History in the making

AIKEN - With the loud boom of the cannon Friday, Jessica Morris, 9, and her little sister Gina, 3, jumped with excitement while attending the Battle of Aiken re-enactment.


But Jessica and her friends from Millbrook Elementary School said the people's livelihood was more interesting than the guns and cannons.

"Did you know that only rich kids got to have a pinball machine?" said Alley Ashley, 10. "Their games are nothing like ours."

About 4,000 pupils took part in the Battle of Aiken's education day.

In addition to seeing the battle re-enactment, pupils toured a makeshift village where re-enactors made candles, yarn and clothes.

"We get to see what they wore and how they dressed," Jessica said. "I may not get all these details in a book."

Teachers said they love the re-enactment because it functions as a second classroom.

"We just finished studying the Civil War in U.S. history, so this gives them a living history lesson," said Wendy Nix, an Edisto High School teacher.

Ms. Nix's students had worksheets they had to complete while touring the site.

"We try to make everything as authentic as possible," said Brian Hall, who is a re-enactor with his wife, Susan. "We're just trying to pass on our love of history, and we want it to look like what they would have done."

"This has to be the biggest re-enactment that teaches the skills that people had during the 1850s," Mrs. Hall said.

Students also learned a few strange facts.

"They could turn a pig's bladder inside out and use it as a balloon," said Kelvin Ashley, 10. "I would have never heard about that in class."

On the battlefield, pupils learned about uniforms and how to fire a cannon.

"I didn't know people in Philadelphia could hear cannons from Gettysburg. That's a long way," Jessica said as hundreds of pupils watched the re-enactment. "That is something I'll definitely remember."

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com.


Grounds open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday

Battleground located on Powell Pond Road of S.C. Highway 19 in Aiken