on February 15, 2013
This was one of the places we visited during our week looking at USA’s history in their two major wars, the War of American Independence and the American Civil War and visiting the main sites around the Richmond area connected to these events.This was an amazing place with so much to take in that we spent the best part of a day exploring the place. The Park includes four museums, four historic buildings, and self-guided tours of the Breakthrough Battlefield and Tudor Hall Plantation. I think you need a day to fully get the value from the experience that this site offers.TIMES OF OPENINGIn the Winter this place is open Friday to Sunday from 9.00 am to 5 pm from November 26th to March 3rd. In Summer the hours are longer but they have not been released for this summer.PRICESAdult - $12 Child 6-12 $7 and children under 6 freeWHAT IS IN THIS SITE?The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier Tudor Hall Plantation and the Field Quarter Military Encampment and Fortifications Exhibit Battlefield Center Banks House So you can see that is quite a lot to investigate even if you allow only an hour for each individual place it will take some time. THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE CIVIL WAR SOLDIERThis is a huge, 25,000-square-foot museum and is very modern well presented museum and is one of America's outstanding Civil War museums and it has won a number of national and international awards ."Duty Called Me Here" is a brilliant way to make the experience more personal and as you enter you are given the name of a soldier and throughout you follow his story. There are interactive computer, videos and many original artifacts to bring the experience to life. The most scary part is the multi- sensory simulated battefield which really felt and sounded like you were there apart from not actually being shot at of course.The Remembrance Wall , which lists the names of those who served during the Civil War. I think that if you want your ancestors name added to wall you need to pay some sort of fee and then the name will be added on a silver-toned plaque and prominently displayed on this handsome mahogany wall. The Civil War Store has a good selection of Civil War books ,reproduction weapons, military prints and sculpture, flags, reproduction officers’ swords, DVDs and videos, dolls in 19th century clothing, limited edition action figures, musical instruments, toys and so on. TUDOR HALL PLANTATION AND THE FIELD QUARTERThis was the building I liked the best. This lovely house, built around 1815, has been carefully restored to its wartime appearance and furnished with period antiques. The house was owned by the Boisseau family, who were the ancestors of the Pamplins. During the Civil War it was used as the headquarters of Confederate General Samuel McGowan. I thought the house was lovely and so interesting. They made half the house furnished as the Boisseau family would have known it and the other half set up as it would have been for the Confederate general and his staff. In the lower part of the house there were displays showing the Southern farming and also more of the history of this house. There is also a reconstructed working kitchen, slave quarter, and in the kitchen garden they have planted plants that would have been grown by the family when they lived here before the Civil War. Some chickens and sheep help to make it more like the original plantation house.The field quarter has been recreated to show where the slaves lived and worked on the plantations. The part of this that I liked most was where they showed a video and six different’ characters told their story and their views on slavery.There are reconstructed homes, real old livestock breeds, a garden, and a modern museum giving a vivid picture of slavery in America as the Civil War broke out. There are also demonstration fields with the most popular crops in the years before the Civil War such as tobacco, wheat, and corn. MILITARY ENCAMPMENT AND FORTIFICATION EXHIBITThis is a unique exhibit showing sixty yards of classic late-war field fortifications built exactly to scale using the engineering specifications of the day. There is a huge six-foot high parapet which leads down to a seven-foot deep ditch. These fortifications have huge sharpened logs a bit like giant pencils sticking out from the ground. It is quite a shocking and awe inspiring site, the sort that makes you glad you are born in this century.THE BATTLEFIELD CENTREThis has a theatre and many other exhibits as well as recordings of those who took part in the big Breakthrough Battle read by actors of course but still very emotional to listen to. The theatre in there shows a multi-media presentation on this important battle in 1865. As you watch a map shows the progress of the two sides, photos of some of those in the battle as well as what the landscape looked like then and what we can see today. It was very well done and really interesting to all ages and those with varied background knowledge about the Civil War.I was most impressed with the theatre but there were also lots of exhibits of artifacts and memorabilia from the time too. There is also a painting called ‘Medal of Honour’ which brings to life the heroic leap of Capt. Charles Gould, 5th Vermont Infantry, as he was the first person over the top of the Confederate earthworks in this historic battle on April 2, 1865.THE BREAKTHROUGH TRAILThere are three walks you can take which are signed and take you to various significant places on the battlefield. We took the longest which was called the Main Loop which was about 1.25 miles and took us about 35 minutes walking. We saw the Confederate picket line and a military dam, and then back to the fortifications .The Middle loop is about.7 miles long and is supposed to takes about 30 minutes and the shortest is only .3 miles long and takes about 15 minutes. Both allow visitors to get a good look at the fortifications and then come back through an original opening in the works which was built by the Confederate troops.Walking around was very interesting and gave you a very good idea of the size of the area of the battle field and sort of made what we has seen in the exhibits a bit more real. This is the sort of place where you feel very humble after visiting and we all were very quiet as we walked around taking it all in. You can’t help but think what a waste of all those young lives .IT IS NOT JUST MY FAMILY THAT WERE IMPRESSEDI am not surprised that it has been so well acclaimed by all the historians and guide books."Walk along these fortifications, take the time to learn something about the story of what happened here, use the museum to understand who these men were, and the past comes alive with a piercing immediacy that shakes you, and shakes you hard." ¬- The New York Times"(Pamplin Historical Park) uses an impressive array of high-tech and interactive displays, artifacts and period costumed interpreters to provide an evenhanded view of the rank-in-file soldier experience during the Civil War." ¬- USA Today"The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier has elevated the standard for interpreting Civil War history through media and museums." ¬- Civil War Times IllustratedRECOMMENDED?If you have any interest in America history and particularly the American Civil War here is a must. Virginia is a fabulous state to visit if you are in to US history. My daughter who was with us has read so many books about the Civil War and set in this time that she was in her element. It meant so much to her and indeed to me as since I watched ‘Gone with the Wind ‘years ago I became interested in US history and so chose to study it at college.This is a very well put together museum with a good balance of modern interactive theatre and real buildings from the time as well as interpretive signs around the actual battlefield.I have given just a small taste of what you can see, do and experience when visiting Pamplin Historic Park and the museum. It is a full day experience and you can have guided tours and visit as part of a group also with a guided tour. We found that we could actually only take in so much and after about three or four hours we had seen and done enough. You can have information overload we have found and so we left and went to find some food as we were all pretty hungry by then.
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