Lesson Plans on the Revolutionary War - Questions
for Patriots, by Gregory Edgar
Chapter 1. Question
1. How did the arrival, from England, of the British
Army change the lives of the Dunham family?
Chapter 3. Question
2. Like all the other British officers, Major
Pitcairn has an opinion about the fighting ability
of the "rebels" (patriots). He does not take them
seriously. Do you think this attitude will help, or
hurt, the British Army when the time comes to fight
the Americans on a battlefield? Explain your answer.
Chapter 4. Question
3. Do you think the Pitcairns and the Dunhams would
be friends if the Pitcarins were living in Boston
and there was no Revolutionary War? Explain your
Chapter 6. Question
4. Do the patriot militia seem like real soldiers in
a real army? How do you think they will do against
the experienced, well trained British regulars when
the battle starts?
Chapter 7. Question
5. The British generals had a choice. They could
have landed at Charlestown Neck and starved the
rebels (patriots) out of their fort. But instead,
they chose to boldly march up the hill to force the
rebels to leave their fort. Why do you think the
generals made this choice?
Chapter 9. Question
6. Imagine you are General George Washington. You
have just arrived at Cambridge (patriot army
headquarters), 3 weeks after the battle. You spend a
few days observing the army and notice that the
soldiers don't like to obey their officers' orders.
And you learn that, on the day of the battle, some
officers actually led their men in running away just
before the British attacked. What should you do?
Chapter 14. Question
7. How important to a community do you think clergy
(ministers/priests) were in colonial times? Do you
think they could persuade people to take a stand in
politics or war?
Chapter 16. Question
8a. Do you think General Howe's decision to burn
Charlestown was wise?
Explain how it might
influence the thinking of each of these groups of
Americans who watched the battle from their homes in
Boston: 8b. the patriots, 8c. the loyalists, and 8d.
those Americans who are still undecided.
Chapter 21. Question
9. Imagine you watched the battle from a Boston
rooftop. Write a letter to your cousin who lives in
Philadelphia. Tell him or her about the day's
events. Make your letter descriptive and persuasive,
because you know your cousin will probably lend it
to the local newspaper editor (the "publick
printer") to publish in the newspaper. Before
writing the letter, decide whether you and your
cousin are patriots or loyalists.
Chapter 21. Question
10. Imagine you live in Pennsylvania in June, 1775.
Like many people in your village, you are undecided
about this new war. You want to live in peace with
the mother country, but you don't like the British
government telling Americans what they can and can't
do. The Continental Congress has asked Virginia's
George Washington to lead a new organization -- a
Continental Army. Congress wants patriots from every
colony to enlist in this new army.
A recruiter comes to
your farm and asks you to enlist, and march to
Massachusetts to fight against the British. Your
neighbor says that Sam Adams and Joseph Warren and
the other "Yankees" of New England started this war.
You have never met a Yankee, but you've heard talk
about their social leveling, which goes against what
you believe in. So you are a bit prejudiced against
Explain how you would
feel about enlisting in the Continental Army if .
a. It's June 24, and
you haven't yet heard about the Battle of Bunker
b. It's June 25, and
you just read in the newspaper a letter from a
patriot who was at the battle.
Chapter 23. Question
11. a. Why were the British so hard on the American
prisoners? b. If they were in a war against France,
would they treat French prisoners this way?
Lesson Plans on the Revolutionary War Answers to
Questions for Patriots:
Question 1. Answer.
Because of all the riots in Boston in the years
leading up to the war, the British government
decided to send soldiers ("regulars") to Boston to
keep the peace. At the same time, the government
passed a law forcing Americans to give the regulars
a place to live. This Quartering Act of 1768 was one
of the laws that we did not like being forced upon
us. Americans were very angry about having the
British soldiers over here.
Question 2. Answer.
The British generals were very confident, and they
underestimated the Americans' will to stand and
fight. This would make a big difference in how they
planned the battle, and how they would react to
events during the battle. They would take too many
risks, and be unwilling to adjust their battle plan.
Question 3. Answer.
This question is intended to provoke a discussion of
class differences and prejudices. For example, the
prevailing attitude in England was very prejudiced.
The influential writer, Samuel Johnson, expressed a
commonly held belief, when he alluded to the
thousands of British citizens who had chosen to
immigrate to America as indentured servants rather
than face prison terms: "The Americans are nothing
but a race of convicts, and they deserve whatever we
Question 4. Answer.
All Americans (patriots and loyalists) wondered
about this will the patriots stand their ground and
fight against the British regulars, or will they
instead turn and run away at the start of the
Question 5. Answer.
Because the British generals had very little respect
for the Americans and our fighting ability. There
were great differences in equipment, training,
leadership, and discipline between American
citizen-soldiers (militia) and the professional
Question 6. Answer.
