War Veterans

Free Union Cemetery contains the graves of veterans from the war of 1812, the Civil War, and both World Wars. To aid our understanding, Andy Drysdale, re-enactor and curator at Shippen Manor,  presented the life of a soldier ineach of the latter three conflicts. Following each visit, the students created museum displays for the Civil War and 2nd World War, which were shared with our larger homeschool community.

A Review of our Civil War Morning  - By Jack

Our Civil War morning was very interesting. First, Mr Andy Drysdale arrived, wearing a civil war soldiers uniform, which consist of: baggy pants, leather boots, a long shirt, a coat with brass buttons, a funny hat and a belt. He carried a musket (and a bayonet), a bag (which soldiers kept their food in: Hardtack and greasy pork; Eaaauuugh!), and a scabbard for his bayonet.

He told us why the civil war started (the south felt that they were losing power in congress), why it was the bloodiest war ever (a regiment of 500 went out in Gettysburg, and 19 came back), and about the germ-riddle field hospitals.

He also recommended two books: The Life of Billy Yank, and The Life of Johny Reb.  

Here is a historical fiction book for kids: Anybody's Hero: The Battle of Old Men and Young Boys. I also recommend other books in this series. I have read: Divided Loyalties, which is very good.

I really enjoyed our Civil War morning, and I can't wait for our WWI day!

WWI Day review - By Jack

On Wednesday the 21st of February, I learned a lot about World War I with Mr Andy Drysdale, in World War I (or Doughboy) uniform!

First he told us about how America got involved in WWI (German attacks on passenger ships). Then he told us how the got there (on ships, the long way) and how they drove the Germans back.

Lastly, he told us about the trenches, and how they were dirty, dangerous, and filled with rats and corpses. Toxic gas attacks were also very deadly, and each soldier was equipped with a gas mask.

Reviews of our World and Civil War Days - By Sarah

The homeschool community in Great Meadow, New Jersey, had a historical gala on Wednesday, February 21. From 10 to 11:15 that morning, Andy Drysdale, curator and educator from Shippen House Manor Museum, dressed in the uniform of an infantryman and armed with the typical foot soldier’s weapons, gave a presentation on the life of a World War I soldier.

He was entertaining as well as informative and was well received by his audience, which was made up of children and adults. Mr. Drysdale welcomed questions and the audience seemed engaged.

After a break for lunch, the homeschoolers began setting up posters and projects to build a Civil War “museum.” Each child’s project covered a different aspect of the Civil War era. Projects ranged from “Underground Railroad” lanterns, to dolls and battleships.

The museum “opened” with a drill performed by the Hernandez family, Nathaniel, Joseph, and Silas, and mom, Michelle. After the drill, the children broke up and examined one another’s projects.

Aquil created a poster about the ironclad warships used during the Civil War. “If no one made a poster,” he said in reference to his work, “no one would know about this.”

Amanda had two posters. One discussed flags used during the Civil War, and the second was about dolls made during the era. She chose to do a project on the dolls “because not many people know about” them, she said. Rachel also had a display on dolls, but she set out copies of the Addy books from the American Girls series. The Addy stories are about an African-American girl living during the Civil War. Rachel also displayed her own American Girl dolls.
Three sisters, Schuyler, Lyndsee and Tabitha, designed a project about clothes and fabrics used around the time of the Civil War, and even came dressed in period clothes.

Mathew created a Civil War diorama, which included a miniature lean-to and depicted Confederates attacking a Union army camp. It was complete with a colorful “fire” and cannon ball mid-flight.

Jack and Nathaniel made a Morse code machine for the museum as an extension of their electronics class. Jack also brought in a Gettysburg board game for everyone to play. Amira made hardtack, Johnnycake and apple brown Betty representing the spectrum of food available to foot soldiers and generals.

The idea to study the Civil War and World War I came about because of the Cemetery Project, which is an endeavor by the Free Union Homeschoolers to research those buried in the cemetery beside the Methodist church. There are many veterans of war buried in the cemetery. “We looked at causes of death, and war is a big one,” said Mrs. Wooldridge. Also, the concept of having a “museum,” where each child could research an aspect of the Civil War era, was a practical one. “This way, everyone can learn about a part of the period, and share that with the others,” Mrs. Wooldridge said. “Everyone shares the whole picture.”

WWII Talk and Museum - By Jack

My Andy came again and gave a talk on WWII. He talked about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and how people are still disputing whether the government let that happen. He talked about how even before it entered the war, America was a huge help, sending supplies to the Allies. He talked about the island-hopping in Japan, where the Americans hopped from one island to another, setting up a little base there, to cut off Japanese supplies. He also talked about D-Day and how Germany was eventually invaded. I really enjoyed his talk and felt that I learned a lot.

The Museum was great. First, I did my talk on the Navajo Code Talkers. Rachel did a report on clothing styles. Mathew did a model of D-Day (which was really cool), and Nathaniel did codes, including the enigma machine. Pam and her daughters did a report on food rationing, and so did Amanda. Sandy and her daughters did wartime entertainment, and Breighanna did peace and folding paper cranes. I had a really good time.