Lesson Plan: Overview

What Was South Carolina's Role in the Spanish American War?

Grade Level: 7th

Walter Scott's Service Record in the Spanish American War

Academic Standards

Standard 7-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the impact of imperialism throughout the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Indicator 7.4-3 Explain the causes and effects of the Spanish-American War and its reflection of the United States’ interest in imperial expansion, including this nation’s acquisition of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam; its temporary occupation of Cuba; and its rise as a world power.

Social Studies Literacy Elements

G. Make and record observations about the physical and human characteristics of places

H. Construct maps, graphs, tables, and diagrams to display social studies information

Historical Background Notes

Through out most of the nineteenth century Americans were isolationists, avoiding war and entangling alliances with European nations. Even with this sentiment, Americans were on the international scene with the purchases of Louisiana and Alaska and through global trade. By the late 1890s the United States was emerging as an economic power and competing for its share of the world market. This fact alone made the United States turn its thoughts to outside its borders, mainly to the profitable trade with Asia (McSeveney 2001, 157).

Most Americans were against interfering in politics outside of their borders, therefore propaganda was used to persuade them to rally behind this imperialist movement. The United States' citizens set about this task through the use of emotional speeches (social Darwinism), and yellow journalism (i.e. news articles about the De Lome letter and the USS Maine) (Henretta et al. 2002, 611). The United States thus launched into war with Spain, propelling it on to the world stage as a world power and giving it a foothold in Latin America and Asia.

South Carolina, even though it was still recovering from the ravages of the Civil War and Reconstruction, played an active part in the war. Volunteers from South Carolina enlisted in the military (even though a good many of those enlisting failed the physical because of poor health from poor nutrition), the state housed a Spanish-American War training camp, Camp Wetherell, in Greenville, SC, and the state supplied funding for South Carolina soldiers being deployed in the war.


Primary Sources
  Butler, Matthew Calbraith, to Secretary of War R.A. Alger, 26 September 1898. Matthew Calbraith Butler Papers Papers. Manuscripts Division, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.
  Butler, Matthew Calbraith, to N.G. Gonzales, 5 November 1898. Matthew Calbraith Butler Papers. Manuscripts Division, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.
  "Camp Wetherill." Two Photographs. Coxe Collection. Greenville Historical Society, Greenville, South Carolina.
  DeLeon, Thomas C. Peace Jubilee Souvenir: War Rhymes Grave and Gay. Atlanta: Carnival Publishing Co., 1898.
  South Carolina. Military Department. Adjutant and Inspector General. Muster rolls of the Spanish American War, 1898-1899. S 192057. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.
  Scott, Walter N. Service record. Pendleton District Historical, Recreational and Tourism Commission, Pendleton, South Carolina.
  Secondary Sources

Henretta, James A., Brody, David, Dumenil, Lynn. America A Concise History. Volume 2: Since 1865, Bedford/St. Martin’s publishers, New York.


McSeveney, Samuel T., Selected Historical Documents to Accompany America’s History. Volume 2: Since 1865, Bedford/St. Martin’s Publishers, New York.


Lesson Plans

1. Hand out the KWL chart and give five minutes for students to brain storm what they know about the topic of the Spanish/American War and South Carolina's part in that war. Then they should fill out the K (what they know) on the KWL chart. Have class discussion about what students know and then fill out the W (what they want to know), (make suggestions if needed, i.e. who do you think the USA fought in the war, where did the troops come from that fought the war, what was the recent history of South Carolina, etc.).
2. Divide students into groups (four or five per group) and tell the students that each of them will be receiving a piece to a puzzle that will answer the question of what South Carolina's part was in the Spanish American War and how people felt about that war.
3. Hand out to each group combinations of four documents from the following list. If more than six groups duplicates may be needed.
  • Copies of the 6 poems (students should be trying to understand the how the people who wrote the poems felt about the war)
  • Copies of muster rolls from SC ( students should be looking for how many troops came from local towns, ages of troops, rank of troops, etc.)
  • Copies of M. C. Butler's 26 Sept. 1898 letter (students should be learning what the life of a soldier in Cuba was like and what Cuba was like)
  • Copies of M. C. Butler's 5 Nov. 1898 letter (students should be learning what the life of a soldier in Cuba was like and what Cuba was like)
  • Copies of Wallace N. Scott's service record (student should be learning who Wallace N. Scott was and what he did)
  • Copies of pictures of Camp Wetherill (students should be learning what supplies the soldiers were issued, and what camp Wetherill was like)
4. Groups should analyze the documents using National Archives Document Analysis sheets.
5. Group discussion, in which each group member adds his/her information that he/she has gotten to the L (what student has learned) part of the KWL chart.
6. Class discussion, in which each group adds information to everyone's L (what student has learned) part of the KWL chart.
7. The student will write a letter to his/her mother back home, pretending to be a South Carolinian soldier or related support person in the Spanish American War. From what he/she has concluded from the documents, the class discussion, and the completed KWL, the student should include in the letter: where he/she is stationed, address of person being written to, the date the letter is being written, and how they feel about the war.

