- Y—Young (PreK-3rd)
- M—Middle (4th-6th)
- O—Older (7th-12th)
- T—Teacher Resources
General Civil War Resources
The Atlantic: Civil War Commemorative Issue
On the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, The Atlantic presented this commemorative issue featuring Atlantic stories by Mark Twain, Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and more.
The Civil War, Part 1: The Places
"Although photography was still in its infancy, war correspondents produced thousands of images, bringing the harsh realities of the frontlines to those on the home front in a new and visceral way." This article and its subsequent installments, The People and The Stereographs, include some of the best photographs from the war period.
Teaching Hard History: American Slavery (Teacher’s Guide)
This teacher’s toolkit is a collaborative project from Learning for Justice, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other institutions that identified gaps in knowledge in students’ understanding of the history of slavery and created a framework to close those gaps. It contains tips and resources for age-appropriate ways to teach both young children and older students about slavery, with guides for K-5 and 6-12 students. Included are key concepts, a database of age-appropriate primary sources, student texts, inquiry-based models, printable cards, a guide for teaching through children’s literature, quizzes, videos, podcasts, webinars, and more.
Teaching Hard History: American Slavery (Report)
The Teaching Hard History teacher’s guide from Learning for Justice is based on a multi-year study that identified gaps in knowledge in students’ understanding of the history of slavery – for instance, 68% of high school seniors don’t know that it took a constitutional amendment to formally end slavery and only 22% know that protections for slavery were embedded in the founding documents. The full report and explanation on the basis for the teacher’s guide is available on the Southern Poverty Law Center website.
Interactive Timeline: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861–1877
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has an interactive timeline of the Civil War, starting with the first secession of South Carolina in December 1860, to the end of Reconstruction in 1877. Each event on the timeline is accompanied by a primary source such as a photo, illustration, or other document.
Primary Source Timeline: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877
This primary-source based timeline from the Library of Congress chronicles events leading up to, during, and after the Civil War. Topics include: Abraham Lincoln's Presidency, the South during the Civil War, the North during the Civil War, African American Soldiers in the Civil War, Civil War soldier stories, Freedman, Reconstruction, and more.
History: Civil War Resources
A large collection of articles and videos from the History Channel covering Civil War events, people, and numerous other topics.
American Battlefield Trust: Civil War Lessons and Resources
American Battlefield Trust has an extensive collection of more than 3,000 Civil War teaching resources, including articles, lessons, interactive maps, videos, primary sources, and more. In particular, they offer fairly comprehensive coverage of Civil War battles, with individual pages for more than 100 of them.
National Park Service Civil War Website
The National Park Service Civil War website is the homepage for all of the NPS Civil War related parks and historic sites. It documents more than 400 historical locations, aggregates educational materials from various parks, and has tons of educational articles, videos, and more on Civil War topics and influential people.
Civil War Timeline
From The National Park Service
Did Quilts Hold Codes to the Underground Railroad?
An article from National Geographic that explores the symbols and codes that two historians say enslaved people may have used to navigate the Underground Railroad.
Civil War Reenactment Headquarters
The online source for Civil War Reenactment Events and Battle Schedules, Sutlers & Sponsors, Civil War Reenactors, and other useful Living History information.
The Declaration of Causes of the Seceding States
The full text of the declarations of secession for Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia from The American Battlefield Trust.
Primary Source Collection: Causes of the Civil War
Teaching American History has aggregated a collection of primary source documents for events leading up to the Civil War, including Congressional Acts, court cases, speeches, the Democratic and Republican party platforms, and more.
Civil War Soldier & Sailor System Database
The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) is a database containing information about the men who served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Other information on the site includes histories of Union and Confederate regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles, and selected lists of prisoner-of-war records and cemetery records. You can browse the records by Union, Confederacy, state enlisted, battle function, Black sailors, Prisoners of War, and more. From the National Park Service.
Digital Exhibition: Discovering the Civil War
Discovering the Civil War is the companion site to a National Archives exhibition. The site chronicles primary source documents by political documents and by topic, including Congressional Acts, Supreme Court cases, records for Black men in the Civil War, women in the Civil War, Black women in the Civil War, battles, and more. Also included is a collection of educator resources.
Digital Exhibition: The Civil War in America
“The Civil War in America assembles more than 200 unique items, many of which have never been seen by the public, to commemorate the sesquicentennial of this nation's greatest military and political upheaval.” A digital exhibition using primary sources from the Library of Congress.
Civil War Military Records
The National Archives is home to an extensive database of Civil War military records. You can find service, draft, pension, and service records, maps, photographs, accompanying teaching guides, and more.
Civil War Photos, Drawings, and Illustrations
Primary sources from the Library of Congress. The collection is categorized by: Civil War glass negatives and prints, photographs relating to the Civil War, portraits from the Union and Confederacy, documentary (eyewitness) drawings, stereograph cards, and illustrations from newspapers and media. You can browse the collection by type, topic, or creator.
