Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Guerrilla Season Book Study
Erin Garvey
American History
Time Frame:
1 Class Period
Civil War

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Students will read passages from the book “Guerrilla Season”, which is a historical fiction novel by Pat Hughes. 
  • They will complete assignments based on the book selections.
  • This could be used as a cross curricular lesson with Communication Arts

  • To help students understand life on the Missouri/Kansas border during the “Bleeding Kansas” time period.
  • To encourage reading in all subjects.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

  • 2a- Knowledge of Continuity & Change in the history of MO, the U.S. & World. H. Identify political, economic and social causes of the Civil War.
  • 6- Knowledge of relationships of the individual & groups to institutions and cultural traditions B, D, E.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Guerrilla Season by Pat Hughes
  • Project worksheet

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • Students will be placed into small groups, based on their reading levels (with help from the Communication Arts teacher).  If team teaching, have the comm. arts teacher handle the reading part, while the social studies teacher gives them background knowledge and then helps them complete their projects.  As a teacher, I could then give the lower level readers more of my attention and watch their group more closely. Have them read the passages aloud or they could read to themselves and then discuss as a group.  That might be determined by the reading level. After they read, then they should be engaged in a group discussion.  After the discussion, the teacher could interrupt and hold a whole class discussion to help further understanding. Pass out the activity sheet and have them chose 2 or 3 of the projects to complete.  Each project must be based on a different passage.  You can choose to have them complete the assignments as a group or on their own.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • Teachers will assess the students based on small group participation & reading the passages. Another way to assess the students would be to grade their projects, checking for understanding & comprehension. 



Passages to read in Guerrilla Season:


1. Pages 6-8- “Stone. Jesse nearly spat the name.”

            - Explains MO vs. KS, Quantrill & Jayhawkers


2. Pages 10-13- “About 50 yards away, four men watered horses in the stream.”

            - Matt & Jesse’s encounter with some guerrillas and are forced to pick a side.


3. Pages 17-18- “That’s a fat one. When’ll you take me hunting Matt?”

            - Matt’s younger brother tells of a neighbor getting jayhawked while Matt tells him to remain



4. Pages 37-40- “Visitors Ma.”

            - Guerrillas come to the house, the family is very scared.


5. Pages 173-175- Guerrilla Attack

            - Guerrillas attack Matt’s Union neighbor.


6. Pages 218-222- Work Detail

            - Matt is taken for a Union work detail.


7. Pages 228-230- The Oath

            - Matt is forced to take the Union oath.


8. Pages 260-271- Raided

            - Matt is arrested by Federals at night.


9. Pages 268-271-  Aftermath

            - Jesse’s family is raided by the Union. His stepfather is hanged.


10. Author’s Note- explains Jesse James’ role in the war.