The men and women of the Confederate Army were at the ready, champing at the bit to attack the Union stronghold of Fort Sumter. It was on this hallowed ground that the American Civil War would begin. The battle was fierce with both sides hurling projectiles on the battlefield until the Union troops could hold the fort no longer.
Of course the troops being referred too are fifth-graders from Martha P. King Elementary, the projectiles are water balloons, and Fort Sumter is the Boulder City High School football field.
History, water balloons and fun were the themes at the elementary school’s 30th annual Civil War Re-enactment. For two hours the students laughed and giggled their way through every major battle of the Civil War.
From Fort Sumter to Hampton Roads, students dressed as Union and Rebel soldiers lobbed water balloons at each other, only breaking from the war to hear a history speech about each battle from a classmate.
Rylee Landerman, a Confederate soldier and fifth-grader, gave a speech on the Battle of Vicksburg, a key encounter that would seal the legacy of Ulysses S. Grant as one of the greatest Union generals.
Rylee said she loved doing the re-enactment and her favorite part was making a speech. “The Civil War was amazing and wet,” said Rylee, who did not escape the war unscathed by water balloons. “It was so cool to do a speech about Vicksburg in front of everyone. I learned a lot.
Soaked and smiling students from both the Union and Confederacy had nothing but good things to say about their first and only re-enactment, which is solely for fifth-grade students. Union soldier Mitchell Duncan said he learned a lot about the Civil War to prepare for battle.
“I memorized the Gettysburg Address for the re-enactment,” Mitchell said, though he was not required to recite Lincoln’s most famous speech to the crowd.
Mitchell even proved himself to be a true soldier on the battlefield, claiming he had drenched many confederate uniforms.
Mitchell’s father, David Duncan is no rookie to the re-enactment; Mitchell is Duncan’s third child to take part in the Civil War.
“My daughter is 26 now and if you ask her what the most exciting experience of her life was, she will tell you it is this re-enactment,” Duncan said. Duncan said the Civil War re-enactment is a proud school tradition and a great way to teach kids American history.
“This is probably the greatest thing I have ever seen,” Duncan said. “This is a great way for children to interact with history.” This may be the last year King Elementary conducts a Civil War re-enactment with there having been a national debate over prominent displays of the Confederate flag in public places. However King Elementary Principal Anthony Gelsone said he does not know the future of the re-enactment.
“I honestly don’t know yet if we will do this next year,” Gelsone said. “We are still talking about that so we will see.” The re-enactment may not happen next year, but this year the proud soldiers of the Union and Confederacy fought bravely and had a little fun.