Confederacy is their specialty
Group takes learning beyond textbooks
By Lourdes Medrano
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 11.27.2008
History came alive recently for some Tanque Verde High School students studying the Civil War.
Four men whose ancestors fought in the 1860s war paid a visit to history teacher’s Sharon Akridge’s classroom last week.
The men, Bobby Morris, Bill Seymour, Richard Montgomery and John Potenza, were dressed in Confederate uniforms. They are members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1202, Capt. Sherod Hunter’s Arizona Rangers.
The group talked about the war in general, about their ancestral ties to the war and how Hunter’s soldiers flew the Confederate flag over Tucson in February 1862.
The four men, all veterans, told students that in addition to speaking at schools, they ride in the annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros Rodeo Parade and participate in the annual reenactment of the Battle of Picacho Peak in March.
The men also told students how cotton factored into the South’s secession from the Union. They showed several artifacts from the era, including replica combat rifles and guns.
"The authentic weapons are extremely valuable and impossible to get," Morris said.
The students, all juniors, seemed mesmerized.
"Were snipers used often in the Civil War?" asked Michael Lloyd, 16.
"They called them sharpshooters during the war," Morris replied.
Sharpshooters were known to be accurate from as far as 1,000 feet — slightly more than the length of three football fields, Morris said.
He told students he traced some of his ancestors to the war after he became interested in genealogy.
"I didn’t know my ancestry because my parents didn’t tell me."
Researching his family has "made me learn a lot about myself," Morris said.
Potenza told students that he has walked the same battlefields that some of his ancestors walked as they fought for the South.
To face what they did back then took "a tremendous amount of courage," Potenza said.
Talon VonBulin, 16, said he found the men’s presentation interesting.
"It’s the kind of history that you won’t find in textbooks," he said.
His classmate, Ariel Johnson, liked that the men were not talking from a script.
"It was pretty cool," the 17-year-old said.
Added Ryan South, 16: "I learned a lot … they knew so much about their ancestors and their roles in the Civil War."
None of the four men touched on controversies surrounding the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism. Asked about it after class, Potenza blamed white supremacist groups that have "hijacked the flag, and we cannot do anything about that."
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