Washington, being an aristocrat, was disgusted by
the New Englanders' social leveling; Yankees did not
like to show proper deference to their economic or
military superiors. He was also an admirer of the
courage and discipline shown by the British
regulars. Washington court-martialed the officers
who ran away, and he established strict rules for
behavior in and out of camp. As one soldier noted in
his diary, soon after Washington and a few other
Virginian generals arrived, "New lords, new laws."
Question 7. Answer.
Letters written by British soldiers and American
loyalists often reflected the writer's resentment
toward rebel pastors for firing up their
parishioners into what was then called the rage
militaire, a French term for what we now remember as
the "spirit of '76".
Questions 8 and 9.
Answer. These questions are intended to make the
students think about what they've learned from
reading the story, and place themselves back in time
to see how the Revolutionary War impacted people in
personal ways. Anything the students write to answer
these questions should be satisfactory.
Question 10. Answer.
This question can be answered on paper, or it can be
a group activity to act out these scenes.
Two or more farmers
meet at a crossroads and stop to discuss the
predicament that the New England "Yankees" have put
all the colonies in. A recruiter rides up and gives
them a sales pitch about a new regiment forming up.
They listen and talk to the recruiter, but end the
conversation by telling him they'll think about it.
The next scene is the
next day. The farmers again meet at the crossroads
and begin discussing the pros and cons of enlisting
in this new Continental Army to "go meet the
British". Suddenly, an express rider arrives, shouts
"Hark! News from the North!" and throws them a
newspaper, then rides off. It's a special edition
just printed that morning. The paper includes a
letter (written by students) just received from
Massachusetts, describing the Battle of Bunker Hill.
The farmers renew their discussion, more animated
this time, and make their decisions.
Question 11. Answer.
During the Revolutionary War, the British government
refused to recognize us as a separate nation, even
after we declared our independence. They considered
the American colonists to be "rebels" because we
were rebelling against our king, an unlawful act.
Therefore, the British felt that captured Americans
were not true "prisoners of war." Instead, they saw
us as traitors, so we did not deserve the good
treatment that the British would have given to
French prisoners of war.
regular/redcoat; patriot/rebel; tory/loyalist
Lesson Plans on the Revolutionary War Questions for
Gone to Meet the
British, by Gregory Edgar
Chapter 1. Question
1: Why did the British think controlling the Hudson
River would eventually end the Revolutionary War?
Chapter 2. Question
2: Was the British general, John Burgoyne, smart or
foolish to hire Indians as his allies? How did it
affect those Americans who were trying to stay
neutral and not become involved in the Revolutionary
Chapter 4. Question
3: Molly Cameron was one of many "camp followers"
attached to General Burgoyne's army. Why were women
and children in the British Army?
Chapter 4. Question 4: Why did King George III have
to supplement his army by hiring Hessians, Tories
Chapter 5. Question
5: How could the Reverend Allen be so domineering
over the Pittsfield captain and his militia?
Chapter 6. Question
6: Despite knowing that the militia outnumbered
Baum's forces, Duncan Cameron told his daughter
"they're just rebels and, up against Regulars, do
not stand a chance." Why'd he have this attitude?
Chapter 8. Question
7: Why would Duncan Cameron find the wilderness
attractive, and consider settling in it?
Chapter 8. Question
8: Why did the Americans, but not the British and
Hessians, fight "Indian style"?
Chapters 9 and 11.
Question 9: Why did the rebels (patriots) and
loyalists (tories) hate and fight each other with
Chapter 13. Question
10: You notice that patriot militia don't like to
obey orders from generals outside their own state.
And they don't want to stay longer than the number
of days they enlisted for. Do you think this will
hurt the American chances to win the war?
Chapter 16. Question
11: Were you surprised by the way Major Dearborn and
his men talked to each other?
Chapter 23. Question
12: Why do you think most historians refer to
Saratoga as "the turning point of the Revolutionary
Lesson Plans on
the Revolutionary War Answers to Questions for Gone
Meet the British:
Question 1. Answer:
Massachusetts provided more men than any other
state, and Connecticut more supplies, to General
Washington's main army outside Philadelphia. Only a
few roads led out of southern New England to the
Hudson River. Upon reaching the river, wagons had to
be unloaded, and the cargo put in boats to cross the
river, then reloaded onto wagons on the other shore.
British warships sailing up and down the river would
have time to spot such activity before this could be
finished. Thus, General Washington's main supply
line would be cut off. This would be so discouraging
that people might ask the Continental Congress to
start negotiations with Great Britain for a peaceful
end to the Revolutionary War.
Question 2. Answer:
The British plan to use Indians as allies backfired,
for several reasons. Militarily, the Indians were
not effective, since they only wanted to plunder and
scalp, and they would not stay around for the
battles. Their slaughter of civilians (rebels,
neutrals and loyalists alike) persuaded many
neutrals and lukewarm loyalists to join the rebel
(patriot) forces and fight against Burgoyne's
Question 3. Answer:
European soldiers were in the army for life, or
until old age or disability forced them out.
