The first official summer holiday weekend is upon us. It's time to pause and remember those who died while defending our freedoms. Memorial Day was commemorated after the American Civil War in honor of all who gave their lives in what, many still believe, was the bloodiest war of our past. Since American history encompasses the fifth grade social studies curriculum, my class and I spend a lot of time reviewing the events of the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars. The facts are difficult to sort through with so many venues and names to remember. Therefore, I try to integrate nonfiction literature and documentation from real events recorded by individuals who lived through those tumultuous times. With any luck, my students are able to catch an empathetic glimpse of the fear and anxiety that fought those devastating wars.
While in the company of my own equids, I often contemplate reality for war horses. Like my own eclectic assortment there must have been a variety of different personalities that charged onto the battlefield with ground troops in tow. Clearly, some of these horses were braver than others. But there must have been many who, along with their riders, possessed tremendous fear when the call to charge was issued. I can only imagine the intensity of this fear when they saw, smelled and prepared for the death that surrounded them.
Last week, Civil War Day was celebrated at the Town of Webb School. Groups of students visited a number of stations where they learned about the various aspects that characterized this war. I brought my Friesian mare, Lowtchee to represent a war horse. High school senior, Lauren Holt, (one of my riding students), spoke about the role of horses during the Civil War. She was quick to point out that although Lowtchee's breed did not resemble those enlisted at the time, her training did. Obedience was an essential ingredient that increased a rider's chances of survival during a bloody attack.
Photos by Michele deCamp
|Lowtchee greeted my 5th grade class upon her arrival.|
|This seventh grade student set the mood on the battlefield.|
|The students dined on hard tack, a tasteless, mixture of flour and water that kept the soldiers barely alive when supplies were low or non-existent.|
|No luxury in these tents.|
|Our school nurse transformed into Clara Barton.|
|On the battlefield there was no pain management, no antiseptic care and no consideration for personal hygiene.|
|There were however, crude methods of amputation and an accumulation of severed limbs.|
|My riding student, Lauren Holt spoke about the relationship between officers and their horses.|
|Obedience training was essential; translating into life or death during battle.|
|Lauren and I wonder if the mounted soldiers took comfort in the company of their horses during such misery.|
|Lauren and Lowtchee|
|Students and presenters posed together at the end of the event.|