Lesson Plan

Civilian War Experience: Experiencing the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain

Civilian life
Darryl Duling

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Grade Level:
Sixth Grade-Eighth Grade
Civil War, Family Life, History, Literature, Military and Wartime History, Reading, Slavery, Social Studies, Women's History, Writing
One class period
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Georgia Standards: SS8H6(b), LG-8RH1, L68RH2, L6-8RH4, LITCC6-8RHSS10, LC-8WHST4, L6-8WHST7


War impacts far more than just politicians and militaries, it effects and disrupts the lives of civilians as well. This lesson explores the many ways that the Civil War changed people's lives by looking at the civilians who lived around Kennesaw Mountain and through the battle there in 1864.


Through the examination of primary sources related to the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, students will gain an understanding of Civil War battles and how these battles impacted civilians caught in their path.

  1.  Given primary sources, students will be able to list post-battle hardships faced by civilians caught in the path of a major battle; 
  2. Given primary sources, students will be able to write about a historic event from the point of view of someone who was there, discussing many of the hardships people in that historic moment faced;
  3. Using problem solving skills, students will be able to organize information learned to complete daily assignments and any culminating projects; 
  4. Students will increase reading, understanding, and usage of both verbal and written English.


Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is a 2,923 acre site that saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War. While the site is best known for the battle that took place there, it is often forgotten that there was a thriving community surrounding the Mountain. The people who called this area home found themselves facing a difficult decision in the summer of 1864: Is it better to flee the danger you know is coming or stay and fight to protect and defend the home you've worked years to establish. As War came to Kennesaw Mountain, homes, barns, farms, livestock, schools, churches, mills, and life in general was caught up in the grind of battle - only to be left tattered, broken, and, in some cases, destroyed forever in its ugly aftermath.


Primary Sources

Minerva McClatchey document


Activity 1: Primary Sources

Provide half of your class with a copy of the Minerva McClatchey document and half with the Miss Lucinda Hardage document.

Have all student read their documents independently.

Place students in pairs. Make sure each pair has someone who read the McClatchey document and someone who read the Hardage document in each park. Give students 5 minutes to tell their group mates what document they read, who wrote it, and what it was about.

Hand out the "Questions, Problems, or Concerns" worksheet for the students to complete as a pair. They should complete one worksheet for each document.

Together the students will identify 5 problems civilians living in Marietta would have faced during and after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. Students will also identify 5 actions they took in response to these hardships.

Activity 2: "Problems, Problems"

On the smart board, overhead, or bulletin board, place the words "Problems" and "Action". 

Elicit examples of "problems" from members of each group.

Once the "problems" have been determined, conduct a class discussion about what civilians did in response.

Discuss other consequences which might have been experienced by civilians in other places throughout the War.

 Activity 3: Vocabulary Practice

Give each student 3 Vocabulary Graphic Organizer worksheets. Each student chooses three vocabulary words from the list above and completes one worksheet per word. The activity involves students creating a pictorial illustration and writing work meanings in their own words. Demonstrate and reinforce that "stick figures" are fine to make. This is not being graded for art. This in one form of graphic organizer which has been successful in helping students remember vocabulary and meanings.

Activity 4: Dynamite Drawings

The amount of time spent here depends upon the teaching schedule, type of class, talent of the students (and the teacher), etc. This area can be easily adapted to allow more or less time in this section. Students also can complete some of this work at home.

Provide each student with either the document/site bulletin titled "New Salem Community KEMO" or "Lucinda Hardage KEMO". Each student should have a blank sheet of copy paper as well. Students are instructed to illustrate ONE picture that would go along with the site bulletin from Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. The picture has to illustrate one point from the passage and display historical accuracy. How it is graded is up to you.

Activity 5: Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis

Use the "Analyzing Primary Sources Teachers Edition LOC" document to demonstrate what is expected as responses from the students.

Each student should receive a copy of the handout "Primary Source Analysis Tool worksheet LOC". Then have numerous copies of the following documents:

Students should come up and choose one of the four sources to analyze using the handout you provided. After the worksheets have been completed, group your students according to each online source - 4 groups total. Each group must then present its findings to the class.




  •  Informally assess students' responses during the discussion.

  • Students will write a journal entry in which they envision that they are a civilian who lived through the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and its aftermath. They will use their "Questions, Problems, or Concerns" worksheet in order to include at least three problems and their civilian's reaction. Evaluate the journal entry using the "Problems, Problems" Teacher Rubric as well as the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.

  • Students will use adjectives and adverbs in their writing. They will begin this assignment in class and complete it for the next day if necessary.

  • Collect the "Questions, Problems, or Concerns" worksheet and make sure the answers are appropriate for the task.

Park Connections

Kennesaw Mountain had a thriving community surrounding it prior to the Civil War. The battle that took place there harshly disrupted the lives of all its civilian inhabitants. Many fled the coming fight while others chose to stay; no matter the choice, their lives and community were permanently altered. Many who lived at the foot of the Mountain left, never to return, while other came back, only to find their homes, businesses, and land in utter ruin.


Lesson Adaptation Ideas

  • Give each group one page of the primary source text and have them volunteer ideas from their section alone;

  • Use the primary sources as inductive vocabulary lessons (see vocabulary list);

  • Have students paraphrase their document for understanding;

  • Instead of a journal entry, students could complete a graphic organizer such as a "word web" or word webs could be substituted for the bulletin board activity

  • Using Google Maps, have each student research the battlefield location of each primary source.


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