Lesson Plan: Overview

Segregated Soldiers

Grade Level: 5th
Camp Jackson

Academic Standards

Standard 5-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of major domestic and foreign developments that contributed to the United States’ becoming a world power.

5-3.6 Summarize actions by the United States that contributed to the rise of this nation as a world power, including the annexation of new territory following the Spanish-American War and the role played by the United States in the building of the Panama Canal and in World War I. (P, G, H)

Social Studies Literacy Elements
O. Consider multiple perspectives of documents and stories.
Essential Question
1. What role did African-American soldiers play in the effort to achieve victory in World War I?

Historical Background Notes

As the United States entered World War I in 1917, the governor of South Carolina was, the progressive, Richard I. Manning. Governor Manning was a proponent of U.S. involvement in the war. However, some South Carolinians in the counties of the Dutch Fork (Newberry, Lexington) and Orangeburg and Charleston counties that were comprised largely of residents of German descent were opposed to the war with the Central Powers (Edgar 1998, 476). South Carolina moved quickly to become a powerful force in the war effort through the influence that was held with its native son, President Woodrow Wilson. Military bases were established at Camp Jackson, Camp Sevier, Camp Wadsworth (Army), Parris Island (Marine Corps), and Charleston Navy Yard (Edgar 1998, 477).

Due to prevailing prejudices in the white leadership of the military in the north and south, African-American draftees were primarily relegated to support and labor battalions. African-American units were lead by white commanding officers. A smaller portion of these soldiers did see combat. The first African-American troops sent to the European front were the 369th New York Regiment dispatched from Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, SC. The South Carolina Units that saw service in The Great War include the 30th “Old Hickory” Division, the 81st “Wildcat” Division, as well as the 92nd and 93rd Divisions. African-American South Carolinians saw combat as a part of the American Expeditionary Force in the 92nd and 93rd Divisions (Megginson 1994, 11).

The 371st Regiment of the 93rd Division was formed at Camp Jackson in August of 1917. As a part of the 93rd Division, the 371st was integrated with French and Moroccan troops under French command (Megginson 1994, 11). In this capacity, these troops served with distinction as members of the regiment were awarded the French Medaille Militaire, Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre (They Never Flinched). A unit commendation of the Croix de Guerre with Palm was awarded to the 371st. This unit can boast the only African-American Medal of Honor recipient from either world war, Freddy Stowers (Edgar 1998, 477). Stowers received this award for action on September 28, 1918 when he rallied his squad to lead a charge on a fortified hill to capture a German machine gun emplacement and, after being wounded urged his men on to capture a second trench line. Stower’s family accepted his award, after his death, from President George H.W. Bush in 1991 (They Never Flinched).


Primary Sources

93rd Division Battle Flag.  Photograph.  South Carolina Confederate Relic Room, Columbia, South Carolina.  Photograph taken by Jan Levinson, 2006.

“Camp Jackson, Columbia, S.C., taken from 100 foot tower.” Postcard. (Postcards rich. co. 423) South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

Jacksonian (Welcome Home Issue).  South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

Secondary Sources

Edgar, Walter B.  South Carolina  A History.  Columbia, South Carolina:  University of South Carolina Press, 1998.

Megginson, W.J. Black Soldiers in World War I:  Anderson, Pickens, and Oconee Counties, South Carolina. South Carolina:  Oconee County Historical Society.

They Never Flinched: The African-American 371st Infantry Regiment’s Path to Glory During World War I. South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, Columbia, South Carolina. PDF file accessed online here.


• Color copies of 371st Battle Flag

• Digital copy of 371st Battle Flag for SmartBoard or Presentation TV

Lesson Plans

1. Start to finish, this lesson will likely take a minimum of 2-3, 45 min. class periods.

2. Teacher will introduce students to the primary source by providing them with background information related to the 93rd Division.

3. Students will view the photo of the battle flag in small groups.

4. Students will analyze the flag photo using a photo analysis handout.

5.In small groups, students will design and create a memorial to the men who fought in the 93rd division. This can be an illustration or physical model.

6. Each group will create a brochure promoting their memorial.

7. Students will be certain to include in their brochure some of the information that they have learned about the unit.

Teacher Reflections

I have been very pleased with the professional growth that I was able to attain as a result of my experiences through the Teaching American History in South Carolina Summer Midlands Institute. Since I am a 5th grade teacher, all of the material we covered over the course of the institute was of value to me. The South Carolina standards that we are expected to cover in fifth grade encompass American history from Reconstruction to the Present. I have utilized much of the information from the cultural institutions and our Master Scholar, Paul Anderson, on several occasions.

