Catoosa’s Wells Middle School students experienced the Civil War first hand as volunteers with the 1st Arkansas Light Artillery Wednesday during a re-enactment of the war that defined early America.
An all-day event held on school grounds featured stations for each division of the army.
Students learned about the variety of tools, weapons and medical devices that were used during the time period.
The event followed weeks of preparation as students studied and researched the subject.
The volunteers have been performing for students in Catoosa for six years. They travel across the country for these events, according to event coordinator Kelly Crabtree.
“We have served 550 students at this event and the students prepared for six weeks just for this day,” Crabtree said.
The students get to touch, hear and smell the things they have studied, bringing the events back to life for them, she said.
“We do this to honor our ancestors and preserve our heritage. We want to teach the younger generation what it is all about,” Crabtree said.
Crabtree also explained that most of the volunteers have served as part of a military family and that many are veterans.
Additionally, all of them have traced an ancestor back to the Civil War.
Other volunteers with the groups explained why they make the trip back to Catoosa each year.
“We enjoy doing this for the kids, firing the guns and portraying the soldiers of the Civil War,” Charles Crabtree said.
“It brings history to life for them and the Civil War was a defining moment in our nation’s history,” Paul Campbell said. “Other than that, the kids love it!”
“We did a three-day curriculum that covered the Civil War in each subject area,” said Principal Bella Parrish.
They researched geography, climate, important battles and every detail down to the clothing and food of the time.
Students researched the medicine that was used including herbs and antibiotics that were developed.
Another topic studied was family structures and the division the war created at the time with brothers fighting brothers.
The students researched the impact that was made on slavery and African Americans.
“Kelly Crabtree is a sixth grade teacher at Wells Middle School and she started the program to bring the experience to students,” Parrish said.
“It is a unique opportunity for our students to gain a wealth of knowledge about the time period,” Parrish said. “They also get the opportunity to learn how to put together a big project like this as students are involved with each detail.”