Rebel in Petticoats

rebel_bookIn 1861 ten-year-old Rachel Franklin and her family are pulled into the midst of the Civil War. Though at first the glory of fighting for the southern Cause brought pride and excitement into the Franklin home, the truth of war’s hardships soon become apparent. Before the war, the biggest worries for Rachel were using proper manners and controlling her jealousy towards her brother Bud’s sweetheart, Suzanna Wade. Now Rachel and her mother must work the gardens, pick cotton, tend to their wounded men, and wait between letters with only hope that their loved ones survive. “We must be strong,” Mama tells her, and on the night when Rachel must deliver an important message for Papa to save the lives of countless men, she learns the true meaning of bravery when she becomes a little Rebel in Petticoats.
Teacher’s Resources are listed below.


Using good questioning techniques before studying a subject or reading a book is a good way to generate interest. One good questioning routine (Harvard Project Zero) is to let students write on post-it notes what they think they know about the subject. The post-it notes can be put on a poster to refer to later after reading /studying has been done.

Then students can be asked what they would like to know about the subject. These questions are also written on post-it notes and put on a poster to guide the learning.

After reading or studying, it’s interesting to see how students change from what they first thought about the subject as compared to what they now know. Many times the ‘what I would like to know’ questions lead to enhanced interest and further research.


This glossary defines vocabulary as it is used in this book. The definitions given here are the ones that will be most helpful in reading Rebel in Petticoats. The page number in parenthesis refers to the page on which each word is introduced.

aide – a person who acts as a helper (p. 246)
assault – a violent attack (p. 149)
bayonet – a knife attached to the muzzle of a rifle for use in close contact (p. 61)
beau – the sweetheart of a woman or girl (p. 110)
betrothed – engaged to be married (p. 125)
blockade – the closing off of an area to prevent movement of people and supplies (p. 107)
buckboard – a four-wheeled, open carriage with a seat carried on a flooring of long, flexible boards whose ends rest directly on the axles. (p. 50)
casualties – persons who are killed, wounded, captured, or missing during a military action (p. 67)
cavalry – military troops that were formerly trained to fight on horseback (p. 60)
color-bearer – a soldier who carries the flag (or colors) of a unit of troops in a battle (p. 182)
corporal – an Army or Marine Corps officer ranking above private (p. 246)
desertion – the act of leaving one’s duty in the military without permission (p. 261)
entrench – to surround or fortify with a trench or trenches (p. 172)
evacuate – to leave or send away from a dangerous place (p. 22)
gingham – a cotton cloth that is usually woven in checks, stripes, or plaids (p. 124)
harbor – 1. to give shelter to; hold (p. 225) 2. a sheltered place along the coast where ships can safely anchor or dock (p. 23)
haversack – a bag, slung from the shoulder, for a soldier’s rations (p. 59) infantry – the branch of an army made up of units trained to fight on foot (p. 60)
legislature – a body of people with the power to make and change laws (p. 16)
lieutenant – a low-ranking military officer (p. 60)
minie ball – a conical rifle ball designed for the muzzle-loading Minie rifle invented in 1847 and used dominantly in the Civil War (p. 153)
muzzle – the front part of a gun barrel (p. 219)
occupy – to take possession and control of (p. 22)
oilcloth – a cotton fabric coated on one side with vegetable oils mixed with a clay filler making it waterproof (p. 245)
pendulum – a weight hung, as in a clock, so that it can swing back and forth (p. 255)
petticoat – a skirt worn by girls and women as an undergarment (p. 3)
regiment – a unit of troops made up of two or more battalions (p. 148)
siege – the surrounding of a town, city, or fortress for a long time by an army that is trying to make it surrender (p. 183)
subordinate – a person who is lower in rank to another (p. 139)
swoon – to faint (p. 220)
typhoid – a very serious contagious disease that is marked by high fever and is caused by germs in dirty food or water (p. 217)
veteran – a person who has served in the armed forces, especially during a war (p. 66)

Notes: The American Heritage Children’s Dictionary
Webster”s New World Dictionary


