Historian and Author Tom Perry's thoughts on history and anything that comes to mind.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Teaching Civil War At Patrick County High School

            Twice a year I go to Patrick County High School to teach Patrick County in the Civil War to four classes of 11th graders at the invitation of Glenn Burnett. I talk about The Free State Of Patrick, my book on Patrick County in the Civil War. We discuss the home front in the war, life for the slaves and “free people of color,” the many different men in regiments who fought in the war for the North and the South and J. E. B. Stuart. We discuss the effect the war had on the people during and after the war. Topics include Rufus Woolwine, R. J. Reynolds, Abram D. Reynolds and Stoneman’s Raid, the only time we had Union forces in the county. You can watch my talk I give them from my website www.freestateofpatrick.com. Just click on the History Talks link if you are interested.
           Teacher Glenn Burnett always has the Advance Placement class to ask a question about the war, then research it and answer it, and finally, they send me an email, which I respond too.

Here are some of the questions I got this time. They love to play “What If” about the war.

What if the Confederacy had won the Civil War?

If the South had won the war, would slavery still be around today? If not, when would it have been abolished?

            This year I got some very interesting questions that were not “What Ifs”

Do you think that "The Confederate Treasure" might be real?

Did Native Americans have a part in the Civil War? If so, how significant was it?
Mr. Perry, I really enjoyed you coming and talking to our class about Patrick County's involvement in the war. I was wondering, would the Civil War still have happened without the conflict of slavery?

Mr. Perry, Thank you for coming to talk to our class on Tuesday. It was very interesting to learn more about Patrick County's involvement in the Civil War. I was wondering, had the South won the Civil War, would the Confederate States of America have succeeded as an independent country?

             This time I got two J. E. B. Stuart questions. Here are those questions and the student’s response to them to give you an idea of what they say.
Why is Jeb Stuart blamed for Gettysburg?
Many people in the southern states and in the confederate army found it hard to believe that their great general, Robert E. Lee, could lose a battle as important as Gettysburg. They didn’t want to believe that their beloved general could make such a foolish mistake of trying to fight the union army at that particular time, so they found a scapegoat: Major General Jeb Stuart (History.net). Jeb Stuart was known for his colorful personality and somewhat of a rambunctious attitude, so many found it very easy to blame him for the confederate army's defeat. Many newspapers in the south caught word of Jeb’s insolence and they bashed him for it, they claimed that Jeb had been off raiding a union army camp, when he should have been scouting for Lee. However, Jeb was doing the job that Lee had given him, Jeb had left the Calvary to Lee so they could scout, but they apparently, they didn’t not have the skills that made Jeb the amazing scout that he was (History.net). In the end Jeb got saddled with the blame of Gettysburg because he was the easiest to lay blame to without having any back blow since he was just a lone horseman from Ararat.

What if Jeb Stuart would have lived to fight another day?

I believe that if Jeb Stuart would have lived, the war would have ended very differently. Stuart played a key role in the war. He was an effective leader and one of the main scouts for the Confederate army.

            Jeb started his military career when he went to the United States Military Academy. There he became friends with Robert E. Lee and learned everything he knew about the Military. After he graduated he started as a second lt. in the U.S. Mounted Rifles in Texas. This is where he gained his experience in the Calvary which would play a key role in the Civil War.

            When the Civil War started, Jeb left his career in the U.S. army to serve in the Confederate army. He was made a colonel under the command of General Jackson. Jackson soon placed Jeb in command of all the Northern Virginia Calvary Brigades. After a few successful missions, Jackson earned his stripes and became a major general.

            Jackson and his Calvary earned the nickname the ‘invincible’ Calvary. Jackson and his men were known for embarrassing Union troops and became real pains in the neck for the Union. He also was able to scout out the enemy and report locations and movements to Lee. This gave the Confederates a major advantage.

            The reason the war would have been different if Stuart would have lived, is because he supplied major support and reinforcements. He and his men were able to hurt the Union by scouting locations of the Union army and by hitting the Union army where it hurt. I believe with all that Jeb was able to, the South could have theoretically won the war. His effective leadership and his dedication was something that the South needed and he provided it. Therefore, I believe the war would have been very different. Works Cited: http://www.historynet.com/jeb-stuart

            I have been doing this now for a decade, twice a year. I do it because I was once a student at PCHS and would have loved to have someone come talk to us about history. My father was teacher and principal for almost thirty years in the Patrick County School System, so I understand the life of teachers. Finally, when I was in college James I. Robertson, Jr., my Civil War professor at Virginia Tech told us to get out of the “ivory tower” and talk to regular folks about the history of the war. Someone once told me I was the only man they ever saw who did his community service before he was arrested when it came to going back to high school to talk about the war with the students. I hear lots of people say that kids don’t get this history in school anymore. Well, in Patrick County they do.

No comments:

Post a Comment