Lesson Plan

Picture the War

Students at Stop #3
Leslie McClammy

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Subject:
Civil War, History, Theatre
Duration:
2 Hours
Group Size:
Up to 36
Setting:
in the park
National/State Standards:
SOL’s VUS.1, VUS.7, AII.15, AII.13, USI9, Visial Arts 702, 8.7, 8.8, 8.12, 8.20, 8.21, 8.22

Overview

This program introduces students to the analysis of primary sources through critical observation of historical photographs. Students will take photographs of each other and will learn a few basic rules of good photography. Students will role play the parts of Civil War soldiers manning the trenches during the Siege of Petersburg.

Objective(s)

This program introduces students to the analysis of primary sources through critical observation of historical photographs.



Background

Explain that cameras that were easily moved from place to place were relatively new during the Civil War. Explain that even though cameras could be moved they still required great care and lots of equipment. Mention Mathew Brady's movable darkrooms. Briefly explain how the glass plate negatives were first treated with colliodon, then washed in silver nitrate, then had to be used by being exposed to light within 10min to take a picture. Does this sound like a quick and easy way to take a picture? Well it was during the Civil War.



Procedure

Explain that cameras that were easily moved from place to place were relatively new during the Civil War. Explain that even though cameras could be moved they still required great care and lots of equipment. Mention Mathew Brady's movable darkrooms. Briefly explain how the glass plate negatives were first treated with colliodon, then washed in silver nitrate, then had to be used by being exposed to light within 10min to take a picture. Does this sound like a quick and easy way to take a picture? Well it was during the Civil War.

Picture Analysis

1. Form the students into groups and give each group a copy of Photo #1 (Federal Line near Fort Morton)

a. Let's look at this picture. What things can you see in this picture? (Make sure the students understand the difference between what they see and what they think they see)

1. A soldier, piles of dirt, logs, wooden planks, open land ect

b. What can we tell from what we can see? What do we think is going on here?

2. Give out pictures #2 and #3. In your group look at the next two pictures. Talk about what you see, and what you think is going on. Take 10 minutes.

a. Let's hear your answers…

b. Go through each group and have them give some of their answers.

3. So can you see how pictures can tell a story? Can you think of anywhere else you seen pictures that tell a story.

4. What's different compared to Petersburg now? What can we tell about the area, the battle, and the soldiers based on these photos?

Taking Pictures

1. We've come a long way from the technology that Mathew Brady used to take his pictures. What kind of camera do most people use to take pictures now? (Digital)

a. Get out digital cameras and go over how to use and how not to use them.

b. Review basic photography techniques such as lighting, distance, and the rule of thirds.

2. We're going to take some pictures in Mathew Brady's style. You'll all get a chance to have your picture taken and to take pictures. One of you will dress as Gen. Grant and the other as Gen. Lee the rest of you are going to pick uniforms when it's your turn to have your pictures taken.

3. Put students in groups of two to share the camera between them. Take the students to stop three and have them take pictures that they think tell the story of the people who would have fought here.

4. Once in place at stop three have each group take turns getting pictures and having pictures taken. Get one picture of Gen Lee with his staff and Gen Grant with his staff.

a. Give the student portraying Gen. Lee this description:

1. "Lee was legend incarnate—tall, gray, one of the handsomest and most imposing men who ever lived, dressed that day in his best uniform, with a sword belted at the waist." Bruce Catton's description of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse

b. Give the student portraying Gen Grant this description:

1. Grant lacked the sort of colorful personality that endeared him to his men, his steady determination and quiet confidence earned him their respect and loyalty. "He habitually wears an expression as if he had determined to drive his head through a brick wall, and was about to do it,"

Assessment

The pictures will be placed on a disk, given to the teacher for the students to critique and to enjoy. A movie will be made of the pictures by the battlefield and sent to the school for review.

Provide the teachers and students report cards to evaluate their likes and dislikes of the activities. Suggestions?


 



Park Connections

Nine and a half months, 70,000 casualties, the suffering of civilians, thousands of U. S. Colored Troops fighting for the freedom of their race, and the decline of Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of No. Virginia all describe the Siege of Petersburg. It was here Gen. Ulysses S. Grant cut off all of Petersburg's supply lines ensuring the fall of Richmond on April 3, 1865. Six days later, Lee surrendered



Additional Resources

For a complete listing of Park Programs see the Peterbsurg Battlefield Educators Guide