Virtual Civil War Soldier’s Load

The Civil War Soldier’s Load
Technological Innovations


An unknown Union Soldier poses for a photo with a full load. Note the musket, bayonet, and knapsack. Library of Congress.

How to register:
We offer two field trip scheduling options:

All audiences. Content appropriate for Grades 4-12.

Through an examination of Soldiers’ Load objects, visitors will learn about the Army’s Civil War military mission and strategy, and Soldiers’ roles in carrying them out. The audience will recognize the load items carried by Civil War Soldiers to illustrate technological change that occurred in the Army during the Civil War.

Program Description:
The Civil War consumed the United States from 1861 to 1865. Tens of thousands of Soldiers endured hardships and challenges to carry out the Army’s military mission to preserve the Union. The items Soldiers carried into the field were invaluable to performing their duty and executing the Army’s mission.

Join a Museum educator to explore the gear, weapons, and personal items that made up a Civil War Soldier’s Load.

At the end of the lesson, participants will be better able to:

  • Identify uniforms, weapons, and equipment used by Civil War Soldiers and describe their functions.
  • Describe how Soldiers using the objects carried out the U.S. Army’s mission.
  • List examples of new technologies used during the Civil War and describe how mission requirements drove innovation.

Guiding Questions:
How did the items that Soldiers carried during the Civil War help carry out the Army’s military mission to preserve the Union?

What technological innovations influenced how Soldiers fought and served?

Curriculum Connections:

Common Core Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

History and Social Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools

USIL.9 The student will apply social science skills to understand the causes, major events, and effects of the Civil War by:

  1. describing the cultural, economic, and constitutional issues that divided the nation;
  2. explaining how the issues of states’ rights and slavery increased sectinal tensions;
  3. locating on a map the states that seceded from the Union and those that remained in the Union;
  4. describing critical developments in the war, including the location of major battles; and
  5. describing the effects of war from the perspectives of Union and Conferate soldiers (including African American soldiers), women, and enslaved African Americans.

VS.7 the student will demonstrate an understanding of the issues that divided our nation and led to the Civl war by:

  1. explaining the major events and the differences between northern and southern states that divided Virginians and led to secession, war, and the creation of West Virginia;
  2. describing Virginia’s role in the war, including identifying major battles that took place in Viriginia.

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