Lesson Plans > 5th Grade

From Illinois to Atlanta, Georgia


General E.F. Dutton (1838-1900) and his family settled in Sycamore in 1846. In 1861 Dutton enlisted in the Civil War. He quickly rose through the ranks. In 1862 he joined the 105th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and in 1863 he was made a member of the examination board of the Army of Cumberland, organized by the War Department to choose and assign officers to the regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops. He rejoined his regiment in 1864. In 1865 he was named Colonel Dutton for his distinguished service in the campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas and in the Battle of Smiths Farm in North Carolina. He was named brevetted general on March 15, 1865.

Note: Materials are for educational purposes only.


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DuttonR Dutton
Dutton Letters

Guided Questions:

  1. What inferences can be drawn about life as a soldier during the Civil War after reading the personal letters of General Dutton?
  2. What can you tell about the level of respect people had in the 1800s?

Suggested Activity:

  1. Share background information about General Dutton with students.
  2. Allow students time to read the personal letters (see complete letters in the downloads) written by General Dutton to his friend, who later became his wife. There are five letters. Depending on time, students could divide the readings, or, if time permits, they could read them all. As they read, students should make inferences about what the daily life of a Civil War soldier would have been like in 1861.
  3. In groups, students could record inferences or actual details about life as a soldier.
  4. Students could also trace on a map the path General Dutton took during the time period of these letters.
  5. Once students have discussed what they have learned in their groups, they should report to the whole class.

Suggested Assessment:

Students could write a letter to General Dutton as a friend in response to one of his letters, including inferences made from reading his letters.


Letter: June 3, 1861

Letter: February 6, 1863

Letter: July 31, 1864

Letter: August 2, 1864

Letter: August 3, 1864