About This Lesson
This lesson plan is based on the National Register of Historic Places file for Rivers Bridge State Historic Site. It was written by Dan Bell, Historic Resource Coordinator with the South Carolina State Park Service and edited by the Teaching with Historic Places staff. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson plan can be used in teaching U.S. history, social studies, or geography units on the Civil War or the South. It will help students gain a better understanding of the tragedy of war by examining personal accounts of casualties from the Battle of Rivers Bridge.
Time period: Civil War era
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To analyze the Rivers Bridge battlefield and describe how its features reveal the soldiers' tactics and their efforts to avoid heavy casualties.
2) To understand the cost of the Civil War in human terms by examining, comparing, and discussing accounts written by and about men who were wounded at Rivers Bridge.
3) To list and explain the main causes for the heavy combat casualties in Civil War battles.
4) To interpret how the Confederate and Union dead from the Battle of Rivers Bridge were later remembered in the community near the battlefield.
5) To research local monuments and discover the impact of war in the students' own community.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) one map of the battlefield;
2) three readings about the battle, including official casualty reports and contemporary accounts from wounded soldiers;
3) two illustrations of the battle and a casualty;
4) four photographs of Rivers Bridge State Historic Site today, including the monument to the Confederate dead, and a photo of a veteran casualty.
Visiting the site
The battlefield and Confederate cemetery at Rivers Bridge are preserved and interpreted today at Rivers Bridge State Historic Site. Rivers Bridge was one of the first historic areas acquired by the South Carolina State Park Service and it remains the only Civil War battle site in the park service. It is located in southern Bamberg County off S.C. Highway 641 and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For additional information, contact the Interpreter, Rivers Bridge State Historic Site, 325 State Park Road, Ehrhardt, South Carolina, 29081, (803) 267-3675, or visit the park's website.