"I told everybody to wear blue. This is the Union Army's day, and bring a broom for a gun."
That's History Professor Craig Livingston who began planning this event about a year-ago. The idea was to have students learn some basic close order drill and march three-and half miles around The Woodlands campus. That would be one-tenth of the 35-mile forced march of the Union Army's 6th Corps on July 2, 1863. It was completed in 16-hours with the 6th Corps arriving on the 2nd day of the battle of Gettysburg.
Lone Star College-Montgomery is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a number of special activities and classes, but why this particular event?
"I want them to take away an appreciation for the, a little bit of some of the just miserableness of marches. You're unsure of where you're going or what you're doing; you're following orders; you're weighted down with thirst and heavy packs, heat and exhaustion, a little bit of the confusion and also the panoply of battle. The formed lines, the bayonet charges, the huzzahs, the throaty cheers — all that to give a sense of gravitas en mass to the event."
If Professor Livingston is enthusiastic most of the students seemed less so. Tatiana Sibrian from Houston answered the same way every student I spoke to did about why they were taking part.
"Ah, because my teacher said I was going to get extra credit."
That being said, the large group marched and maneuvered and charged with enthusiasm and it turned out better than expected.
"Yeah, it was a lot of fun. People started really getting into it, and it gave me a better idea because they started taking it more serious than I thought."
There was no initial enthusiasm gap for Bobby Deiss from Conroe. He's an older student and was decked out in a Union Army uniform. He's a real Civil War buff.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic blared over a large grassy athletic field as the symbolic 6th Corps entered it. The battle lines formed and with the sound of cannons echoing across the field those assembled charged ...
It seemed clear that despite the extra credit that drew them to the event, almost all really enjoyed it because only a few dropped as the group reformed and did the whole thing again.
Now if you're wondering why a Texas college is commemorating a Union Army event ...
"You know I did my Confederate thing in 2009. So, I said today, we subordinate our instincts to the glory of the Union."
To find out more about Civil war events and lectures at Lone Star College-Montgomery contact the school.