The North Bend Eagle


Civil War campsite at NBCA group of students hear about life in a Civil War encampment during Living History Day at NBC April 19. The event was moved inside because of the rain.

Blue, gray, black and orange:
NBC students get in-depth look at Civil War life

by Nathan Arneal
Published 4/26/17

You never know what you’re going to dig up in the backyard that will lead to a lifetime hobby.

Well, perhaps the chances of that happening are increased if you grew up on a Civil War battlefield.

Moss Ellis grew up in Maryland and Virginia and spent summers at his grandmother’s house, which was indeed located on a Civil War battlefield. Inside the house hung a picture of his great-grandfather in his Confederate uniform. Outside the house Ellis found or dug up all kinds of Civil War paraphernalia, such as bullets, shell fragments and buttons.

FormationFourth grader Ava Schulke gets some help as she stands in attention in marching formation.

“It’s kind of bred into you, if you know what I mean,” Ellis said. “When I was young we never played army or cowboys and Indians, we played Civil War.”
That early interest has grown into a vast collection of artifacts from the War Between the States, including 188 Civil War-era guns. Ellis, who now lives in Lincoln, brought his collection to North Bend Central last Wednesday to take part in the school’s Civil War Living History Day.

Ellis’s Guns of the Civil War display was one of eight stations students rotated through, spending 15 minutes at each looking at artifacts and hearing experts dressed in period clothing talk about technology, life and times during the Civil War.

The event was organized by NBC social studies teacher Ken Streff and art teacher Dan Wright. For several years the pair has put on small marching and drill demonstrations for NBC juniors. Streff provided the history students. Wright provided the Civil War uniforms.

“I’m just a guy who likes to make stuff,” Wright said. “I watched the movie Glory and I thought, ‘I bet you I could make that uniform. I bet you I can figure out how to run a sewing machine, and I’d have that for things at school.’”

So he did. His interest in authentic period clothing brought him in touch with the Civil War reenacting community. On occasion he will participate in a reenactment, but he’s more comfortable just making uniforms.

“I barely can follow orders on the battlefield at a reenactment. These guys,” Wright said, waving his arm at a pair of Confederates explaining a Civil War campsite to a group of students, “were officers at the 155th (anniversary of the Battle) of Shiloh two weeks ago. He was running a brigade, and I can’t even be a private worth a darn.’”

Over the years, Wright and Streff’s demonstrations for NBC history students grew. Last year, elementary teachers asked if their students could come up and partake in the demonstrations.


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