The Civil War came to life for Fredonia Elementary and Middle School students. Students grades 4 through 7 recently enjoyed the presentation on the way of life during the Civil War.
This is the second year that Fredonia schools have hosted a presentation on the Civil War. This year however was to commemorate the beginning of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, S.C., 150 years ago.
Fourth-grade teacher Mary Deas, along with her husband, Mark, and two sons, Markus and Ryan, as well as speech pathologist Robert Brown and his sons, Alex and Ian, have participated in this event for the past two years. Deas' and Brown's sons, along with Cody Fleckenstein, all play either a drum of a fife.
Deas described the presentation as a "time machine" into the past.
The experienced re-enactors presented students with several tidbits about life as a soldier in the Civil War. Deas explained to students that the worst part about the Civil War was that it pitted brother against brother.
She also brought in some local history mentioning the Cushing brothers, Fredonia natives that fought in the Civil War.
OBSERVER?Photo by Nicole Gugino
Mary and Mark Deas showing students how life was during the Civil War.
She then explained some of the clothing she and the men were wearing. She showed students the hoop in her dress and the men's haversacks, a bag which held rations. Brown passed around a common staple, called hardtack, for students to sample.
Later students in her class, Stephanie Rameirez, Kaelyn Zebraski and Sidney Hart, said they loved the hard bread-like snack and "goober peas," or peanuts. The children even sang a song about "goober peas" which was written during the Civil War.
Deas showed the students the tents they had set up and explained how four soldiers would sleep in a small tent and made them prone to disease.
Deas explained that the new rifles invented during the Civil War were more accurate and would shatter bones, which led to amputations and infection.
She also introduce the students to terminology that came out of that era, like "shabby" which was the name of a clothing manufacturer who made low quality clothing for soldiers. Another is "side burns'"which came from a General Burnside.
Students said that they liked the presentation on the guns and the music the best.
Deas husband Marc took over for this part of the presentation explaining how a good soldier could shoot off three rounds per minute.
The expression "bite the bullet" also came out of the Civil War because of the cartridge which had to be torn to fire a rifle.
Cody demonstrated how a gun was fired by ripping the cartridge, using the ram rod and firing a blank for the students entertainment.
Deas also explained how the color guard and the drummers were usually the first targets because soldiers looked to the flag for support and the drums served as communication from the general to the army.
"Music was the soul of the unit," Mark Deas said.
The men played some songs to demonstrate to the students how the beat of the drums would increase or decrease the speed of soldiers marching.
One of Deas students, Connor Lynden, said he like the drumming so much he might like to do it in the future.
The group is looking to recruit boys as musicians for drums and fife, a type of flute, in parades and events. For more information call Mary Deas at 785-8765.
When asked why she does re-enactments Deas said that it is a family activity.
"We do this to honor and preserve our nation's history and to commemorate the people who lost their lives ... going to Gettysburg is like going to Disney Land for my kids," she said.