Paul provided us with information and insight into many areas. The information that Paul provided in his lectures allows me to have one more source of information to draw from. This helps me to make my Social Studies lessons more interesting to students because I am able to provide them with information that they can’t find in their textbooks. It was especially helpful to have notes and information regarding history after World War II. The information has provided me with more confidence in this period from the Cold War through the present and will allow me to cover this material more thoroughly when I teach it this year.

The cultural institutions provided a wealth of information that has allowed me to refer students to local landmarks in our state and even in our city that directly relate to topics we discuss in class. Some specific, recent examples include discussion of the Woodrow Wilson home in downtown Columbia when we were doing some research on the president. We have also recently discussed Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, which has given me the opportunity to refer students to Sesquicentennial and Greenwood State Parks as New Deal, Civilian Conservation Corps projects. We even spoke about the gate at the entrance to Greenwood State Park being left unfinished because of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Ultimately, I believe what makes Social Studies interesting for 5th graders or anyone is the little tidbits of information that allow them to make connections to their own experiences. The institute has been a great resource in that respect. I enjoy collecting the stories of history - the quirks of individual’s personalities, finding out who didn’t really get along with others, any juicy piece of information relating to intrigue or scandal, etc. Learning some of that background information helps my students to understand the motivations of countries and leaders. It makes Social Studies fun and interesting. I have discovered that when I can find a good story to use when introducing a topic or period of time I discuss with my students, they retain the information better and are more likely to share the information with others. I have had several parents tell me that their child really enjoys my class and then go on to explain how he or she has come home and related one of the stories I have shared. The cultural institutions and my research for these lessons have given me the opportunity to find more stories to share with my students.

The lesson I chose to teach for the portfolio assignment was “Lines Behind the Lines.” Students already had some background knowledge of the subject of World War I prior to beginning the lesson. This lesson was taught as a part of our discussion of the war in December. I began the lesson with the presentation and discussion of a streaming video on World War I.

In this lesson, students were asked to analyze a collection of letters written by a soldier, Cornelius Kollock, who was from South Carolina and was stationed for part of his training at Camp Jackson (now known as Fort Jackson) just before the U.S. became involved in the Great War. In the beginning, I gave each group only the letters with no transcripts and asked them to try to make as much sense of them as possible. Since 5th graders are a more capable bunch, I prefer to give them some time with the primary documents before giving them transcriptions. During the time they are viewing and attempting to decipher the originals, I provide little help to them because I like to see what they are able to discover about a primary document on their own.

After they had languished over the letters for a few minutes, I provided them with the transcripts and asked them to pull important facts from the letters. Students used this information to create a timeline of Cornelius Kollock’s experiences. Students then used their Social Studies books and notes from the video to create a timeline of important events related to World War I. Groups used these two timelines to create a “master” timeline on Timeliner software that merged the information from the two. This program offers several options in the type of timeline you can use. Each group was given the freedom to choose the type of timeline that best displayed the information they had gathered.

I believe the value of this lesson and activity lies in its ability to show students the human face of the war. Students were able to see how one soldier and his family were affected by the war. They were able to understand that life continued at home in spite of the war going on. Many of my boys were surprised to find mention of college football games between the Citadel and the University of South Carolina in one of the documents. When they constructed their timelines we were able to discuss how long the war had gone on before the United States got involved, how quickly the war ended after the U.S. entered, and how the events of the war related to this soldier’s life.

The lesson met my expectations over all. I was pleased with the product my students were able to create using the software. I believe, however, that I would have been just as pleased with a “paper and pencil” type of product. There was a high level of interest on the part of most students as the activity ran its course and that usually translates into a very good final product.

I will modify a few things when I teach this lesson again. Students had a difficult time understanding that the letters were written by different people, so I will spend some whole group instructional time analyzing selected documents the next time I use the lesson. I also chose not to use the extension activity of writing a letter from the perspective of a South Carolinian soldier to someone at home. I see that it would be beneficial to use this part of the lesson as a way for students to further synthesize the information they glean from the various sources they use during the course of instruction.

It is quite possible there are other things I will change the next time I use these lessons. I never teach the same lesson exactly the same way twice. I know I will find more resources through the cultural institution contacts I have made and continue to improve the way I teach Social Studies.

Student Assessment

The brochures will be graded using a teacher-created rubric.

Examples of Students Work

No examples available for this lesson plan.


Davis Bowling
Columbia, South Carolina