Aug 25

On the Lives of Soldiers 8-3.5

For this lesson, students will be using excerpts from Charles Crosland’s Reminiscences of the Sixties 9. This lesson seeks to test the students’ ability to use prior knowledge to draw inferences from accounts of specific events, as well as gain perspective from those who lived through them. The goal is for students to gain a sense of the daily life of soldiers and citizens charged with protecting Charleston.

Click here to download the full lesson with attached handouts. On the Lives of Soldiers

Historical Background

“Although most of the fighting of the Civil War took place in northern Virginia and along the Mississippi River, there were several specific events that took place at geographic locations in South Carolina. The first shots of the war were fired at Fort Sumter when northern ships attempted to re-supply the federal fort in Charleston Harbor. The first major setback for the Confederate Army was the capture of areas surrounding Port Royal Sound along the coast near Hilton Head by Union troops. These areas remained under Union control throughout the Civil War. The Union strategy was to prevent ships from importing or exporting from South Carolina ports. The Northern blockade was effective in South Carolina despite the efforts of blockade runners and the use of a new technology, the submarine such as the Hunley. The blockade was devastating to the South because it kept the Confederate Army from receiving supplies. Union forces laid siege to Charleston attacking from Port Royal and bombarding the city for over a year.  During this campaign, the 54th Massachusetts unit of African American soldiers led the charge on Fort Wagner at the mouth of Charleston Harbor.”


South Carolina Social Studies Support Document, Grade 8, 2008 http://ed.sc.gov/agency/Standards-and-Learning/Academic-Standards/old/cso/social_studies/social.html


For this lesson, students will be using excerpts from Charles Crosland’s Reminiscences of the Sixties 9 (available from the University of South Carolina Digital Collections).  Published in 1910, this is an account of the Civil War from a confederate officer from Bennettsville, SC.  Crosland was a young recruit from an affluent family that was sent to defend Charleston harbor in 1863.  In his account, Crosland describes camp life, as well as several military clashes with the Union, and even briefly mentions the sinking of the Housatonic by the Hunley.  Crosland also discusses the effects of the war on plantation life (8-3.6).  Page 16 discusses his efforts to rescue a blockade-runner, “The Little Ida”, from a Union ship.  Before teaching this lesson students should have basic knowledge of the Union’s efforts to blockade Charleston Harbor as part of the larger Anaconda Plan.  Students should also have basic geographic knowledge of Charleston harbor and the SC coastline and should be familiar with the location of sites such as Port Royal, Morris Island, Mt. Pleasant, and McClellanville.  Because Port Royal was seized by Union troops in 1861, Charleston was South Carolina’s only lifeline for supplies coming from abroad.  Blockade-runners made a dangerous but profitable living delivering goods past Union ships, and Confederate soldiers such as Crosland spent the duration of the war protecting Charleston from a direct invasion by Union troops.


South Carolina Standards

8-3.5 Compare the military strategies of the North and South with regard to specific events and geographic locations in South Carolina, including the capture of Port Royal, the Union blockade of Charleston, and Sherman’s march through the state.



  • Students will read and respond to questions to check for understanding.
  • Students will gain a sense of the daily life of soldiers and citizens charged with protecting Charleston during the Civil War.


Time Required                                                                    Recommended Grade Level

1 class period                                                                          Middle/High School


Lesson Materials


Lesson Preparation

  1. Download and print only pages 13-16 of Crosland’s account.
  2. Download and print Maps of Charleston Harbor circa 1860.
  3. Download and print student response questions


Lesson Procedure

  1. Teacher Introduction to Crosland, describe that he was an 18 year old raised in affluence who had never suffered hardships. (5 min.)
  2. Distribute copies of, or use attached link to have students read pages 13-16 of Crosland’s account. (20 min.)
  3. After students read the selection, they should respond to the prompts attached.  (20 min.)
  4. Once students respond to the short answer prompts, the teacher may ask the students to share their answers.  (10 min.)



Grade the student response for completion.  Students should answer each question in complete sentences and provide logical, original insight to open-ended questions.


Lesson Extension Options

Have students write a journal entry as if they were a Civil War soldier.


Digital Collections Information

This lesson plan is based on images and/or documents derived from the AccessAble Books Collection available from the University of South Carolina’s Digital Collections Library.


To see other collections that may be helpful to your search, visit the Digital Collections homepage or visit SCDL’s collections.