FWCD’s seventh-graders spent much of this week touring Vicksburg, Mississippi. This annual four-day adventure is packed full of interactive exchanges and student-led presentations. The preparation leading up to the trip connected students with FWCD Parent Gregg Lehman
and Ben Beckman
’18, both Civil War Reenactors, and Dr. Steven E. Woodworth
, TCU History Professor, for various programs to get students into the Civil War mindset.
Lehman is an historian by avocation. He shared some of the Civil War memorabilia he’s collected over the years and outfitted Head of Middle School John Stephens
in a Civil War uniform. “Private Stephens” served as a U.S. Army Soldier, 1st U.S. Infantry Regiment. Lehman had three "officers" demonstrate typical drills
used during the time period, and (at 2:10 in the above video link) Private Stephens goes through a loading sequence. Parents can view Vicksburg trip photos on Instagram @fwcdvicksburg2017
In Beckman’s presentation, students were introduced to the uniforms and equipment of both Federal and Confederate soldiers. He shared the blue sack coat of the Federal Infantry; the sky blue trousers of the Confederate Infantry; Brogan shoes (which had no left or right, just a square toe for either foot); and such accoutrements as the bayonet, haversack with hardtack inside, a poncho made out of tarred canvas, a canteen made from tin and covered in cloth, cartridge and cap boxes; and more.
At the end of the program, he played the rope drum, demonstrating “A Call to Assemble” and spoke about how the drummers used cadences to help communicate in the wartime chaos on the battlefield.
Beckman has been participating in Civil War reenactments (both Union and Confederate) for several years and keeps pretty busy with these extracurricular efforts. He spent this past spring break filming a movie trailer for “Deer Blind.” He plays a Union soldier in the film.
Dr. Woodworth shared his love of history and his passion for the Battle of Vicksburg. He discussed how General Ulysses E. Grant outmaneuvered Confederate Generals John C. Pemberton and Joseph E. Johnston, and how General Pemberton’s army was ultimately trapped inside Vicksburg, with General Johnston’s forces sealed outside.
This year’s Vicksburg itinerary included a tour of Oakland Plantation; visits to the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, the Grand Gulf Military Battlefield, the Old Court House and B’nai B’rith Literary Association; a Vicksburg National Military Battlefield hike; a stained glass and math project; and a field training and cannon demonstration. Learning away from the classroom is a cornerstone of a Fort Worth Country Day education, and the Middle School’s grade-level fields trips are events that unify the students' learning experiences.