Virtual Field Trip: Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park


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Battlefield Pin

To wrap up our unit on the Civil War a couple of weeks ago, the kids and I made the trek to the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, where we learned the history of the Battle of Chickamauga and some interesting facts about the war in general.

I thought we might bring y’all along with us, virtually, by sharing our top ten highlights from the trip.

1. We started with a movie about the battle and a tour of some of the photos and artifacts from the area. We really enjoyed seeing a replica of an officer’s tent.

Officer's Tent

Although it’s certainly more rustic than I’d care to be (a cheap hotel is about as close as I get to “roughing it”), the tent was pretty nicely appointed for the time and the situation.

2. Josh remembered the video demonstration of a Spencer repeating rifle from the last time we were at the museum years ago. I don’t think he and Megan remembered the wax figure soldiers, though. Megan said they were “creepy” because they looked so real.

Confederate soldier

Confederate soldier

Union soldier

Union soldier

3. We were very surprised to discover that a reenactor was present the day we went! (My spell check says that reenactor is not a word, but of course it is. It’s a person who reenacts, right??) The gentleman told us all sorts of interesting facts about the “common soldier” of the Civil War.

Reenactor

For instance, he said that most men and boys who got involved in the war as it pressed southward weren’t in it to fight for or against slavery or states’ rights, but were fighting to protect their land and their families.

He also told us that most families in the areas where the Battle of Chickamauga took place were poor farmers who farmed to feed their families. He said the soil in the area wasn’t good for growing cotton, so there weren’t any wealthy plantations in that area.

4.  The best thing about the reenactor (I’m totally adding that word to my spell checker dictionary) was we got to watch him load and fire his gun. Check out the photo…you can see the smoke from the gunfire.

gun smoke

5. I wish I’d gotten a photo of the subject of this next bit of trivia. While thousands were killed in the battlefield and later moved to military cemeteries, there is only one identified grave site in the whole park.

Private John Ingram, a close friend of the Reed family who lived in the area where the battle took place, was buried near the Reed home. The family maintained his grave site and it remains in the battlefield today.

6. We saw several deer, which has nothing to do with the Civil War, but it still excited us terribly to see them so close. I wish I’d gotten a photo of our favorites – twin fawns that still had their spots – but they moved too quickly.

deer

7. We stopped at this spot where we learned that President Abraham Lincoln’s brother-in-law, Benjamin Hardin Helm, was killed in the Battle of Chickamauga:

Lincoln's brother-in-law

8. One of our favorite stops was Wilder Tower. Unfortunately, torrential rain was coming down in sheets by that time, so we couldn’t climb the stairs to the top of the tower or even get a good photo. This photo was taken through the windshield in between wiper blade swipes:

Wilder Tower

9. Our last stop of the day was Snodgrass Hill, where we were able to get out and slop around in the mud to look at the old farmhouse that stands there. We all agreed that we can’t imagine all five of us living in a house that small.

Battlefield

10. Finally, our favorite site of the day, which had absolutely no educational value whatsoever, this bathroom sign:

Bathroom sign

I just found it so funny – and kind of scary – that they would have to put up that kind of instruction for people. You know that means that, at some time in the past, they were having trouble with people, you know, bathing in the sink. Ewwww!

Have you been on any great field trips lately? Where did you go?

This post in linked to Top Ten Tuesday.

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7 Comments

  1. Wow, those wax figures are kinda creepy. Last time the kids and I were there they had the figures but their heads were just white sock looking things. I guess it was just to show the uniforms and such. We are gonna have to plan another visit! We’re studying US history in depth this year so its in my plans. Thanks for sharing all the great pics!

  2. They sooooo need a sign like this in the Central Park bathrooms in NYC. We were visiting 2 weeks ago and my husband and I went for a run at the park. Needing to make a pit stop, I veered into the women’s restroom where, SURPRISE!!, a woman was giving herself quite a thorough wash at one of the sinks.

    So yes, apparently these signs ARE needed, unfortunately!

  3. We were just here! We took a trip down there from Pennsylvania to visit family on Lookout Mountain and my children completed the Junior Ranger program there. We were able to go up in the tower, it is a lovely view of the whole park; but those steps! This was my second visit to the park and it was fun to take the children for their first visit.

  4. You must live close to us! Chickamauga battlefield is only 10 minutes from my dad’s house in Ringgold. Lots of nice afternoons spent riding bikes through the park. 🙂

  5. This is awesome! I am a HUGE Civil War buff & love going to battlefield. Right now I am stuck in California without a CW battlefield in sight 🙂 I can’t wait to move back East & show my kids my favorite battlefields. This is one i haven’t had the pleasure of going to yet but it’s on my list 🙂

  6. LOL! The bathroom sign! We watch for weird/funny/odd signs wherever we go. Sometimes they are simple, like the ones in Hawaii that had traditional Hawaiian clothes on the figures that indicated it was the mens’ room or the lady’s room. Other are just hard to interpret but we always discuss the meaning of a sign…. I love how this one leads to the discussion about why there was a need for this sign…..LOL!! The older the kids get the funnier those conversations are, too!

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