Letters, Costumes Make Civil War History Real
"When the Civil War came, Robert Burke had sympathies with the South and his friends were Southern sympathizers, but he did not hold with slavery."
Civil War Night at Genoa Central School on Nov. 2, 1998, was a tremendous success, as 220 students, teachers, parents, and community members showed up to hear presentations by Kassondra Brown and 19 other students in fourth through ninth grades.
Most of the young researchers focused on ancestors who lived during the Civil War. Jessi Everett (fourth grade) reported that he has two ancestors who served and died in the Union Army. The students used a variety of primary sources, including family stories, photographs, and letters written during the period. Rachel Henderson (ninth grade) analyzed several letters from James B. Rudd, noting that he consistently reported on his health and described camp life in the Third TransMississippi Infantry. Matthew and Clint Friday (sixth and fifth grades) examined a letter by W. E. Friday, dated Sept. 25, 1862. Friday wrote that his infantry regiment, stationed at Warren, Arkansas, was low on food. Matthew reported that Friday fought in the Battle of Jenkin's Ferry on April 30, 1864, surviving although an estimated 800 soldiers were killed or wounded.
Amanda Reed (fifth grade, Gary Cobb Middle School) reported on her family's stories of their ancestors' experiences during the war and Reconstruction. She told the audience, "After the war, families lived on cornmeal with salt and water with fruits and greens they found in the woods."
Daniel E. Sexton (eighth grade, Gary Cobb Middle School) described photographs of his great-grandfather, James Edward McDaniel, a Confederate veteran. Daniel also repeated family stories of McDaniel's family and descendants and introduced his grandmother, father, and uncle to the audience.
The students read their reports to the audience, gaining skills in public
speaking. Civil war reenactors dressed in period costumes participated,
demonstrating another technique for interpreting history.
Twenty students presented their research findings on "Civil War Night" at Genoa Central School on Nov. 2, 1998. (Photo courtesy of Nelene Harris.)
See For Yourself!
Several Civil War battle sites are now state historic sites with picnic
Jenkins Ferry: 13 miles south of Sheridan on Arkansas 46;
Poison Spring: 10 miles west of Camden on Arkansas 76;
Marks Mills: Juntion of Highways 97 and 8, southeast of Fordyce