Lesson Plan

What Would You Do? - Plotting and Planning the Strategies of the Civil War

Cannon at Kennesaw Mountain

Park Staff

Overall Rating

Add your review
Grade Level:
Eleventh Grade-Twelfth Grade
Civil War, Geography, History, Military and Wartime History
Two periods or one block
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Social Studies for Georgia - SSUSH9(f)
Core Curriculum - CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1


Students learn about the difficult decisions made by the generals of the Atlanta Campaign by becoming the leaders of two fictional armies. By plotting their own strategies, they learn more about the choices made by generals and the results of those decisions.


To help students assess if there was a way that the South could have won the American Civil War. By assessing the strategies of each side using both primary and secondary resources, students can answer the question of whether or not the historic outcome was the only possible one.


This lesson can be used as either a pre-site or post-site activity in conjunction with a visit to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. It may also be used as a stand-alone introductory lesson in the classroom during Civil War study.

The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain is part of the Atlanta Campaign, a coordinated offensive by General Ulysses S. Grant  to destroy Confederate resistance and bring about an end to the War. A major focus was placed northwestern Georgia, with Major General William T. Sherman in charge of the Georgia offensive. From May to September 1864, Federal and Confederate forces fought across north Georgia from Dalton to Atlanta, with the fall of Atlanta on September 2, 1864, as the Campaign's high point. 


  •  Union and Confederate strategy materials
  • Guiding questions for each group are necessary
  • Vital statistics and map of Tangmania and Gagoola
All of the materials listed may be found in the downloadable lesson plan.


Park Connections

The Atlanta Campaign was a major contributing factor towards ending the American Civil War. The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain precedes the Battle of Atlanta and it was General William T. Sherman's defeat at what is now known as Cheatham Hill that caused him to resume flanking, or moving to the side of the opposing army, maneuvers. This flanking tactic caused Confederate commander Joseph E. Johnston to abandon his Kennesaw line and Sherman was able to cross the Chattahoochee River into Atlanta, leading to Johnston being replaced as commander, the evacuation of Atlanta, and the eventual fall of the city. A week later Sherman left Atlanta and began his infamous "March to the Sea", further crippling the Confederacy.


Have students research and answer the following question: How was Sherman's 1864 Atlanta Campaign and subsequent March to the Sea an extension and fulfillment of the Anaconda Plan?


Napoleonic, attrition, cordon defense, Anaconda Plan

Last updated: April 14, 2015