Category Archives: Crane, Stephen — The Red Badge of Courage

Use the #LibraryOfCongress to Help Inspire Your #CivilWar Journal #WritingPrompts (Links @


Image of Civil War soldier William H. Rockwell holding rifleThe Library of Congress has been quite a blessing to me, as my students have read Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage. Did you know the Library of Congress offers a plethora of photographs taken during the American Civil War? It’s an amazing collection!


The picture I’m showing here is one I used with some of my students’ daily journal-writing. Here are some of the prompts I’ve offered during one week in October, when we first started reading the classic novel:

Monday, Oct. 26:  Turn to the very first page of Chapter 1 in Stephen Crane’s novel, Red Badge of Courage.  Look at the bottom of the page. One of the last sentences is about a Negro teamster. This is the only black person mentioned in this entire Civil War novel. Copy those two, brief sentences from the book into your notes and write a sentence or two describing the irony of a Civil War novel that has so few African American characters in it. (Add this entry to your latest chapter notes.)

Tuesday, Oct. 27: Take a good look at the photograph of Private William H. Rockwell of North Carolina (right). Imagine how old he was when this photograph was taken. Write a paragraph describing him. Include a description of the family he left behind when he went to war, the education he received before he went to war, and the type of person he was. (Add this entry to your latest chapter notes.)

Wednesday, Oct. 28: Look back at Yesterday’s journal. How are Stephen Crane’s character of Henry Fleming and your description of Private William H. Rockwell alike? How are they different? (If you were absent Monday, just take a look at a classmate’s journal to do this.) Add this entry to your latest chapter notes.

Thursday, Oct. 29:  How would Red Badge of Courage be different if told from the point of view of an African American soldier in the Union Army? (Add this entry to your latest chapter notes.)