Civil War Crier


Notes to the Teacher


You are a team of newspaper reporters, living in the civil war era. Battles are raging all around you: brother pitted against brother; father against son; neighbor against neighbor. Golden meadows and rolling hills you and your friends once played in are becoming soaked in crimson with the blood of a nation's most valued resource; it's citizenry. What was once a courageous new union is now being torn apart before your own eyes.


Your team is assigned the task of researching, writing, and editing a single edition of your newspaper that focuses on a specific battle during the civil war. Include in this edition: (1) a news article about the battle; (2) a human interest story; (3) an editorial; (4) and a letter to the editor from someone against the war (e.g., a soldier, a free black, a slave, a women, etc. ).


  • Establish the needed roles for each member of your group in order to get an edition of the paper published. For example: editor, news reporter, social or feature writer, a political cartoonist, a photographer, a obituary writer, or subscriber.
  • Decide as a group if you are to be a Union or a Confederate newspaper.
  • Pick a day in an important Civil War battle. Some major engagements of the war are Bull Run, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg.
  • Once you have decided on your battle, research the Internet and other resources for information that will answer the who, what, where, when and why of the battle.
  • Write the articles.
  • Edit the articles.
  • Publish the newspaper. The newspaper can be in paper, video, or multimedia format.


Historical Literature

  • Coming Fury By Bruce Canton
  • A Union Newspaper
  • A Confederate Newspaper


Books and Letters on the Internet

Listing of "American Civil War" Newspaper Articles

  • The Newspaper Editorial that COULD Have Won the Civil War For the ConfederatesAt times in journalism history editorials have even caused riots or duels. An editorial in the October 15,1864 edition of the Richmond Whig, and reprinted in the New York Times, almost brought defeat to the Union forces.
  • The Destruction of a Copperhead Newspaper (The Crisis a rebel newspaper in Columbus Ohio)The following is an account of the attack on The Crisis and is extracted from the diary of William J. Smith, Company M of the 2nd Volunteer Calvary.
  • How the South Gathered News During the Civil WarAlthough it played an important role in the Confederacy, not much has been written about the Southern press. In many ways editorial reactions were the same in the North and South during the Civil War. For example, Southern editors were highly critical of military strategies, and journalists such as Robert Barnwell, editor of the Charleston Mercury, attacked the Confederate administration just as violently as Lincoln was being attacked in the North. War aims were not as much of an issue as they were in the North, however, nor was there anything quite corresponding to the Copperhead press.

A Group of Letters and documents from different archives


  • The Civil War Volume 1 1993 Display America
  • The Civil War Volume 2 1993 Display America

Learning Advice

Even though you will develop a leaning toward the views of the north or the south, remember your journalistic position and the responsibility to report the battle objectively. Human interest stories and editorials are the areas for you to interject your personal views. Keep in mind your audience at all times.

When writing your articles, be sure to reflect the conditions of the time. Here are samples of the kinds of questions you may want to ask as you are researching:

  • What was life for a soldier like then? (ie. dress, food, medicine, home life)
  • What were typical armaments? (personal and regimental)
  • How did the events of the battle affect the war?
  • What was the geography like, and did geography play any role or have any influence in the battle?
  • What did the soldiers think of the war at this time? (use diaries, letters home, or journals)
  • What was the media of the time saying about the battle vs. what actually was happening?
  • What part if any did political cartoons play in the war? Analyze the cartoon, decide what the artist is trying to convey .
  • Who were the military leaders in this battle?
  • What were the particulars of the battle? (ie. size of units, casualties, major turning points in the battle, participants in the battle)?
  • What political events which took place near the time of the battle?

Even though the Civil War took place in the 1800's, take advantage of the technology today. You can download maps or graphics and put them into your newspaper. Or, once you have gathered your resources and written your script, you might decide to use a multimedia program to create the presentation.

Most importantly, use your the talents of your team. Divide the tasks but share the ideas. Discuss your ideas with as many people on your team as possible. You might schedule regular team meetings throughout your project.


Your project will be evaluated on the following critiera:

  • Are all four articles in the project?
  • Are the articles clear and consise and well written?
  • Are your articles supported by accurate research?
  • Is your newspaper informative, persuasive, and appealing?


After researching and creating your own newspaper for the Civil War era, discuss in class what influence you think the printed media had on the general population, the everyday soldier and the overall outcome of the battle itself.


What effect did doing the research for this project have on you and your prior knowledge of the war? What do you think the public reaction to your articles would be?


  • Debate the issue of the importance propaganda plays in the outcome of wars in general.
  • Build a diorama to depict a scene from the battle.
  • Write an article predicting the outcome of the war based upon your battle being won by the other side.

Notes to the Teacher

Lesson Title: Civil War Gazette

Curricular Area: Social Science


  • Develop a keen sense of historical empathy
  • Undenstand the meaning of time and chronology
  • Analyze cause and effect
  • Recognize history as common memory, with polictical implications
  • Basic knowledge of the Civil War

Grade Level: 7th up

Length of Lesson: Three to Six weeks one period per day


  1. Presentation Software (Hyperstudio, PowerPoint or Astound), (optional)
  2. Video Camera and VCR, (optional)

Interdisciplinary Connections: Language Arts, Computer Science, Ethics

Prerequisite Learning:

  • Knowledge of some of the major leaders during the battle
  • Knowledge of some major battles.
  • Knowlege of the use of a web browser.
  • How to use search engines.


  • After the students have gained a general knowledge of the conflict, divide the class into groups.
  • Introduce the project, carefully going over each of the roles and the type of writing that will be necessary.
  • Let the students decide which article they will do and get them started on researching the needed information.
  • Make sure both the North and the South are evenly represented in the class.
  • Try to have at least one student in each group with home Internet access. This will allow the group to do research outside of school hours.

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