Sophomores recreate Civil War battle
VERNON — In the vast field behind the Vernon Township High School last Wednesday, about 50 members of the sophomore class got a chance to experience the thrill of battle.
Sponsored by the school’s social studies department and led by high school substitute history teacher and Civil War re-enactment enthusiast Brian Schade of Vernon, the students were divided into two armies representing the North and the South. The scenario they were re-enacting was the Gettysburg Picket’s Charge battle.
Taking the place of guns and cannons, the students were supplied with about 1000 black water balloons and some students were given giant slingshots to propel “cannon balls” for up to 200 feet across the field. Students that were hit with water balloons were considered wounded or killed and were no longer combatants.
Each of the students was given either a gray or blue souvenir T-shirt that read “VTHS Civil War Reenactment — 1864-2014” and the students appeared to be having great fun on their very last day of school.
One of the highlights of the battle was when a young female standard bearer made her way over a wall and into the Union ranks while waving the Confederate battle flag. Unfortunately, she was struck with an exploding water balloon just as she neared the wall, which consequently transformed her into a casualty of war. Also not helping her efforts was the fact that nearly all of her team had refrained from following in her charge.
Schade’s re-enactment organization is the Vernon-based 6th New Jersey Infantry, Company B Civil War Re-enactment Group. Schade, along with Vernon resident Steve Moldovany, were the battalion commanders during the exercise that consisted of artillery barrages followed by close skirmishes and finally hand-to-hand close-quarters combat. However, once you were out of ammo, that was that.
Additional Company B volunteers for the morning’s battle included Dylan Cross and his brother, Griffin Cross, of Newton who helped organize the charges. Also helping to make the exercise a success were Paul Gicha of East Brunswick and Vivian Davis of New Milford.
According to Schade, his Sixth New Jersey Infantry, Company B, is just now starting to reform and is actively looking for new members. He describes his group as being a great source of camaraderie and is perfect for those seeking the pleasures that authenticity can bring, such as sleeping on the ground in canvas tents. The group now has 10 active members.
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