Students will be able to identify Stephen Swails, his accomplishments and hardships in the Union army by examining primary and secondary sources.


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 7: Integrate visual information with other information in print and digital texts.


Summarizing Graphic Organizer

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Swails Background

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Image Swails

Swails letter

Warm Up

Students will analyze the image of Stephen Swails and write down as many words that come to mind in 3 minutes.  A discussion will follow and I will introduce Stephen Swails to the class.

New Material

For the first activity, students will read the background information on Stephen Swails and then create a top ten list on Swails.  The students will work in groups of 3 to complete this activity.  In the next activity the students will work in the same groups and analyze a letter by Swails to a superior in the army that asks for equal pay for himself and his black troops.  The students will then complete a summarizing graphic organizer as individuals.


Students will complete a top ten list and summarizing graphic organizer after reading primary and secondary sources.


We will come together as a group at the end of the activity and compile a classwide top ten list.  I will also have a couple students selected at random,  share out some of the information they included in their summarizing graphic organizer.  Any students that didn't complete the graphic organizer will have to complete it for homework.

Closure and Reflection

In groups, students will participate in a be the teacher activity.  In this activity, the groups will come up with 2 ideas from today's lesson that they feel are important to share with the class.  Students will be encouraged to take notes.