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The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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A Trip Back In Time>

CHARGE! History Teacher Steve Kramer leads Hollis , Evi, Callie, Natalie, Emily, Courtney, Chloe, Margaret, Jessica and Megan across Burnside Bridge at Antietam National Battlefield on the second afternoon of the Senior Civil War Trip. Photo provided by Megan

Hockaday seniors take the school’s first Civil War trip to Harper’s Ferry, Antietam and Gettysburg

Dressed in boots and jackets, senior Margaret and her Civil War class stepped onto the ground on which Confederate General E. Robert Lee ordered Pickett’s Charge against the Union army. The chill wind of the Northeast fall brought back the metallic taste of bloodshed and war.

“It was very harrowing realizing how many men died in the short charge,” Margaret said. Pickett’s Charge resulted in around 2,600 casualties.

Accompanied by History Department Chair Steve Kramer, third grade teacher Karen Roberts and sixth grade history teacher Darin Jeans, the Civil War fall semester class traveled on the first annual Hockaday Civil War field trip on Oct. 18 through Oct. 21.

Kate ‘12 provided the inspiration for the trip—as well as the Civil War course itself. Kate conducted an Independent Study of the Civil War with Kramer last year.

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“We did tons of reading on  the Civil War,” Kramer said. “The more I thought about it, [I believed] having a trip would really be good.”

A freshman in college, Kate expressed great interest in going on a trip to Civil War battle grounds.

“Seeing the battlefields would definitely give the girls a more real understanding of the battles,” Kate said. “I bet that seeing Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg and imagining charging it facing rifles and cannons will make a much bigger impression than reading about it in a textbook.”

Throughout the three nights and four days of the trip, the group toured three Civil War sites: Harper’s Ferry and Antietam on Friday and Gettysburg on Saturday. Located in close proximity to Washington D.C., the three spots were selected by Kramer due to their convenience and significance in the War.

Harper’s Ferry was the site of abolitionist John Brown’s attempt to seize the federal arsenal. Antietam bore the single bloodiest day in American military history and President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. And the town of Gettysburg saw the largest battle on North American territory.

Kramer said he was excited that students experienced a semblance of what the battles of the Civil War were like by visiting the sites.

“For Antietam and Gettysburg, the battlefields are very much like what they were,” he said. “For instance, when we walk Pickett’s Charge, we walk across the corn fields the same way the Confederate soldiers did.”

The group walked Pickett’s Charge on the second day of their trip.

Although Kramer had previously visited Antietam and Gettysburg three times, taking another look at the Pickett’s Charge brought him new meanings of the Civil War.

“I had a greater appreciation of the soldiers who were doing the firing because they had to figure out how to get their shells to explode at the proper points,” he said.

The field trip gave students who went new insights into the battle. Having a chance to set themselves in the exact scene helped to supply classroom learning.

“Being there in person helped me picture it more,” senior Hollis said when describing her favorite day at Harper’s Ferry. “One of the buildings from John Brown’s Raid is still there, so we got to go inside it and walk around.”

Viewing the sites helped students build their understanding of the battles and enhance their knowledge of the Civil War.

“My textbook can say that the Confederates had to charge across an open field or that the Union had to attack soldiers entrenched in a sunken road, but seeing the actual landmarks made all those facts click,” senior Courtney said.

However, this is not the only connection the group made with the textbook. They also came up with the idea of taking pictures with a cardboard cutout of the author of their textbook.

“All serious learning aside, we really had a great time,” said Courtney, who came up with the idea of carrying the placard of the book’s author, McPherson, around at the battlefields.

According to Kramer, the class may even write a letter to the author about their trip at the battlefields.

Besides getting a feeling of the authentic battle sites, students and teachers were also able to benefit from their tour guide’s professional interpretation of the sites.

“I also really loved the group that went. We all got along so well and all really enjoyed each other,” said Margaret.


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