A Living History Lesson at Bridge City Middle School
This is the third year that seventh and eighth grade students at Bridge City have been making history come alive.
Some students along with history teachers Leslie Lloyd and Bill Dixon and Assistant Principal Kent Broussard have formed the 8th Bridge City Red Raiders, a Civil War reenactment group.
The 8th Bridge City is comprised of an infantry company, signal corps, a nine piece Civil War era band, Calvary soldiers, cooks, and this year the addition of doctors and nurses. There is also a ladies camp where the girls who are members of the group learn to sew, knit , crochet, make clothes and this year will be dying wool.
The 3rd Texas Artillery reenactment group has been very helpful in providing guidance to the group. The 3rd Texas has been to the Middle School to advise and instruct the group in regard to reenactment.
The 3rd Texas has instructed some of the 8th Bridge City in the operation of a mountain howitzer. The 8th bridge City has learned all of the parts of the howitzer and has fired the howitzer under the direction of the 3rd Texas.
Lloyd said, “this project began three years ago when an honors class began researching the Civil War. We contacted the 3rd Texas and they came to school to give a demonstration and interest grew among the students. This year we have 49 students participating and learning new things. There are two boys who are learning to be blacksmiths and two 7th grade students who will be acting as wounded soldiers.”
The Infantry Company can often be seen at practice on the north end of the school. They are under the command of a Sergeant Major, a Sergeant, and a Corporal. This year the Infantry Company has put in over 50 hours of practice in getting ready for upcoming reenactments. Lloyd said, “the infantry group is very dedicated, they work very hard and have given up a lot of Saturdays and have put in a lot of extra time.”
When the group goes to reenactments they are dressed in period uniforms and other forms of dress. All of the equipment is as authentic as possible. The group usually arrives at a reenactment site the night before the reenactment and sets up a camp. The day of the reenactment the group will perform military maneuvers and daily activities of the time.
The ladies camp will be set with the ladies doing what the ladies of the time doing the chores of the camps of the period. They will be sewing, nursing the wounded and sick and also being laundresses for the troops.
Uniforms and other supplies have been obtained through sales and by donations. Lloyd said, “we have sold a lot of Power Aide. The 3rd Texas donated 60 yards of period fabric for the ladies camp. John Burleigh donated four officer’s uniforms. Last year’s parents have donated items that they used last year and several reenactment groups have either loaned or donated things to us.”
The 8th Bridge City has been to several Civil War sites to both observe and participate in reenactments. They have been to Hickory Creek and DeRidder, both sites of Civil War activity. The group plans to participate in the annual reenactment at Nibblett’s Bluff near Orange. Nibblett’s Bluff is the site of Camp Pleasant, which was the garrison for a large number of troops that were to protect the Sabine River from invasion by Union Troops.
The reenactments give the students a hands-on opportunity to live history as they learn it.
There are at present six area schools that participate in reenactments. A reenactment is planned to bring them together along with the 3rd Texas and any other groups that would be available.