JMC Prof’s Documentary Traces 7 Local Soldiers in Civil War
More than 2,000 young men from Portage County served in the Civil War.
Prof. Fred Endres is telling the stories of seven of them.
Endres, with assistance from several students in JMC and the history department, has produced a 90-minute documentary, The Sojer Boys of Portage County, which will air at 10 p.m., Feb. 3 on Western Reserve PBS/WNEO.
“This was one of the most fascinating and emotional stories I have tried to tell,” Endres said. “The further into the research and the story telling I went, the more personal it became.”
Of the almost 2,100 men from Portage County who served in the war, more than 300 died in battle from wounds, disease or accident. Of the seven men he follows in the program, two do not make it home. Only one escapes spending time in a hospital.
The documentary is based on letters and diaries written by the seven men and, in some cases, interviews with their descendants.
“This is not a formal history of the Civil War,” Endres noted. “Instead, we focus on the common soldier. We follow them through their enlistments, their rudimentary training, their encounters with new cultures and peoples, the boredom of camp life and the terror of the battlefield.”
A number of JMC students were involved in the project: Margaret Stahl, who graduated recently with an M.A. in public relations, headed the student research team, which also included History Department students Felicia Wetzig and Philip Shackelford.
Other JMC students, including Tom Song, took photographs. And, a number of them recorded lines from soldiers’ diaries and letters, including Melinda Yoho, Nick Shook, Sean Barie, Cassie Neiden, and recent students, Nate Edwards, Sid Keith and Bobby Makar. Prof. Gary Hanson narrates the documentary.
The documentary took more than two years to produce, Endres said.