The Civil War for Fifth Graders
History & Social Science Virginia Standards of Learning US History to 1877, 1.9.- 1.10

The Confederate States | The North and South | Secession Events | Causes of the Civil War |
Influential People | Major Battles | Major Events | The Homefront | Battlefield Life | Constitutional Changes |
Reconstruction of a Nation | Site Dedication

Teacher Note:  Print the Treasure Hunt to help students gain a greater understanding of the information in this Website. 
For extension, link to this Civil War site and The Civil War for Kids for more interactive learning.

A civil war is a war between different groups of people who belong to the same country.  The American Civil War was fought between the North (Union states) and the South (Confederate states). It lasted from 1861-1865, triggered by the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860.  Lincoln wanted to end slavery and keep the Union together.  

The conflict between the North (the Yankees) and the South (the Rebels) started because of their different ways of living.  The North wanted the South to give up their farms, build factories, and abolish slavery.  Congress treated the slaves as personal property and would not take away rights of ownership.  

Thus, America began the conflict that would take the lives of more than 620,000 of its citizens and injure more than 375,000.  Most of the battles took place in the South and the recovery from the destruction took many years.  This site is intended to help fifth graders better understand t
his part of history and is dedicated to a special Civil War historian. 

Rebflag.gif (16401 bytes)The Confederate StatesRebflag.gif (16401 bytes) 
    (States that seceded from the Union)      

wpe2.jpg (5729 bytes)


North Carolina
South Carolina

Border slave states that remained loyal to the Union:

Delaware      Kentucky      Maryland      Missouri

(Western counties of Virginia refused to secede from the Union)





factories, favored taxes that protected them from foreign competition

large plantations, opposed taxes that would raise prices and hurt sales to New England states

money not plentiful, but developing

prospered from farming tobacco & cotton

Cultural Differences

freedom for slaves

depended on slavery

urban society, people held jobs

lived in small villages and on farms

Constitutional Differences

Strong central government, wanted the nation to stay together

State's rights important (secession)

USA Flag CarrierSecession Events CSA Flag Carrier

Attempted Compromises: The Missouri Compromise (1820), kept a voting balance of a slave state (Missouri) and a free state (Maine).  Compromise of 1850, California was a free state, Southwest territories would decide about slavery.  Kansas-Nebraska Act, popular sovereignty decided the issue of slavery in the state.

Republican Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated President on March 4, 1861.

Southern states feared there would be no new slave states.

Southern leaders thought their power in the House would decline as free states joined

Southern states wanted the right to declare any national law illegal.

Northern states wanted the national government's power to be supreme over the states.

Causes of the Civil War

The North and the South had different attitudes toward slavery, free labor (paid) versus slave labor (unpaid)

Confederate troops bombarded a Union stronghold, Fort Sumter, Charleston,
South Carolina, April 12, 1861.

Ways of life were different for both sides: plantations versus factories.

On state's rights the North argued no state had a right to secede from the Union,
South argued a state could leave the Union if it voted to do so.

new.gif (130 bytes)  Fort Sumter Art Activity for Fifth Graders

Influential People of the Civil War

Abraham Lincoln
President of the U.S.
Opposed slavery (Emancipation Proclamation)
Believe the U.S. was one nation, not individual states

Jefferson Davis
President of the Confederate States

Ulysses S. Grant
General of the Union army that defeated General Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee
Leader of the Army in Northern Virginia
Offered the Union command, but chose not to fight against Virginia
Opposed secession, but didn't want to force unity
Urged Southerners to accept defeat and reunite

Frederick Douglass
Former slave who escaped to the North and became an abolitionist


Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
One of the most skilled Confederate generals, from Virginia

Major Civil War Battles

On April 12, 1861 at 4:30 A.M. the first shot hurtled over Fort Sumter, at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.  This was the beginning of the Civil War.  Union troops, were forced to leave the fort the following day.  The U.S. flag was not raised again at Fort Sumter until February 18, 1865.  The fort was not of military importance, but a symbol to both sides. 

First Battle at Bull Run (1861) was the first major battle.  It was suppose to be the shortest and the end to the brand new war. Volunteer soldiers lined-up in colorful, clean uniforms waiting for the event to begin. People with picnic baskets sat on the hillsides as the troops battled. After ten hours of fighting, 900 soldiers lay dying as the Union troops retreated to Washington. 

Known as the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the
Battle of Shiloh caused more than 23,500 men to be killed or missing.  From this important battle, General Grant knew that the South would not be pushovers. 

Battle of Antietam (1862) saw General Lee lead the Confederate troops into the North.  The battle was not a decisive victory for either side.  This battle led to the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. 

The village of Gettysburg

On July 3, 1861, Lee’s troops fought against General George Mead’s army at the
Battle of Gettysburg.  This was the turning point in the war.  Meade lost 70% of his men, but 4,000 Confederate soldiers were captured. 

