Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pamplin Historical Park

Thursday, August 16, 2012, we visited Pamplin Historical Park near Petersburg, VA. It is located on the site of the April 2, 1865, Breakthrough battle, which led to the Confederates evacuating RichmondAt the entrance, there are engravings on the marble to show how many men served from each state and how many died. There was also a beautiful bronze sculpture with the inscription “My thoughts and heart are with you at home but my duty lies here with cause and comrades."

What a great job the Pamplin’s did on the museums and restoring the Boisseau farm where Confederate General McGowan made his headquarters. 

The working kitchen and slave quarters were reconstructed.  
Slave Owner's  Kitchen Building

Slave Quarters (I need to learn to get my finger away from the eye of the camera!)

They had working gardens that represented the garden of the slave owners (big) and the garden of the slaves (little). The owner encouraged slaves to have their own garden (including chickens) so they would be well fed and were stronger to work. Figures!

The park was so large, we did not get to see the restored Banks’ house where Lt. General Grant had his headquarters nor walk the Breakthrough line trails. We did see the fortifications. I think I'd rather come up against barbed wire than these spikes!

Our first treat was a demonstration of how the soldiers had to load their rifles. It was a  nine-step procedure which took a good soldier 20 seconds if he didn’t get too nervous. It has been said archaeologists have found small piles of unused caps on their digs, which indicated a soldier was really nervous. The young man who demonstrated did a great job explaining but he didn’t do it in 20 seconds. The sound was quite loud and there was a lot of smoke just from one gun. We could only imagine what it would be like with more and we had the opportunity later to experience that.

Although the farm and associated buildings were interesting, the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier was the highlight. Using an MP3 player and picking a soldier from the war, we were able to follow parts of his life. Perry’s soldier ended up being killed and mine was taken prisoner. The recreated scenes and dioramas were excellent. Three things that impressed us are pictured here.

Two minie balls fused in mid-air collision

Artillery projectile which penetrated a tree

This New Testament stopped a bullet

In the Battlefield Center Museum, there is a bronze sculpture of Robert Boissau Pamplin, Sr. He died at the age of 97 and was a well-known philanthropist. His son is reported to be the 3rd wealthiest person in the state of Oregon and follows in the footsteps of his father with his generosity. Perhaps he should run for President.

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