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The Chesapeake Affair - From the Ship's Log

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: War of 1812

Grade Level: 6-12

Common Core Standards
RI3.3. Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.
RS.9-10.3. Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context.

Content Areas: Reading, Social Studies

Recommended Length/Duration: 45-60 minutes

Learning Goals: Students will learn about an important incident leading up to the War of 1812.
Students will analyze primary source document to sequence the events it describes.


  1. Introduce the Chesapeake affair with a more general summary article.
  2. Discuss the importance of a ship’s log as the official record of a ship’s actions. Dates and times of everything important that happens are recorded in the log. This extract is the first day of what was supposed to be a long voyage. It was cut short by the attack of HMS Leopard.
  3. Have students read the article independently, as a small group, or together as a class.
  4. After reading the whole article, have students go back and identify the times that specific events took place. Longer actions can be paraphrased. Have them record their responses on the time chart.
  5. When students have had a chance to complete their charts, have them share their responses. The teacher should correct any errors and resolve any disagreements.
  6. Discuss if there were any important details about the encounter between the Chesapeake and the Leopard that left out of the ship’s log.

Assessments: Collect and assess the accuracy of responses.

The Chesapeake Affair – Ship’s Log entry and worksheet (pdf); Wall map (optional)

Special Considerations: The teacher may want to group weaker readers in a group with stronger readers. The articles are provided in a script and print version. Teachers may want to use this as an opportunity for students to practice reading script.

Extensions: There are several nautical phrases and abbreviations in the ship’s log. Students might want to learn more about naval terminology. Students might want to look for other primary source log books from famous events (Titanic, USS Arizona, USS Cole)