Educational Resources

K-12 Classroom Lessons | Middle School | Lesson Plan: Baltimore Boats

Introduction

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

Students will explore primary sources that examine boats and boating technology used during the War of 1812. Additionally, students will analysis additional primary sources regarding new boats and boating technology developed in the 1810’s. By studying these primary sources, students will better understand how war lends itself to technological developments as well as obstacles to and opportunities from such changes.

Objectives

At the conclusion of this block of instruction:

  1. Students will learn to examine various primary sources, for example letters and receipts, pertaining to 19th century water defenses such as wooden, steam, fire and torpedo boats. By doing so they will better understand how war lend itself to technological development and the obstacles that new technology can present.
  2. Students will be able to write an essay arguing for or against one of the new boats as a good investment and the best option for the city’s water defenses.

Procedure

  • Step 1: Introduction to Primary Sources/Studying boating during the War of 1812 (5 Minutes)
    Explain to students that they are going to explore primary sources written by Maryland citizens during the War of 1812 regarding boats used in the defense of the city. Ask the following questions, “What are primary sources?” “What types of primary sources do you think that we will study?” “What types of boats were used to defense Baltimore?” “Defend from whom?” “What types of boats were not yet developed?” “Who was Robert Fulton; what did he invent?”
  • Step 2: Lesson Rationale (1 Minute)
    Explain to students that they are going to analysis primary sources from the War of 1812 to research boats and boating technology.
  • Step 3: Framing the learning activity. (5 Minutes)
    Ask students questions about the War of 1812: ‘What types of boats were used to protect Baltimore during the War of 1812?” “Why would someone want to improve technology during a War? What problems might arise?” “What does one need to develop a new type of boat?” “Would the government want individuals to experiment with new technology? Why?”
  • Step 4: Pair and Share Activity (20-25 Minutes)
    They will each receive a packet of primary sources and a class work sheet. In pairs give students Resource Sheets #1-13. Instruct them to write their answers on the Class work Sheet. 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 Class Work Sheet).

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 6

Topic A. Read to Learn and Construct Meaning about Social Studies

Indicator 3. Use strategies to monitor understanding and derive meaning from text and portions of text (during reading)

Objectives b. Reread slowly and carefully, restate or read on and revisit difficult parts

f. Periodically summarize or paraphrase important ideas while reading

Indicator 4. Use strategies to demonstrate understanding of the text (after reading)

Objectives a. Identify and explain what is directly stated in the text.

f. Explain what is not directed stated in the text by drawing inferences.

i. Draw conclusions and make generalizations based on the text, multiple texts, and/or prior knowledge

Topic B. Write to Learn and Communicate Social Studies Understandings

Indicator 3. Use formal writing, such as multi-paragraph essays, historical investigations, editorials, and letters to persuade

Objectives b. State a clear opinion or position.

d. Provide reasons and cite reliable supporting evidence.

e. Demonstrate understandings of social studies knowledge.

Topic F. Analyze Social Studies Information

Indicator 1. Interpret information from primary and secondary sources

Objectives c. Analyze a document to determine point of view

 

Grade 7

Topic A. Read to Learn and Construct Meaning about Social Studies

Indicator 3. Use strategies to monitor understanding and derive meaning from text and portions of text (during reading)

Objectives b. Reread slowly and carefully, restate or read on and revisit difficult parts

f. Periodically summarize or paraphrase important ideas while reading

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

i. Draw conclusions and make generalizations based on the text, multiple texts, and/or prior knowledge

Topic B. Write to Learn and Communicate Social Studies Understandings

Indicator 3. Use formal writing, such as multi-paragraph essays, historical investigations, editorials and letters to persuade.

Objectives b. State a clear opinion or position

d. Provide reasons and cite reliable supporting evidence

e. Demonstrate understandings of social studies knowledge

Topic F. Analyze Social Studies Information

Indicator 1. Interpret information from primary and secondary sources

Objective c. Analyze a document to determine a point of view.

 

Grade 8

Topic A. Read to Learn and Construct Meaning about Social Studies

Indicator 3. Use strategies to monitor understanding and derive meaning from text and portions of text (during reading)

Objectives b. Reread slowly and carefully, restate, or read on and revisit difficult parts

f. Periodically summarize or paraphrase important ideas while reading

Indicator 4. Use strategies to demonstrate understanding of the text (after reading)

Objectives f. Explain what is not directly stated in the text by drawing inferences

i. Draw conclusions and make generalizations based on the text, multiple texts and/or prior knowledge

Topic B. Write to Learn and Communicate Social Studies Understandings

Indicator 3. Use formal writing, such as multi-paragraph essays, historical investigations, editorials and letters to persuade

Objectives b. State a clear opinion or position

d. Provide reasons and cite reliable supporting evidence

e. Demonstrate understanding of social studies knowledge

Topic F. Analyze Social Studies Information

Indicator 1. Interpret information from primary and secondary sources

Objectives c. Analyze a document to determine point of view

 

Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies

CCR Anchor Standard #1 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.

RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

CCR Anchor Standard #6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

RH.6-8.6 Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts)

CCR Anchor Standard #8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.

CCR Anchor Standard #9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

RH.6-8.9 Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.

Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies

CCR Anchor Standard #2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

WHST.6-8.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.

Topic Background

The War of 1812 was fought on both land and sea. While militia and regular soldiers battled on land, fleets and flotillas fought for command of the waterways. British troops under General Ross attempted to invade Baltimore by marching north from North Point while Admiral Cockburn and his fleet attempted to sail up the Patapsco River. Baltimore citizens and militia guarded their city by forming a defensive line on its eastward line. Additionally, Fort McHenry and the Lazaretto Battery’s cannons sought to prevent British ships from sailing up the Patapsco River from the south. For extra protection, a handful of wooden ships were sunk in Baltimore Harbor so that British ships could not sail beyond these sunken hulks. Ships filled with combustible materials stood ready to drift into an enemy fleet; these fire vessels aimed to burn the enemy ships or at least break their formation. Using sunken wooden ships and fire vessels had proven successful in defense during the Revolutionary War and in previously European wars.

In addition to such fixed, conventional defenses, government officials, the military and private investors sought to create the best warship that technology would allow. The idea of floating batteries (think of a floating wooden fort), were pretty popular at this time. Inventor Robert Fulton had built the first practical steamboat, the Clermont, in 1807. In 1813, Fulton built the first steam frigate (a kind of warship) named the Demologos. Fulton’s invention was wooden not iron or steel. Unfortunately, the engine that could move the Clermont was not powerful enough to move a heavy warship and all of its cannon through the water. Fulton’s steam frigate therefore never left New York Harbor. The idea of a steam gunboat would not become a reality until the Civil War, when steam engines became powerful enough to propel a ship without the use of sails.

Robert Fulton also developed a torpedo (what we would now call a mine), which he tried to sell first to Revolutionary France, then Great Britain, and finally, in 1810, the US. All three governments rejected his invention. However, in 1814 Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Homans, approved both for the defense of Baltimore; Banks provided the needed funds, hoping to see a return from their investment. The federal government hoped to encourage other inventors and those willing to experiment; In March 1813, the so-called “Torpedo Act” authorized Americans to use any destructive materials including submarines and torpedoes to attack British ships. The government promised theses brave Americans half the value of any British ship sunk. Young sailor Elijah Mix volunteered to experiment with some of Fulton’s torpedoes, which were being housed in Washington. Despite numerous attempts, either British sentries spotted him and his two comrades each time they rowed close to the fleet or the torpedo when off prematurely. Still throughout the war, Americans continued to experiment with torpedoes and other new technology.   The resort to experimental steamships and torpedoes shows just how critical the defense of Baltimore really was.

Resource Sheets

  • Resource #1- Charges for sinking hulks (PDF)
  • Resource #1- Charges for sinking the hulks (GIF)
  • Resource #2- Cost of boats (GIF)
  • Resource #2- Costs of boats (PDF)
  • Resource #3- Owner wants more money for hulk (PDF)
  • Resource #3- Owner wants more money for hulk original (PDF)
  • Resource #4- Hulks should be raised (PDF)
  • Resource #4- Hulks should be raised original (PDF)
  • Resource #5- Fire vessel receipt (PDF)
  • Resource #5- Fire vessel receipt (GIF)
  • Resource #6- SECNAV approves steam battery (PDF)
  • Resource #6- SECNAV approves steam battery original (PDF)
  • Resource #7- Steam battery investors (PDF)
  • Resource #7- Steam battery investors original (PDF)
  • Resource #8- Steam battery engine test (PDF)
  • Resource #8- Steam battery engine test original (PDF)
  • Resource #9- Steam battery (PDF)
  • Resource #9- Steam battery original (PDF)
  • Resource #10- Steam Frigate Committee (PDF)
  • Resource #10- Steam Frigate Committee original (PDF)
  • Resource #11- Steam Frigate (PDF)
  • Resource #11- Steam Frigate original (PDF)
  • Resource #12- Torpedo boat costs (PDF)
  • Resource #12- Torpedo boat costs original (PDF)
  • Resource #13- Torpedo Experiment (PDF)
  • Resource #13- Torpedo Experiment original
  • Class work- Baltimore Boats (PDF)

References

  • Beach, Edward L. United States Navy: 200 Years. New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1986.
  • Guttridge, Leonard F and Jay D. Smith. The Commodores. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1969.
  •  Linder, Bruce. Tidewater’s Navy: An Illustrated History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2005.
  •  Department of the Navy-Naval Historical Center. “U.S. Steam Battery Fulton (1814-1829). Also called “Demologos” and “Fulton the First.”’ Assessed January 25, 2014. http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-f/fulton.htm

Lesson Plan Documents for Download