Students create Civil War-era journals

Published 4:25 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fourth graders in Randy Maxwell’s Helena Intermediate School class recently used their imagination, creativity and organizational skills to focus on the Civil War years by composing a journal that might have been kept by a person living during those times.

The students were to assume the persona of a Union or Confederate soldier, a male or female Abolitionist, an enslaved person or a southern woman.

Their historical records chronicled the years 1860-1865 and reflected the hardships for both North and South. Following are some of the highlights they learned.

“Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor was bombed by the Confederate soldiers using black powder in their guns.” — Brock

“I learned that women had to do their husband’s work while they were away. — Shaylin

The extra burden placed on those who stayed home was mentioned by many of the students. In class, northern and southern perspectives of the war were debated. Tom Eubank, a class parent, visited and brought a musket for examination. The length of time needed to load and shoot this weapon made an impression remembered by all.

“About 400 women dressed as men to get in the war.” — Lily

“I learned what they ate and what weapons they used. Soldiers had a hard life.” — Jacob

“Slaves also fought in the war.” — Jason

“I learned what amputate means.” — Houston

“Abraham Lincoln was assassinated just five days after the war ended.” — Jace

The class unanimously agreed the journal project was an exciting way to show off their knowledge in illustrations, as well as writing.

“I thought all the soldiers giving up their lives was the saddest part. I wrote my journal thinking about how I would feel if it was my own daddy who died.” — Haley

“Doing the journal inspired me to pretend to be someone else.” — Alex W.

“We got to burn and tear and paint tea on our homework.” — Ashlyn

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at