Civil War Maps
A large collection of Civil War maps, charts, and atlases that depict battles, troop positions and movements, engagements, and fortifications. Also included are reconnaissance maps, sketch maps, coastal charts, and theater of war maps. From the Library of Congress.
Lessons and Study Units
LOC: Civil War Classroom Materials
A collection of primary-source based lessons and activities about the Civil War from the Library of Congress. Topics include: Abraham Lincoln's rise to prominence, depictions of African Americans during the Civil War, Civil War photographs, Civil War photojournalism, Civil War preceding events, and women in the Civil War.
DocsTeach: Primary Source Activities
A collection of primary-source based lessons and activities about the Civil War from DocsTeach. Topics include: Mapping slavery in the United States, the Fugitive Slave Act, Civil War recruitment posters, Black soldiers in the Civil War, Junteenth, Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus, other events that occurred during the Civil War era, Reconstruction, and more.
The Civil War: Film and Lesson Plans
The Civil War is a nine-part series by Ken Burns for PBS that explores the Civil War using archival images, newsreel footage of Civil War veterans, interviews with historians, and first-person accounts. Excerpts are available to watch on the PBS website, or the full series is available at most public libraries. PBS has an educational site to accompany the film that includes lesson plans, photos, videos, maps, timelines, biographies, and historical documents. Lessons are primarily for grades 6-12, but there are a few resources for grades 3-5.
EDSITEment lessons on Slavery, the Crisis of the Union, the Civil War and Reconstruction
EDSITEment has a collection of more than 40 lesson plans, activities, and other resources covering the Civil War that it has cataloged on this page by topic: Slavery and African Americans in Antebellum America, Causes of the War, Abraham Lincoln and the Course of the War, The Art and Literature of the Civil War, Reconstruction and After in Art and Culture, and Related EDSITEment Websites. Each section contains around 5-10 lessons or activities.
Unit: The Civil War Era (1844-1877)
In addition to the Civil War, this Khan Academy unit also covers events leading up to the Civil War and Reconstruction. Topics covered include the Mexican-American War, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Dred Scott v. Standford, Civil War battles, and Reconstruction.
Unit: Mr. Nussbaum’s Civil War Resources for Kids
Mr. Nussbaum’s site has a collection of lessons, activities, informational pages, and other resources for kids covering the Civil War. Topics covered include: Civil War battles, the causes of the Civil War, effects of the Civil War, people of the Civil War, the Union and the Confederacy, and Women in the Civil War. Designed for grades 3-6.
Civil War Unit - from Small Planet
This unit study from Small Planet contains a large list of non-fiction and historical fiction books related to the Civil War, several activities, and tons of links to other Civil War sites. Designed for upper elementary students.
Civil War Historic Places
Gettysburg National Military Park Virtual Tour of the Battlefield
This Virtual Tour is led by Christopher Gwinn, Chief of Interpretation and Education at Gettysburg National Military Park. The Virtual Tour is built around each of the sixteen Auto Tour stops and provides a comprehensive and immersive experience of the Battle of Gettysburg. Best of all, you can visit the battlefield anytime and from anywhere! Experience the battlefield from home or take us along when your visit brings you to the hallowed ground of Gettysburg itself.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry is best known for its role in the Civil War as the location of John Brown's raid on the Armory in 1859. The website offers many links to educate history buffs on the people and stories involved with that time in American history.
Civil War along the Buffalo River
The Civil War in this area pitted families and neighbors against one another. The most visible effect of the Civil War was the burning of numerous homesteads, striping the land, and the total disruption of family and community life. Bat Guano in caves was used to make gunpowder.
The Civil War on the Outer Banks
The barrier islands of the North Carolina coast are a gateway to the rest of the state. The Civil War battles on the Outer Banks were pivotal for control of North Carolina. A Freedmen's Colony on Roanoke Island became a symbol of hope for slaves seeking a new life.
Gettysburg National Military Park
The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War. It was the war's bloodiest battle with 51,000 casualties. The Union victory ended General Robert E. Lee's second and most ambitious invasion of the North. If you can’t visit the park in person, you can find a large collection of articles, photos, lessons, and other resources on the National Parks Service website.
Fort Scott National Historic Site
Fort Scott is a restored 1840s military fort that tells the story of the site's role in Westward Expansion, Bleeding Kansas, and the Civil War. Fort Scott served as a major supply depot for Union armies in the West, a general hospital for soldiers in the region and a haven for people fleeing the war-displaced Indians, escaped slaves, and white farmers. The website offers a movie link. The National Parks Service website offers a movie link, virtual tour, and lesson plans.
