Educational Resources

K-12 Classroom Lessons | Elementary School | Lesson Plan: American Experience With British Soldiers

Introduction

Authors: Glenn Johnston and Johanna Seymour, Education Consultants, Maryland Military Historical Society
Grade Level: Upper Elementary
Duration: One 40-Minute Class Period

This lesson allows upper elementary school students to examine the American experiences of and perspectives of British soldiers during the War of 1812 in Maryland. Working in pairs, students will inspect primary sources- a letter, a political cartoon, a color sketch drawing, a painting and a receipt. For assessment, students will write a few sentences about these experiences and perceptions.

Objectives

At the conclusion of this block of instruction:

  1. Students will be able to write a few sentences about American experiences of and perspectives of British soldiers during the War of 1812 in Maryland based on primary resources.
  2. Students will learn to examine various primary sources such as a letter, a political cartoon, a color sketch drawing, a painting and a receipt..

Procedure

  • Step 1: Introduction to Primary Sources/Studying Illiterate Individuals (5 Minutes)
    We have few journals or letters written or images created by regular British soldiers fighting in Maryland during the war. Most of what we know about them was written by others. Explain to students that they are going to explore primary sources written by Maryland citizens during the War of 1812 to better understand British soldiers and answer the following questions, “What are primary sources?” “How do we study what they did and thought?” What are the issues about studying illiterate groups?” “What is bias?” “Are there photographs of these soldiers? How can we determine what they wore/looked like?” “Is it fair or unfair to study groups of people who did not write their stories?”
  • Step 2: Lesson Rationale (1 Minute)
    Explain to students that they are going to analysis primary sources from the War of 1812 to research how Americans viewed British soldiers.
  • Step 3: Framing the learning activity. (5 Minutes)
    Ask students questions about the War of 1812: “What is a soldier?” “Why might someone from England want to join the British Army?” “For someone who was very poor, why might being man prefer becoming a soldier than working in an English factory or as a tenant farmer on a large estate?” “What would be the advantages and disadvantages of serving away from home?” “How might these soldiers differ from American soldiers fighting in Maryland?” “How do you think that Americans viewed British soldiers?”
  • Step 4: Pair and Share Activity (20-25 Minutes)
    In pairs give students Resource Sheets #1-6 and the Vocabulary sheet. Instruct them to write their answers on Resource Sheet #6. Allow them to ask questions.
  • Step 5: Synthesis of learning and assessment (5-10 minutes)
    Discuss your findings as a group. Assign the homework (located on Resource Sheet #6).

Standards

National History Standards

United States Era 4
Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)

Standard 1A- The student understands the international background and consequences of the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, and the Monroe Doctrine.

Maryland State Curriculum Standards for United States History

Grade 4

Standard 5.0 History
Topic C. Conflict between Ideas and Institutions
Indicator 2. Explain the political, cultural, economic and social changes in Maryland during the early 1800’s.
Objective a. Describe Maryland’s role during the War of 1812.

Standard 6.0 Social Studies Skills and Processes
Topic A. Read to Learn and Construct Meaning about Social Studies
Indicator 1. Use appropriate strategies and opportunities to increase understandings of social studies vocabulary.
Objective a. Acquire and apply new vocabulary through investigating, listening, independent reading and discussing a variety of print and non-print sources.
d. Use new vocabulary in speaking and writing to gain and extend content knowledge and clarify expression.
Indicator 2. Use strategies to prepare for reading (before reading)
Objective d. Ask questions and make predictions about the text.
Indicator 3. Use strategies to monitor understand and derive meaning from text and portions of text (during reading)
Objective b. Reread slowly and carefully, restate, or read on and revisit difficult parts.
d. Look back through the text to search for connections between and among ideas.
e. Make, confirm, or adjust predictions about the text.
f. Periodically summarize or paraphrase important ideas while reading
g. Visualize what was read for deeper meaning.
Indicator 4. Use strategies to demonstrate understanding of the text (after reading)
Objective f. Explain what is not directly stated in the text by drawing inferences.
g. Confirm or refute predictions made about the text to form new ideas.
h. Draw conclusions and make generalizations based on the text, multiple texts, and/or prior knowledge.

