Civil War re-enactors talk to students

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 Civil War re-enactors talk to students

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PostSubject: Civil War re-enactors talk to students   11/26/2009, 9:49 am

Civil War re-enactors talk to students - Chicago Tribune

GALESBURG, Ill. - About 30 students huddled around Herschel Stroud, otherwise known as Baltzer, a Union Civil War soldier. He sorted through his haversack filled with the supplies he took with him to war, displaying them to the King Elementary School students who gathered in the library. His wife, Jacqueline Stroud, who introduced herself as Amanda, stood off to the side.

“Is that real money?” one students gasped.

Stroud held up a typical 1860s $2 bill, a $1.50 bill and a Confederate $1,000.

“Cool!” The students whispered to each other.

The Strouds, dressed in traditional 1860s clothing, gave their presentation to two groups of fifth graders at King Elementary School on Tuesday morning. On Tuesday evening they gave a presentation at the library about Civil War nurse Mother Bickerdyke. They will visit Silas Willard and Steele elementary schools Wednesday.

“The Civil War was a defining moment in American history. It tested the Constitution,” Jacqueline Stroud said. “This city has so much Civil War history.”

The Strouds, who traveled from Topeka, Kan., posed as a Civil War solider and his wife for the student presentations. Herschel took on the role of a great uncle, who was actually born in St. Elmo, Ill., and fought in the war. Jacqueline played his wife Amanda, although later research proved that he was married to woman named Elizabeth.

The 5th grade classes the Strouds spoke with will study the Civil War later this school year.

“It’s just a wonderful way for children to actually see Civil War artifacts. It makes it more real to them,” said Kaarina Stanley, a King Elementary School 5th-grade teacher.

The Strouds brought assorted Civil War treats for their young audience, including beef jerky, ginger snaps and hard cheese. They shared the story of the young couple, separated by the war. Amanda waited for Herschel at home, taking care of cooking and cleaning, while Baltzer fought along side of other Union soldiers. They pointed out to the children many of the differences between life today and life during the 1800s. But Herschel said the main goal was to help students understand that the Civil War ended slavery and kept the country united.

“I try to point out why that war was fought,” Herschel said.

The Strouds have been doing history re-enactments for about 20 years and believe their work is important because it helps people understand the past.

“If you don’t know where you’ve been how can you possibly know where you’re going?” Jacqueline said.

Stanley said she agreed that the students learned a great deal from the presentations.

“It makes history come alive,” she said. “It’s not just words in a book.”
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