Words in Context. Also a Vocabulary list and Word Wheel is included in the PDF. Download: Vocabulary.pdf

Fill-in the blanks with the best word.
1. Thick, dark clouds slowly rolled in, causing the sky to look ____________ .
2. Surprisingly, the convicted man felt no _________________over his crime.
3. Can you ________________the changes that will be made to the old neighborhood park?
4. It was amusing to watch monkeys _____________________over the peanuts we threw.
5. The spectators were _______________ over the performance of the gymnasts.
6. The bride’s father gave an ______________ speech at the reception dinner.
7. The____________ of the southern states from the Union brought the onset of the Civil War.
8. The attackers were ___________________ as they struggled against the tall, stone wall of the fort but never gave up.
9. Long ago pirates were known to_______________ small towns and villages along the coast.
10. Winning the gold medal was an ________________ goal that the athlete could not seem to achieve.
11. The ________________ king took no pity on any people in his country.
12. Old covered wagons were a _________________ and slow form of transportation.
13. Some psychiatrists treat patients who have a severe form of _____________________ .
14. A careless fire started in a nearby campground caused the _________________of the forest.
15. Heavy rains that lasted two days created a ___________________of water that flooded the valley.
16. The committee members couldn’t settle the ___________________of which building plan was best.
17. After the two armies met in battle the _____________________on the battlefield was devastating.
18. The prisoner gave the guard a _____________ look and refused to obey his orders.
19. What a cool place this is under the shade of the __________________ !
20. When can we expect the flood waters to _______________________from the streets of the town?
21. The police staged a clever ____ ________ to lure the criminal into the room.
22. The ruler was careful not to incite a __________________________among his citizens over the new laws.
23. A lone warrior survived the battle ________________and was able to report to his leader.
24. After a long swim he is always _________________________and can eat a whole pizza.
25. My aunt was ________________ when she fell in front of the whole audience.

Vocabulary List
Check the words you are sure you can read and define.
___ annihilation
___ arbor
___ carnage
___ cumbersome
___ defiant
___ deluge
___ dilemma
___ eloquent
___ elusive
___ envision
___ grapple
___ incredulous
___ melancholia
___ mortified
___ ominous
___ pillage
___ ravenous
___ rebellion
___ recede
___ remorse
___ ruse
___ ruthless
___ secession
___ undaunted
___ unscathed


Understanding the story. This is just a sampling of questions. Download the PDF for all questions.

1. The Civil War began on April 12, 1861 when:
a. Union ships fired upon Charleston
b. Fort Sumter was fired upon by the Confederates.
c. The Confederates attacked Washington, D.C.
d. President Lincoln arrested the soldiers in Fort Sumter

2. When news that the Civil War had begun reached Bud and his friends, their reaction was:
a. to spread the news and celebrate
b. to gather all their weapons and hide them
c. sadness and despair
d. shock and fear

3. Colonel William tecumseh Sherman, who later became a Yankee general, knew the Franklin family because:
a. Papa and Sherman had worked in the U.S. Congress together
b.Sherman had been Papa’s roommate at West Point
c. Sherman was married to Mama’s first cousin
d. Sherman had been Bud’s professor at the Louisiana Military Academy

4. As soon as the Civil War began, Miss Rosalee Prentiss felt it was important to:
a. pack up everyone’s things and leave
b. organize sewing and fund-raising committees
c. write letters to President Lincoln
d. bury all their jewelry

5. The Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 was important because:
a. the South lost half its army
b. the South claimed the first victory and retained control of northern Virginia
c. the North gained control of northern Virginia
d. the North captured five Confederate generals

6. On the night of the big storm, Rachel and Lizbet were left alone in the house because:
a. Lily had run away, and Mama and Josup went to find her
b. Mama, Lily and Josup were delivering supplies to Papa’s soldiers
c. Mama, Lily and Josup went to find Bud
d. Josup had taken Mama and Lily to help deliver a baby

7. The Anaconda Plan was a strategy designed by the Union to:
a. take control of the border states, the Mississippi River and the coastal ports to cut off the southern states
b. take control of all the railroad and bridges in the South
c. surround the Army of Virginia and squeeze it into surrender
d. blodk all roads leading into the sourthern states