Naturally, many of the men had families, but a
soldier's pay was too small to support a family back
home. So the wife and children would sometimes come
along as camp followers. They had duties to perform,
such as cooking, washing, gathering firewood, and
stealing chickens and other food from civilians.
Each woman was allowed a half ration of food per
day, and each child a quarter ration. As the war
dragged on, year after year, the army would
sometimes camp in one town for a long time. Soldiers
met and fell in love with local women. Soon the
number of women and children in the army grew.
During the Revolutionary War, American girls'
infatuation with the red-coated British
officers was called "scarlet fever."
Question 4. Answer:
Not enough British citizens wanted to enlist in the
army. It was not an attractive career. And they
considered American colonists to be fellow
Englishmen, so most people did not want to fight
them in the Revolutionary War.
Question 5. Answer:
People were very faithful churchgoers then, and
ministers were strong community leaders. Some
preached against British policies during the years
leading up to the war. Loyalists and British
officers, writing in their journals and letters,
often blamed these preachers, especially the
Congregational Church ministers of New England, for
inciting the people to rebellion and starting the
Question 6. Answer:
European soldiers were professional, highly trained
and disciplined, with superior equipment and
experienced officers. The militia had none of these
qualities. Prejudice was also a factor. Many
Europeans felt that Americans were "country
bumpkins, almost as barbaric as the savages."
Question 7. Answer:
Except for their officers, the European soldiers
were from the lowest classes of society. They were
amazed at the opportunities in America, where almost
any white man could own land and better himself. Of
the 30,000 Hessians who came over here in the
British armies, about 12,000 of them stayed here
after the war, and became Americans. In fact, the
first decorated Christmas tree in America was in a
Connecticut house where a Hessian prisoner of war
was living in 1777. After bringing in the tree, he
told his hosts that it was a holiday custom back
home in Germany.
Question 8. Answer:
From the earliest colonial days, Americans learned
about farming and war from the Indians. Where
enemies could take cover behind trees, it was very
important to learn how to shoot straight and hit
your target. By 1777, most of Europe was treeless,
the forests having been cut down and burned to heat
homes many years before. So, European armies learned
to fight on open fields, the soldiers firing
together in a mass volley (aiming was not
necessary), and follow it up with a bayonet charge.
Question 9. Answer:
Each side considered the other to be traitors to
their country. Other than actions involving Indians,
almost all the atrocities committed during the
Revolutionary War involved Americans killing
Americans. This was especially true in New York and
the Carolinas, where there were nearly as many
loyalists as patriots.
Question 10. Answer:
The reluctance of soldiers to serve under, and obey
the orders of officers from other states was a
problem that General Washington struggled with
throughout the entire war. Also, they liked to
return home when their enlistment period expired,
rather than "tarry" (stay longer than they had to).
Both these problems made it very difficult for
General Washington to plan battles against the
British during the Revolutionary War.
Question 11. Answer:
When Danny and Molly arrived in camp, the soldier
cooking at the campfire referred to Major Dearborn
as "Henry." Also, the relationship between the major
and Big John seemed to be on a first-name basis. New
England had a more egalitarian society than the
other colonies, which tended to be more class
conscious. Yankees (New Englanders) were looked upon
suspiciously as "social levelers." Even the
wealthiest Yankees were scorned as "pumpkin gentry"
by people outside New England. This social leveling,
with its lack of deference by soldiers toward
officers, was a frustration to George Washington. He
was a Virginia aristocrat, and firmly believed that
a proper subordination between the ranks was
necessary to develop the discipline needed in an
Question 12. Answer:
The French king was reluctant to ally his country
with a people who were for republicanism (in fact,
he would lose his own crown in 1789 to such a
movement, in the French Revolution). However, he
wanted to weaken the British Empire. Losing its 13
American colonies would weaken Britain's economic
power. Helping us in our Revolutionary War would
also allow France to capture some of the British
"sugar islands" in the Caribbean. But he did not
want to risk becoming our ally until we could prove
we had a good chance to win the war. Our victory at
Saratoga, and Washington's bold attack against the
British outside Philadelphia the same month,
persuaded the French king. Eventually, with France's
help, we were able to win the Revolutionary War.
Essay Questions for Gone to Meet the British:
Danny, Eben, Molly
and Duncan met many different people during this
story. They also had many different experiences,
thoughts and feelings. Think back on all of this
when answering the questions below.
1. Who was your
favorite character, and why?
2. Pick one of the
four main characters, and explain how his or her
attitude about "the enemy" changed during the story.
3. What do you think
will happen to each of the four main characters in
the next few years, after the story's ending? Do you
think it would make a good story?