Topic F. Analyze Social Studies Information
Indicator 1. Interpret information from primary and secondary sources.
Objective c. Analyze a document to determine point of view.
d. Analyze the perspective of the author
e. Identify the bias and prejudice
Indicator 2. Evaluate information from a variety of sources.
Objective a. Compare information from a variety of sources.
Topic G. Answer Social Studies Questions
Indicator 2. Use historic contexts to answer questions
Objective a. Use historically accurate resources to answer questions, make predictions and support ideas.

Grade 5

6.0 Social Studies Skills and Processes
Topic A. Read to Learn and Construct Meaning about Social Studies
Indicator 1. Use appropriate strategies and opportunities to increase understanding of social studies vocabulary
Objectives a. Acquire and apply new vocabulary through investigating, listening, independent reading and discussing a variety of print and non-print sources.
d. Use new vocabulary in speaking and writing to gain and extend content knowledge and clarify expression.
Indictor 2. Use strategies to prepare for reading (before reading)
Objective d. Ask questions and make predictions about the text
Indicator 3. Use strategies to monitor understanding and derive meaning from text and portions of text (during reading)
Objective b. Reread slowly and carefully, restate, or read on and revisit difficult parts
d. Look back through the text to search for connections between and among ideas
e. Make, confirm, or adjust predictions about the text
Indicator 4. Use strategies to demonstrate understanding of the text (after reading)
Objectives f. Explain what is not directly state in the text by drawing inferences
g. Confirm or refute predictions made about the text to form new ideas
i. Draw conclusions and make generalizations based on the text, multiple texts, and/or prior knowledge

Topic F. Analyze Social Studies Information
Indicator 1. Interpret information from primary and secondary sources
Objective d. Analyze the perspective of the author
e. Identify the bias and prejudice
Indicator 2. Evaluate information from a variety of sources
Objective a. Compare information from a variety of sources

Topic G. Answer Social Studies Questions
Indicator 2. Use historic contexts to answer questions
Objective a. Use historic accurate resources to answer questions, make predictions and support ideas

Additional Standards

Standards for Reading Literacy (RL)

RL1 CCR Anchor Standard
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Grade 4: RL1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. (SC, 4)

Grade 5: RL1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. (SC, 5)

RL6 CCR Anchor Standard
Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Grade 4: RL6 Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.

Grade 5: RL6 Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

Standards for Reading Informational Text (RI)

RI10 CCR Anchor Standard
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Grade 4: RI10 By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Grade 5: RI10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4–5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Standards for Writing (W)

W1 CCR Anchor Standard
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Grade 4: W1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

Grade 5: W1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

Topic Background

In 1812, the British Army stood at 220,000 men along with 150,000 British militia, Most were not available to fight in North America. They were sent to Europe to fight Napoleon.[1] In Canada, the British force totaled 8,125 soldiers.[2] Canadian officials experienced difficulties supplying troops and receiving reinforcements.[3] Officials continually pleaded for more help as they prepared for an American invasion. Not getting the supplies that they needed, farmers could expect underfed troops to raid their farms, especially in remote areas like Upper Canada.[4] Lacking their own manpower, British troops sought to ally themselves with local Indian tribes, increasing American contempt for both groups.

At home, British soldiers faced an ever-increasing national debt, increased food prices due to bad growing season, wide-spread unemployment, and food riots.[5] However despite these domestic problems caused by warfare and its overspending, the public continued to focus on military glory. With the victory in Europe by 1814, British newspapers, like the London Sun and Times, directed their attention to fueling the flame of the United Kingdom’s vindictive attitude towards America; editorials urged its citizens that America must not be “left in a condition to repeat their insults, injuries and wrongs,” and “Our demands must be couched in a single word, Submission.”[6] English public opinion and military forces could seek revenge on Americans for their attempt to take Canada by burning border towns and seizing merchant ships.

