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Evangel prof encourages students to take part in “hands on” history

September 26, 2012 | Chase Replogle

What better way to understand history than to don elaborate period pieces and reenact battle-scenes?

That is exactly what Dr. Larry Toll, associate professor of history, encouraged some of his students to think about when he introduced the Moonlight Tour to them — a unique opportunity to reenact Civil War events at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.

On the second Saturday evening in September, Toll and nine others from Evangel dressed up and became part of the history they are so passionate about.

Toll is an active volunteer at Wilson’s Creek and has been involved with the tour for the past few years. Small groups of visitors are led through the battlefield and are able to eavesdrop on history, viewing scenarios that would have actually taken place 150 years ago.

This year’s participants had four scenes to select from, ranging from a heroic cavalry of Union soldiers to the unfortunate death and burials following the battles. Each scene portrayed has been historically documented, and the goal was to accurately depict both the truth and spirit of these Civil War events.

Toll believes reenactments are one of the best ways for students to relate to history. “Programs such as the Moonlight Tour are unique learning experiences,” Toll says. “It is a way for students to learn history from a ‘hands-on’ approach instead of from a textbook.”

Brandon Cadwell, senior history major, agrees with Toll. Cadwell now has a new perception on events he regularly studies.

“The most interesting part of the evening was seeing history come alive. You read about it, memorize names and dates, but you never get to see it. Live it. And that is where a real connection to an event like this can happen,” Cadwell says.

Cadwell encourages other history enthusiasts to study in a hands-on environment.

“Being a history major at Evangel, I have always had a passion for the subject, but this really gave me an opportunity to delve into it deeper and deeper,” Cadwell says.

Ana Pierce graduated from Evangel in May 2012 with a B.A. in English.

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