Civil War Reenactment at Endview Plantation

Did you know there were only two major battles fought in the North during the Civil War?

That is the question my 12 year-old-asked me while we were driving to Endview Plantation in Newport News, Virginia last weekend.

My answer: No, I didn’t.  At least I don’t think I did.

His response: Yep, the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of Gettysburg.

Yay for the Virginia Public School System!

I do have very vivid memories of driving through battlefields as a child listening to George Winston instrumental soundtracks playing in the cassette player of my mother’s car.  Considering there were only two major battles fought in the north, I find it odd that in my 15 plus years of living in the deep south I have never attended a Civil War reenactment…until last weekend.

Calvary

 

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia.  Over 70,000 lives were lost during those 9 months of battle south of Richmond, Virginia.  There will be several activities this summer at the National Battlefield Petersburg that honor that battle and those who lost their lives, but we got started a little early in Hampton Roads.

I am so sorry it took me that long to go. Have you ever seen Sweet Home Alabama? The movie about the southern transplant returning home to divorce her first husband? Her father is an AVID re-enactor and they show a scene where he is in character, dying on the battlefield. THIS WAS JUST LIKE THAT!

Camping

My family and I took advantage of the Civil War Reenactment at Endview Plantation in Newport News (cost was $7 per person over 7 years old) this past weekend and we had a terrific time!  There were Boy Scouts selling food and reenactment vendors selling their mostly handmade goods.  I couldn’t resist buying a bag full of pewter and bone buttons for my knitting habit!

Vendors

We slowly meandered through some of the soldier encampments where we found out what life could be like for men on the road during the war.  It was great for the kids to check out the different types of tents and living situations.  The authenticity was amazing from the cooking, to the clothing, to the way the horses were outfitted.

Tent Setup

We only had time to wander into one of the several encampments that filled the tree line before we decided to head down and grab a seat before the show.  And what a show it was!

Union Soldiers

The actors hooted and hollered.  The cannons LOUDLY rang.  The gun shots were almost nonstop.  The reenactment itself lasted about 30 minutes.  The men and women did a terrific job depicting a battle of the Siege of Petersburg.  The Union troops advanced slowly across the field and continually pushed the confederates back, trash talking and goading each other all the while.  Men fell dead right and left and several crawled away injured, fighting their way to safety.  I was presented with several opportunities to answer important questions my children had.

Brochure

While we sat on our blanket and ate lunch (much like crowds would do on the sidelines during the war) the kids learned why the men were marching and basically standing in line to die.  My daughter wanted to know why it was taking them so long to fire their weapons between shots.  I even learned how to tell when the cannons were about to blow (“the cannon handlers cover their ears, hon,” my husband pointed out).

Boom

I may possibly have had the best time in our group.  It was such a unique experience and I was so thrilled I pulled the family along to check it out with me.  We were there a total of about three hours, and we could have easily spent more time exploring.

Plantation House

I don’t know if Endview Plantation has reenactments on a regular basis, but the Plantation is a permanent historical site where you can tour the house and grounds.  You can check them out on their Facebook page or visit their website for information about their tours and summer camps for children.

And if you have the opportunity to attend a reenactment, jump on it!  You won’t be sorry!  You can find a list of battlefields in your area here on the National Park Service page.  Just click on search “by topic” and select Battlefield/Military park.

Virginia Living Museum – Newport News, Virginia

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What is it?  Part zoo, part children’s museum, part educational museum, part aquarium.  The Virginia Living Museum is possibly one of the best museums I have been to in a long time.  It is educational and kid-friendly but at the same time it will captivate adults for hours as well.  The building is set up so that you walk through different Virginia habitats.  In each gallery, you will see exhibits that showcase the animal and plant life from each habitat. 

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I have an ASTC Membership card so the visit was free, which definitely makes the deal even sweeter!  We went to the Virginia Living Museum with the intention of spending an hour or two and then heading to the next activity but we ended up spending hours wandering around inside and out and then back inside again!

There are interactive stations throughout the entire museum where you and the kids can learn more about the animals and the lives they lead.

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There are Discovery Centers where you can interact with animals.  Our favorite was the Chesapeake Bay Touch Tank.

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The Coastal Plain Aviary will allow you to get up close and personal with more than 16 species of birds native to the area.

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The Outdoor Boardwalk is a wonderful walk and along the way you will see beavers, bald eagles, bobcats, wild turkeys and more.  This was one of our favorite parts!

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There is also a Planetarium, a Butterfly Garden and an observatory.

The Virginia Living Museum is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601.

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Newport News Family Vacation