Arkansas Post National Memorial
Established in 1686, as the first semi-permanent French settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley. In 1783, the only Revolutionary War action in Arkansas occurred when Spanish and British soldiers clashed in a raid. The Arkansas Post became part of the United States following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. During the Civil War, Confederate troops build a massive earthen fortification known as Fort Hindman at the Post. It was destroyed by Union troops in January 1863. The National Parks Service website offers historical information, photos, and lessons about the post for those who cannot visit in person.
Battleground National Cemetery
One of the smallest national cemeteries in the country. The cemetery is the final resting place for 41 of the Union soldiers who fought at the nearby Battle of Fort Stevens, the only Civil War battle fought in the District of Columbia, and the only military engagement in United States history in which the president came under direct fire.
Antietam National Battlefield
Considered the bloodiest one day battle in American history occurred on September 17, 1862. Includes a number of multimedia presentations available for download. The National Parks Service website offers historical information, photos, lessons, activities, and more about the park for those who cannot visit in person.
Clara Barton National Historic Site
Clara Barton dedicated her life to help others both at home and abroad, in peacetime as well as during military emergencies. Glen Echo was her home the last 15 years of her life. You can learn about Clara Barton and find virtual tours and programming on the National Parks Service website.
Hispanics and the Civil War
From the National Park Service. Download this brochure which shares stories of people of Spanish ancestry who fought for both the Union and the Confederacy in the American Civil War.
Civil War Defenses of Washington
By 1865, the Union army had constructed 68 forts, 93 detached batteries for field guns, 20 miles of rifle pits, 3 wooden blockhouses, 32 miles of military roads, several stockaded bridgeheads, and four picket stations. You can learn about the battle and find videos, photos, artifacts, and more on the National Park Service website.
Fort Pulaski National Monument
In the 19th century, Masonry fortifications were the United States' main defense against overseas enemies. Standing guard over the Savannah River for over 150 years, Fort Pulaski was designed to protect the city of Savannah, GA by sea. During the Civil War, new technology helped the Union army cannon its way through the garrison. This site also offers a historical look a the people who inhabited Fort Pulaski and offers links to the Battle of Fort Pulaski.
Battle of Fredericksburg
From the National Park Service. The Battle of Frederickburg took place in December of 1862. The Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park website contains links for both kids and educators.
Andersonville National Historic
Andersonville was one of the Civil War's largest Confederate military prisons confining more than 45,000 Union soldiers. The website offers historical information about the prison for those who cannot visit in person.
Boston African American National Historic Site
The African Meeting House was built in 1806 to house the first African Baptist Church of Boston. It was the first African American Baptist church created north of the Mason Dixon Line and is now the oldest surviving black church building in America. In 1863, it served as a recruitment post for the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Regiment, which was the first official African American military regiment to fight for the Union in the Civil War. The National Park Service website offers historical information about the church, virtual tours, and more for those who cannot visit in person.
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
In 1863, Union and Confederate forces fought for control of Chattanooga, known as the "Gateway to the Deep South." The National Park Service website offers historical information, photos, and videos for those who cannot visit in person.
Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates the campaign, siege and defense of Vicksburg. Vicksburg was a fortress located on high ground guarding the Mississippi River. Its surrender on July 4, 1863, divided the South, and gave the North undisputed control of the Mississippi River. The website offers historical information about the siege for those who cannot visit in person.
Tupelo National Battlefield
Tupelo National Battlefield commemorates the July 14-15, 1864, Battle of Tupelo. Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest tried to cut the railroad supplying the Union's march on Atlanta. The National Park Service website offers historical information about the battle for those who cannot visit in person.
Appomattox Court House National Historic Site
On Palm Sunday, 1865, Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia signaled the end of the Southern States attempt to create a separate nation. The National Park Service site contains links for kids and educators, lessons, videos, a virtual tour, and a virtual photo of the area now and in 1865.
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee National Memorial
Arlington House was the home of Robert E. Lee and his family for thirty years. George Washington Parke Custis built the house in 1802 to be his home and a memorial to George Washington, his step-grandfather. Since then, the house has served as a family home, a military headquarters, a national cemetery, and more. The National Park Service website offers historical information about the house for those who cannot visit in person.
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historic Site
The area witnessed some of the most dramatic events of the Civil War, including the Battle of Cedar Creek, a decisive Union victory held on October 19,1864. The National Park Service website offers historical information about the site for those who cannot visit in person.
Manassas National Battlefield
Manassas National Battlefield commemorates two great battles of the American Civil War. The website offers historical information about the park for those who cannot visit in person.
Petersburg National Battlefield
Petersburg had five railroad lines and was a key supply center to the Confederate capital. The Siege of Petersburg lasted nine and a half months and is considered the Longest Military Event of the Civil War. The website offers historical information about the battle for those who cannot visit in person.
