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Songs of the Civil War

Subject: Dance, Music; U.S. History
Grade: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Featured GraphicBrief Description

Students investigate music of the Civil War era and explore how music can be used to arouse and express emotion.


  • identify a rhythmical musical pattern and match lyrics to it,
  • read for meaning and transfer that meaning to another appropriate context,
  • demonstrate an understanding of the emotional power of music.


Civil War, songs, lyrics, rhythm, composer

Materials Needed

computers with Internet access or audiotapes of Civil War songs, paper, pens or pencils, online or print resources about the origins of Civil War songs

Lesson Plan

Explore with students Music of the War Between the States. Or play for students audiotapes of Civil War songs. Choose two or three of the better-known songs, and encourage students to first read aloud, then sing, the lyrics along with the music. Ask students how the songs make them feel, and discuss how music can be used to stir or express emotions. Read to students "Music in Camp," a song about an incident that occurred during the Civil War. Discuss the meaning of the song. Then have each student choose one of the Songs of the Union or Songs of the Confederacy and study the song's music and lyrics. Ask students to imagine that they are the composers of their chosen songs. Have each student write a single paragraph describing the circumstances under which his or her song was written. If possible, encourage students to explore online and print resources to learn about the actual origins of the songs and compare the information with their own versions.


Evaluate students on the language arts skills and accuracy of Civil War information in their written paragraphs.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World
Submitted By Linda Starr

National Standards

Social Sciences:

Fine Arts:



Links Updated 11/19/2004