DAY 3 - Friday April 16, 2010
Once more we woke up at 6:30am with a wake up call and headed down to breakfast. It was time to make our way toward Washington DC, so everyone had to pack up their belongings after breakfast and get them on the bus.
We loaded up the bus and left the hotel around 9am - and headed to Richmond, the present day capitol of Virginia. We stopped and picked up another tour guide here, named Jim. He took us on a driving tour of downtown Richmond pointing out historic buildings as well as telling us all about the history of the city as it pertained to the beginning of the Civil War. We crossed over the James River and stopped on a bridge so that we could look over where the old iron foundries and flour mills use to be back in the late 1800s.
We finally made our way to the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier and Pamplin Park. Here we learned what it would be like to have been a soldier in the Civil War - first by walking around the grounds and seeing a replica of a "winter camp" (not much fighting went on during the winter - the cold weather made it difficult to fire a gun and snow/rain made it difficult to travel).
We learned from Captain Ryan how muskets were loaded and how soldiers were disciplined...for example if they trailed behind the group during a march, holding up the group, they would be publically humiliated in front of their company - standing with a sign hung around their neck ("straggler" the sign would say) and they would have to hold bucket of heavy rocks for 24 hours or so.
After Captain Ryan educated us, we walked over to gain an understanding of what earth works were and how they were built up. Basically this was the defense system of an army to keep the other side out. It consisted of an earth wall, a trench and other structures made from logs.
Next it was time to head into the Museum of the Civil War Soldier. Here we learned what it would be like to have served in this war as each of us took on an identity of a solider who served back then; I was a boy from Wisconsin who was 16 - since you couldn't serve until you were 18, he had to lie in order to serve. Throughout the museum you listened to his story and how he felt, lived, survived...yes, I was lucky my soldier identity lived. Between listening to the story, looking at the exhibits which included some artifacts from the war and the special effects - it moving. At times you really felt like you were in battle.
The exhibit was called "Duty Called Me Here..." and was based on a poem written by a soldier from the 34th North Carolina Infantry:
"I feel that Duty called me here, to fight for home and friends most dear,
and if I should be called to stand in bloody conflict hand to hand,
I'll trust in God my only stand, and fight until I win the day, or if it be my Master's will that I a soldier's grave must fill,
I trust that even in that event, I'll be resigned and fall content."
It was a very moving way to learn about the civil war...through the eyes of a soldier.
After lunch at a restaurant called Bottoms Up Pizza, we headed over to the White House of Confederacy (the home of Jefferson Davis - the Confederate President)
The Davis family had 6 children, whom all seemed to be problem children. It was built in 1818, but the Davis family only lived there between 1861-1865 (Civil War years). All the furniture was period pieces with over 50% original to the house. It was a very beautiful house and the kids in the group loved the stories about the Davis children, especially because they seemed pretty spoiled and bad behaved :)
After we were done, it was time get to DC so that we could make it to the National Baseball game (which was long...like what is a hockey mom doing at a baseball game anyway; no one drops their gloves...and we got rained on, something that doesn't happen at a hockey rink) and then to the hotel.
Day 4 - April 17, 2010