Monday, October 17, 2016

Virginia Trip Part 5: Petersburg Siegeworks and "Battle of the Crater":

After we got back from our weekend of visiting the Atlantic Ocean, we explored another portion of Petersburg Battlefield as soon as Michael got off work on Monday . It is huge! There were ultimately 37 miles of siegeworks around Petersburg. Saw where Confederate forces broke through the lines at Fort Stedman but were repelled by Union troops near the end of the war.
Here is a bigger picture view of where Fort Stedman was.  

Then we walked the woods where the infamous charge of the Maine First Heavy Artillery failed, resulting in 75% loss, the most of any Union regiment in the entire Civil War. Seeing all those names on that monument just gives you chills.

Other side of the same monument. 
Such a waste of lives.
Then we walked past "The Crater" where a Pennsylvania regiment dug a 500+ft tunnel under a Confederate battery, effectively blowing it up and killing 250 confederate soldiers.
Entrance to the tunnel.
They had to create ventilation shafts and it is amazing that they managed to hide these from the Confederates.
After the big explosion, confused Union forces were soon pushed back into the crater and unable to escape its steep sides. It was like a "turkey shoot" for the Confederates.
Gen. Grant called it a "Stupendous Failure". It was a good idea, but lack of communication lost the day. Confederates killed 4000+ Union troops that day, and the trench warfare continued for 8 more months of hell. This was the most sobering thing I saw back there. Couldn't get it out of my mind. 

The crater would have been much larger at the time. 150 years of erosion has diminished its size considerably.
There were layers of wounded and dead soldiers piled on top of each other. 
The Confederates suspected the Union forces were digging a mine, but didn't know where it was. Thus, they began digging countermines. They almost ran into the Union tunnel, but didn't quite reach it.

Right after the explosion, African American Union troops headed to the other side of the crater, but reinforcements didn't show up in time and they were soon pushed back into the Crater (because it was the only available cover) by angry Confederate troops who gave no quarter to the African Americans. In fact, a sign on the battlefield said that white Union troops trying to surrender were shooting their African American comrades- in-arms in hopes that the Confederates would allow them to surrender. This story sickened me. I'd never heard it before.

Ultimately the whole battle was such a waste of men, especially since they went right back to a stalemate for 8 more months until the end of the war. Walking these battlegrounds and seeing these places with my own eyes - things I've only read about or seen in movies, has made a lasting impression on me. I'll never forget what I saw back there.

Blessings, Jackie

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Virginia Trip Part 4: Jamestown

After visiting the Atlantic, we headed back up the James River and took a public ferry across to the Jamestown living history settlement. Such a beautiful ride on a hot day! 

Jamestown living history settlement was amazing. Our kids would have loved it, too. Visited the reconstructed buildings inside the stockade 

 The church. I can't even imagine sitting in pews like these for hours. Ouch!

The armory

Trading post
Michael made me try on some armor. It was just too hot! 
Kitchen/dinner facility
Blacksmith shop
Cooper/Carpenter shop
Governor's living quarters

 We toured an exact replica of the ship the first colonists came over on. There were actually three ships they came over on and all three replicas at Jamestown are seaworthy. Michael loves tall ships and enjoyed this part very much.
Cook's living quarters and galley.
Governor's quarters

Ship's rudder/steering system.

Found this Indian dart and hoop game that we replicated last year when we did the Prairie Primer unit study. I had to take a picture for the kids!

Ongoing canoe project.
Wigwams. Native Americans living in the East mostly lived in permanent structures which is very different from the Native culture in the west that was mostly nomadic. 
There wigwams were quite roomy. 

There were a lot of beautiful, handmade items hanging from inside of the wigwam walls.
We topped the day off with a nice fresh seafood dinner in Williamsburg, VA. We discovered that fresh Atlantic seafood is just as good as Pacific seafood!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Virginia Trip Part 3: Fort Henry and Virginia Beach

 Then we walked the Boardwalk at Virginia Beach. Too many people to want to go play in the water. So different from the Oregon Coast!

 Being military sometimes has its perks. We wanted to see and Atlantic Ocean lighthouse and we discovered two at Fort Henry, a naval base. Since we were there, we decided to go to the beach since it was early in the day and very few people were out yet. This is very near Virginia Beach, which was packed. I was so grateful we decided to dip our toes in the Atlantic here instead. We were able to watch hermit crabs (something I've never seen before). There were so funny! Very like the crabs depicted in cartoons.

We got up early and beat the heat and had this military beach almost entirely to ourselves. It was beautiful and as warm as pool water.
The crabs kept us amused and we found plenty of shells to take home to the kids. 

We were able to see the light houses at Fort Henry, the oldest was built in 1791 and was attacked by the British in the War of 1812. 

This historic lighthouse replaced the old stone lighthouse, just 350 ft away. 
 I had to take a picture of the modern to old lighthouse, all three so near each other. My how things have changed!

We headed down to Virginia Beach before it got too crowded. Enjoyed seeing the many bronze statues along the boardwalk. This bronze of Neptune was HUGE!

Pics just can't do it justice.

Crazy amount of people! Too many for us. We walked several miles of the boardwalk, got a huge ice cream cone for lunch and then moved on to Jamestown. Didn't even try to get down to the water. We were really glad we had gone to the beach at Ft. Henry earlier that day. Wow, so hot and humid for this Oregon girl! I felt like I was melting, but I was so happy to be with my husband. We love to explore new places together and we both appreciate history. We are a good combo when it comes to traveling!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Virginia Trip Part 2: Fredricksburg Battlefield, Confederate White House & Confederate Civil War Museum

Saturday morning we got up early and drove up to see Fredricksburg Battlefield before the heat of the day.  Was truly amazing to see where the biggest battle blunder in US military history took place. Unfortunately, much of the battlefield is covered in houses so a bit hard to picture in the minds eye. However our park ranger did a great job.

The infamous stone wall where the Confederates hid and slaughtered the Union troops coming at them in waves.

This house was in the line of fire but managed to survive. The scars of war are very evident.

  It was also fascinating to learn about The Angel of Mary's Heights. He was a Confederate soldier who went over the infamous wall to help wounded Union soldiers suffering as close to 70 ft away from the Confederate line behind the wall.

Afterwards we drove into Richmond and visited the Confederate White House and the Confederate Civil War museum where we got to see the personal effects of many famous confederate generals.

General Robert E. Lee's hat.

Lieutenant General A.P. Hill's vest, gun and sword.

Some of Robert E. Lee's personal effects.
 Jeb Stuart - most famous Confederate Calvary officer
They wouldn't let us take pictures in the Confederate White House. It was restored beautifully have at least 50% original furnishings. It was amazing to walk through those rooms and picture history being made so long ago.

This regimental flag was made from a donated wedding shawl from a southern lady.

Huge portrait of Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson.

Widow's weeds.The sheer amount of black that must have been worn during this time period would have been astounding to see. 


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