Petersburg, Virginia – Civil War Battlefield Field Trip

I am a total history buff/geek! So when Maddox’s 5th grade class was making plans to go on their big field trip of the year to Pamplin Park at Petersburg, Virginia my hand literally shot up like an overanxious student chanting “pick me, pick me” to be a chaperone on the trip! Pamplin Park is an interactive learning center about the Civil War siege of Petersburg that occurred toward the end of the war. The siege was 9 months long as the armies of the Confederacy and Union invaded that small Virginia town that was so strategically located to the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond. Petersburg was also strategic because of the railroad lines that converged through it from points south on the way to the north. General Grant knew that if he gained control of those rail lines it would mean certain victory for the Union.  At the Visitor Center, we learned how Grant determined to win that control. Then, the children were given headphones (as were the adults) to walk through the Visitor Center to learn what life was like for a soldier in both the Union and Confederate armies.

We started off the day, however, with a tour of the farmhouse that became Grant’s headquarters for the duration of the siege. It was a beautiful morning.

picture of 1800s farmhouse

This lady was the “mistress” of the house and told us about daily life on the farm before the war reared its ugly head. The family did have slaves and we were able to tour the outbuilding that was the home of two “house” slave families. You can see it in the picture below with the smoke coming out of the chimney.

historical re-enactor talking to 5th grade class

It is really a lovely park.

pastoral scenes of Pamplin Park

The kids were enamored with the chickens.

chickens on a farm

The re-enactors are top notch. This young man taught the children about life for the soldier in camp. What they ate (fatback), drank (not very clean water) and did with their time (worked digging trenches and bunkers).

camp life at Pamplin Park

Of course, the kids loved the demonstration of how to load and fire a musket.

soldier re-enactor demonstrating how to load and fire a musket.

They all got a chance to pretend with wooden muskets.

children firing muskets at Pamplin Park

I really enjoyed the day spent at Pamplin Park. Maddox’s favorite part was the ride there on the Coach bus.  :)


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