Richmond National Battlefield Park
Richmond, Virginia, served as the capital of the Confederate States of America during the Civik War. The city became the most important location for both sides of the conflict. The park preserves more than 1900 acres of Civil War resources in 13 units, including the main visitor center at the famous Tredegar Iron Works and the Chimborazo Medical Museum, on the site of Chimborazo Hospital. The National Park Service website offers historical information about Richmond for those who cannot visit in person.
General Grant National Memorial
General Ulysses S. Grant National Memorial is the largest tomb in North America. Grant's Tomb (as it is commonly called) is not only the final resting place of the General, but a memorial to his life and accomplishments. The National Park Service website offers historical information about Grant for those who cannot visit in person.
Fort Sumter National Monument
Where The American Civil War Began. On April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery opened fire on this Federal fort in Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later. Union forces would try for nearly four years to take it back. Fort Sumter is located on an island in Charleston harbor and is only accessible by boat. The website offers two brochures to download: Slavery: Cause and Catalyst of the Civil War, and Hispanics and the Civil War.
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
The site honors the life of the 17th President, Andrew Johnson. Johnson is known as the Defender of the Constitution for his work to reunify a nation torn apart by civil was after the assassination of President Lincoln. The National Park Service website offers lesson plans, a virtual tour, and more for those who cannot visit in person.
Shiloh National Military Park
Shiloh National Military Park contains four important Civil War entities: Shiloh Battlefield, Shiloh National Cemetery, Shiloh Indian Mounds, and Corinth Battlefield. The National Park Service website offers lesson plans, videos, and historical information about the park for those who cannot visit in person.
Stones River National Battlefield
The Battle of Stones River began on the last day of 1862 and was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War. The website offers historical information about the battle for those who cannot visit in person.
Fort Donelson National Battlefield
Unconditional surrender of Fort Donelson created jubilation throughout the North and silence in Dixie. It was the North's first major victory of the Civil War. The National Park Service website offers lesson plans, videos, and historical information for those who cannot visit in person.
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
Ulysses S. Grant is known as the victorious Civil War general who saved the Union and the 18th President of the United States. The historic site is the location of he and his wife’s family home, named White Haven. The National Park Service website offers lesson plans, videos, virtual tours, and historical information for those who cannot visit in person.
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Wilson's Creek was the second major battle of the Civil War, and the scene of the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed in combat. The website offers historical information about the battle for those who cannot visit in person.
Pecos National Historical Park
Pecos history includes the ancient pueblo of Pecos, Colonial Missions, Santa Fe Trail sites, 20th century ranching, and the site of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass. The website offers historical information about the park for those who cannot visit in person.
Monocacy National Battlefield
The battlefield is known as the location fro the Civil War battle that saved Washington, D.C. The National Park Service website offers lesson plans, videos, virtual tours, and historical information about the battle for those who cannot visit in person.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
The name Kennesaw means cemetery or burial ground in Cherokee. The Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield preserves a Civil War battleground of the Atlanta Campaign. The battle was fought here from June 19, 1864 until July 2, 1864. The National Park Service website offers lesson plans, videos, virtual tours, and historical information about the park for those who cannot visit in person.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Born into slavery, Frederick Douglass was a runaway slave, abolitionist, civil rights advocate, author and statesmen. The National Park Service website has lesson plans, videos, and information about Frederick Douglass' efforts to abolish slavery and his struggle for rights for all oppressed people.
Poison Spring State Park
The Red River Campaign National Historic Landmark is made up of three state historic parks; Poison Spring, Marks' Mills and Jenkins' Ferry. These parks were part of the Union Army's "Red River Campaign" in 1864.
Pea Ridge National Military Park
On March 7 & 8, 1862, 26,000 soldiers fought here to decide the fate of Missouri. The National Park Service website offers virtual tours and historical information about the battle for those who cannot visit in person.
Poetry, Walt Whitman, the Civil War, and Lincoln
The following links include a variety of resources, both primary and secondary, in various media. I suggest using the resources for background rather than as lessons and use the poetry itself to illuminate the Civil War experience. For more on poetry see our Homeschool Poetry resources.
- Walt Whitman, Patriot Poet (PBS, accompanying handout here)
- "Daybreak Gray and Dim" - How the Civil War Changed Walt Whitman's Poetry (National Endowment for the Humanities)
- Death and the Civil War (American Experience; includes poignant readings of Whitman's poetry with the backdrop of Civil War images)
- The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln (resources and video from American Experience)
- Virtual Tour of Ford's Theater
- Sparknotes for Whitman's Poetry
- Revising Himself - Wound Dresser (Library of Congress holdings)
- Leaves of Grass editions
- Audio recording of Whitman reading 4 verses of "America" (analysis of the authenticity of the recording is in the Wayback Machine here)
- Death of the "Good Gray Poet" (Article about Whitman's death in the evening bulletin of Maysville, Kentucky)