A brief trip through the Civil War on videos

By Tom Ryan
Special to the Coastal Point

Learning about individual states that engaged in the Civil War in four minutes or less is a novel program the Civil War Trust created as a service to the public. Using videos to convey the message, the goal is to educate the public about the history of this country and the wars in which it engaged at the time of its founding and evolution as a nation.

Videos are available online free of charge for Delaware, as well as Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

For example, the Delaware video opens with Sean Protas, first sergeant, 2nd Delaware Infantry (a reenactment group) standing in front of the Delaware Monument at Gettysburg National Military Park. He greets the audience and tells them he is there to speak about Delaware during the Civil War.

A map showing the eastern United States, with Delaware highlighted, appears, while Protas explains that Delaware was a deeply divided state with strong Southern sympathies and more than 1,800 slaves, which classified it as a “border state.”

While the film depicts Civil War soldiers marching to battle, the narrator relates that the population of the state was more than 112,000, and about 13,000 white and black Delawareans served the Union cause, while some 800 went south to fight for the Confederacy.

Lt. David Eastburn Buckingham, a Medal of Honor winner for action at Rowanty Creek near Petersburg, Va., while serving with the 4th Delaware Regiment, is depicted on screen as Protas speaks about Delawareans who won nine of these medals during the war.

He goes on to identify Eastern theater battles Delawareans engaged in, including near the Angle and in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, Pa., charging up Marye’s Heights under a hail of Confederate fire at Fredericksburg, Va., charging the Bloody Lane at Antietam, Md., guarding the Orange Plank Road at Chancellorsville, Va., and acting as the rear guard at Bristoe Station, Va..

The narration provides the grim fact that 2,100 Delawareans gave their lives to preserve the Union. A battle scene highlights this statistic.

While no battles occurred within the state itself, the video shows the locations where Delawareans produced materiel, including gunpowder, ships and other war-related products. Also, photographs are shown of a number of high-ranking officers, such as Gen. George Sykes of the Fifth Corps, Gen. Thomas Smyth of the Irish Brigade and Gen. Alfred Torbert of the First New Jersey Brigade — all three Delawareans who served at Gettysburg.

Shown also are a number of locations of Civil War interest in Delaware: the Soldiers & Sailors Monument in Wilmington; the Hagley Museum, which preserves the technology of the DuPont Powder Works; Fort Delaware, a prison for Confederate soldiers, which looms over the Delaware River and is now a state park; and veterans cemeteries where the state’s heroes are buried.

Similar narratives and depictions can be viewed on videos for the other states. All can be accessed online at https://www.civilwar.org/learn/videos/delaware-civil-war.

The Civil War Trust (see the Coastal Point’s Aug. 24, 2017, issue for further details) has expanded its horizons, and videos of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 are available online for viewing as well. In addition, a treasure trove of resources can be accessed online, including maps, articles, biographies, photo galleries, primary sources, quizzes to test your knowledge and issues of the CWT magazine Hallowed Ground.

It does not stop there, because special collections can also be tapped into that deal with the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War photography and medicine, and other important subjects. All of these items are available from the “Learn” dropdown menu on the CWT website at www.civilwar.org.

Perhaps the most valuable asset of this website is the section created for educators. It includes lesson plans about the Civil War and related subject matter for teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

For those who have an interest in the American Civil War, along with other wars in which this country engaged, the Civil War Trust has made many resources available for serious learning or for casual enjoyment. Check out their websites.

Tom Ryan is the author of the multiple award-winning “Spies, Scouts & Secrets in the Gettysburg Campaign” and “Essays on Delaware during the Civil War.” Signed copies are available at Bethany Beach Books and Browseabout Books in Rehoboth. Contact him at pennmardel@mchsi.com or visit his website at www.tomryan-civilwar.com.