William T. Rigby and His Walking Cane
Table of Contents
Museum Collections, Similar Items and other Materials Used
National Educational Standards
Student Learning Objectives
Background and Historical Context
Teacher Tips
Lesson Implementation Procedures
Evaluation/Assessment for Measurable Results
Extension and Enrichment Activities
Site Visit

A. Title: William T. Rigby and His Walking Cane
  • Developers:
    Melissa Davis, Vicksburg-Warren School District
  • Grade Level: K-3
  • Number of Sessions in the Lesson Unit Plan: Six 30-45 minute activities
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B. Overview of this Collection-Based Lesson Unit Plan
  • Park Name: Vicksburg National Military Park
  • Description:
    Students will understand the role of William T. Rigby in the establishment of the Vicksburg National Military Park and the significance of his walking cane.
  • Essential Question:
    What was William T. Rigby’s role in the establishment of the Vicksburg National Military Park and what was the significance of his walking cane?
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C. Museum Collections, Similar Items and other Materials Used in this Lesson Unit Plan
The museum objects featured here were recovered from the U.S.S. Cairo, a Civil War ironclad gunboat in the "Brown Water" navy. On December 12, 1862, in the Yazoo River north of Vicksburg, Cairo struck two underwater torpedoes and sank in 12 minutes, with no loss of life. Preserved by mud and silt, the Cairo sat on the bottom of the river for 102 years. She was raised in 1964 and was later restored along with many of the objects that were found aboard. The recovered objects give a unique window into daily life and leisure time of Union officers and sailors during the Civil War.
MUSEUM OBJECT [photos of objects in the Carl Sandburg Home NHS museum collections] SIMILAR OBJECTS [local items similar to museum objects] & OTHER MATERIALS Length of time
Canes William T. Rigby

Similar items [similar to objects in the Park museum collection]
Walking canes, hiking sticks or anything that students might have at home that could be used as a walking stick.
A picture of someone of great importance in their lives.

Forms and Charts:


6 30-45 minutes
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D. National Educational Standards
Era 5- Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
Understands the course and character of the Civil War and its effects on the American people
Nl-ENG.K-12.3: Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG,K-12.4: Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5: Applying Knowledge

Visual Arts
Content Standard 1-Understanding and applying media, techniques and process
Content Standard 2-Using knowledge of structures and functions
Content Standard 3-Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas
Content Standard 4-Understanding visuals in relation to history and cultures
Content Standard 5-Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
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E. Student Learning Objectives
    • Demonstrate understanding of William T. Rigby’s role in the establishment of the Vicksburg National Military Park.
    • Demonstrate understanding of the surrender oak tree and the cane presented to William T. Rigby.
    • Make a presentation walking cane. 
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F. Background and Historical Context

William Titus Rigby was born on November 3, 1840, in Red Oak Grove, Iowa, near Tipton in Cedar County.  He was the first born of four children.  His families were devout Methodists who believed that the blessings of liberty should be enjoyed by all of God’s creatures.  His father was opposed to the war due to religious beliefs and paid $20.00 in April 1861 to the troops so William would not have to enlist.  William was anxious to enlist and saddened that he was unable to do so.

In the summer of 1862 he enlisted after Lincoln issued a call for 300,000 additional men.  Rigby entered into service with conviction and a strong faith in God.  He assisted in enrolling volunteers to make Co. B, 24th Iowa Infantry. Three of his cousins also enrolled in Co. B. 24th Iowa Infantry.  They were known as the Red Oak Boys.

Rigby commanded the respect of those he knew.  All the men from Red Oak Grove knew him as an honest, fair and decent man. He was elected Second Lieutenant on July 22, 1862.  In the spring of 1863 the 24th Iowa was assigned to the XIII Corps and ordered to join the Army of the Tennessee under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant operating against Vicksburg.  They did not participate in with the May 19 or 22 assaults on Vicksburg.  They entered into duty late in the siege.  After the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863 the regiment marched on to Jackson and participated in the siege of Mississippi’s capital city.  They returned to Vicksburg for a rest. Rigby’s military career continued and he attained rank of Captain.  It is said that Captain Rigby and the Red Oak Boys had faithfully performed duty and demonstrated qualities of veteran soldiers.

