Classroom Resources

New Hampshire in the Civil War

In 2014 the New Hampshire Historical Society hosted a two-day workshop for teachers of grades five through eight called New Hampshire in the Civil War for Middle School: Exploring and Teaching through Primary Sources. The project was directed by Dr. Judith Moyer, hosted by the New Hampshire Historical Society, and funded by the New Hampshire Humanities. Workshop presenters included Dr. J. W. Harris, professor of history at the University of New Hampshire; Stacey Weeks, a Portsmouth classroom teacher; and members of the New Hampshire Historical Society's staff. The resulting lesson plans are a New Hampshire resource to supplement a larger study of the American Civil War.

Lesson Plans

Analyzing Civil War Music

Students will begin by learning about Walter Kittredge of Merrimack, NH, then reading and listening to the song "Tenting on the Old Campground." Students will analyze the meaning behind the lyrics that the songwriter was trying to convey to his audience. Afterwards students will find other Civil War songs that they can compare and/or contrast to this piece. As an extension of this lesson, students will find modern anti-war songs and compare the intent behind the pieces.

Analyzing Photographs: Henry P. Moore, New Hampshire's Civil War Photographer

The Civil War photographs of New Hampshire photographer Henry P. Moore provide a glimpse of regimental life and soldiers’ experiences in the Confederate States. This lesson is a case study in analyzing and using photographs as historical documents while using the Analyzing Primary Sources worksheet found on the Library of Congress website.

Civil War Letters

Using Rob Gragg’s book From Fields of Fire and Glory: Letters of the Civil War or copies of original letters found at a local historical society, students will learn about the realities of life during the Civil War. Students will complete a scavenger hunt designed to introduce them to reading and analyzing primary sources. Students will then research a battle, adopt a persona, and write a letter "home," detailing their experiences in the battle.

Civil War Perspectives

Students will use primary and secondary source documents and artifacts to gain an understanding of the contributions made by various groups of people during the Civil War. They will use primary source analysis sheets to assist them in gathering relevant information to use in their development of skits and solutions.

Colonel Edward Cross at the Battle of Chancellorsville

The Battle of Chancellorsville was divisive, which resulted in the replacement of Union Army General Joseph Hooker with Major General George Meade. At Chancellorsville, New Hampshire native Colonel Edward Cross led a brigade of the 5th New Hampshire Volunteers. Cross’s letters and journals include descriptions of the battle and reveal what it was like for a soldier during the Civil War. Using Cross’s papers as well as other sources, students will write a field report detailing the events of the Battle of Chancellorsville and include a recommendation on whether to keep or replace General Hooker.

Discovering New Hampshire's Civil War Memorials

Many memorials, graves, and statues in the state commemorate the Civil War, yet we often walk right by without noticing. In this lesson, local Civil War memorials will be identified, researched, and documented. In-class discussion will consider what meanings and information the memorials are meant to convey.

George Hamilton Perkins

George Hamilton Perkins (1836-99) is perhaps the most famous character in Hopkinton/Contoocook’s history. During the Civil War he served under Admiral Farragut in several naval engagements. After the war he attained the rank of commander, was promoted to captain, and finally earned the retired rank of commodore. By researching George H. Perkins's experiences, students will explore what life was like for sailors during the Civil War.

Hardtack: Soldiers' Experiences during the Civil War

Objects as well as written documents serve as concrete links to the past. A piece of Civil War hardtack in the collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society is a unique object that can be used in demonstrating how to use physical objects to answer research questions. Students' analysis of the hardtack is guided by the Analyzing Primary Sources worksheet found on the Library of Congress website.

Life during the Civil War

Students will select a Civil War nurse or soldier from New Hampshire to research for an oral presentation. Taking on the persona of their person, the students will perform a two-minute dialog in which they will describe daily life and challenges.

New Hampshire Nurses in the Civil War

Prior to the Civil War professional medical care and treatment of the sick and wounded was the responsibility of men. Women were able to nurse their families within their own homes but were prevented from serving as nurses in hospitals. During the Civil War men were needed on the battlefields, opening the opportunity for women to work as nurses in military and battlefield hospitals. Several women from New Hampshire served as nurses during the Civil War. Their letters and journals shed light on their experiences treating the sick and wounded, and their sometimes tense interactions with the male doctors and surgeons. Using the letters, students will take on a fictional persona and keep a journal describing the daily life of a nurse.

Thaddeus Lowe, New Hampshire's Civil War Balloonist

Thaddeus Lowe of New Hampshire promoted and experimented with hydrogen-filled balloons as lookout posts during warfare. During the Civil War Lowe persuaded President Abraham Lincoln of the value of reconnaissance from manned balloons in the air both during and between battles. Students will research Lowe's flight and create a project discussing how Lowe and his manned balloons contributed to the Civil War and aeronautical history.

Travel in the Civil War

Personal memoirs, journals, and letters telling of New Hampshire citizens ’s experiences in the Civil War often report how they traveled. Reading for details about how people traveled and mapping their journeys tell us much about the technologies and hardships of their days and nights on the road. Even though few battles took place in the North, railroads and ships allowed soldiers and supplies to travel to the front in a matter of days. Students will explore and report on individuals and their travels during the Civil War.

Additional Resources

Harriet Dame: New Hampshire's Angel of Mercy (online exhibition)

New Hampshire in the Civil War Writing Tasks

New Hampshire in the Civil War, Bibliography

Primary Source Analysis Tool from the Library of Congress