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Understanding Lincoln: A Lesson - The Fate of a Loyal Soldier

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Kelly Arickx

on 20 August 2014

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Transcript of Understanding Lincoln: A Lesson - The Fate of a Loyal Soldier

Understanding Lincoln Documents: A Lesson

What led to the creation of the document?

What is the context of the document?

What is the impact of the document?

3 questions to consider…

My Document:
Letter from Abraham Lincoln to
Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas
November 7, 1861

What led to the creation of the document?

What is the context of the document?

What is the impact of the document?

3 questions to consider…

Analyzing a Lincoln Document
Scaffolding Activity
Skill Building with Support
I Do – We Do – You Do


Explain the document.
What else is happening at the time?
Is there anything that needs more explanation so we can understand the document?
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What led up to the creation of the document?
- or -
What was happening before the document was created?
The United States Civil War began in April 1861.

The fundamental argument:
States' Rights vs. Federal Authority.

11 states had disbanded from the Union
The US Military Academy at West Point was where military leaders were trained. Unfortunately, many attendees were from the states that had seceded. Those military men faced an enormous decision: remain in the US Army in an attempt to preserve the Union or resign so they were not fighting against their home states, family and friends. In the end, many resigned and joined the Confederate Armies of their home states.

President Lincoln was stressed because he needed all the help he could get to hold the Union together. He was relying on the US Army to provided skilled leadership in terms of strategy and battle.
Robert E. Lee was one of those who resigned from the US Army citing an unwillingness to take up arms against his home state.

What is this document?
What do we need to know to understand this letter in context?
Lincoln is concerned about losing talented, educated and experienced military personnel to the Confederacy. Hundreds of soldiers have resigned to join the the South - including top generals such as Robert E. Lee, who, days before his resignation, was offered command of the US Army.

Gurden Chapin had struggled with his decision. He was a West Point graduate, and classmates were like family - so his dilemma (like that of other Southern soldiers) was whether or not to disband from his comrades and country or raise arms against his home state of Virginia.
So, what happened? - Lorenzo Thomas agreed to the reinstatement of young Gurden Chapin. Chapin continued to serve honorably and retired from the military in January 1869 as Major of the 32nd United States Regular Infantry and died in Culpeper, VA in 1875.
Lincoln realized the value of experienced, loyal soliders. He was in favor of keeping these men in the Union Army and certainly not a fan of having them as enemies. Due to Lincoln's wisdom, more valued soldiers were retained.
Robert E. Lee's resignation letter.
This is a DocsTeach document from the National Archives.
Skill Building -
Examining a document together...
In this activity, the instructor chooses a fairly short/simple Lincoln Document to read and analyze for content, context and impact.
The students work with the teacher to create a multimedia presentation about the document. Students are expected to share ideas and research information about the chosen
document following the model presented.
A guided activity handout is provided
to students.
Additional Activities:

Google Mapping -
The link below maps the White House, West Point and the home of Gurden Chapin.

Check for Understanding:
Now you are on your own. Use the skills that were demonstrated and that we practiced together to put together your own multimedia project using a Lincoln document of your choice.

Use the Guided Activity Handout.

The Fate of a Loyal Soldier
Full transcript