Teacher Reflections

In my years as a teacher I have found that most experiences enrich my knowledge and ability to be a better teacher. History is of course just people’s experiences that have been recorded. The course “Teaching American History in South Carolina” however gave me so much more. I am very eclectic in my teaching style, using a variety of resources, of which this course has increased tremendously. Every day the lectures by Dr. Melissa Walker, the methods taught by the master teacher, and the trips to the cultural institutions gave me not only background information, but real first hand tried and true means to pass knowledge on to my students along with primary sources. So many times classes are one or the other, either wonderful content with no real suggestions on how to teach it to a middle schooler, or wonderful methods with no real background so teachers do not have the background knowledge to implement them. This course gave the best of both!

Content, what can I say, as with the last experience I had in one of Dr. Melissa Walker’s classes, I learned so much in such a short time it was almost over whelming. She is a wealth of knowledge, pulling from many resources and historical accounts. She is one of the best professors I have had the privilege of taking a course under. Every day she was always suggesting texts of which we could enrich our knowledge base, if we were interested in a specific topic. And tidbits of information that normal courses would not provide, such as the bit of information that I included in my lesson on the Spanish American War. It was about how a large percentage of the recruits were not able to pass the physical because of poor health. That information is vital to my students understanding how much of a sacrifice it truly was for South Carolina to send soldiers. Even though there were so few, these were most of the able bodied workers from the state.

With teaching world history in seventh grade, I thought I was going to have a hard time trying to fit a South Carolina subject into my curriculum. However, that was not the case. Dr. Walker was always ready with little tidbits that did that job for me. She put all the history into state, national and worldly context.

The master teacher was just as phenomenal. His ability to pull from so many different kinds of resources was incredible. This fit right into my way of teaching. I teach students who have never lived in a world that didn’t have email, video games, big screen TVs, and much more. They want to be entertained. Unless you can grab their attention and make it meaningful to them, they just aren’t interested. The suggestions from this course have rejuvenated my teaching techniques. I try and wow my students with video clips, catchy power points, or primary source “puzzles” to hook them. Then I reel them in, to the reading and other drier sources once they are interested.

The use of so many different kinds of resources, such as video clips, like “Atomic Café”, and Disney propaganda cartoons, document based questions, primary source puzzles, and so many others, has helped me to capture my student’s interests in so many ways. It’s just incredible.
I think the most important method that I have used in my classroom is the document based questions from Walsh publishing. I have struggled for several years trying to teach my students how to write in a historical manner. It has gotten harder and harder each year. They want to start each paper with “Today I am going to tell you about….”or “My paper that I am writing about is”. With these primary sources and questions I have seen a vast improvement in my students writing. The first one I used with my students was “Why was Great Britain the first to Industrialize?” This is one of our seventh grade standards, so I was very interested to see if they would help my students understand the subject better. I even used them, with some scaffolding, with my extremely low students and they were very successful in writing a very articulate paper about the subject we were studying. A lot of these students had not written a paragraph all year that you could even make sense out of. This sent my hopes soaring. I am hopeful that this with give them a formula to help them be successful writers in the future.

