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Brendan Kinder Brings the Civil War to Life for Class

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Civil War and Reconstruction course (HIST 454), team taught by professors Waters and Crawford wrapped up the war phase of the class under the direction of Professor Crawford last week with a talk by Brendan Kinder, one of the students who is also a Civil War re-enactor.

The terrible cost of the war, 620,000 Americans dead (around 6 Million in today’s population), guarantees that the war remains a fascinating and tragic event in the nation’s history, evidenced by the continued interest of re-enactors like Kinder, and the plethora of popular culture products on the war. Kinder came to class in full uniform and discussed what motivated him and others to keep the memory of the war alive.

He demonstrated the various parts of the uniform and weapons that soldiers carried during the war. He took the class through how he began and where he bought his various accoutrements. The cost of his equipment was in the neighborhood of $1,000 and he displayed the various items, from cartridge boxes to bayonet to the class who kept up a steady barrage of questions. One of the highlights was when he passed out hardtack, the thoroughly baked bread that formed the basis for soldier’s rations. The bread was not bad, provided one did not break their teeth on it.

Kinder also brought his various weapons, which included a Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle with bayonet, a Navy Colt revolver, and a cavalry saber. The rifle was a nice example of globalization; a replica of a British rifle used by both sides in the war, manufactured by an Italian company, for American re-enactors.

It was an interesting presentation, and provided a Big Finish to the student’s exploration of the conflict that divided families and friends and shed so much blood in such an important cause for all Americans.