Bringing the War to an End 1864-1865: Traditional High School Lesson Plan

Grades: High School

Approximate Length of Time: 90 minutes

Goal: Students will be able to summarize the sequence of events that led to the end of the Civil War.


  1. Students will develop a hypothesis to a question, which they will evaluate throughout their research.
  2. Students will be able to analyze the platforms of both Lincoln and McClellan during the 1864 election and determine the desires of the nation at this point in the war.
  3. Students will be able to create a timeline and map illustrating the sequence of events leading to the end of the war.
  4. Students will be able to summarize the Articles of Agreement from the Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia and draw conclusions about the feelings of the US military toward the Confederate military.
  5. Students will identify the influence this time period has on present day politics and current events.

Common Core Standards:

Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

NCSS Standards for Social Studies:

2—Time, Continuity, and Change
3—People, Places, and Environment
5—Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
6—Power, Authority, and Governance
10—Civics, Ideals, and Practices


  1. Bringing the War to an End PowerPoint
  2. Lincoln & McClellan Cards
  3. Chicago Platform
  4. Baltimore Platform
  5. What Do You Think? Notes Sheet
  6. What Do You Think Teacher Questions
  7. Timeline Worksheet and Map
  8. Articles of Agreement
  9. Articles of Agreement Teacher Version
  10. The Last Salute to the Army of Northern Virginia and Essay


Throughout the lesson, follow the Bringing the War to an End PowerPoint.

  1. The PowerPoint will provide prompts for when to do the activities.
  2. There are online videos referred to in the PowerPoint that should be queued ahead of time.
  3. There may be words, locations, or people that the students do not know mentioned throughout the lesson. Let them know that this is a normal part of learning history and like all historians, they should identify what they don’t know and do a bit of research to gain insight (most times this research can be done in a few minutes).
  4. Begin the PowerPoint – slide two will provide the setting for this point in the war.
  5. Hypothesize together: Based on what you know about the war so far, what do you think it will take to bring the war to an end?

Activity 1

  1. Hand out the Timeline Worksheet and Map, copied back to back.
  2. Have students complete the Timeline and Map Worksheet.

Activity 2

  1. Hand out the Lincoln & McClellan Cards to students; try to have the same number of Lincolns and McClellans.
  2. Hand out the Baltimore Platform and the Chicago Platform to all the students, everyone can read over both platforms.
  3. Put all of the Lincolns in one group and all of the McClellans in another.
  4. Hand out the What Do You Think? Notes Sheet and have students work together to gather their ideas for a debate, filling out the note sheet as they go.

Activity 3

  1. Hand out the Articles of Agreement and The Last Salute to the Army of Northern Virginia. Have the students complete the notes and answer the questions.


  1. Address the final question, you can either discuss as a group or have the students create a written response. Students should compare their final answers to their earlier hypothesis.
  2. Discuss the Why Does this Matter questions in the final slide.

Assessment in This Lesson:

  1. Completed the What Do You Think? Notes Sheet with answers based on the platform reading.
  2. Informal assessment through observation of the debate and group conversation.
  3. Completed timeline, map, and map question.
  4. Written responses to the Articles of Agreement and The Last Salute of the Army of Northern Virginia.
  5. Responses to the final question – What did it take to bring the war to an end?
  6. Responses to the – "Why Does this Matter?" question.