Reedy Creek Middle School



Published Sat, Feb 19, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified Sat, Feb 19, 2011 04:06 AM

Civil War is real in hands-on history lesson

Reprinted with permission from the author and photographer Ted Richardson, Staff Writer of the Raleigh News and Observer

Reedy Creek Middle School students admire David Stanley's steed as Civil War buffs visit the school for the 150th anniversary of the war's start. Stanley was among 30 re-enactors from the 26th North Carolina Troops.
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CARY -- After spending three weeks studying the American Civil War, eighth-graders at Reedy Creek Middle School ditched their books Friday for history they could touch, see and hear.

Thirty re-enactors from the 26th North Carolina Troops helped the school commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the war, and put nearly 300 Cary students a huge step closer to those historic battlefields.

Students gathered in clusters at stations around the school's soccer field, glued to a variety of three-dimensional lessons. They learned how to treat a battle wound, load a musket, march in formation - even how a lady could hide a pistol in her hoop skirt.

     They're actually showing us everything," said eighth-grader Mark Mulligan. "It's way cooler than reading about it or just seeing pictures on a page."

The previous day, students had transformed the hallways of the school into a Civil War museum with posters, charts and projects, and guided their families from room to room. At the end of the evening, the eighth-grade band played a selection of Civil War battle tunes.

On Friday, the lessons moved outside, where students were rapt with a class on infantry tactics.

"This could have been you," said re-enactor Raymond Robinson of Morganton. "Back then, you were off to fight when you were about 15 years old," not much older than the kids staring wide-eyed at Robinson's flags and muskets.

"I'm just glad I didn't live back then," said eighth-grader Melissa Markham, having just heard all about bullet wounds, gangrene and field amputations.

Horse-drawn caissons and three successive cannon blasts capped off Civil War Day at Reedy Creek.

The blasts also triggered at least two 911 calls in Cary. One call, dispatchers say, was from a man who said his windows were shaking, while the other came from an elderly caller who thought the world might be ending.

The 26th NCT is based in Rutherfordton, west of Charlotte, but draws members from around the state. They are the largest re-enactment unit in the state, and are proud of the realism they create while honoring the legacy of their regiment. The nearly $3,000 they earned Friday will go toward artifact restoration at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, said the group's treasurer, Sam Prestipino of Raleigh.

Teacher Rita Gibson organized the on-site Civil War Day a few months back. With school budgets being so tight, she was thrilled with the cost savings of not traveling.

"Field trips are hugely expensive," Gibson said. "We saved money, and instead of being stuck on a bus, the kids had all day to enjoy this."

Still perched in the saddle after commanding the end-of-day artillery display, David Stanley invited a group of students to come pet his horse. "Can you imagine 50 of those guns firing at Gettysburg?" he asked.

Stanley, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, was pleased with the day's results.

"We brought these kids a touch of reality," he said. "They got to feel history." or 919-460-2602


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