8. Mama sent Rachel to Mrs. Gunther’s house in the swamp to:
a. deliver a letter to Mrs. Gunther
b. take Mrs. Gunther a basket of food
c. ask Mrs. Gunther if she would help pick cotton
d. take Mrs. Gunther some material to sew Rachel a dress

9. Bud and Suzanna did not wait for their planned wedding day to get married because:
a. Suzanna’s mother was too sick to wait any longer
b. the family needed to flee their home
c. Bud was ordered to join his unit in southern Kentucky to protect Tennessee from the Yankees
d. Bud was ordered back to Mobile to break the blockade

10. For Rachel’s birthday, Bud’s present was a:
a. box with a beautiful new dress inside
b. surprise visit by him to celebrate the day with her
c. new journal
d. crate containing a music box, seashells, and a letter

Story Plotting:PDF

An exercise to help walk through the storyline.

Book Report:PDF

Help students organize their ideas for writing a book report. Complete sentences are not required on the guide. Here are some suggested ways to organize the report. Download: BookReport.pdf

Use this guide to create an outline for your book report.
Paragraph 1 should include: Book Title: ____________________
Author: _______________
Setting: ______________________________
Main Characters: _______________________
Book Genre: ________________

Paragraph 2: List 3 or 4 events that set the problems of the story or are
interesting parts of the rising action.
1. ______________________________
2. ______________________________
3. ______________________________
4. ______________________________

Paragraph 3: List 3 or 4 events that show the most exciting parts of the
story, or climax.
1. ______________________________
2. _________________________________________________
3. ____________________________________
4. ________________________________

Paragraph 4: List 3 or 4 events that show that the action is calming down
or the problems have been solved.
1. __________________________________
2. ______________________________
3. ______________________________
4. ______________________________

Paragraph 5 should include: How the story ended*
Your favorite part
Your opinion
Recommendation for others

*You may not want to give away the entire ending of the story so as not to spoil the ending for others.


An exercise to determine states belonging to the North and those belonging to the South

The Civil War – A War Between the Statesmap
Color the Confederate states gray.
Color the Union states blue.

Creative/Critical Thinking:PDF

A coat of arms is a set of symbols and emblems representing a family and usually arranged on a shield.

Create a coat of arms for the Franklin family. Make a section for each family member: Rachel, Bud, Mama and Papa. Stretch your thinking about each character. Use colors and images to symbolize each one. For example, what color best shows who Rachel is? What symbol best represents her?

Character Analysis

List 5 adjectives that best describe the character.

In what ways did this character change from
the beginning of the story to the end?

List 3 qualities that make this character
a good friend (or not a good friend).

This character is running for president.
Write a campaign slogan for him/her.
What animal might symbolize this character?

Climb the Analogy Ladder
An analogy is a comparison of two pairs which have the same relationship. The key is to understand the relationship between the first pair of words so you can choose the correct second pair. Opposites, parts to a whole, synonyms are some types of relationship you will find. Fill in the blanks with a correct comparison word and see how high you can go up the ladder.

10. join:unification::separate:_________________
9. industrial:factory::agricultural:__________________
8. dam:water::_________________________:goods
7. Washington, D.C.:USA::___________________________:CSA
6. Fredericksburg:Rappahannock River:: Vicksburg:____________
5. Fort Sumter:1861::Appomattox:_______________________
4. footsoldier:infantry::horseman:_______________________
3. Abraham Lincoln:USA::__________________________:CSA
2. Yankee:blue::Rebel:______________________
1. east:west::north: ______________________

Teacher’s Key:PDF

Download the PDF containing the key to all the questions.
Teachers Civil War Resources
Included are the answers for all the questions including the art for the map and suggestions for the coat of arms project.

Further Research:

Try these web sites to learn more about the following:

1. Abraham Lincoln

2. Jefferson Davis

3. Robert E. Lee

4. Ulysses S. Grant

5. Battle of Shiloh