Cultural Institutions
To put the icing on top of the cake, we have the cultural institutions. Dr. Walker gave us a foundation layer with the background for interesting lessons, Thomas then put a layer on when he stepped in with exciting ways to teach that content, and the cultural institutions put the icing on top with all the primary sources I needed at my fingertips. Each and every institution we went to was filled with helpful individuals that were ready and willing to help find any resources needed. I found most of the resources for the two lessons I am submitting at the Historic Pendleton Foundation, Greenville Historical Society, the South Carolina Archives, and the Library of Congress. The people such as Don Stewart and John Christiansen from the state archives were always so helpful in finding good resources. I used photographs of mill village life, from the Greenville Historical Society, Sanborn maps from the state archives, and photos of share cropper’s homes from the Library of Congress, in my lesson on the Industrial Revolution in upstate South Carolina. The students were making such wonderful connections and the grades for the unit test were some of the highest I have had all year. I am looking forward to teaching the unit on the Spanish American War when we come to that time period. Hopefully the students will be just as successful.

I will definitely be developing more units with lessons that include collaborations with these wonderful institutions. I am very thankful that I gleamed a abundance of ideas for future lesson from the other institutions we attended. I will be taking full advantage of these resources in the future for lesson planning.

Student Learning
My teaching career did not start until later in life. So I brought with me a useful knowledge of being a parent educator before a certified one. I realized in helping my own children that one approach or explanation did not always work for the second or third child. They each had their own very different learning styles even with having the same gene pool. Therefore, I came to the teaching profession knowing that you can’t teach a lesson just one way, you will only reach a hand full of students. The problem was finding good resources to instruct in different modalities and still be challenging. I think with the help of this course and the primary resources and materials that I have been made aware of, I have found the right mix for my students.

Middle school students, as I have stated previously, have never lived in a world without being entertained electronically. I started my unit on the beginnings of the industrial revolution with the essential question of “Why was England, Great Britain, the first to industrialize?” Then I proceeded to a power point which I projected onto an overhead screen with an LCD projector to give it the “big screen” effect. I linked short segments of streaming video from United Streaming, which the SCDE has purchased rights for, into the power point. With this introduction and the students being able to answer a few reasons why England industrialized first, I gave them the document based question from Walsh publishers on the same topic. My higher level students answered the questions about each document on their own, while I went around and monitored and helped the ones that were having trouble. With my lowest students, the ones who have difficulty reading, I allowed them to try to answer the questions and read with them individually and explained what a lot of the documents were referring to. However, after explaining the meaning of the documents most all of those students were able to answer the questions on their own. I then gave them a formula for writing that was very specific. I saw a lot of carry over from that writing to the essay comparing and contrasting the Industrial Revolution in England with that of the Upstate of South Carolina.

My students have become much better writers. We then did the lesson on the industrialization of upstate South Carolina. They used a KWL chart to write down what they already knew about the subject. Almost all of them knew very little, even though we are in the heart of where the textile industry started in South Carolina, and many live in what used to be mill village houses. I started my lesson by telling them that they each had a piece to a puzzle and like a jigsaw puzzle each piece in the class fit together to make a big picture. I gave them about 5 to 10 minutes to analyze their document or photograph. Then as a group they were given about 5 to 10 minutes to put the other pieces of the puzzle in the group together. I asked some classes that were having difficulty, “How does you’re primary source and the other primary sources all fit into the topic?” Then they were allowed to get up and go from group to group to see what puzzle pieces the other groups had. Almost all the student made some sort of really good connection between documents to answer the question of how was Upstate South Carolina’s Industrial Revolution was different or alike Great Britain’s. I also saw a great deal of carry over in the writing style that I instructed them in with the document based question. I give a PACT type of assessment and the grades for this unit were off the chart compared with previous grades. The bottom line is, the students were interested, they were all engaged, and they all learned a great deal, and that’s what really matters!

With teaching world history in seventh grade, I thought I was going to have a hard time trying to fit a South Carolina subject into my curriculum. However, that was not the case. Dr. Walker was always ready with little tidbits that did that job for me. She put all the history into state, national and world context.

Student Assessment

Writing will be graded using the PACT Writing Rubric.

Examples of Students Work

No student examples for this lesson plan.


Martha Bohnenberger
D.R. Hill Middle, South Carolina