The capture of Roanoke Island was the first objective of the Burnside Expedition. From this strategic point Union forces launched forays inland to capture Elizabeth City, New Bern and Beaufort. Once Union troops occupied these towns, the Union blockade of the Carolina coast could be enforced. The 1862 Battle of Roanoke Island and the subsequent occupation by Union forces also led to the establishment of the Freedmen's Colony on the island's north end. It was here that refugees from coastal plantations gathered to establish a new life as free men and women.
This lesson plan, designed for 8th grade students, explores the story of the Freedmen's Colony on Roanoke Island and is a supplement to the comprehensive, site-based learning program of the North Carolina Civil War Experience. While Roanoke Island Festival Park does not conduct on-site 19th century programming, this lesson is an integral part of the North Carolina Civil War story.
The stories of the Battle of Roanoke Island and the Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony are components for meeting the following NCSCS Goals for Social Studies:
- 8.H.1 Apply historical thinking to understand the creation and development of North Carolina and the United States.
- 8.H.2 Understand the ways in which conflict, compromise and negotiation have shaped North Carolina and the United States.
- 8.H.3 Understand the factors that contribute to change and continuity in North Carolina and the United States.
- Students should understand the distinctive opinions about and responses to secession on the Outer Banks.
- Students should understand the important military and strategic characteristics and ramifications of the Battle of Roanoke Island and the subsequent Union occupation of the island.
- Students should gain an understanding of the economic and social significance of the Battle of Roanoke Island and the impact on the refugees who sought shelter there.
Supplemental Lesson Plans
- For information on visiting Roanoke Island Festival Park and the series of Civil War exhibits planned for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, visit the main Roanoke Island web page at roanokeisland.com
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