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Personal Diary of Antietam by Roger Ball

September 11, 2013

Lesson Title:

Author: Roger Ball

Grade levels:6-8

Resources: Battle of Antietam 

Lesson summary: Personal letters and journals are written by men and women who fought in the Civil War.  Historians can gleam many things from the letters to determine if accounts are accurate from both combatants in the war.  Also, letters provide information that is personal and the intimate details of what one is thinking, before, during, and after a major engagement such as the Battle of Antietam.

GLE/Common Core: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3 Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).


Background: Students should have prior knowledge of the events leading up to Antietam with the North’s and South’s movements through the area around Sharpsburg, Md. 

Students should also have knowledge of the battle and its outcome.


Anticipatory Set: Read the letter.


My Dear Wife; Day before yesterday I dressed the wounds of 64 different men - some having two or three each. Yesterday I was at work from daylight till dark - today I am completely exhausted - but stall soon be able to go at it again.

The days after the battle are a thousand times worse than the day of the battle – and the physical pain is not the greatest pain suffered. How awful it is - you have not can have until you see it any idea of affairs after a battle. The dead appear sickening but they suffer no pain. But the poor wounded mutilated soldiers that yet have life and sensation make a most horrid picture. I pray God may stop such infernal work - through perhaps he has sent it upon us for our sins. Great indeed must have been our sins if such is our punishment.

Our Reg. Started this morning for Harpers Ferry - 14 miles. I am detailed with others to remain here until the wounded are removed - then join the Reg. With my nurses. I expect there will be another great fight at Harpers Ferry.

Carrie I dreamed of home night before last. I love to dream of home it seems so much like really being there. I dreamed that I was passing Hibbards house and saw you and Lud. in the window. After then I saw you in some place I cannot really know where -you kissed me - and told me you loved me - though you did not the first time you saw me. Was not that quite a soldier dream? That night had been away to a hospital to see some wounded men - returned late. I fastened my horse to a peach tree - fed him with wheat and hay from a barn near by - then I slept and dreamed of my loved ones away in N.H.

Write soon as you can. Tell me all you can about my business affairs and prospects for the future in Bath. Will Dr. Boynton be likely to get a strong hold there. One thing sure Cad, I shall return to Bath - if I live - and spend my days there. I feel so in that way now. Give me all news you can. Tell Parker and John and the girls to write although I can not answer them all. Tell Parker I will answer his as soon as I can.

In this letter I send you a bit of gold lace such as the rebel officers have. This I cut from a rebel officers coat on the battlefield. He was a Lieut.

I have made the acquaintance of two rebel officers - prisoners in our hands. One is a physician - both are masons - both very intelligent, gentlemanly men. Each is wounded in the leg. They are great favorites with our officers. One of them was brought off the field in hottest of the fight by our 5th N.H. officers - he giving them evidence of his being a mason.

Now do write soon. Kisses to you Clint & Kate. Love to all.

Yours as ever


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Diary entry of September 17, 1862 Robert Kellogg, 14th Conn. Vol.






Your Personal Civil War Journal

You are in the Confederate or Union Army. Over the past month, you marched north and west

into Maryland. During the time you witnessed many events. Today you were lucky enough to

survive the Battle of Antietam. Describe who you are, where you are from, what you saw, what

happened to you and your unit, and how you felt before, during, and after the battle.



Personal journal of




September, 17, 1863.


Dear ________________________







Homework: Students should contemplate what they will write in the letter.  Even though they misspelled and had poor grammar, students should pre-write their letter before making their final letter. 

Students should do this in their penmanship, no typing. 



Students will present their letter to the class in an oral presentation.



Notes:  this could be done for any battle in the Civil war, not just the Battle of Antietam.  Due to the nature of this battle, with the number of deaths, wounded, and missing, this personal journal could be a powerful tool for students to write about before the battle, during the battle, or how they remember the battle as a soldier.







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