Teaching through our historic sites

CSS Neuse

The CSS Neuse State Historic Site tells the unique story of a Confederate ironclad gunboat and the men who built and served aboard her. The small town of Kinston, North Carolina, where the gunboat presently resides, found itself on the frontlines of the Civil War for most of the conflict. A few miles east, New Bern fell to Union forces early in the war and was never recaptured by Confederate forces, despite several attempts. The Confederate Navy constructed the Neuse, a shallow-draft gunboat with iron plating on its sides, for the primary purpose of assisting in the assault on Union forces occupying New Bern. This unit will explore this fascinating part of the North Carolina Civil War Experience in greater detail.

This education program, designed for 8th grade students, is one in a series that provides comprehensive, site-based learning experiences concerning the state's Civil War history. The program is a stand-alone unit, but its value is multiplied when combined with one or more additional units. Each program contains at least one supplemental lesson plan. These plans work best in support of the on-site activities, but can also be used if a site visit is not possible.

Program Goals

The story of the CSS Neuse is a component for meeting the following NCSCS Goals for 8th Grade Social Studies:

  • 4.02 Describe the political and military developments of the Civil War and analyze their effect on the outcome of the war.
  • 4.03 Assess North Carolina's role in the Civil War and analyze the social and economic impact of the war on the state.
  • 4.04 Evaluate the importance of the roles played by individuals at the state and national levels during the Civil War and Reconstruction Period.


The story of the CSS Neuse is a component for meeting the following National Standard for the Social Sciences:

  • Standard 2: The course and character of the Civil War and its effects on the American people.
  • 2A: The student understands how the resources of the Union and Confederacy affected the course of the war.
  • 2B: The student understands the social experience of the war on the battlefield and homefront.


Program Objectives

  1. Students should understand the importance of the CSS Neuse and how its story fits into the overall story of the Civil War in eastern North Carolina.
  2. Students should understand the importance of the technological advancements of the mid-nineteenth century in regards to the advent of rifled artillery and ironclad development.
  3. Students should have a basic understanding of shipbuilding practices and the efforts it took to build the CSS Neuse.
  4. Students should have a clear understanding of what life was like in Kinston, North Carolina during the Civil War for the soldiers and sailors stationed there, as well as for the civilians living in this area.

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