Civil War revisited

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:34

SPARTA — The 33rd Regiment, New Jersey Volunteer Infantry spent two days recruiting and training at the Sparta Historical Society History Education Center on Friday and Saturday in preparation of participating in the Sparta Memorial Day parade. It was part of the annual re-enactment and encampment. Students from the Sparta Middle School visited the troops as part of the history curriculum to ask questions and see first hand how the regiment lived and fought in 1863. “Some students that struggle in the classroom learn more in a visual, interactive experience like this reenactment,” said Phil Cocilovo of Montague, a history teacher at the school. “They get out of the classroom and get to see me in uniform with a musket versus the usual pants and shirt.” Cocilovo holds the rank of Sergeant and has the responsibility of training new recruits in the art of soldering. With the assistance of Corporal Gary Abrams of Staten Island, N.Y., the latest addition to the 33rd Regiment, Bill Jeskey of Stillwater was put through his paces. When General Sherman was leading the troops through the south he had no base of supply,” said Lt Scott Hollinghurst of Boonton. “They fought to the then-undamaged bread basket of the south and he issued orders to the troops to get supplies from the defeated areas as they moved through them.” When they could not find fresh supplies they resorted to eating hardtack biscuits from their issued supplies. “Soldiers could use their rifle butts to smash the biscuits. The crumbs were added to fatback grease and heated over a fire to make the broken biscuit soft enough to eat,” said Hollinghurst. The troops seemed to be better supplied in weapons than they were in food. The troops were either wearing the decorative, red trimmed Zouave or the plain blue Federal uniform. The shirts worn under the jackets were of all different patterns. A group of ladies in period costumes were also present as the Ladies Aid Society, which supported the soldiers by raising money and sending items to the hospitals. —Story by John Church and Jennifer Jean Miller —Photos by Jennifer Jean Miller