant? Knowing that this photo was taken at Cold Harbor, does it appear to be taken before or after the battle? Why or why not? Why do you think Grant allowed this photo to be taken? Why did the photographer want to take this photo? Why do you think Lincoln chose Grant as the commander of the northern forces? Assume the role of a reporter for a St. Louis newspaper. Write an interview with General Grant on the day that Lincoln asked him to serve as commander of the Union Army. Write a summary of the Battle of Cold Harbor and describe Grant s mistakes. Historical controversy exists as to whether Grant drank excessively while a general and a president. Some say he was the victim of rumors and critics who wanted to discredit him, others say he was an alcoholic. Research to determine the various opinions. Write a list of facts presented on both sides of the issue. What is your conclusion? Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages that Grant had in this war because he had been trained at the same school as Lee.

7 General Robert E. Lee General Robert E. Lee served as the commander of the Confederate Army during much of the Civil War. People from both the southern and northern sides of the conflict respected him during and after the war. Lee was respected not only for his incredible abilities as a general, but also for his character. He chose not to smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or use profane language. He believed that duty was the most important word in the English language. Lee gave the appearance of dignity and calm even in the most difficult of times. This photo was taken shortly after the Civil War ended by the famous Civil War photographer, Mathew Brady. Describe what Lee is wearing. Where was this photo taken? How old was Lee in this photo? How is this photograph the same or different from other photographs and paintings you ve seen of General Lee? Knowing that this photo was taken shortly after Lee surrendered, does this photo appear to be of a defeated general? Why or why not? Why do you think Lee allowed this photo to be taken? Why did Brady want to take this photo? How was Lee treated by the northerners after the war? Did he face any criminal proceedings? Assume the role of a reporter for a Virginia newspaper. Write an interview with Robert E. Lee on the day he agreed to serve as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Defend or refute the following statement: If General Robert E. Lee had been given access to the same supplies, number of troops, and resources as the North, he would have won the war. s Research what happened to Lee s two sons who also served in the Civil War. Find out why General Lee chose to fight for the South when he was offered a commission in the Union Army. Was it an easy choice? What would you have done in his place? Using the background information page and/or other research, write a short tribute to Lee from a southern or northern viewpoint.

8 The Presidential Box at Ford s Theatre The Presidential Box at Ford s Theatre was located on stage right and was designed for excellent viewing. John Wilkes Booth, a popular actor at the theatre, knew he could gain access to the presidential box. Unfortunately, on the evening of April 14, 1865, the presidential bodyguard left his post and Booth was able to easily enter the box. Booth shot the president and stabbed the president s guest, Major Henry Rathbone. Booth then jumped to the stage, and in doing so, fractured his leg. As he staggered across the stage, some witnesses said he was raving in Latin sic semper tyrannis (thus always to tyrants). This picture was taken on April 17, 1865 by well-known Civil War photographer, Mathew Brady. Describe what you see in this picture. How many flags have been used? What architectural designs do you see? What picture do you think is in front of the two boxes? Why was that picture chosen? Do you believe this was the way the presidential box looked that night to honor Lincoln, or is this the way the booth looked after his death as a memorial? What unusual chain of events led to this assassination being accomplished? Research to find out what happened and select the events you think were most unusual. If Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and William Seward had all been killed that day, who would have been president and how would he have handled the situation of predicted chaos? What about that person s background makes you predict his behavior? State your opinion about the decision to close Ford s Theatre after the death of Lincoln and to eventually have the government buy it. Support your opinion with facts. Assume the role of an on-thescene reporter covering the President s visit to Ford s Theatre. Write an account of the assassination as if you were there. Include interviews with others attending the play that evening. Write a one-page position paper titled: The Lincoln Assassination Could Have Been Prevented. Research to find out what happened to William Seward who was also a target of assassination.

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