Why read stories about the American Civil War?

The American Civil War was a pivotal event in the history of the United States. Historical figures such as Lincoln and Davis and historical events such as the Battle of Gettysburg provide students with the opportunity to learn about Ideas Worth Teaching such as honor, mercy, and faith.

There are several components to this course.  The components are as follows:

1. Pre-Reading Questions (and answers)

2. Short Story (text)

3. Post-Reading Standardized Test Preparation Questions (and answers)

4. Postscript: this consists of one or more thinking/writing prompts.  No formal answers are given for the Postscript.

For each component, you can approach the work in whatever way is most convenient and/or agreeable to you.  For example, for the Pre-Reading Questions, you can download and print the PDF of the Pre-Reading questions, and then write your answers on the printed page.  Or you can write your answers in your writing journal.

For each story, there are several ways that you can interact with the text.  You can read the short story on your screen, or you can download and print the short story and then read the hard copy.

My recommendation is to print a copy of the story so that you can underline important passages as you read.

The Post-Reading Questions are intended to assist students in preparing for standardized tests.  These questions have been written so as to mirror questions that you might find on the SAT and/or ACT tests.

The Postscript is intended to be the real work of this lesson.  This is where you will consider the story and a writing/thinking prompt.  Your goal is to write a reasoned response to the prompt.  No formal answers are given for the postscript.


Something to Teach: The American Civil War contains the following stories:

Title: Nightmare

Idea Worth Teaching: Courage

Word Count: 1,835 words

Genre: historical fiction

Summary: The country has been torn apart by Civil War. The fighting between the North and the South takes a terrible toll on its people. The short story Nightmare is the story of Sergeant Claudius Sears and his struggle to make it through the night on the eve of battle.

Title: The Enemy is There

Idea Worth Teaching: Honor

Word Count: 410 words

Genre: historical fiction

Summary: The short story The Enemy is There is about two generals discussing the plan of attack on the eve of one of the most famous moments in American military history – Pickett’s Charge.

Title: With Malice Toward None

Idea Worth Teaching: Humanity

Word Count: 496 words

Genre: historical fiction

Summary: In a country torn apart by Civil War, one doctor sees beyond the North and the South. He sees only a need – to care for the wounded soldiers.

Title: …enough?

Idea Worth Teaching: Faith

Word Count: 605 words

Genre: historical fiction

Summary: Confronted with the horrors of war, a young nun tries to give comfort to a mortally wounded soldier. She wonders if her efforts are enough.

Title: Aftermath

Idea Worth Teaching: Freedom

Word Count: 722 words

Genre: historical fiction

Summary: The country has been torn apart by Civil War. This the story of an officer and a surgeon and their struggle to reconcile the price paid in suffering with the cost of freedom.

Title: Sinners

Idea Worth Teaching: Ethics

Word Count: 574 words

Genre: historical fiction

Summary: As the Union army marches through the South, it leaves a path of destruction in its wake. A young woman accuses an officer of committing a terrible sin, but the man leaves her with his own thoughts to ponder.

Title: Gut Shot

Idea Worth Teaching: Mercy

Word Count: 860 words

Genre: historical fiction

Summary: The short story Gut Shot is about a veteran who comes face to face with the suffering of an enemy soldier.  He has a choice to make.