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Glory on the Battlefield


SWBAT distinguish between the mass media/popular culture perspective of battlefield activities and the reality faced by soldiers

Students will

  • Complete a critical analysis of film segments and primary source documents about the Civil War to respond to questions, and
  • compare evidence of battlefield activities to versions presented in the mass media to generate a response to this question: Are battles glorious for the combatants?

Anticipatory Set

Use the following questions:

  • What is meant by glorious?
  • Where do we get the ideas that wars are glorious?
  • What are some of the symbols of glory related to wartime heroes? (Teachers should feel free to use modern examples of the US's most recent conflicts)

Central Question

  • Are battles glorious for the combatants? (Explain using the definitions from the previous questions.)


  • Suggested Pre-Reading

    A Soldier's Heart by Gary Paulsen — This is a book of part fact and part historical fiction about a young soldier from Minnesota named Charley Goddard. His excitement and his confrontation with the reality of war is depicted in this easy to read book. Throughout the activities in these lessons sections of the book will be referred to as a reference.

  • Film Clip

    This should be selected by the teacher, and should depict a Civil War battle used in a mass market film. Some examples include: the opening scene in Edward Zwick's Glory, which depicts the Battle of Antietam. Also if access is available, is an outstanding resource for finding specific battles from its extensive digital video library through a simple search)


  • Watch the selected film segment depicting a battle scene from the Civil War and complete the film guide that prompts you to choose someone on the screen and pretend that you are that person. Please download: "Film Guide - Are Battles Glorious"
  • With a partner or in small groups have students exchange information from chart. Students are expected to add at least three ideas for each column on the worksheet. Debrief. Poll class.