Civil war era comes alive in Nashua
Decked out in authentic Civil War era garments, young ladies were dancing in long dresses with jackets and bonnets, while the young men were spotted marching in dark blue, wool outfits complete with suspenders and forage caps.
The festivities were part of a Civil War Living History Day in which 110 seventh-grade students from Nashua Catholic Regional Junior High School participated.
“I actually feel like I am in that time period, other than the cars driving by,” joked Nicholas Gage, a Nashua student who said he is intrigued by the war and its time period.
Aside from the attire, students had the opportunity to try marching and drilling, which consumed much of a soldier's life in the 1860s. With the help of Civil War re-enactors, they learned about the life of a typical infantry soldier, including how they slept in small makeshift tents and what they carried in their knapsacks.
Leaving at home their expensive electronic toys, the modern-day students were introduced to various toys and games played by children more than 150 years ago.
Whether it was hoops, Jacob's Ladder or pick-up sticks, the entertainment was vastly different from what children do to pass the time in this decade.
“We are trying to create a real Civil War ambiance here in the park,” said Elaine Jubinville, an American history teacher at the school. “It really brings it home when a student can experience this hands on.”
Students traveled to various stations throughout the park learning how to dance the Virginia Reel folk dance, play crochet and perfect the game of town ball, among other activities.
“It is definitely very hot,” said Austin Dunn, a Nashua student who had just practiced several drill and marching steps. Dressed in long pants and a long sleeve button down shirt, Dunn said the experience was worthwhile, and he was having fun learning more about the Civil War time period.
Infantry soldiers often had to march 25 miles, and be prepared for battle at the drop of a hat, according to Scott Abercrombie, another history teacher at the school. Other basic skills such as fetching wood for a fire, traveling to a stream to retrieve water and cooking food over an open fire were also highlighted on Thursday.
The Civil War Living History Day coincides with the seventh-grade American History curriculum at the school, where students will be expected to write a paper on their reflections from the day, said Jubinville, whose family travels to Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York to participate in various Civil War re-enactments.
“Book learning and videos are good educational sources, but this is actually bringing the time period to life for them,” explained Jubinville, who is hoping the event will become an annual event at the school.
Whether it was learning how to write with slate pencils or dipping quills in ink, several students agreed that they have many more luxuries in 2012, often taking for granted a simple pen and paper.
“I have to admit this was a little tricky at first,” Catherine Lang of Merrimack said after learning the Virginia Reel folk dance, one of many challenging feats throughout the day. “But it was definitely fun.”
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