Wednesday, March 08, 2006

 

Civil War re-enactment draws 2,000 students

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The Kingston Free Press
By Michael Abernethy
March 04, 2006


John Dangerfield was never much of a history student.

The lifeless names, dates and places in the books put him to sleep.

But as part of the Friends of the Hunley, an organization devoted to preserving the C.S.S. Hunley in Charleston, he helped bring history to life for about 2,000 students from Lenoir, Greene and Craven counties Friday.

Dangerfield tugged a full-scale replica of the Confederate submarine to the site of this weekend’s Battle of Wyse Fork re-enactment, wowing students of all ages with the craft‘s working pumps, gears and port-holes.

“I never liked history as a kid. It was boring in the books. But this isn’t boring,” Dangerfield said.
“I get a kick out of talking to kids and adults and setting the record straight on a lot of things.”
Dangerfield wasn’t the only one getting kicks out of history Friday.

One just needed to take a step to stumble into one of the hundreds of wide-eyed students watching blacksmiths, surgeons and sutlers share and compare their antiquated handiwork with today’s technology.

Fifth-grader Jeremy Davis enjoyed watching blacksmith Ray Britt fashion metal tools and repair weapons Friday.

“The kids have had some really great questions that a lot of people don’t normally ask,” Britt said. “This is great. It brings history off the two-dimensional page and into the three-dimensional world where they can interact with it.”

A mock-cavalry skirmish amazed fifth graders from Banks Elementary, who stood on the sidelines as two Confederate re-enactors rounded up a Yankee on their saddles with sabers drawn.

“The horse fight was my favorite part because they knew all the bugle calls,” said Andrew Garrison, a fifth-grade student from Banks. “I thought it was cool that they would save the horses in battle.”

Teachers and students alike found value in the lively demonstrations of history in action.

“The opportunity and rewards of something like this are almost unlimited,” Rick Pollard, a Pink Hill counselor, said as he escorted students between expositions. “This is bringing something 150 years old into today.”

But it was the words of fifth grader Lindsey Gallo that put the event into perspective for everyone at the battlefield. The living-history day helped Gallo and other students find their place in history.

“We see that people back then thought it couldn’t get better than what it was then, and now we think it can’t get better than it is now,” said Gallo, a Banks student said. “But it did and it will.”


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