by Lisa Tome
One of the most important tools in teaching the Civil War to young people is the smart phone.
That's the opinion of Jake Duda.
"We're fighting against the cell phone or tablet now. We've made it so they can scan (Civil War) items," said Duda.
Duda was middle school age when he first became fascinated by Civil War history. Fast forward 30 years and Duda, is now part of living history.
"As a middle schooler, I was enamored by history. Most reenactment groups wouldn't talk to me. So I started out as a bugler. And I learned a lot over the years," he said.
Duda, a Civil War Reenactor from "Company D" Maryland 2nd Infantry, and three other reenactors turned out at Civil War Day for eighth graders at Perryville Middle School last week.
Although the weekday numbers of the group were small, they taught lessons that were big and allowed the students to use smart phone technology to learn about the war between the states. The phones are used in a number of ways. Various Civil War items have scan codes on them. Students can scan the items and learn about them. They can also take a test about what they learned and submit their answers online.
"Maryland was important during the Civil War because it was part north and part south. It was neighbor against neighbor. It's important to teach that to young adults," said Duda.
The reenactors set up three learning stations for the Perryville Middle students. The one station included the phone scanning area and the Civil War items. A second station taught students about drilling and the flags, Maryland history, and significant events for the war, which occurred in Perryville. The third station allowed students a chance to load, fire, and drill with mock weapons. "The intent of this is to give them an experience beyond the classroom and be proud of Maryland history," said Duda.
Steve Creswell spends his days normally working as a chef at Union Hospital. He was one of the reenactors last week.
The group provided students with a food sample of hardtack, a war time staple food. "It feels good to be part of this. We need to keep politics out of history. The history already happened," said Creswell.
The group of reenactors also gives back. They were involved with the school Leo Club's end of school year food drive. The students, in turn, have worked to preserve a Civil War battlefield.