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Kilough students reenact Civil War
5th-graders battle out Gettysburg
KES Civil War pic1
Logan Smith, fifth grader at Kilough Elementary, participates in the second annual Civil War Day last week that allows students to reenact battles between the Confederate and Union soldiers. - photo by Chelsea Thomas Dawson Community News

More than 50 students descended upon a grassy lawn in blue and gray vests last Friday holding fake muskets stuffed with marshmallow bullets.

Fifth graders at Kilough Elementary School heartily reenacted the battle of Gettysburg as part of the school's second annual Civil War Day.

Fifth grade chair Kendra Coker said the event is designed to be both fun and informative for students.

"In fifth grade we study Civil War to present day history. The students spend nine to 12 weeks studying this war. It's our biggest chunk of our social studies curriculum," Coker said.

"We decided to do this because the students have a hard time really realizing what it was like back then."

Throughout the day, fifth graders participated in a variety of Civil War experiences as reenactors demonstrated soldier life at seven stations.

Students learn about camp life, military drills, uniforms, music, food and more.

"The reenactors had a lot of actual items that were used during the Civil War. So the kids got to see what the muskets looked like, what the playing cards and marbles of the soldiers were made out of and even what pictures from the home front looked like," Coker said.

Student Devon Bearden said he learned it's "not very fun being the army."

"I learned soldiers would have to carry a big, heavy musket and that they died a lot from colds, diseases and stuff. I appreciate what they did," he said.

Student Ashlynn Anglin, who acted as a Union general for the reenacted battle, said that the event was fun because she learned that "the soldiers could not fire unless their general said so."

The event also featured community members and parents reading authentic Civil War letters and correspondences passed down from their ancestors.

Coker said the exercise gave students a real idea of what life was like, not just for the men who went to battle, but for those left behind.

She said one group of letters students heard were written between a soldier and his wife. The wife was raising their five children alone and struggling to provide food and supplies.

"That was heart wrenching," she said.

At one station students got to taste hard tack and beef jerky that one of the reenactors made.

At another station they got to make black powder cartridges, which would have once been used in muskets.

"We just want to bring it to life to make it more realistic to them," Coker said.

Anglin said she is glad the school hosts the special day.

"This is a great opportunity for us to learn more and it's fun, while being educational," she said.