ImageLittle B has been rock climbing with Peak Experiences for a bit now (i’ll have to cover that in a later blog post) and the super nice homeschooling Momma that coordinates that activity also plans history field trips with another homeschool group in Richmond. She was kind enough to invite the Peak Experiences families to join in on some of her outings, including this one to The Museum of the Confederacy.

Little B and I covered the Civil War extensively last year as part of his history curriculum. We’ve visiting Gettysburg several times, have seen movies and documentaries, read countless books, and have checked out various websites online. Living in Texas for six years gave us a good education on that part of our nation’s history. Living in Virginia, however, is proving to be a history gold mine. Between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War there is so much to see and explore.

Mind you, when I was growing up I was taught in various public schools (we moved around quite a bit) that the Civil War was not caused by the issue of slavery. I love that the The Museum of the Confederacy takes the correct historical approach and does not sugar coat the paramount cause of the Civil War.

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From the get go our tour guide was full of information. She was quite surprised by how much our group (comprise of elementary aged kiddos) already knew. I love tours – The Boy not so much. He’d rather peruse at his own pace. But I love that the guides tend to be incredibly well versed in whatever the subject matter at hand is, and that they can delve into various subtopics when questioned or probed for further information. The kids asked some pretty cool questions, we saw up close some articles belonging to various people involved in the conflict, and the kiddos were treated to a special session on slavery and the Underground Railroad.

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For me this is all about bringing history alive for my little guy. It’s about making these events not just relevant for him but more concrete than something you can read in a book or see in a documentary (though those things are great as well).

One of my favorite moments in the tour was laying eyes on one of Sherman’s famous neck ties:

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I had read about these on my own when I was younger and had always imagined them to look quite different (much larger in fact). Our guide even mentioned how the soldiers, bored, would host contests to see who could twist their rail the most times around a central object, like a piece of wood.

Our visit to The Museum of the Confederacy ended with a tour of the South’s White House (which shows how clueless I was about that since I had no idea one existed). It’s directly adjacent to the museum. Now for those of you who love Richmond’s White House I truly hope to not offend you when I state how gaudy I found some of the rooms in the house. I would have taken photos to defend my opinion but alas, we were not allowed to take any.

Apparently, faux pas everything was in high fashion; perhaps lack of money had something to do with this too. There were so many fake things trying to pass off as real things that it looked really tasteless. For example, in the entryway there was wallpaper that was supposed to resemble marble blocks. But it failed miserably and just looked awful.

My favorite tid bit about the house was that there were a few slaves who worked there and apparently one is believed to have started a fire in the basement before running away. Apparently in the confusion and mess of the fire no one noticed he was missing until it was too late. Smart man, if you ask me!

Because Little B had two basketball games immediately after our scheduled tours we were unable to visit the whole museum properly. For sure we’ll have to return at a later date to check out all the exhibits the right way.

 

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