Tonight in class we received index cards in a random order. On each card were the details of some of the soldiers, from the 5th NH Volunteer Infantry, who fought in the 2nd Battle of Gettysburg. Our professor, Christopher Benedetto, is an active member of the current manifestation of this organization, whose mission is no longer the defense of the country but rather historical preservation and educational purposes. Tonight Prof. Benedetto, would help us to put a human face on the Civil War.
Prof. Benedetto came to class in his uniform. He explained that the long overcoat, made of wool and the grey wool pants were considered his “dress uniform.” He then proceeded to explain each piece of equipment as he put it on.
On the table he set his haversack and bedroll. He also had some modern examples of hardtack, the staple of the Civil War soldier on the march. It was a dense biscuit that was not particularly flavorful. He also had his boiler, (a small metal coffee pot,) a tin cup and other personal items in his pack.
As he continued he explained how he acquired his equipment. The glasses he wore were antique frames that he had re-fashioned with his prescription. Even his shoes were worn, from use, as a soldier from this time period would have experienced. Below you can see the heel plate, a small horse shoe shaped piece of metal attached to the heel to help reduce wear and tear.
To close the class we turned to the cards we were handed. Slowly we took our turn reading aloud the information contained on our cards. We read the names of the soldiers, their town of origin, their rank at the time of the battle and their disposition at the end of the battle. As you may imagine many did not survive to see another battle. This somber exercise helped us humanize the loss experienced.
Thanks Prof. Benedetto for giving an authentic touch to Granite State College's History of New England class.