By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Historian Brian Mast recruited 10 north Mississippi students into the French Marines on Saturday morning as a part of a living history presentation at the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center.
Mast, dressed in a 1736 French Marine uniform, taught students about the French’s brief campaign in the Tupelo area fighting alongside the Chocktaws against the British and Chickasaws at the village of Ackia.
After Mast convinced each child to sign a sheet of paper covered in French writing, he informed them they had each committed to a 20-year enlistment in the French Army.
The children donned French Marine hats and makeshift muskets while Mast taught them to march and load the weapons.
Danielle Johnson, 9, of Pierce Street Elementary School, said there is a lot more to firing a musket than she thought.
“He also taught us how to march,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. He gave us orders to march forward and then turn and we had to follow them in line.”
The presentation taught students about the types of equipment the French soldiers carried. Mast continued the program into the afternoon for center visitors.
After an hour of learning about the French Marines and marching, Mast, of the Black Belt Museum at the University of West Alabama, told the children he would waive the remainder of the 20-year army commitment.