Lesson Plan

Interview a Monument: Exploring the Monuments of Andersonville National Cemetery

Flags, graves, and monuments
The New Jersey and Iowa monuments rise above graves decorated for Memorial Day
NPS/Alan Marsh

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Subject:
Architecture, Architecture (Building Styles and Methods), Art, Civil War
Duration:
60 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 60
Setting:
outdoors
National/State Standards:
This activity aligns to the common core standards for ELA/social studies.

Overview

In the late 1800s and early 1900s several states, along with organizations like the Woman’s Relief Corps, began to erect monuments around the Andersonville Prison Site and the Andersonville National Cemetery. The purpose of this activity is for you to explore the monuments in the cemetery and to gain an understanding as to how and why people chose to build them.

Objective(s)

At the end of the activity, the students will be able to:

  • Students will learn how survivors of Andersonville and other groups memorialized Andersonville after the Civil War.
  • Students will examine how the development of monuments in Andersonville National Cemetery reflected the development of the United States from 1890-1920.


Background

"This is sacred ground, consecrated by the suffering of men who here gave the last full measure of devotion." - Governor A.T. Bliss at the dedication of the Michigan monument, 1904

In the late 1800s and early 1900s several states, along with organizations like the Woman's Relief Corps, began to erect monuments around the Andersonville Prison Site and the Andersonville National Cemetery. The purpose of these monuments was to honor the soldiers who were held captive here and to memorialize those who died. Most of the monuments were built with the support of Andersonville survivors, many of whom attended the dedications. The purpose of this activity is for you to explore the monuments in the cemetery and to gain an understanding as to how and why people chose to build them.

A Note about the National Cemetery
The Andersonville National Cemetery is an active Cemetery. If there is a funeral in progress please be respectful of the mourners. There are well over 20,000 American servicemen and their families buried here. At no time should there be running, loud talking, or horseplay. Respect the landscape and monuments of the park. Do not climb on the earthworks, monuments, or cannon. Park staff asks that teachers and chaperones be aware of student behavior at all times in the cemetery.

Funerals
The Andersonville National Cemetery is an active Cemetery. If there is a funeral in progress please be respectful of the mourners. If a funeral service is occurring, students should at no time approach the rostrum area.

This is an Outdoor Program
For safety and comfort, students should wear close-toed shoes and be appropriately dressed for the weather. The cemetery is a large field, and may have uneven surfaces, long grass or insects.



Materials

Provided by Teacher - photocopies of the monument worksheet included with this lesson plan. Pencils and clipboards.



Procedure

Park school busses adjacent to the picnic area along the road between the prison site and the cemetery. The roads in the cemetery are too narrow to accommodate bus traffic.

Divide your class into 12 groups (one for each monument). If you have a smaller class, or for younger students, divide into ten groups, and omit the Oddfellows Monument and the Stalag XVII-B Monument.

Distribute to each group the worksheet for a monument.

Explain to the students that they will be going to their assigned monument and fill out their group's worksheet. At this time it is important to remind the students that they are entering a National Cemetery and that horseplay, running, or shouting/loud talking are inappropriate for the setting, and such behaviors may result in the group being asked to leave the National Cemetery. Respect the landscape and monuments of the park. Do not climb on the monuments.

Walk from the picnic area to the National Cemetery (approximately ¼ mile through the shade). Be aware of vehicle traffic.

Just inside the cemetery wall is the Georgia Monument - at this point disperse your students to their assigned monuments. For groups with younger students, we strongly suggest at least two chaperones per group. Allow at least ten minutes for the groups to observe the monument and complete the monument worksheet. When groups have completed their assigned monument worksheet they should report back to the Georgia Monument.

After all groups have returned to the Georgia Monument, walk back as a group to the picnic area. Be aware of vehicle traffic along this route.

At the picnic area distribute a copy of the map to each group.

Have each group present their monument to the class. As groups present their monument, other groups should shade in that state on their map.

Tell the students to shade in Wisconsin, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, Rhode Island. These states all built monuments inside the prison. Note that the Oddfellows Monument and the Stalag XVII Monument are not state monuments, so the students wouldn't shade anything in on their maps.

Discuss with the students the follow up questions.

Assessment

Discuss with the students the following questions as a follow up:

 

  1. What slogan appears on several monuments? How many monuments have this slogan?
  2. What do you think this slogan means?
  3. Why do you think so many states and former prisoners here chose to use this slogan?
  4. Look at your maps - what part of the country put up most of the monuments. Why do you think this was the case?
  5. Why is Georgia the only state with a monument inside the National Cemetery? Why wasn't it built at the same time as the other state monuments?
  6. Why were so many monuments built 1899-1916?
  7. Andersonville National Cemetery is an active national cemetery and veterans and their spouses are still being buried here. If you were to design a monument in the cemetery today what would it look like and who would it be a monument to? What would your monument say?