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Jamestown Public Schools
“What do you eat?” asked a Jamestown High School U.S. History student to Brian Teagarden, a Civil War reenactor.
“Hardtack, which is a thick, salty cracker. I made some yesterday and brought it in for you to try.”
Mr. Teagarden passed around hardtack to the students, which received varying reactions to its taste. Teachers, Loraine Steffins and Linda Lucas, invited Mr. Teagarden to their classes to give the students a firsthand look at what the life of a Civil War soldier was like. The students are studying events leading up to the U.S. Civil War as well as some of the battles and turning points of the Civil War.
Mr. Teagarden became involved as a Civil War re-enactor through The Fenton History Museum and the teachers connected with him at the Town of Harmony Fall Festival. His reenactment group set up a Civil War encampment and stunningly performed a reenactment of a Civil War skirmish including firing original muskets in full Civil War uniforms. After the reenactment was finished, the teachers complimented the group and ask if one or more would be willing to visit JHS’ US History classes to talk about the typical life of a Civil War solider.
During his visit, Mr. Teagarden wore a traditional Civil War uniform, discussed what weapons were used, showed artifacts like a duty roster for enlisted men, demonstrated marching techniques, showed an encampment set-up including types of tents and iron stakes men had to carry as well a cooking fires and portable ovens and coffee pots, showed students the contents of his knapsack and talked about what soldiers did in their leisure time including playing baseball with wooden bats and soft leather balls.
“It was important to bring Mr. Teagarden in so that our students could more fully understand the difficulties and activities of a Civil War soldier,” said Mrs. Lucas. “We also felt it important that our students experienced seeing and handling real Civil War items as well as tasting real Civil War food eaten while on the go. By using their senses, students were able to envision and internalize, to a certain extent, what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War.”