Military Training in North Carolina Public Schools 1853

Source:  L. H. Smith Papers (#23.1.a.1)

Staff Person:  Jonathan Dembo

Description:  Below is a personal letter from future Edgecombe and Duplin County school teacher, L. H. Smith, to his brother Edward P. Smith.  At the time he wrote this letter, L. H. was teaching at Bradly’s School House, but had not yet earned his teaching certificate.  Edward begins the letter by recounting his search for two of Edward’s mislaid letters and his eventual discovery of  a silver shilling leading him to the comic deduction that Edward’s letter must have contained silver ore.  He promises that if Edward sends him a gold shilling, he will be more careful of it.  However the bulk of the letter describes his experiences teaching at Bradley’s School House, North Carolina.  He focuses on the regular Friday routine.  All his scholars, he writes, “speak”, or recite their lessons, on Friday and he musters all the boys accompanied by a fife and drum.  “The smaller boys”, he writes, “have wooden guns and the larger real ones.”  Apparently, this was something of a social occasion in the community and a matter of serious competition between different schools and schoolmasters.  L. H. reports that “Frank was here last week and see [sic] me drill them.  He says they beat his company.  Some Fridays there is some 25 or thirty people to hear them speak and to see them muster and lots of girls among them.”  L. H. notes that he is writing during recess and has no time to “collect my thoughts” but readers will note numerous errors of spelling and punctuation in the letter.  One hopes that the students benefited more from L. H.’s lessons in reading and arithmetic than they could have from his writing lessons.

Military Training in North Carolina Public Schools 1853