Murder Most Fowl

a centuries-spanning true story of teaching, vengeance, and several ducks, to which is appended an original role-playing game of the highest historical accuracy




This is the story of how I fell in love with teaching. It might have happened for many reasons—the mentoring, the fellowship, the special moments where learning happens—but in the end, it was the ducks. I was in the archives at the United States Military Academy, fitting in dissertation research between classes and meetings with cadets, when I found the letters. In the fall of 1841, five cadets nursing offenses to their honor wrote to Secretary of War John Spencer to protest the Superintendent’s alleged abuse of his authority in investigating the disappearance of several ducks. When Major Richard Delafield learned that cadets had stolen the birds from his property, he resolved to find the criminals. But when he began to ask questions, several cadets refused to answer, citing the potential for self-incrimination. This essay describes how I used the letters to engage students in ways that fostered personal connections to history. It concludes with an original one-shot role-playing game, populated with little-known historical figures and places, where readers play as ducks on a quest for vengeance.


Download data is not yet available.




How to Cite

Meberg, Justine. 2023. “Murder Most Fowl: A Centuries-Spanning True Story of Teaching, Vengeance, and Several Ducks, to Which Is Appended an Original Role-Playing Game of the Highest Historical Accuracy”. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods 48 (1):106-24.