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Teaching History Blog

Comparing a Civil War Soldier to a Modern Soldier

       Learning Objectives: 
  1.  Compare and contrast the battlefield equipment and rucksack packing list of a Civil War soldier to a modern soldier. 
  2. Identify equipment and rucksack packing items of these American foot soldiers. 
  3.  Describe why soldiers have certain equipment then and now.
  4. Create a chart comparing Civil War soldier’s equipment and rucksack packing list to a modern soldier.
  5. Compose a double-spaced 3-5 page comparison essay describing what equipment a Civil War soldier carried into battle and what they carried with them while marching and contrasting that to what a modern soldier uses today.
Formative/Summative assignment
Outcome:  Students will compose a double-spaced 3-5 page comparison essay that describes the equipment carried into battle by a Civil War foot soldier and what they packed in their travel bags.

Assignment Description:  To better understand life as a Civil War soldier, students will compare and contrast the battle equipment soldiers used and the items they carried from camp to camp with the equipment of a modern soldier.  Ideally in a face-to-face class, a current US Army soldier would be invited to show and explain the modern equipment he or she currently uses.  In an online class, this could still take place with a guest speaker discussion, web conference session, or by video.  Students will then research the items a Civil War soldier carried (possibly divide the class into Northern and Southern soldiers to cover both sides and different experiences.)  While researching, students will create a chart comparing the Civil War and modern soldier’s equipment.  Then students will compose a comparison essay that contrasts the Civil War soldier’s and modern soldier’s equipment in battle and travel.  One side benefit for this assignment is that students will better understand the harsh conditions the Civil War soldiers experienced but also appreciate and better understand the lives of the men and women who currently fight for our country.

Steps and Instructor Notes:
  1. Arrange for a soldier to visit the class.  Outline for this volunteer the project expectations and request they bring equipment used in both the battlefield and in day-to-day life (what they would pack in their rucksack.  Be sure to confirm and get special permission with the school if any weapons were to be brought on campus, even army knives.  
  2.  Students will take notes to begin to build a comparison chart, but class could create one as a group, in teams, or pairs at next face-to-face meeting or on google docs.  
  3.  Provide library and research time for students to find both primary and secondary sources about what Civil War soldier’s equipment in the battlefields and in camp was like.
  4. Students will complete chart for Civil War Soldier.
  5. Students will compose a comparison essay that is double spaced and 3-5 pages in length.  The comparison chart should be a good resource for students while doing this essay.  Citation should be provided and instruction from the instructor regarding the citation of the modern soldier's visit to the classroom should be provided.

 Rubric is based on 100 points total but it is likely this assignment would take several days and is very dependent on participation which could be evaluated many different ways.
20 points-Student participated on the day of the guest-soldier lecture.
20 points-Student submitted a compare and contrast chart for a Civil War soldier and a modern soldier.
60 points-Student composed a grammatically sound, well organized 3-5 page double spaced comparison essay that was cited properly. 

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