An Interesting Touch of History
Hugh McLeod, NWT Public Information Officer
On November 1, 2003, I had the pleasure to participate in a demonstration at Richmond Sportsman's Club (where we hold our annual Richmond skirmish). Norm Gibson brought his American history class to the range to participate in a rather unique learning experience. The class spent the day experiencing several aspects of life during the American Civil War. This was done as part of a class project on life during the war.
The day started off for the students by using semaphore (signal flags) to communicate messages across the field. They were shown the basics and then had the opportunity to practice what they learned. Then the students gathered around for a mortar demo, watching as 3 shots were fired from a 24lb Coehorn mortar as the strategy and tactics were explained. Then the students had to wheel a cannon and limber box from the parking lot into position on the range, learning the difficulty of moving such an artillery piece into position as Norm directed them over several small hills.
Before lunch the students had to gather some wood for several small campfires, which they had to start themselves. Lunch for the students was a meal of hardtack, bacon, beef, and potatoes, which they had to cook over an open fire. Norm provided an example of the procedure and then let them cook away. One boy tried to set his pants on fire, a girl broke a nail, and another cut her hand on the hardtack. Lessons learned! We watched as we ate several helpings of fresh bread, Dan Gibson's wonderful stew, and also helped ourselves to his birthday cake (How old????).
After lunch we provided a demonstration of the small arms of the period, starting with revolvers. Then we went to a 135 second rapid fire with teams based on the firearms used. There were smoothbore musket, rifle-musket, carbine, and repeating rifle teams firing at separate silhouettes which got very peppered during that time. The repeating rifle target had the most holes with 70+ but the carbine and rifle-musket boards had 30+ each. The smoothbore muskets accumulated approximately 20 holes in that short period of time. The students took a look at the targets to evaluate the effectiveness of the firearms, based on accuracy and rate of fire.
Then the N-SSA members worked with the students on a one-on-one basis instructing the students in the proper methods to load and fire our firearms. The students were then allowed to load and fire the various firearms under personal supervision. Several students demonstrated some ability to hit their intended targets, shooting at clay pigeons at 25 yards.
I believe that the students had an excellent time participating in the day's events. I know that we enjoyed working with the students one-on-one to share in the history and enjoyment of our sport as well. In total, 10 members of the 1st South Carolina, 3 members of the 7th Tennessee Infantry, 1 member of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and 1 member of the 7th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry were in attendance to helps the 28 students.