After the war he attended Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, graduating in 1869.  He married Eva Cattron in 1869 and they had three children.  He was deeply involved with veterans’ affairs.  In 1895 he was elected secretary of Vicksburg National Military Park Association.  In 1899 he became the park’s resident commissioner.  He was very involved in the planning and organization of the Vicksburg National Military Park.  In 1902 he was chairman of the Vicksburg National Military Park.  He died in 1929 and was buried in the national cemetery at Vicksburg.

Significance of the Surrender Oak:  On July 3, Grant demanded unconditional surrender of Confederate troops.  Grant did not want to have to feed 30,000 hungry Confederates in Union camps and offered to parole all prisoners.  Considering their destitute state he never expected them to fight again.  Surrender terms were discussed beneath an old oak tree.  The oak tree became known as the Surrender Oak.  The soldiers knew the importance of the agreement made under the oak tree and started taking parts of the tree and making trophies.  There is nothing left of the Surrender Oak.  Every part of the tree including its roots was taken and used as reminders of what took place under the tree.
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G. Vocabulary

Unique-being the only one, distinctly characteristic, unusual
Cane-a stick or short staff used to assist one in walking
Relic cane-created from wood removed from a location of historical significance
Presentation walking cane-used to commemorate a particular event and were given and received in honor of that event
Gadget cane-a dual purpose cane
Surrender Oak- the Oak Tree where Grant negotiated the Surrender of Vicksburg during the Civil War
Liberty-free from government control, independence
War-a conflict carried on by force of arms between nations or parties within a nation
Duty-military service required of a citizen
Siege-an attempt to capture a place by surrounding it and battering it until it surrenders
Regiment-unit of ground forces consisting of two or more battle groups
Commissioner-a person commissioned to act officially
Surrender- to yield to the power of another
Infantry-soldiers who fight on foot
Veterans-people who served in the armed forces
Commemorate-to observe o honor the memory of a person or event

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H. Teacher Tips
Download and laminate photograph of Rigby’s Walking Cane catalog number VICK 3603 for use in activity.

Collect materials in advance of constructing the walking canes.  Lesson plan can be adapted to accommodate the appropriate grade for Teachers.

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I. Lesson Implementation Procedures

Activity One
Have each student show his/her walking cane brought from home. When this is completed have them write in their journals why they think they had to bring in a cane.

Activity Two
Discuss walking canes.  Brainstorm with students reasons for having canes. Divide the class into four groups.  Have each group research one type of cane (walking, gadget, relic, presentation). Each group will then present to the class their information on the different canes.

Activity Three
The teacher will present a picture of William T Rigby’s cane.  The students will complete “How to Read an Object” chart.  When all students have finished the chart discuss answers in class.

Activity Four
  • The teacher will present a picture of William T Rigby.  The students will complete “How to read a Photograph” chart.  Discuss answers in class when all students have finished.
  • Give each child a study guide to fill in during the discussion of William T. Rigby.  This will be used to study for a test.
  • Discuss who William T. Rigby was and his importance in the establishment of the Vicksburg National Military Park
  • Discuss when Vicksburg surrendered to Grant and the significance of the surrender oak tree

Activity Five
Have students compare the reason they thought they were bringing a walking cane and the significance of William T. Rigby’s cane.

Activity Six –Making a Mini Museum
The students will make their own cane using rolls of gift wrap paper, paint, construction paper or anything else they want to use to make a presentation walking cane.  This cane must represent the person who is in the photograph they brought to school.  They need to find out important facts about that person and find a way to include them on the cane. 
J. Evaluation/Assessment for Measurable Results
Students should expect to be evaluated on participation levels and their full involvement with activities.  They will also be evaluated on journal entries, group presentations, charts, test, and making of presentation cane.

They will also be evaluated on their overall understanding of William T. Rigby’s role in the establishment of the Vicksburg National Military Park and the significance of his walking cane.

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K. Extension and Enrichment Activities

Canes will be put in a mini museum and presented to the people they represent in a reception in the classroom.
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L. Resources

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M. Site Visit
Pre-visit- Before the visit have students visit the Vicksburg National Military Park website. They can go through the virtual exhibit. Have a few brochures from the park to let the students familiarize themselves with how the park is laid out and its operations. Call the park and schedule a visit.  They can have a park guide specifically for your group.

Site-visit- At the Vicksburg National Military Park, have each student find one object of interest. When the students find their object they should use the “How to Read an Object” chart.

Post-visit- Have the students write down their impressions of the park. They could write about the most surprising thing they learned, the most unusual thing they saw, the thing they liked the least etc.

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N. Charts, Figures and other Teacher Materials
Study Sheet

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