History came to life on Friday as a group of volunteers brought Civil War era artillery to students at Wausau West.
There's only one cannon out here and I already felt my insides shake," said Wausau West freshman Bruce Thao. "So if there were hundreds of them, it must have been really loud and really smoky."
For high school students, the U.S. Civil War is buried about 150 years into their history books. So when volunteers from the 8th Regiment of Wisconsin brought artillery from that era to the high school's backyard, a real life lesson unfolded.
"It was actually a lot louder and a lot smokier than I thought it was going to be," said Thao. "This just showed a really great visual about how loud it was."
"The Civil War was such an important event in our national history," said Dan Graff, who is a part of the 8th Regiment. "It influenced the whole course of American history after that."
The 8th Regiment travels to different schools, showing students what it was like to live -- and fight -- in 19th century America.
"It's the spark you see when you talk to the students when you get the experience of being with a real artifact from that era and seeing it used as it was used then," said Graff. "Getting some feel or appreciation for what those people sacrificed during that war and how hard it was to actually be a soldier in that war."
The cannon was an original artifact from the war -- exactly the type of gun the artillery used. It's these kinds of details that help bridge a gap more than a century wide.
"It's that connection to the war that I think is important for many kids as they study history," said Graff.
"We can learn from things we did wrong or learn from other people's mistakes," said Thao. "And also to know what happened in the past and what brought us up to what we are doing right now."
It's a lesson the students will likely remember for a long time.