Lesson Plan

Better Know a Regiment

Painting of Colonel Maney’s soldiers lurking just inside the tree line during the Battle of Stones River.
Gen. George Maney’s Brigade during the Battle of Stones River

Stones River National Battlefield

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-General
Anthropology, Civil War, Community, Geography, Historic Preservation, History, Military and Wartime History, Museum Studies
120 minutes
Group Size:
60 or more
National/State Standards:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1, 9-10.3, RH.9-10.7; CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1, RH.11-12.3, RH.11-12.5, H.11-12.9


Teachers and students will accompany a ranger by bus or foot in search of the path taken by ancestral Civil War regiments during the Battle of Stones River. Prior research by the students using primary sources and historical documents will allow them to actively participate in the program, not just observe. Students will learn the history of their ancestors, the importance of the Battle of Stones River, and experience firsthand a small part of what the soldiers did more than 150 years ago.


During the Civil War tens of thousands of Tennesseans served in both Union and Confederate armies. Nearly every county sacrificed their native born sons for their cause. This field trip is designed to get up close and personal with a local regiment that fought at the Battle of Stones River. Prior to visiting the battlefield a regiment should be chosen by the class, research completed, and significant facts and figures about the regiment discussed and documented by the students. Significant facts and figures might include who the commanding officers were, which battles the regiment participated in, how many men were mustered-in, how many men were still alive at the end, and other notable soldiers or actions during the war.

For the purpose of this outline we will use the First Tennessee Infantry (Confederate). The First was a regiment that included men from Davidson, Giles, Hardin, Maury, Rutherford, and Williamson counties. The regiment participated in some of the war's bloodiest battles including several here in Tennessee. The regiment is well documented, most notably in the memoirs of Pvt. Sam Watkins of Co. Aytch (H). These memoirs are available in PDF format online for free and will serve as a useful research tool if studying this regiment.


Other regiments for both sides may also have journals, memoirs, or other primary source documents available to assist in researching their story. Stones River National Battlefield's website includes numerous primary sources pertaining to hundreds of regiments. They are available at:


After thoroughly researching a particular regiment, it is time to visit the battlefield and walk in the soldier's footsteps. This can be done in a number of ways. First, since the battle took place on and off park property, it may be appropriate to take a bus and explore some offsite locations before sites within the park. Certain regiments saw more action outside the park;however, regiments like the First Tennessee Infantry (Confederate) were not heavily involved until the fighting had moved into what is now part of Stones River National Battlefield. A program focused on that regiment might begin at Tour Stop #2 The Slaughter Pen, then proceed on foot north toward the visitor center, with a few significant stops along the way.

At each stop, whether travelling by bus or foot, the ranger will facilitate a dialogue between the students, ask questions, and encourage debate about military, moral, and ethical situations. The students will use what they know about that regiment to develop thoughtful insight into the physical, emotional, and psychological struggles these men were facing. The program, whether travelling by bus, foot, or both will begin and conclude at the visitor center where students can use the restroom, eat lunch, and if time allows tour the museum, watch the park film, and visit the book store.

Research materials/suggestions can be provided if necessary.  



Last updated: April 14, 2015