Maine supplied a huge number of soldiers to the Union Army during the Civil War -- some 70,000 -- and responded after the war by building monuments to soldiers who had served and soldiers who had died in the epic American struggle.
Most societies have had rituals or times set aside to honor ancestors, those who have died and have paved the way for the living. Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, is the day Americans have set aside for such remembrances.
Three cemeteries -- all of which were in Westbrook during the Civil War -- contain headstones of Civil War soldiers. The inscriptions and embellishments on the stones offer insight into sentiments of the eras when the soldiers died.
Grade Level: 6-8
Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual & Performing Arts
This lesson plan will give students an overview of how burial sites and gravestone material culture can assist historians and archaeologists in discovering information about people and migration over time. Students will learn how new scholarship can help to dispel harmful archaeological myths, look into the roles of religion and ethnicity in early Maine and New England immigrant and colonial settlements, and discover how to track changes in population and social values from the 1600s to early 1900s based on gravestone iconography and epitaphs.