Lesson 3: Joining the Ranks

Getting Started

Today you will begin a unique novel that describes the first major battle of the Civil War (Battle of Bull Run) and the events leading up to it.

This novel is unique in that it is told from a variety of different points of view — soldiers from the North and South, men and women, slaves and free people of color, a doctor, and even an artist. You will learn about not only the factual events related to the war but also the different types of people who were affected by this terrible event.

Stuff You Need

  • Bull Run by Paul Fleischman
  • journal
  • scissors
  • tape or glue

Ideas to Think About

  • How do leaders use their power to influence others?
  • How and why is propaganda used during times of conflict?

Things to Know

  • Propaganda is a form of communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward a cause or position. As opposed to only providing facts, propaganda is used primarily to influence an audience.


  • Make informed judgments about propaganda. (LA)
  • Explore bias, apparent or hidden messages, emotional factors, and/or propaganda techniques. (LA)
  • Identify and explore the underlying assumptions of the author/creator. (LA)
  • Draw conclusions based on evidence, reasons, or relevant information. (LA)

Introducing the Lesson

Explain to your child that today she will begin reading a story that centers on the first major battle of the Civil War, Bull Run. Explain that she will learn about the battle from a variety of different perspectives.

(Having children see an event from different perspectives can help them develop empathy and realize that events can be interpreted in many different ways.)
Reading and Questions
Materials: Bull Run by Paul Fleischman
Before you begin reading today, look at Activity 1. This activity will be easier to complete as you read the first section of the book. Use the page "Cast of Characters" to help you keep track of the characters.

Read pages 1-20 of the book, Bull Run, and then answer the following questions in complete sentences.
  1. Why was Vernon, Colonel Brattle's slave, afraid to show emotion when the battle began?
    His master and the other men in the South were fighting to keep the institution of slavery.
  2. Since Toby was too young to join the army, what did he do to get involved in the war?
    He volunteered as a musician.
  3. Why did Gideon Adams face a challenge when he wanted to join the Union forces?
    He was part black. Black men were not wanted in the army.
Student Activity Page