Default Learn Antietam
Civil War
Lesson Plan

Antietam Animated Map

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Educator’s Guide

Grade Level : High School/Advanced Placement

Approximate Length of Time: 4 period or 2 blocks

Goal: By studying the Battle of Antietam students will gain an appreciation for the responsibility and influence of those in leadership roles.

NCSS Goals: I, II, IV, V, VI, X


Upon viewing the Civil War Trust’s Animated Map of the Battle of Antietam:

  1. Students will be able to verbally discuss key leadership moments throughout the battle, identifying a leader’s influence and analyzing the decisions that were made.
  2. Students will be able to identify and list characteristics of good leadership.


Download the lesson plan, along with the following materials, at the bottom of this page, and watch the Battle of Antietam In4 video.

  • Robert E. Lee’s Biography
  • George McClellan’s Biography
  • AP Hill’s Biography
  • Ambrose Burnside’s Biography
  • Military Rank and Organization chart
  • Discussion sheet


Step 1:

  1. Hand out a copy of the Military Rank and Organization chart to each student. Have the students review this document, it is going to come in handy throughout the animated map.
  2. Go over the maneuver of “flanking”
    • “Flanking” an enemy unit was another word for attacking it from the side.  Since tactics of the time demanded that soldiers fight in long lines to maximize firepower to their front, a flank attack would put the maximum amount of firepower from the attacking unit against a minimal amount of firepower from the defending unit.  Finding and striking the enemy’s flank was the core of Civil War strategy.
  3. Hand out and have students read the bios of Robert E. Lee, George McClellan, A.P. Hill, and Ambrose Burnside. This will provide them with background on a few of the major leaders in the Battle of Antietam.
  4. Discuss the Anticipatory Set discussion questions on the Discussion sheet.

Step 2:

  1. Begin the Battle of Antietam Animated Map
  2. After each section, stop and discussion the related questions on the Discussion sheet. 


Have students complete the sentence:
By studying the Battle of Antietam, it is clear that leadership…


Choose a key moment in the Battle of Antietam 

  1. Explain why this is a key moment in the battle
  2. Discuss three ways in which leaders on either side influenced this portion of the battle

For Advanced Students:

Pick one of the four: A.P. Hill, Robert E. Lee, George McClellan, Ambrose Burnside. 

Analyze their actions during the battle, identifying those you agree with as well as proposing alternatives to those you disagree with.  Give special consideration to the knowledge your chosen officer had or didn’t have that day.