Students will evaluate the life of Captain H. Ford Douglass with primary and secondary sources, who was one of the first black officers in the Union army.  Students will then complete two graphic organizers that highlights some of his achievements.


8.11.6. Describe African-American involvement in the Union army, including the Massachusetts 54th Regiment led by Colonel Robert Shaw.

8.11.8. Explain how the war affected combatants, civilians, the physical environment, and future warfare.

CCR Standards 1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

CCR Standards 4: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge.


Captain Douglas Background

Also included is the url for the primary source document to be used is this lesson. It is an article from the Provincial Freeman, which Douglas was associated with, that advocated emigration.

Download this file

Primary Source Graphic Organizer

Download this file

Concept Map Graphic Organizer

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Warm Up

Image of black soldiers

Students will analyze this image and then answer the following question:  What does this image tell you about the role blacks played in the Civil War?

I want students to understand that times changed during the war, and blacks became an important part in the Union winning the war.

New Material

Students will complete the warm up.  This will lead to a discussion around the more prominent role blacks began to play in Civil War, particularly black union troops.  As the war wore on,  I will inform the students that some blacks even began to take leadership roles as officers in the Union army.  I will then introduce Captain H. Ford Douglas who was a former slave that became an officer in the Union army.  In the first activity, students will read some background information on Dougas and complete a graphic organizer (concept map).  Upon completing the concept map, they will create one higher order thinking question based on Bloom's sentence stems.  All this will be done independently.  In the next activity, students will read an article that shows some of the beliefs Douglas held before joining the Union army.  This will give some perspective as to the complex issue blacks had to deal with regarding emigration or fighting for the Union cause.  The last activity will be done in groups of 3/4. After reading the article, the students will then complete a primary source document graphic organizer which will be followed be a group discussion.


Students will complete two graphic organizers based on the readings.


At the end of the lesson,  I will have a cold call activity that will require the students to answer a number on questions randomly based on what they just learned.  I will base my questions on the level of understanding I notice among the kids after moving around the room while they are working.

Closure and Reflection

To close the lesson,  the students will write in their journal one thing they learned and share this with another student in their group.