A former governor of Indiana will tell the students how he is dealing with southern sympathizers during the Civil War.
A surgeon from the Civil War period will reenact how he would have performed surgery on a wounded soldier.
Women will tell the eighth-graders at Greenwood Community Middle School how they darned the socks of their soldiers and tried to get on with daily life while a war was being fought.
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This week, eighth-graders at the school will get a peek at history during their annual Civil War Day.
The Indiana Department of Education requires eighth-graders to learn about the Civil War. U.S. History teacher Nathan Rhinehart is determined to make that lesson more fun for the eighth-graders.
“The experience is more than a textbook or an iPad can do,” he said.
Civil War reenactors will set up 10 stations to teach students about almost every aspect of the war on Wednesday.
Students will learn what the women did while their men were fighting. Students will sample dishes soldiers ate, such as hardtack bread and salt pork. And there will be a light artillery reenactment toward the end of the day.
The idea is to immerse the students fully into the subject, said Rhinehart.
Part of the uniqueness of the day is having students get a local look at what the war may have been like for Hoosier families.
Jim Gossert, a Civil War interpreter, plays Indiana Gov. Oliver Morton during the reenactment.
He will tell students how he dealt with copperheads in the southern part of the state. Copperheads were the nickname given to southern sympathizers who would cause trouble for Union soldiers in Indiana and other states, such as Illinois. They openly opposed the war and would attack draft stations in the state, he said.
Gossert has played the governor at multiple events and wanted to help with Greenwood’s day so students get a full understanding of the war, he said.
While students need to learn the broader context of the war and the political parts of the war, the effect of the war goes deeper, Gossert said.
“I think it is important that kids understand that the Civil War is a complex issue, one of those parts is what happened locally,” he said.
History can be deeply personal, and putting a local spin on a nationally historic event may help students understand the issues better, he said.
“We want the students to understand that history is a very personal thing,” he said. “I try to stress to them that when they get up in the morning, they are making their own history.”
Fred Schaefer will teach students what medicine was like while men were fighting battles.
Thousands of men died while fighting the Civil War, but most of the injuries came from infection and diseases, not from cannons or bullet wounds, he said.
“Those were the true battles,” Schaefer said.
Learning about the medical practices of the time is imperative to students getting a full picture of the war, he said.
“It is really important to understand the war; it made us who we are today, the good and the bad things,” Schaefer said.
Rhinehart started the event about seven years. Students could learn the basics, such as weapons, flags, food and clothing.
As Rhinehart met more people who reenacted the Civil War, the event grew.
When he was in middle school, he had a teacher who taught science who was a Civil War buff. He wanted a similar experience for his students.
“I had the resources of someone who had expertise in the Civil War, and it would be a wasted opportunity if I didn’t use it,” he said.