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Interpreting the Evidence

General Ulysses S. Grant and Staff, Civil War, n.d.

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Civil War and Reconstruction (1850 - 1877)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Civil War

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load General Ulysses S. Grant and Staff, Civil War, n.d. in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Photograph of General Ulysses S. Grant and his staff, Civil War, n.d.
Historical Context
This photograph was taken by Matthew Brady, who became famous for his photographic record of the Civil War. Brady was born in Warren County, New York.  In this photograph, General Ulysses S. Grant (seated third from the left) appears with his military secretary, General Ely Parker, a Tonawanda Seneca sachem (seated second from the right). Upon orders from Grant, Parker drew up the surrender papers that General Robert E. Lee signed at Appomattox.  Parker later became the first Native American to be appointed as United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
Essential Question
How does war impact a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene and individuals in the photograph and evaluate the impact of the Civil War on the lives and careers of these individuals.
Historical Challenges
Research General Grant's military record. What rank did he hold in the army at the beginning of the Civil War? The last rank Grant held during the Civil War previously had been held by only one other person in the history of the United States. Who was that person? After the Civil War, Congress created a new rank, which they awarded to Grant. What was the rank?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: If you opened your wallet or purse and had one bill with Ulysses S. Grant's picture on it and three bills with Abraham Lincoln's picture on them, how much money would you have? If you took those four bills to the bank and exchanged them for coins that had Abraham Lincoln's picture on them, how many coins would you have?
Math: Create a bar graph showing how many soldiers died from battle and how many from disease for both the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War.
Science: Camp life was not easy for a soldier during the Civil War. More died from disease than from fighting. Find out from what sorts of diseases the soldiers died. Research ways these diseases could be prevented.
English Language Arts: Research the life of Ely Parker. Pretend you are a Seneca Indian living at the time of Ely Parker. Write a letter to Parker telling him why you are proud of him or some concerns you have about his actions and lifestyle.