Use the Activities
Putting It All Together
Activity 1: The Life of a Soldier
Ask students to imagine they are soldiers and have them write a letter home explaining how they either defended or attacked Port Hudson. The letters should be dated July 9, 1863, and should tell how they felt about the surrender which took place that day. Students can choose either Federal or Confederate sources and should base their letters on readings, photographs, and maps. The photographs and maps can be used to describe their location and surroundings, and the readings can be used to describe camp life and fighting.
Activity 2: The Hero
Pvt. Henry Johns of the 49th Massachusetts Infantry (the author of Reading 3) won the Medal of Honor for his actions at Port Hudson. Although Johns' courage was recognized, many heroic acts go unrecorded or unrewarded. Have students interview a local veteran about special acts of bravery he performed or witnessed when he was a soldier. Have students include in their interview questions about the conditions under which the act was performed, the events leading up to this act, why the person who showed bravery did so, and whether the act was honored by a medal. Have students record their interviews in written reports, audio tape, or video. Place the results in the local library so that the veterans' actions will not be forgotten. Then students should write a brief summary of what they have learned, to which they should add a statement about whether they think the act was heroic and explain why or why not.
Activity 3: Debating Siege Warfare
Have students choose one of the two questions below as a basis for a debate. Divide the class into two sections to debate one of the following:
a. Siege warfare is more horrible and stressful than open, or "regular," battles.
b. During a siege, the defenders are more heroic.
Activity 4: Your Community Under Attack
Ask students to determine if their community has ever been involved in warfare--the French-Indian War, Revolutionary War, Civil War, or some other conflict. If so, have them determine the military strategies employed during the battle. Was the community involved in a siege? If so, why was this strategy used? If not, what methods were used?
If the community has not suffered directly from warfare, form groups of students to explore severe natural or social pressures that the community has endured--floods, hurricanes, drought, riots, etc.. What were the similarities and differences between the stress of siege warfare and other kinds of severe pressures? What physical evidence remains in the community of the incident? Is this incident documented or commemorated, or has the community generally forgotten it? Students should prepare a "historic marker" that documents the incident and display it for general class discussion.