- The Union Army's success in Georgia during the Civil War's final year damaged the Confederate infrastructure, diminished the southern civilian resolve, brought the United States closer to victory, and helped ensure President Lincoln's re-election in 1864. The website, civilwarga.com, is intended to aid students, teachers, and Civil War enthusiasts as they investigate various sources of information related to Georgia's war experience. Microhistorical research aims to closely analyze specific situations as they relate to larger concepts. Using this website can direct the focus of broad Civil War curriculum standards to a specific study of General Sherman's Georgia campaign.
- This website was designed by Rhonda Webb as part of the Understanding Lincoln Online Course taught by Professor Matthew Pinsker of Dickinson College in conjunction with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The project is featured on the Lincoln's Writings portal of the House Divided Search Engine. The research completed by Ms. Webb was selected for presentation in Pennsylvania at the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in November 2013.Dr. Pinsker and Lance Warren of Gilder Lehrman were instrumental in providing guidance in the development of this project.
Benefits for Instruction:
Students in the modern age are thoroughly engrossed in multimedia technology. They have grown up as digital natives - not knowing a life without computers, cell phones, and instant access to information. When educators try to communicate with students in more traditional formats, there is often something “lost in the translation.” Appropriate use of technology with students can enhance their knowledge of history, literacy, and critical thought.
The creative use of documents and historical sources through multimedia formats can help engage students and promote higher levels of critical analysis. According to Sam Wineburg, an authority on history education from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), “Facts are mastered by engaging students in historical questions that spark their curiosity and make them passionate about seeking answers.”
- Contextualizing and analyzing sources can empower students to develop greater understanding and original thought concerning historical events. Integrating document analysis with available technology creates a platform from which today’s students are more familiar. They are accustomed to the instant accessibility of information through social media and technology. Educators must utilize this format in order to promote more active student engagement and academic discourse. The “civilwarga” website acts as a portal for teachers, students, and Civil War enthusiasts to investigate various types of sources pertaining to General Sherman’s military movements in Georgia during the critical year of 1864. By drawing sources from many contexts- political, military, and societal- students can develop their own interpretation of events while practicing the essential skill of supporting arguments with evidence.
The website is designed to organize different primary documents through various formats of categorization. If the user wants to investigate the events in Georgia as they occurred, there is a chronological sidebar outlining Sherman’s route through the state located on the Google map menu tab. The Google map pinpoints locations of key events geographically to trace the route General Sherman took through Georgia. Each pin on the map contains hyperlinks to relevant information concerning that particular location.
Letters and other documents of correspondence are highlighted on the website. The featured documents of President Abraham Lincoln and General William Sherman are from 1864 and relate to either the military operation in Georgia or the presidential campaign that also occurred in the same year. This is the information that students should investigate closely in order to piece together a comprehensive understanding of events that took place during Georgia’s military experience. Each document is transcribed but also contains a link to the original document image.
- Most of the Lincoln documents are contained in the public domain digital archive of the Library of Congress. In addition to the transcription of each document, the Library of Congress also includes a very beneficial “Notes” section containing annotation and contextual information that can help the reader gain a more thorough understanding of the document and its relevance to the events of 1864.