Lesson Plan

Civilian War Experience: The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain

Woman in long dress and hair pulled back knits on a porch next to a wooden table.
Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RH.1, 6-8.RH.2, 6-8.RH.4, 6-8.RH.10, 6-8.WHST.4, 6-8.WHST.7
State Standards:
Georgia Standard(s) of Excellence:
SS8H5 The student will analyze the impact of the Civil War on Georgia.
Additional Standards:
Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies:
L6-8RHSS1, L6-8RHSS2, L6-8RHSS4, L6-8RHSS10, L6-8WHST4, L6-8WHST7
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.

Essential Question

How did the experience of the Civil War differ from multiple perspectives, including that of women, children, and other civilians?


1. Given primary sources, students will list post-battle hardships faced by civilians caught in the path of a major battle.
2. Given primary sources, students will write in detail about a historic event from the point of view of someone who was there.
3. Using problem solving skills, students will organize information learned to complete assignments.
4. Students will increase reading, understanding, and usage of both verbal and written English.


Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is a 2,923 acre site that saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War. While the site is best known for the battle that took place there, it is often forgotten that there was a thriving community surrounding the Mountain. The people who called this area home found themselves facing a difficult decision in the summer of 1864: Is it better to flee the danger you know is coming or stay and fight to protect and defend the home you've worked years to establish. As War came to Kennesaw Mountain, homes, barns, farms, livestock, schools, churches, mills, and life in general was caught up in the grind of battle - only to be left tattered, broken, and, in some cases, destroyed forever in its ugly aftermath.

For this lesson, it is encouraged that you complete the standard discussing the Atlanta Campaign before starting this lesson. While your students can complete this lesson without the other, the first lesson provides a context for the battle. 


  • Read the primary sources for Minerva McClatchey and Lucinda Hardage. Choose whether to provide the internet links or paper copies enough for pairs of students in your class.
  • Make two copies per student of the "Questions, Problems, or Concerns" worksheet. (See Materials section)
  • Decide whether you will allow students to determine their pairs to analyze primary sources or there will be teacher created pairs (Note: We suggest using heterogenous pairs to support content and vocabulary comprehension of all learners.) 


Download Questions, Problems, or Concerns Worksheet

Lesson Hook/Preview

Ask your students, "What do you think happened to the people when a battle was fought in their town? Do you think people were hurt? What happened to the town after the battle was over?" 

Explain that there were hardships almost every time civilians found themselves in the path of large numbers of Civil War soldiers. 


Activity One: Primary Source Investigation

  1. Assign half of the pair of students to Minerva McClatchey. Assign the other half of your pairs to Lucinda Hardage

  2. Have all pairs of students read about their individual using the vocabulary list and definitions if necessary. Tell students they should be prepared to explain who wrote the document and what it was about. 

  3. Match pairs of students so a pair with Ms. McClatchey is matched with a pair with Ms. Hardage. Give students 5 minutes to tell their group mates what document they read, who wrote it, and what it was about. 

  4. Hand out the “Questions, Problems, or Concerns” worksheet for the students to complete as a group of four. They should complete one worksheet for each document. 

  5. Instruct the student groups to identify and discuss 5 problems civilians living in Marietta would have faced during and after the battle of Kennesaw Mountain. Then, identify and discuss 5 actions they took in response to these hardships. They should be prepared for a class discussion on this topic.

Activity Two: Problems, Problems

  1. On the smart board, overhead, or bulletin board, place the words “Problem” and “Action.” 
  2. Elicit examples of problems the two women faced from each student group. Write each example on the board under "Problem."
  3. Once the problems have been determined, conduct a class discussion about what actions the civilians took in response. Write each example on the board under "Action."
  4. Discuss other consequences which might have been experienced by civilians in other places throughout the war. (Students can read about more non-soliders involved in the Civil War to help with this discussion.)


  • Anecdote - a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person.

  • Avail - to use or take advantage of. 

  • Chivalry - the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.

  • Cordially - with a warm and friendly tone.

  • Correspond - communicate by exchanging letters.

  • Corpulent - fat or overweight. 

  • En route - on the way or during the course of a journey. 

  • Entrench - establish an attitude, habit, or belief so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely.

  • Inoffensive - not objectionable or harmful.

  • Laden - heavily loaded or weighed down.

  • Legion - a type of early combined arms unit, comprising a mix of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, though not necessarily all three.

  • Malaria - a fever caused by a parasite that invades the red blood cells. The parasite is transmitted by mosquitoes. 

  • Oath - a solemn promise. 

  • Pacify - to bring peace. 

  • Parlor - a sitting room in a private house. 

  • Perpetuate - to make something continue indefinitely. 

  • Provisions - an amount supplied or provided. 

  • Recollection - a memory. 

  • Refugee - a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war or persecution. 

  • Reprimand - an official rebuke or scolding. 

  • Slate - a flat piece of slate used for writing on, typically framed in wood, formerly used in schools.

  • Typhoid - an infectious bacterial fever with an eruption of red spots on the chest and abdomen and severe intestinal irritation.

  • Veranda - a roofed platform or porch along the outside of a house, level with the ground floor.

  • Wretch - an unfortunate or unhappy person.

Assessment Materials

Journaling as a Civil War Civilian

Students will write a journal entry in which they envision that they are a civilian who lived through the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and its aftermath. They will use their “Questions, Problems, or Concerns” worksheet and notes from the class discussion in order to include at least three problems and actions/responses.

Evaluate using Georgia Standard(s) of Excellence and the Analyzing Primary Sources Teachers Edition from the Library of Congress.  

Supports for Struggling Learners

  • Give each group only one individual to read and discuss together. Come together as a class to discuss that one individual. Then, repeat the process with the second individual.
  • Read the primary sources together as a class and highlight the vocabulary from the lesson.
  • Instruct volunteer students to paraphrase the primary source for the class to check for understanding.
  • Instead of a journal entry, instruct students to complete a graphic organizer.
  • Visit each battlefield location from the primary sources on Google Maps as a class before starting the activities.

Enrichment Activities

Activity 3: Vocabulary Practice
Give each student three Vocabulary Graphic Organizer worksheets. Each student chooses three vocabulary words from the list above and completes one worksheet per word. Students create a pictorial illustration and write a word meaning in their own words. Reinforce that "stick figures" are fine. 

Activity 4: Dynamite Drawings
Provide students with the links for the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park's site bulletins titled New Salem Community and Lucinda Hardage. Instruct students to use a blank sheet of paper to illustrate one picture that would go along with the site bulletin they choose. The picture has to illustrate one point from the passage and display historical accuracy.

Additional Resources

Hardage Obituary

T. Conn Bryan (Ed.) “A Georgia Woman’s Civil War Diary: The Journal of Minerva Leah Rowles McClatchey, 1864-65.” The GA Historical Quarterly Vol. 51, No. 2 (June, 1967), pp 197-216.

T. A Scott (Ed.) “Cornerstones of Georgia History: Documents That Formed the State.” University of Georgia Press. (Jan, 2011).


Related Lessons or Education Materials

Check out all of our lessons on the Kennesaw Mountain's Curriculm Materials page. 

Check out all classroom lessons, field trips, and virtual program about the Civil War on the National Park Service's Educators page.


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Last updated: August 19, 2021