Who Won the Civil War?

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 12267

If you know anything about American history, you know the Union won the Civil War, but was that outcome easy to predict then? Chart the course of the war and discover for yourself!


United States

learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Have you ever heard someone say they "won the battle but lost the war"?
  • What do you think that means?

For example, you might ask for a later bedtime so you can stay outside playing with your friends longer. Your parents may allow you to stay out this one time — you have won a battle — but they may refuse to move your bedtime — you have lost the war.

friends playing soccer at sunset

This became a saying because most wars are won by the side that won the most battles.

  • You know the North won the Civil War, but did they win the most battles, too?

Find out!

  • What is the difference between a battle and war?

A war comprises many different battles.

Battles typically last a day to a few weeks and are fought in a specific location. A war is won when one side can no longer continue to fight battles.

Battle of Franklin

  • You know that the Union army won the Civil War, but who won the most battles?

Find out!

  1. Explore this List of Civil War Battles.
  1. As you do, complete the Civil War Battle Victories Chart under Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.
  1. For each year, place a tally mark under Confederate Victories for every battle won by the South.

For example, the Confederate Army won the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861, so you would record the tally mark next to 1861 under Confederate Victories.

  1. For each year, place a tally mark under Union Victories for every battle won by the North.

When you are finished creating your chart, answer these questions.

  • Was one side ahead for the entire war?
  • Were there more battles fought in a specific year?

Take your chart with you to the Got It? section to graph your findings!

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