Putting It All Together
Today, Stones River National Battlefield preserves part of the site where many Civil War soldiers fought and died. These soldiers came from all over the country, representing various cultures, communities, and age groups. The following activities will help the students empathize with soldiers involved in a war.
Activity 1: Monument Inscriptions
Have students refer to the inscriptions on the Hazen Brigade Monument below. Working in pairs, have them choose one of the inscriptions to study. Have each pair decide what they think the inscription means, and report on its findings. Then ask each pair to create its own inscription for the Hazen monument. You may wish to display these inscriptions on the bulletin board.
The inscriptions on the Hazen monument read as follows:
THE MEMORY OF ITS SOLDIERS
WHO FELL AT
STONE RIVER DEC. 31 1862
"THEIR FACES TOWARD HEAVEN, THEIR FEET TO
THE VETERANS OF SHILOH
HAVE LEFT A DEATHLESS HERITAGE OF
FAME UPON THE FIELD OF
ERECTED 1863 UPON THE GROUND
WHERE THEY FELL.
BY THEIR COMRADES.
THE BLOOD OF ONE THIRD ITS SOLDIERS
TWICE SPILLED IN TENNESSEE
CRIMSONS THE BATTLE FLAG OF THE BRIGADE
AND INSPIRES TO GREATER DEEDS.
Activity 2: Working with Primary Sources
This lesson contains information from primary sources, sometimes called firsthand accounts. Remind students that written materials such as letters, diaries, some newspaper accounts, proclamations by government officials, proceedings of the courts, etc., are called primary documents because they were written by eyewitnesses and their contemporaries. Some paintings, photographs, coins, tools, weapons, and other examples of material culture may also provide primary information because they were crafted by people who were living at the time of a particular event. Once such materials have been examined and authenticated, they are used as the basis for the conclusions represented in written narratives.
Have students make a list of the primary sources used in this lesson (quotations in Reading 1, all of Reading 2, which was related to the author of the article by an eyewitness, the Hazen Monument and its inscriptions, and the diagram made by the archeologist; the painting by William Travis was created after the event, but it was based on firsthand account). Have each student choose one primary source and then complete the following analysis:
• Why is it considered a primary source?
• Can you identify an author?
• When was it created?
• Why was it created?
• Can you identify for what audience it was prepared?
• Is the information presented reliable? How do you know? What other sources could you use to verify its accuracy?
• Did the author take part in the event or was he reporting what others had said?
• Did the author have a negative or positive view of the events? How can you tell? Do you think that affected his or her judgment?
Share Your Information
Once students have studied their source thoroughly, have them share their conclusions with their classmates, especially with those who worked with the same evidence. Did they reach the same conclusions? Do they think data of this type are as useful to understanding one battle of the Civil War as a historian’s description or textbook account would be? Why or why not?
Activity 3: Civil War Participation
Put the names of the following states on the chalkboard. Have students check the list to determine if soldiers from the state where their school is located, or from the states in which the students were born, fought at the Battle of Stones River.
Then have students do research to find out if any Civil War battles occurred in their state. If so, have them describe the battles; if not, have them explain why their state did not take part in the Civil War in that way.
Activity 4: War Memorials in the Local Community
Have students reexamine the photo of the Hazen monument, looking closely at the design, materials and the surrounding enclosure. Then ask them to try to locate a war memorial in their own community and compare it with the Hazen monument. In what ways are the two memorials or monuments the same? different? After considering the stories behind each of the two monuments, have students explain why they think the monuments were designed the way they were. Then ask the students to draw their own sketch for a monument for any battle or war that affected their community. Ask them to write a short paragraph in which they describe why they chose their particular design. Discuss the students’ work and then display their drawings.