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Oak Glen students get a glimpse through history

April 28, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL - Managing editor ( , Weirton Daily Times

NEW MANCHESTER - A group of students from Oak Glen High School were transported back in time Friday afternoon, learning about the lives of soldiers during the Civil War.

Two members of the 66th Ohio Volunteer Infantry set up camp in the greenspace behind the school to talk to students of David Nurmi's American History class, showing them the various elements of their uniforms and describing some of what life would have been like during the war that divided the nation.

Cpl. Jacob Machamer, of North Canton, Ohio; and Pvt. Jason Leggett, of Lisbon, Ohio; are re-enactors - individuals who immerse themselves in the lifestyles of various time periods from throughout history.

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In real life, according to Machamer, the 66th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was formed late in 1861 and was on hand for many of the Civil War's biggest events, including Gettysburg and Sherman's March.

"It saw action in both theaters and served throughout the war," Machamer said.

The re-enactors showed students various parts of their uniforms, which duplicated the style and material used at the time, including being made of pure wool.

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Pvt. Jason Leggett, of the 66th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, displays some of the items which would have been used by a Civil War soldier. Leggett, from Lisbon, Ohio, was part of a demonstration given at Oak Glen High School Friday. -- Craig Howell

They displayed numerous items which might have been used by a soldier while camping, marching or in battle, including several pieces of clothing, food rations, playing cards, books, spices for food, musical instruments, as well as two style of tents.

"A soldier would probably carry about half of what I have here," Leggett said.

Leggett recommended the book "Hardtack and Coffee" by John D. Billings for anyone interested in learning more about the type of food which would have been eaten.

"The name is from the two basic food items every soldier would have," he said, explaining hardtack was a type of cracker and coffee often "was the only thing keeping a soldier running."

Leggett said if soldiers were going to be staying in an area for longer periods of time, they might be able to acquire some luxuries like salted pork or beef and dried fruit. If a soldier ran out of their rations, they might have to forage for something to eat.

The duo also displayed some of the weapons drills a soldier would have to go through in order to learn how to use their firearms.

"Many soldiers were young and didn't have military experience," Machamer said.

They also took time to tell the students a little bit about being part of a re-enactment group and how to get involved if they were interested.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes, or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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