published Monday, April 11th, 2011

Students experience Civil War first-hand


by Andy Johns
Bekah Mason, far left, a teacher at Silverdale Baptist Academy in Chattanooga, talks to members of the school's Youth in Government club at Fort Moultrie, S.C., during re-enactments of the start of the Civil War at Fort Sumter.
Staff Photo by Robin Rudd/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Bekah Mason, far left, a teacher at Silverdale Baptist Academy in Chattanooga, talks to members of the school's Youth in Government club at Fort Moultrie, S.C., during re-enactments of the start of the Civil War at Fort Sumter. Staff Photo by Robin Rudd/Chattanooga Times Free Press

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. — The results are in, and the majority of high school students think re-enactors shooting muskets on the beach is cooler than going to the Tennessee Capitol.

Civil War Twitter

The Youth in Government group at Silverdale Baptist Academy had planned to attend the group’s statewide conference in Nashville this weekend, but when some students found out the weekend also marked the 150th anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War, they changed their itinerary.

“We said, you know, this sounds a whole lot cooler and more fun,” said Joshua Boyer, a sophomore from Harrison.

History teacher Bekah Mason said the students took a vote on where to go and what to do once they got there.

The seven students on the trip chose tours of downtown Charleston, Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie; a Sunday morning worship service at historic St. Michael’s Church; and a Gibbes Museum of Art exhibit on the Underground Railroad, a system of helping Southern slaves escape to freedom in some Northern states.

“I think with this group, the best thing is it’s things they planned so it’s things they want to do,” said Mason.

At Fort Moultrie on Friday, the students toured the Confederate camp and the inner workings of the defense post, cameras and camera phones popping away.

They were treated to a fife and drum demonstration, a bugler trumpeting out orders to troops and even a few porpoises swimming past just off shore.

One of the student’s fathers is a re-enactor performing at Fort Sumter this week.

“This is a whole lot better than just sitting in a classroom,” said Boyer. “It’s there, it’s tangible, it’s the sound of the drums. It puts it in a whole new perspective.”

Friday, Mason stayed up nervously watching news reports to see if a federal government shutdown would limit their options on the trip.

A deal in Congress averted the shutdown — which would have closed Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter and other National Parks Service sites.

Mason said the political maneuvering served as a pretty good learning opportunity for her group.

“(Friday) was actually a great experience because they got to see how the government does what they do every day,” Mason said.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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