Traveling Through Time: Civil War Reenactment

Last month, we had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a field trip coordinated by a friend of mine to a local Civil War reenactment.

Organized in 1991, Reenactors of the American Civil War (RACW) is a non-profit living history organization based in Northern California.  One of their goals is to stimulate interest in the historical significance of the period in our history termed “the War Between the States”.

Comprised of Confederate, Federal and civilian representatives, the group recreated the drama and realities of life during this pivotal time in American history — portraying life as it was for members of both armies in the camps, on campaigns, and in battle.

civilwar

We were able to watch history come to life with reenactors wearing the clothing of the period, using the speech and mannerisms of the time, and playing and singing the tunes of the 1860s!

Much to our delight (as we had been enduring a drought) it was raining fairly heavy. Many families I discovered were canceling plans to join us due to the rain. The brave men and women who fought in the war and continue to serve and protect us today, did/do so under all extremes of weather.

I did not let the rain keep us indoors. Forging ahead on this field trip gave us a better appreciation of the hardships they endured/endure.

To learn more about the Reenactors of the American Civil War, visit their website. Here you can also find a printable guide for students to help them engage with the volunteers and learn more about the Civil War era.

The Civil War & Underground Railroad

We had allotted 3 hours to explore Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park. When we arrived, we informed the volunteer that we would like the Junior Ranger booklet. She explained to us that the activities were divided in the book for each site and that we could choose which site we wanted to do, however the badges were the same. We opted to stick with Chickamauga as we were already there and as I flipped through, it quickly became apparent that the activities were much more intensive than we had experienced in the past … both in quantity and quality.

I commented on this to the volunteer, stating that I wasn’t sure we would be able to finish before they closed for one of the activities required we complete the driving tour as well. I knew we wouldn’t be able to do the inside activities, go on the driving tour, and return within the 3 hour window but we opted to sit down and give it a try. While we were working, she thankfully gave us a big hint, “Most of the answers to the questions on the driving tour portion can be found in the park brochure. The museum closes at 5:30 but the park is open until sunset. You can earn your badges before we close and do the tour afterwards.” Phew!!

One of the exhibits at Chickamauga in the Fuller gun collection, donated to the park in 1954, featuring 346 military soldier arms.  It was a stunning collection and finding the catalog numbers of six was one of our first tasks. Buddy, like all young boys, was fascinated.  Sweetie loved that the symbol for the battles that took place here was the acorn for the fields were surrounded by Oak woodlands.

While here, we also learned of an opportunity to earn a new patch, the Junior Civil War Historian. It required that one become a Junior Ranger at three distinctly different Civil War parks OR two parks and complete one online activity. We didn’t expect to be able to do this but on the evening of our last day, DH informed us he’d likely get out early. The following day, I printed the online activity book, Discovering the Underground Railroad, and we worked through the activities. We were thereby able to depart early enough so that we could stop at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield as well.

Each of the three activity packets were comprehensive of the role our national parks play in the preservation of our nation’s natural wonders and historical sites. The activity books assured that the kids would look carefully at the exhibits and read the placards and signage for important details. I was very impressed.

While undertaking the required tasks, I quickly became aware of how much the kids have grown academically. Sweetie would move along at her own pace and would come to me with questions when she was stuck. Buddy worked alongside his dad or I most of the time, but would read many of the questions and exhibit signs independently. They worked collaboratively though, dividing up the work for many tasks and sharing their answers. It was a delight to watch them so engaged in their goal of earning the historian patch. They were rightfully proud of their accomplishment.