Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The South Wins Gettysburg!

Eric Miles


After studying the American Civil War, students hypothesize that the Union Army was defeated at Gettysburg by Lee's army. Students explore how different North America would be today if the South had won the Civil War.


The student produces final documents that have been edited for: correct spelling; correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and common use of semicolons; correct capitalization; correct sentence formation; correct instances of possessives, subject/verb agreement, instances of noun/pronoun agreement, and the intentional use of fragments for effect; and correct formatting that appeals to readers, including appropriate use of a variety of graphics, tables, charts, and illustrations in both standard and innovative forms.

The student uses chronology, sequencing, patterns, and periodization to examine interpretations of an event.


- American History Textbook
- Imagination


-Complete the Civil War Unit.
-Write out questions so that students can ponder on what they are going to write.
- Describe the teacher expectations for the paper and the visual aid.


1. Complete the chapter(s) dealing with the American Civil War.

2. Explain to students that history is an evolving process and that an action or a decision made today could affect tomorrow greatly.

3. Review the Battle of Gettysburg, but this time tell the students that Picket’s charge was a success, and the South won the battle. Explain that Lee’s Army captured Washington, and President Lincoln was forced to resign.

4. Ask the students some of the following questions. Allow time for discussion and note-taking. Make sure students know that the information will be helpful when they write their papers.
1. Would slavery be legal?
2. Would there still be a United States, or would the Southern States absorb the Northern States?
3. Would Washington, D.C., be the capital? Would there be a Congress?
4. Would the North and South sit down and work out their differences to preserve the Union?
5. Could the South survive on an agriculturally based economy?
6. What would the United States look like today?
7. Where would the large cities be and why? Would Pensacola and Mobile be larger because of their location on the water?
8. How would the currency work?
9. Would Abraham Lincoln still be considered a hero?
10. Would the National or State governments have more power?

5. Have students write a two-page paper on what they think the United States would be like today. The paper should consist of at least five paragraphs: (Be sure to share the criteria with students prior to writing the paper)
1. Introduction paragraph – The student should create a picture of what the US looks like in the late 1800's. Students should include a thesis statement and introduce what they are going to write about in their paper.
2. Paragraph #2 - Students are to discuss the outcome of the struggle between the national and state governments. Students should identify the problems before the war and then discuss how the problems were solved when the South won.
3. Paragraph #3 - Students should discuss the economic sectionalism of the United States before and after the war. For example, the student selects to write about the Southern economy and how the South uses Northern reparations to build new manufacturing cities so that the South does not rely on the Northern cities. (Pensacola might become the largest city in the South due to location.)
4.Paragraph #4 - Students select any other topic dealing with the Civil War. The student should provide the background to this topic and then discuss this topic in the -United States- today. For example, since Pensacola is the largest city in the South, do the cities of Atlanta and Nashville exist? Does slavery still exist?
5. Conclusion paragraph - Students should conclude paper by writing about the future and direction of the country. Essays should be edited for conventions.

6. Have students create or make a visual aid to support their papers. (Poster, collage, video, etc. )


Five-paragraph essay:
Introduction paragraph - Students must include a thesis statement
Body paragraph #1- students must show they understand the struggles between the national and state governments before the civil war.
Body paragraph #2 - students must demostrate they understand the economy of the Reconstruction Era by writing about the sectionalism of the United States between the North and South.
Body paragraph #3 - students must demostrate that they understand the consequences and outcomes of the Civil War, when the North won and if the South would have won.
Conclusion - Students must conclude their paper

Students' final drafts should be edited for correct spelling, correct sentence structure, etc. Paragraphs should be assessed for sequencing, patterns, etc.

Visual Aid: The student must show that they understand the struggles with slavery, the economies of the Civil War period between the North and the South in this visual aid

Students who are having difficulty will need formative feedback from the teacher and additional time to work on their writing.
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