Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Common Civil War Soldier Education Program

The author at Washington Monument State Park. During the 2011 season, he brought in over 11,000 children compared to Antietam National Battlefield's 21,000 children. These same style programs are conducted at Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum. 

Over the years, I have put together many education programs for youth groups, senior groups and in fact people of all ages. Many of these programs I put together when I was the Education Coordinator at South Mountain State Battlefield. Since then, many of these programs have been tweaked so I can use them at Antietam National Battlefield, Monterey Pass Battlefield, Allison-Antrim Museum, Renfrew Park. I am sometimes asked how I put things together in a way that I remember facts, details and events. 
A Confederate program here shows what the average Confederate soldier carried and wore during the 1863 Pennsylvania Campaign. Here, the author is at Union Mills, MD giving a program to a local boys scout group. 
This is where an outline or Standard Operations Procedures (SOP) comes in. This is the most important tool an educator has and they'll tell you the same thing. This helps to keep the program organized. An organized program makes a world of difference. I have seen many reenactors that give tons of facts, but they are not always organized and as a result, they give sloppy programs. If one would just put together that simple outline, they'll be surprised how well their program goes. 

So, here is an example of how to put a program together and how the outline should look. Enjoy! 
John A. Miller

Understanding the Common Civil War Soldier
4th – 8th Grades (Running Time: 30 minutes)
By John A. Miller

The students will obtain a better understanding of what life was like for the Civil War soldier by interacting with a Civil War Living Historian. The Civil War Living Historian will show students many items using museum quality reproductions consisting of uniforms, accouterments and personal items.

1. Using reproduction items, students will be able to learn what soldiers from the Civil War era would have worn, carried, and used on a daily basis.

Materials Used:
1.      For the living historian, he would display both one Union and one Confederate uniform. He would also display one set of accouterments showing the students what the average Civil War soldier would have carried into combat as well as on the march. The living historian would be required to leave any black power at home.
2.      An unloaded musket could be shown to the students to discuss weapon policies and basic training of the Civil War soldier such as “Manual of Arms”.
3.      A haversack containing food rations of the average Civil War soldier can be shown and passed around for the students to hold.
4.      The knapsack which is where extra items were stored can be unpacked for students to see blankets, personal items such as tooth brushes, razor for shaving, comb and other little things such as playing cards and different games. The knapsack also is where some of the cooking utensils were located at such as a tin plate, dipper (cup) and frying pan.

1.      The Civil War Living Historian would bring period correct items as part of his display, and display those items in such a way to make them visible to the students.
2.      The Living Historian will give a basic overview of soldiers, camps, and actions that occurred in their area, encouraging student participation.
3.      The Living Historian will explain all items, unpacking contents for the students to see.
4.      The Living Historian will go through the accouterments and then explain the uniform.

 Topics to Highlight:

  1. Introduction
    1. What is a Civil War Living Historian and what does he do?

  1. Boy Soldiers
    1. What types of jobs did children do when they joined the armies during the Civil War? 

  1. Military Encampments and the Battle of Monterey Pass
    1. Talk briefly about the battle of Monterey Pass and the conditions the battle was fought in.
    2. Ask students what they think soldiers would have done between battles.

  1. Camp Life
    1. Describe the camps

  1. Explain the Common Civil War Soldier
    1. Introduction
                                                              i.      Explain the differences between a Northern Soldier and a Southern Soldier
                                                            ii.      Show students that in fact many times people from the same area fought against one another (Using Antietam as the backdrop)
                                                          iii.      Ask students what they think soldiers carried into battle.
    1. The Musket
                                                              i.      Explain the difference between smooth-bore vs. rifle
                                                            ii.      Explain the difference between rifled musket and rifle
                                                          iii.      Examine the dummy cartridges and caps used during the Civil War
                                                          iv.      Explain about loading in nine-steps
                                                            v.      Using a roped off area, demonstrate by a firing demonstration
    1. Knapsack
                                                              i.      Explain the knapsack and why soldiers carried these
                                                            ii.      Open the knapsack and begin to showcase the contents
    1. Haversack and Canteen
                                                              i.      Ask the students what they think soldiers ate during the Civil War. 
                                                            ii.      Discuss types of food soldiers typically ate, including hard tack, salt pork, beans, coffee, etc.
                                                          iii.      Discuss cooking ingredients and procedures
    1. The Accouterments
                                                              i.      The cartridge box, cap pouch, belt and buckle
                                                            ii.      Explain what each of the items was used for
    1. The Uniform
                                                              i.      Explain what soldiers on both sides would have worn
                                                            ii.      Have the students to try on some of the Civil War clothing if it is available

  1. Make sure that students are given an opportunity to ask any further questions they may have after the presentation

Closure: Ask the students what they think of a soldier’s life and could they have done what soldiers needed to do?  Do you think it was easy or hard?

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