Textbooks and tablets provide a wealth of information, but some things just can't be absorbed from the written word – such as the sound of American Civil War-era musket fire.

Students at Hilliard Heritage Middle School on April 26 learned about the lives of Civil War soldiers, a lesson that included marching in formation under an unseasonably cool, damp and slate-gray spring sky.

Civil War reenactors visited Heritage to demonstrate how soldiers slept, cooked food, traveled and used artillery.

"It was an authentic experience, something (students) can't get from a book or a video," said Eric Dameron, an eighth-grade social-studies teacher at Heritage.

The reenactors included Art O'Short, 44, of Columbus and Tom Baker, 62, of Hilliard. Baker said he retired from Hilliard City Schools after working for the district 41 years as a custodian.

As members of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery reenactment unit, they demonstrated how to load and fire a 3-inch ordnance rifle, a piece of artillery that resembles a small cannon and was at the time the most advanced piece of weaponry in the field, O'Short said.

Each shell fired cost about $50, or $5,000 in today's dollars, he said.

In addition, reenactor James Sturckler, 33, of Dayton taught students how to "wheel" in formation while another reenactor fired a rifle to simulate the conditions soldiers often experienced.

Isabella Sherman, 13, an eighth-grader at Heritage, said she enjoyed the experience.

"It seemed so real and put me in the shoes of a soldier and what it would have been like," she said.