One example of attacking American civilians came in 1813 when Admiral Cockburn burned Havre de Grace, Maryland after the town would not submit to his rule. British soldiers, sailors, and marines looted the town and then set houses and shops ablaze.[7] For the townspeople who did not flee, residents faced a frightening situation when about 150 British soldiers forced themselves into their homes.[8] Residents told how soldiers plundered any useful and transportable items before setting houses on fire.[9] Despite burning homes and businesses, British soldiers decided to spare the town church.[10] Naturally news of this raid spread very quickly throughout Maryland; Baltimore residents knew what could happen in British troops reached their city.[11]

When British soldiers fell into Americans’ hands, prisoners could expect to be held in city or county jails, where they would accrue less cost to the federal government.[12] Of course, British prisoners were jailed to ensure that they did not harm American citizens and held to partake in exchanges for American prisoners.[13] British agents visited these jails to ensure that prisoners were treated well; Still, British prisoners’ complaints ranged from close confinement to needing clean clothing to lack of tobacco.[14] [1] John K. Mahon, The War of 1812 (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1972), 14.
[2] Mahon, The War of 1812, 17.
[3] Mahon, The War of 1812, 56.
[4] Troy Bickham, The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire and the War of 1812 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 142.
[5] Mahon, The War of 1812, 95-96
[6] Donald R. Hickey, The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 287.
[7] Mahon, The War of 1812, 115-116
[8] Heidi L. Glatfelter, Havre de Grace in the War of 1812: Fire on the Chesapeake (Charleston: The History Press, 2013), 71-73.
[9] Glatfelter, Have de Grace in the War of 1812, 73-74
[10] Glatfelter, Have de Grace in the War of 1812, 76
[11] Glatfelter, Have de Grace in the War of 1812, 81
[12] Paul J. Springer, America’s Captives: Treatment of POWs from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2010), 49.
[13] Springer, America’s Captives, 49.
[14] Springer, America’s Captives, 49-50.

Resource Sheets

  • Resource #1- As good as the regulars- British views of Americans (PDF)
  • Resource #1- As good as the regulars- British views of Americans (GIF)
  • Resource #1- cont As good as II bca_brg22_1-0859 (GIF)
  • Resource #2- A Cockburn burning Havre de Grace (PDF)
  • Resource #2- Admiral Cockburb Burning and Plundering Havre de Grace by Charles William MHS (JPG)
  • Resource #3- Lithograph of painting by Thomas Ruckle (JPG)
  • Resource #3- Lithograph Ruckle battle of North Point (PDF)
  • Resource #4- John Bull and the Baltimorians (PDF)
  • Resource #5- British Deserters to York PA (GIF)
  • Resource #5- British Deserters (PDF)
  • Resource Sheet 6-Student Answers (PDF)

Vocabulary List

(in order which unknown words appear)

  • A Shelter– Tactical positions or fortification
  • Entrenchments– To provide with a trench, especially for the purpose of fortifying or defending
  • Fortifications– Something that serves to fortify, especially military works erected to fortify a position or place
  • Militia– An army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers; A military force that is not part of a regular army and is subject to call for service in an emergency; The whole body of physically fit civilians eligible by law for military service. During the War of 1812, all able-body white men were supposed to be able to equip themselves and be already prepared to fight with a unit. However, militia laws were not greatly enforced during the early 1800’s and most men lacked the necessary equipment and training to immediately fight.
  • Destitute– Utterly lacking; devoid; Lacking resources or the means of subsistence; completely impoverished
  • Committee– A group of people officially delegated to perform a function, such as investigating, considering, reporting, or acting on a matter. After the defeat of the US Army at the Battle of Bladensburg in Maryland, Baltimore’s citizens created the Committee of Vigilance and Safety. Meeting daily, it resolved to draft every white male between the ages of 16-50, who already was not part of a militia unit, and to provide each recruit with a firearm and accessories, including a bayonet, cartridge box, and tools necessary to maintain them.
  • Vigilance– alert watchfulness
  • Highlander– A person who is native of the Highlands of Scotland or a member of a Scottish Highland regiment
  • Deserters– Those who forsake their duty or post, especially to be absent without leave from the armed forces with no intention of returning
  • Resources: http://www.thefreedictionary.com

References

  • Bickham, Troy. The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire and the War of 1812. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012
  • Glatfelter, Heidi L. Havre de Grace in the War of 1812: Fire on the Chesapeake. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2013.
  • Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1989.
  • Mahon, John K. The War of 1812. Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida Press, 1972.
  • Springer, Paul J. America’s Captives: Treatment of POWs from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2010.

Lesson Plan Documents for Download