Courage: Sullivan Ballou (1861), Henry Fleming (1863) and Francis Tolliver (1914)


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Resources for Learning about Courage
Audio Introduction - [] by William J. Bennett - from the audio CD The Children's Book of Virtues Audio Treasury (ISBN 0-671-53678-8)

Introduction - Across our country on January 24, 2013, the headlines read: Pentagon Lifts Ban on Women in Combat. The willingness to put one's life at risk for his/her country is a path many of us would avoid. An historical perspective of courage on the front lines may open our eyes to the realities of war. Before you begin this study, ask yourself these questions:
  • Are you (were you) willing to serve in the military?
  • If so, how would you like serve? ...if not, why not?
  • What thoughts would go through your mind in the days leading up to battle?

Common Core Learning Objective - Comparison/contrast three front-line soldiers from real-life and fiction (be sure to click each link below):
  1. Sullivan Ballou (1861) from early in the Civil War
  2. Henry Fleming (1863) The Red Badge of Courage at the Battle of Chancellorsville (2 months before Gettysburg)
  3. Francis Tolliver (Christmas in the Trenches) at the 1914 Christmas Truce in the midst of WW1 trench warfare

Part 1
Primary sources - The first person we will study is Sullivan Ballou. We don't know much about him, but we can infer that he had a strong love for his wife from a letter dated July 14, 1861. Follow this link to learn more about primary sources as well as a YouTube video that features a reading of the Sullivan Ballou letter by Paul Roebling.
  • Discussion question: What was Sullivan Ballou's motivation to sacrifice and fight in the US Civil War?
  • Ken Burns's The Civil War ~ Deluxe eBook by Geoffrey C. Ward is available at the Apple iBookstore (for iPad).

Part 2
Google Lit Trips - Jerome Burg, a Google certified teacher, developed the first Google Lit Trip in 200_. In this section, we will explore the classic Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage (1895) by Stephen Crane. The novel is fiction, but it is based on interviews conducted by Steven Crane. Crane interviewed soldiers who returned home after the war. His writing style is so accurate that the novel is similar to a nonfiction piece about the Battle of Chancellorsville. Teachers have the flexibility of either reading the entire novel with their students, or use a creative technique to streamline the process. One technique to consider is the jigsaw technique Book-In-An-Hour.

The Red Badge of Courage is available online for free in various formats. Click here for the complete novel at Or, click here [UPLOAD FILE] for a pdf version that may be read on any ebook reader that supports PDFs.
  • Discussion questions: How well to you stand up under pressure? Has anything broken your spirit so much that you have run away? What is a red badge of courage? Can you find a sentence in the novel that is a turning point in the tale of Henry Fleming's coming-of-age experience that we call: The Red Badge of Courage?
  • Google Lit Trip (This is currently 'under construction') about The Red Badge of Courage
  • See also,

Stephen Crane wrote a follow-up story one year later (1896) titled The Veteran. In this story... (CONTINUE DESCRIPTION)

Part 3
Integrating Music - Lyrical music is often an excellent way to teach life's lessons through storytelling. There is a modern term which describes lyrical music: mashup. Lyrical music begins with a (1)story. A (2)poem of the story re-tells the tale more concisely. When combined with (3)music, these three become something new: lyrical music. Best of all, we all love to sing along and accidentally memorize the highlights of the original story.

On Friday, December 25, 1914, a truce was called during the trench warfare of World War 1 (1914-1918). It was early in a war that began five months earlier but would endure for nearly four more years. Years after that wondrous night in 1914, children of the men doubted the story; but the grandchildren loved the tale called, Christmas in the Trenches - here interpreted musically by John McCutcheon. As you listed to Francis Tolliver retell the story once again, think about Sullivan Ballou who was not reunited with his wife as well as Henry Fleming who became an honored veteran just like Francis Tolliver. If the video does not appear below, click this link to watch it on YouTube.

An excellent DVD of John McCutcheon LIVE is available at Amazon. Many more great stories just like this one. See also,

After experiencing the stories of these three front-line soldiers, collaborate in groups of three. Let your group determine the best way to compare and contrast Sullivan Ballou, Henry Fleming and Francis Tolliver. Be prepared to share what you have learned in front of class or online using whatever digital tool you feel is appropriate to re-tell your new knowledge.

Produced by Richard A. Diener, K12 Technology Integration Specialist ~ Port Washington-Saukville School District
Copyright 2013