Civil War began in 1861 when Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina. Children can view images of Fort Sumter today and the fort during the Civil War at: http://www.nps.gov/fosu/index.htm. Children could color on a map the states that became the Confederacy, the states that remained in the Union, and the areas that were not states then. The Civil War ended April 9, 1865.
Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. Juneteenth is a portmanteau of the words June and nineteenth and commemorates the day in 1865 when slaves were given their freedom in Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued January 1, 1863, slaves in Texas were not given their freedom until several months after the conclusion of the Civil War, on June 19, 1865. Congress designated Juneteenth as a federal holiday on June 16, 2021; President Biden signed the official document making it a federal holiday on June 17, 2021. Children can learn more about: Juneteenth.
The Battle of Gettysburg began in 1863. Many experts call this battle the turning point of the Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee led his troops across the Mason-Dixon Line, heading for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. However, the northern troops, led by General George Mead, met the Confederate troops at Gettysburg. The battle lasted for three days. On the last day of the battle, the rebel troops commenced Picket’s Charge. Fifteen thousand troops tried to assail the Union’s position. The northern troops held, and Lee lost the battle. Idea: Children could make a timeline of the battle. Michael Shaara’s book, Killer Angels, offers in-depth looks at the people fighting on both sides. Children could visit a website at: http://www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm.
Battle of Antietam occurred in 1862. This Civil War battle was called America’s bloodiest day because over 25,000 soldiers were killed on the shores of the Potomac River. Children could learn more at: Battle of Antietam.
Gettysburg Address was delivered by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The Civil War battlefield was being dedicated as a national cemetery. While keynote speaker Edward Everett spoke for more than two hours, Lincoln’s speech lasted just two minutes. However, the speech stands today as one of the best pieces of oration ever written. The Library of Congress stores the actual written speeches. Children can read the words of the Gettysburg Address at: Gettysburg Address.
Julia Ward Howe published “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as a poem in The Atlantic Monthly in 1862. The poem was a result of a visit she made to a Union army camp during the Civil War. Soldiers had asked her to create the lyrics of a “fighting song” to match a melody that already existed. She awoke one dawn and the words began to form the verses. She got up and wrote down the poem immediately. Children can read the lyrics and view a photograph of Julia Ward Howe at: Lyrics. Children can listen to the song at: Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Monitor and Merrimac, two ironclad ships, battled in 1862 during the Civil War. The Merrimac, a Confederate vessel, and the Monitor, a Union ship, exchanged fire. Both pulled away after about two hours. Neither ship was severely damaged. Children could learn more at: Monitor and Merrimac.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, was published in 1852. Over 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the first year of publication. Some experts believe the book was a catalyst for the Civil War. Children can read Uncle Tom’s Cabin at: Project Gutenberg. Children can learn more about the author at: Harriet Beecher Stowe.