Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
Civil War Returns to Porter Ridge
As the sounds of the “rebel yell” echoed through the book cases and computer kiosks of the media center at Porter Ridge High School in Union County, the staff, students, and faculty at Union County’s largest school smiled and laughed. History teacher Dan Korn and his reenacting “pards” were at it again.
Every year for the last six years members of the 13th North Carolina Co. B/136th New York State Volunteers have answered the “call to arms” and put on an annual Christmas time Civil War program at Porter Ridge High School. Korn, who is the social studies department chair, and who teaches both Advanced Placement U.S. History and a dedicated honors Civil War course at Porter Ridge High School stages the program for his classes and for any other interested faculty, students, and staff as well.
“We set up a hundred chairs and pretty much fill up the place each period. They all want to see the guys and gals who come in and do this for me. Every one of the reenactors does this for free, all for the love of doing honest and accurate living history;” Korn explains.
Korn himself often does programs like this on both the Civil War and the Revolutionary War for other schools and for historical and civic organizations as diverse as the Boy Scouts, local civic and community groups and the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.
Some have commented on the fact that Korn has both female and male presenters. The men portray the soldiers of the war in different period presentations. The women portray the Victorian aspects of mid 1800 society.
“In years past we have had members who have portrayed a young woman of courting age, complete with courting fan, a matronly woman who ran a finishing school for young women, and this year, the widow of Stonewall Jackson.”
This year’s program included Korn, and fellow 13th NC/136th NYSV reenactors Brad “Black Bart” Blackmon and Bob ”Fireball” Etzler, as well as renowned female reenactor Nora Brooks. Brooks, a former Union County Public Schools history teacher herself, is quite well known for her delightful and vivid first-person presentations of various well-known women of the Civil War, including the one she did for Korn’s classes; the so-called “Widow of the South,” Anna Morrison Jackson, the widow of famed Civil War legend, Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson.
The first part of the program was the soldiers. Blackmon portrays an early war North Carolina soldier who is all band box pretty and who is preparing to go off and “see the elephant” for the first time, as soldiers called seeing combat for the first time.
Etzler plays a grizzled veteran corporal in the unit, and did twenty-two reenactments/living histories this past year. He portrays a Confederate soldier in the latter part of the war, and his worn uniform reflects that. His ability to do the legendary “rebel yell” has become a much anticipated part of each year’s program, and is always met with appreciative applause. Both men have presented at PRHS in the past for Korn.
“Everyone stops whatever they are doing and listens in appreciation when Bob lets that yell rip."
At Shiloh’s 150th Anniversary event, when he started yelling, the rest of us got going with him, and before
you knew it, there were hundreds of men barking that legendary battle cry. It was an amazing thing to hear and see as well. It really is very intimidating to hear it coming at you.”
Brooks’ program was the second half of each ninety-minute-long program, and her characterization of the delightful love story that was Anna and Thomas Jackson’s marriage was a richly woven tapestry of the story of one of the most renowned Americans in history, told through the eyes of his adoring wife. Brooks does her program in completely correct widow’s period attire, right down to the petticoats.
“I was really gratified when Nora agreed to do this for us. She and I have worked together before, but to have her agree to do this was a real treat, for it really is inspiring to watch Nora do her program. The audience hangs on every word. It really is impressive to watch how intently the students in particular pay attention to Nora’s (Anna’s) story.”
Each program ended with a question-and-answer period, and the audience was encouraged to come up and look at the artifacts, equipment, uniforms, and weapons on display on tables behind the presenters.
“We had a lot of pictures being taken, the students posing with my “pards.” There were even a number of parents who had asked if they could come to see the program, and actually showed up!"
Korn who is an author as well, is also is in the third year of a five year program with the Union County Public Library system in which each year he presents on a different facet of the war.
Written by: Dan Korn, Porter Ridge High School Social Studies Teacher
Posted: Jan 11, 2013 by April Dawkins