The Battle of Gettysburg

Home Education Unit Plans Emilie Davis's Civil War The Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg

While the Battle of Gettysburg is exhaustibly studied, often from a military perspective, the information disseminated to the general population before, during, and after the battle is not as well known. The reports in The Philadelphia Inquirer talk about refugees, a possible invasion of Philadelphia by the Confederate Army, and the shutdown of transportation. The sources also show that the African American community had even larger worries if the Confederate Army should make its way to Philadelphia, and these fears are evident in the various diary excerpts.

This lesson will focus on Emilie’s experiences during the battle of Gettysburg. Students will read entries from June 27th, 1863 through July 9th, 1863 which can also be found on They will compare and contrast Emilie’s experience with excerpts from other personal journals, as well as, articles from The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Essential Questions

What role does analysis have in historical construction?
Why is time and space important to the study of history?


Students will be able to:

  • Analyze the issues faced by the African American community during the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • Observe the Battle of Gettysburg from a civilian perspective.
  • Compare and contrast various primary source accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Suggested Instructional Procedures

  1. Before diving into the primary sources, give your students a brief understanding of the timeline of the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg, including the dates of the battle. A timeline is provided for quick reference, as well as a couple of maps.
  2. Begin by having students read the Emilie Davis excerpts from June 27th – July 9th 1863. Then ask the following questions:
    1. When does the Gettysburg Campaign start for Emilie?
    2. How is this different from how the battle is typically remembered? Why?
    3. She uses the word excitement several times. Do you think she is using it as we use it today to show a positive emotion?
  3. Next, have students read The Philadelphia Inquirer articles related to the same time period and answer the following questions:
    1. Why was Emilie so worried about her father who lived in Harrisburg? What was happening to African Americans around Gettysburg?
    2. What is the White response to the problems faced by African Americans?
    3. Why would refugees (mentioned in the Inquirer June 29th) flee to Philadelphia?
  4. Lastly, have students look at the other diary entries from Gettysburg residents. Ask students the following:
    1. What is the general theme of these diary entries?
    2. Given that information is so easily exchanged today, what would have been the difficulties in getting news in and out of Gettysburg?