A history lesson on tap

Published 9:39 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

Students at Oakland Elementary School got an up-close-and-personal lesson in the history of the American Civil War during a special event there this week. Members of the Tom Smith Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans were at the school to help out with a program designed to give the children a true feel for what things were like for folks in America 150 years ago.

By all accounts, the most intriguing thing of the day was the presentation of medical implements, accompanied by a description of the painful and sometimes gory techniques that doctors used on the battlefield in an effort to heal the wounds of their charges. The children got to touch real artifacts and replicas, and it’s likely that engaging a new sense — touch — in the learning environment helped the students come away with a better understanding of the things they’ve been reading about.

As communities across the nation begin to commemorate the sesquicentennial of a four-year string of Civil War-related events, there will be many opportunities in the days to come for children and adults, alike, to learn more about this important period in American history.


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One great opportunity locally will take place this weekend, as Riddick’s Folly and the Sons of Confederate Veterans join up to present “Storm Over Suffolk,” a couple of days of historical re-enactment, museum tours, encampments and other events. There are plans for the event to be held each year through 2015, which will mark the 150th anniversary of the war’s end.

This year, hundreds of re-enactors will participate in the commemoration, which is based on a newspaper article from the May 3, 1861, Richmond Daily Dispatch about how Confederate troops from surrounding counties gathered in Suffolk before leaving from the Seaboard station on the train to Norfolk.

Inside Riddick’s Folly, first-person interpreters will portray members of the Riddick family preparing for the war. At Cedar Hill Cemetery, more first-person interpreters will portray a variety of 1861 Suffolk residents, from the mayor’s daughter to the brother of Nansemond County’s only civilian casualty during the war.

The idea is to present a variety of viewpoints about the war during the daylong event.

There’s not a better way to learn about the impact that the war had on Suffolk and Nansemond County. If you’re planning to be in town on Saturday, grab the children and head downtown. You’re guaranteed to learn something, and they will, too.