Teaching the Civil War with YouTube.

by fifer1863 on March 21, 2009

I have to admit right up front that I am not a big user of YouTube.   I have viewed some clips that people have sent me but I’m not a regular user. That being said, someone sent me a link the other evening to a video of a Civil War Fife & Drum group playing and I thought, “hmm, how can this be used in the classroom”?

So, I started doing some searches on YouTube for Civil War related videos and came up with some interesting results that I thought I would share. These videos are a unique way to show clips of various topics on the Civil War to your classes that may otherwise be inaccessible. The following is a list of a few videos and how you may want to integrate them into your classroom.

Fife and Drum: Here is a nice video of the Excelsior Brigade Fifes & Drums playing a medley of several tunes. This video provides a pretty good view of the corp playing. Take notice of the drummers and ask your students if any of them are drummers in a band. There are four snare drums and a bass drum. How about those fifers? Loud and clear over top of the drums and there are only two of them.

Antietam: The following videos were created by a park ranger from the Antietam National Battlefield. This ranger also has a blog entitled My Year of Living Rangerously which I really enjoy reading. The first video is from the 2006 Antitem Artillery Weekend and it shows pictures and video clips of how cannons are loaded and fired. The next video shows the 27th Virginia, a Civil War reenacting group, demonstrating how soldiers would load and fire their muskets as a unit.

Gettysburg: Simply doing a search in YouTube for the word Gettysburg yields pages and pages of videos. These videos range from school projects to vacation videos. There are several that show brief tours of the battlefield or are slide shows of the monuments. I found a few with clips from different movies including Gettysburg, ones of ghost tours and one of a GNMP tour guide.

My favorite is from the 2006 Remembrance Day ceremonies in Gettysburg. This video shows a great representation of the different types of uniforms that both Union and Confederate soldiers would have worn.  There are several fife and drum groups shown (including members of Camp Chase Fifes and Drums around the 5min mark) and even a brass band. Best of all is starting at about 5:25 of the movie you can hear a great fife and drum group playing the tune Garry Owen. That group is made up of fifers and drummers from reenactors including yours truly.

As a follow up to this, there is a video of the Gettysburg Address from the ceremony as well.

So, as you can see, there are many videos out on YouTube for viewing. Try some different searches for different battlefields and see what you can come up with to share with your students.  Hopefully it’s not blocked by your school filter.

Until next time…

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