14 August 2011

Civil War Encampment

I believe I have mentioned once or twice that Lukas asked to study the Civil War for school. I have to tell you, he couldn't have asked to study anything more appropriate at this point. The timing is perfect with the county where we live coordinating our bicentennial celebration with Civil War events and activities since it is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's commencement. We attended our second Civil War event yesterday, and it was incredible. I have always wanted to go to a Civil War encampment, and I knew they held one here in Coshocton for the past few years (maybe longer. I don't really know), but this year, we made it a priority to go since Lukas was asking to learn about it. I am so glad that we did!

If you are not a lover of history, this is the way to learn about the Civil War. I am a lover of history, so I ate it up, of course, but I can't imagine a better way to make history come to life than to go to an event such as this one. The people who participate are experts on the Civil War, and they are anxious and willing to share their knowledge with you. The kids were able to learn so much yesterday, and I had a great time learning a few things too.

At the beginning of our day at the camp, we stopped by the blacksmith. Neither of our kids had ever been to a blacksmith's shop, and none of us had ever seen a portable blacksmith! Ava was completely enthralled. We sat and watched and asked questions for 10 or 15 minutes, and then Ava asked to go back again, so I sat with her for another 10 minutes while Eric and Lukas went off to something else. 

After that, we weaved in and out of a few tents learning about the lives of soldiers and what they did all day each day(Euchre, anyone?). The kids got to lift a musket and learned that the bayonet was actually used rarely as a weapon. As one soldier told us, "Once it got stuck in someone, it was just stuck, and so was your musket." Good point. The bayonet did have lots of other uses, however, such as this one:

At 11, we knew there was going to be a ladies tea. My understanding was that we would be able to observe the ladies who were in Civil War period dress taking tea. Ava and I were quite surprised to discover that we were actually invited to participate! My girl loves tea parties, and this was like the ultimate tea party with fancy tea sandwiches, tea cookies, scones with Devonshire cream and, of course, tea. If I had known in advance that we could attend, she would have been dolled up in her southern belle gown. The Bicentennial Committee sponsored the tea, and they did an amazing job!

In the afternoon, we picnicked by the battle field (Not that Ava and I needed much to eat) and then watched the battle. One of the encampment participants explained how things usually went during a typical battle, which was interesting. The kids thought the cannons smelled awful, but they were pretty fascinated by the whole thing. The only downside? The Confederates won!

We meandered through the rest of the camp, saw a leg being amputated, learned about Civil War era toys and games, talked to some ladies about artillery and one particular cannon and headed out for the day. We were there for five hours. Next year, we just might have to attend the Civil War ball if they do it again. Wouldn't that be a blast? Maybe you don't think so, but, as I told my best friend via text, I'm a history nerd. I love it. 

As we were driving down the hill from the encampment, the kids immediately began discussing their plans to play Civil War when we got home. Lukas donned a ball cap that he thought most resembled the shape of a Civil War soldier's hat, and Ava wore her southern belle costume. Lukas grabbed a toy pistol as well. They were all set and even got their cousins to play along. I think we will be able to recover from this past year of history not going so well. If they're playing Civil War, I guess the history bug might have bitten them a little. Here's hoping!

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