Lesson Plan - 1864-1865: Bringing the War to an End
Civil War
Lesson Plan

1864-1865: Bringing the War to an End

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A Civil War Curriculum Lesson

Grades: Middle School 

Approximate Length of Time: 50 minutes

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


  1. After receiving information on the election of 1864, students will discuss both Lincoln’s and McClellan’s views on the war and what the outcomes might be for each candidate.
  2. Students will be able to create a timeline and map illustrating the sequence of events leading to the end of the war.
  3. Students will summarize the Articles of Agreement from the Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
  4. Students will discuss the emotional response of soldiers in both armies during the surrender.


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

  • Bringing the War to an End PowerPoint
  • Lincoln & McClellan Cards
  • Chicago Platform
  • Baltimore Platform
  • What Do You Think? Notes Sheet
  • Timeline Worksheet and Map
  • Articles of Agreement
  • Articles of Agreement Teacher Version

Anticipatory Set/Hook:

  1. Explain that at this point the situation is looking up for the United States, with victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg; however, some people are tired of war and are looking for a way to end it soon.
  2. Discuss how Lincoln has served one four-year term as president.  How do you think the election is going to go? Do you think Lincoln will be reelected or will someone else become president? While Lincoln believes that it is important to keep fighting to bring the Southern states back into the Union, what do you think his opponent believes?


Print out the PowerPoint with notes prior to class. There are notes included with the slides that can be on the printed slides, but won’t be seen by your students during the presentation.

Activity 1

  1. Hand out the Lincoln & McClellan Cards to students; there should be around the same number of Lincolns and McClellans.
  2. Hand out the Baltimore Platform to all of the Lincolns and the Chicago Platform to all of the McClellans.
  3. Begin Bringing the War to an End PowerPoint.
  4. Have the students skim their given platforms, paying particular attention to the bolded text.
  5. Put all of the Lincolns in one group and all of the McClellan in another.
  6. 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 2

  1. Continue to follow Bringing the War to an End PowerPoint.
  2. Hand out the Timeline Worksheet and Map, copied back to back.
  3. Have students complete the Timeline Worksheet and Map.

Activity 3

As a class, read the Articles of Agreement and make notes under each item.


  1. Read the last quotes from Chamberlain and Lee on the Bringing the War to an End PowerPoint.
  2. As a group, discuss the final questions: Based on the quotes from Lee and Chamberlain, and the Articles of Agreement, how do you think the country feels about the Confederate forces at the end of the war? How do you think the Confederate soldiers feel at this point?”

Assessment in this Lesson:

  1. Completed What Do You Think? Notes Sheet, with answers based on the platform reading.
  2. Informal assessment through observation of group debate.
  3. Completed timeline, map, and map question on the Timeline Worksheet & Map.
  4. Informal assessment through note taking on the Articles of Agreement.
  5. Oral response to final questions.