Default Learn Horses 2
Civil War
Lesson Plan

Joshua Chamberlain

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3rd Place, Best Lesson Plan Contest 2011-2012

Grade Level: Middle School, High School; could also be used for 5th grade gifted/talented enrichment

Approximate length of time: Four, 50-minute periods

Goal: Students will analyze and judge decisions and actions that Joshua Chamberlain took during, and at the surrender, of the Civil War.


After reading and discussing the two articles, students will create a Force Field Analysis map to weigh whether Joshua Chamberlain deserved the credit he received for his Civil War efforts.

Materials Used:

Download the lesson plan, along with the following materials, at the bottom of this page.

  • Defense of Little Round Top by James Brann
  • The Last Salute of the Army of Northern Virginia by Joshua Chamberlain
  • Arrows copied on red paper and arrows copied on green paper
  • Black markers
  • Large, colored construction paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Scoring Rubric

Anticipatory Set/Hook:

Was Joshua Chamberlain really a war hero?



Question:  What battle was Joshua Chamberlain known for?
Answer:  Gettysburg and Little Round Top

Question:  When did Gettysburg happen during the war and why was it important?
Answer:  1863, this is considered the turning point of the war

Question:  What was Chamberlain’s motto, or the quote that he lived his life by?
Answer:  “Do It, that’s how!”

Day 1-2:

  1. As a class, read and discuss “Defense of Little Round Top.”  See discussion points below.
  2. As students read, have them highlight points that support Chamberlain as a hero in one color, and points that refute that Chamberlain was a war hero in another color.
  3. After reading and highlighting the article, have students summarize points from the article. Those points that support Chamberlain being a hero go on the green arrows, and those that refute that Chamberlain is a hero go on the red arrows.

Discussion Points:

  • Why was Little Round Top such an important aspect to the battlefield at Gettysburg?
  • The 20th Maine was not the only brigade present, so why does Chamberlain get all the credit for saving Little Round Top?
  • Chamberlain had no army experience prior to the Civil War, is it fair that he was promoted to be a commanding officer?
  • How does Chamberlain treat the mutineers from the 2nd Maine?  Why do you think he did this?
  • Why might Chamberlain’s account of what happened at the battle different from what other people said?
  • Should Color Sgt. Andrew Tozier have received more credit than he did for his role in the battle?

Day 2-3:

  1. As a class read and discuss, “The Last Salute of the Army of Northern Virginia.”
  2. Again, have students summarize points from the article and write them on the appropriately colored arrows.

Discussion Points:

  • Why is it important to get Chamberlains views on the war as well as the views of other authors? 
  • Why is it significant that Chamberlain says that there aren’t any official documents about the Surrender at Appomattox Courthouse?
  • Why do you think that Chamberlain says: ‘”That night we slept as we had not slept in four years,”’ after the South surrendered?
  • Why does Chamberlain take the time to describe how the troops were set up during the surrender?
  • Why were soldiers from both the North and South so emotional at this surrender?
  • Why is it important that Southern officers were allowed to keep their arms and horses if they were their own property?  Do you believe the South would have been as chivalrous in surrender if they had won? 

Day 3-4:  Constructing and Presenting Force Field Analysis Map

  1. Students will finish any additional arrows that they may want to do based on previous knowledge, or additional ideas from the reading.
  2. Students then take a large piece of construction paper in their group and draw a black line with marker along the center.  Paper should be oriented the long way.
  3. Students should then cut out their arrows and place the arrowheads facing the black line on their paper.  Green arrows show be below the line and face up, red arrows should be above the line and face down.  Students will glue their arrows down.
  4. One member of the group will serve as a reporter, and will explain the ideas with which the group determined.  The group members should discuss whether they believe their map is representative as Chamberlain.


The number of arrows in green or red will determine if the group supports whether Chamberlain was a war hero or not.  During presentation of their Force Field Analysis Map, students may discuss if their own opinions and those of the group differed from what they created on the map.


This lesson could easily be completed electronically as well.