From December 1862 to July 1863, the
Battle of Vicksburg was fought in Mississippi.  This Union victory split the Confederacy in two, with the North controlling the Mississippi River.  Grant had twice as many soldiers as confederate soldiers were starving and low on ammunition when General Pemberton surrendered.

jd.jpg (1149 bytes)Fort Sumter April 12, 1861

jd.jpg (1149 bytes)First Battle at Bull Run (Manassas) July 21, 1861

jd.jpg (1149 bytes)Shiloh April 6, 1862

jd.jpg (1149 bytes)Antietam Sept. 16, 1862

abeflag.gif (3291 bytes)Gettysburg July 1, 1863

abeflag.gif (3291 bytes)Vicksburg July 4, 1863

Battle Locations Across the Nation

Major Events

The Emancipation Proclamation, in January, 1863, made "freeing the slaves" the focus of the war.  Many freed slaves joined the Union.  

In the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln said the Civil War was to preserve a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865, ending the Civil War.

Lee said of the terms that Grant had written, "You have been very generous to the South."

The Homefront

At home, families and friends were on opposite sides of the war.  Southern troops were young and poorly equipped.  Much of the war took place in the South.  Large cities like Atlanta and Richmond were destroyed and devastated with disease.  Battle was often man-to-man.  Women were left to run businesses and farms throughout the country.  The collapse of the South made Confederate money worthless.

Clara Barton
Clara Barton known as the "Angel of the Battlefields" was a famous Civil War nurse to wounded Union troops.  She was the founder of the American Red Cross in1881. After the war, she opened the Missing Soldier Office.  The government gave her $15,000 in federal money and her own staff.  As soon as the word spread, Clara got many letters looking for lost men and boys.  She made contacts with the families herself.  Soon after, she went to Andersonville, Georgia where almost 80,000 soldiers were prisoners of the war.  When she closed the office in 1868, she was able to find information on more than 22,000 soldiers.

Battlefield Life

Most Civil War soldiers did not travel before they joined the army.  The Blue and Gray soldiers were homesick for their families.  The only way they could contact each other was by letter writing.  Each day, 90,000 letters passed through Washington, D.C., even more through Kentucky.  Soldiers used lead pencils, because pens and ink were very rare.

African Americans fought in both armies.  The Confederacy used slaves as naval crew members and soldiers and the Union enlisted them early in the war.  African soldiers did not have equal pay and were discriminated against while serving in segregated units.  Robert Smalls, a sailor and later an honored Union naval captain went on to become a Congressman after the war ended..

Letters from soldiers

Letter from Sullivan Ballou to his wife, Sarah

new.gif (130 bytes) Writing Activities for Fifth Graders

Constitutional Changes

Amendment 13 - Abolishment of Slavery
Amendment 14 - Equal Protection of the Laws
Amendment 15 - Voting Rights for All

Reconstruction of a Nation

Reconstruction after the Civil War was the process of reorganizing the southern states into the Union.  Throughout the South, livestock had been killed, as plantations and industries were destroyed.  Productivity levels slowed down, and Southern productivity had depended on slave labor, which no longer existed.  

Without slaves after the war southern landholders reduced the size of their plantations.  Landowners had to sell large portions of land. The concept of sharecropping began in the South.  A tenant or sharecropper agreed to give the landowner, as rent, a portion of the crop raised from his labor. Sharecropping kept newly freed slaves in debt to landowners.  

As the northern cities were building industries with the help of immigrants, the southern cities were trying to rebuild their lives.

Reconstruction policies were put into place after the war.  Southern military leaders could not hold office.  Southerners resented "Carpetbaggers" from the north.  African-Americans were allowed to hold public offices and had equal rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

Link to more Reconstruction information.

Site Dedication...

"It is more of a sport than a hobby, for me…" 
jay.JPG (440714 bytes)  
                  --- Jay Monahan on re-enactment portrayals (1997)

John Paul "Jay" Monahan, III, my second cousin, was a long-time history enthusiast who became interested in the Civil War, while attending Washington and Lee University (1973-1977) in Lexington. Jay was a founder and president of The Stonewall Jackson Brigade, in Woodstock, Virginia. He helped rescue the historic Kernstown Battlefield, from auction, by securing government funds to protect the areas once occupied by Generals Jackson, Shields, Early, and Cook. Jay participated in a dozen Civil War re-enactments in the Virginia area. While performing the position of Bugler for The Valley Light Horse Calvary, Jay studied the important functions needed for delivering the calls to the battlefield troops. He admired Generals Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Harry Gilmore of the 2nd Maryland Calvary. His favorite battles were at Fisher's Hill (September 22, 1864), Tom's Brook (October 9, 1864), and Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864, when 18,000 Rebel troops surprised 31,000 troops of the Army of the Shenandoah). Jay was an avid collector of war relics and Civil War documents. He was instrumental in writing a Congressional bill that formed The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District Commission. Its mission is to preserve, interpret, and increase awareness of the history surrounding the battlefields of the Shenandoah Valley. This site is dedicated to Jay's legacy and the pride he shared with battlefield comrades. He fought like a courageous soldier before he passed away in January, 1998 at age 42. Though he left us too soon, Jay's contributions to the preservation of the history he loved and appreciated will live on.
(Virginia Senate Resolution 221, 1998 in honor of John Paul Monahan, III.)

Civil War Credits

Questions or comments

Teaching Across Virginia's Curriculum At Home or School

Site updated: March 2004