Eighth graders at Fremont Middle School learned what life was like at the time of the Civil War thanks to a presentation from re-enactors Monday.
They were taught how to line up in the infantry, the difference between a Colt and a Remington revolver, life for women during that time period and the role of the Navy. For many students, the biggest attraction proved to be the Civil War era cannon.
“One of the things they’ll get out of this is the realization of what happened,” eight grade social studies teacher Curt Frye said. “You talk about it in class, but it’s nice to see it in person.”
Frye helped organize the event at the middle school.
Every 30 minutes, a real cannon would be fired into the hills behind the school to signify it was time for the students to rotate to the next station — one of five set up outside on the football field.
Linda Steffen, portraying one of the ladies of the Maryland line, helped girls dress in traditional clothing of the 1860s.
“Gentleman, avert your eyes. This is still her underwear,” she said as one of the students stood dressed in 14 layers of underclothing. The dress would be slipped over soon after and the student was able to walk and sit with a hoop skirt on.
Steffen also said that although women only washed their dress about twice a year, there were many accounts of men not washing their clothes or themselves for the entire duration of the American Civil War, from 1861 to 1865.
Lt. Col. Tom Warrick, portraying a soldier of the 1st Maryland Cavalry of the Confederate States, and Maj. Mike Tamerius, of the 4th U.S. Cavalry, showed what soldiers would wear and carry with them.
While Warrick and Tamerius were on opposite sides of the Civil War they had a lot of equipment in common such as sabres, revolvers, rifles, and bullets, which were passed around by the students.
Tamerius even fired several of the firearms and taught students how to reload, and Warrick taught the students about the confederate flags.
When asked what they liked about the event, Tamerius responded, “It’s the kids. You never know what they’re going to say or do.”
The students had lots of opportunities to ask questions of the different presenters.
“Did girls fight in combat?” Emilie Pressel asked. The answer: While women weren’t supposed to fight, about 4,000 women were caught being soldiers for the Union. Women would only be found if they were wounded or sick and would be sent home immediately.