Day 3: Mourning the Dead

Dead soldiers on a Civil War Battlefield.
The number of soldiers who died between 1861 and 1865, an estimated 620,000, is approximately equal to the total American fatalities in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Spanish-American war, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined.  The Civil War's rate of death, its incidence in comparison with the size of the American population, was six times that of World War II.  A similar rate, about 2 percent, in the United States today would mean 6 million fatalities.
-Drew Gilpin Faust. "This Republic  of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War." pg xi.

Americans had never experienced death on this scale before, and never have since.  How did American society cope with so much death? 

Part 1: Analyzing How People Coped With Death


You will be assigned to one of 5 small groups by your teacher.  Complete the worksheet "Mourning the Dead" according to these directions:

All groups should complete the introduction question.

Your group should move on to the excerpt that is the same as your group number.  Complete the analysis together and be prepared to share your answers during a class discussion.


File Size: 32 kb
File Type: doc
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All excerpts for this activity were taken from this book.

Part 2: Class Discussion

After all groups have completed their analysis, we will use the following questions to guide class discussion:

What did "Good Death" mean to American during the Civil War?  Do we have our own version of "Good Death" in modern American society?  How do we view death differently?  In what ways do we still see death in the same way that people did then?

After hearing about each of the excerpts assigned to each of the groups, which letter would you have preferred to receive?  None of them bears good news, but which would have been the most comforting for you? What does this tell you about your own view of death?