Hilliard Northwest News

Heritage Middle School

Re-enactors bring history to life

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Re-enactor Andrew Mott explains life in a Civil War camp to Heritage Middle School students April 26.

For Hilliard Heritage Middle School social studies teacher Eric Dameron, the Civil War is much more than an account of American history and required curriculum for his eighth-grade students.

His paternal great-grandfather, Jackson Dameron, was killed in 1864 while serving as a member of the Union army's 39th Kentucky Infantry regiment.

Kentucky was among several border states that had both Confederate and Union units, and Dameron said his ancestors fought for both sides.

To bring the Civil War alive for his students over the past 10 years, Dameron has arranged for professional re-enactors to visit the school and illustrate the life of a Civil War soldier, as well as to explain the causes and effects of the Civil War.

"I think it gives the students greater insight into the Civil War. It is about much more than slavery," said Dameron, who dedicates the annual event to his great-grandfather.

All eighth-grade students at Heritage Middle School participated in the event Friday, April 26.

Students visited stations where Civil War re-enactors demonstrated both warfare and the monotony of camp life.

About every 15 minutes, the sound of a musket -- shooting blanks -- resounded off the back wall of the school.

"I know there are seventh-graders looking out the windows today waiting for their chance to do this," Dameron said.

The program nearly ended two years ago when the re-enactors who visited Heritage could no longer do so.

Last year, when Dameron was visiting near his hometown of New Bremen, he attended a festival with re-enactors and met Andrew Mott.

He asked if Mott and others would be willing to travel as far as Hilliard to perform for his students.

He was pleasantly surprised to learn that Mott lived in Grove City.

Mott said he became a Civil War re-enactor in 2003 while a student at Wright State University.

"A friend of mine had been after me to do it since we were in high school ... and it's a great and fun experience," said Mott, a custodian at a Columbus church.

Mott played a banjo and showed a replica set of playing cards to illustrate some of the activities of soldiers in camp.

Rick Hahn, of Canal Winchester, portrayed a Confederate soldier and explained the uses of a bayonet, both as a weapon and a practical tool that could hold a candle when pointed into the ground.

Hahn also explained the details of his weapon, an 1861 .58 caliber Colt rifle and led an interactive demonstration of how to march and execute a "right wheel," a maneuver in which a soldier on the left end of the column pivots in place, and a line of soldiers to his right march out and to the right.

"We learned a lot here by being able to see it," student Audrey Cowen said. "It's a great way to remember it, better than just listening to a lecture or reading about it. It's fun to see the (period dress), too."

The group performed at no charge, other than meals the school provided to the re-enactors.

"They are a phenomenal group and I hope they can come back each year," Dameron said.