Homeschool Memories: Visiting Pennsylvania Battlefields

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One benefits of homeschooling in the Keystone State was the local access to field trips to bring our American/State history to life. Some of those field trips involved visiting local battlefields from the Revolutionary War and the Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression as I’ve been schooled to call it after moving below the Mason Dixon Line.)

Brandywine Battlefield Lafayette's headquarters PA

Brandywine battlefield was one we traveled by every time we went to visit our grandparents. The battle was fought in September, 1777 and was a British victory which led to the capture of Philadelphia. Although they captured Philadelphia they failed to destroy the American army! We didn’t tour the houses due to finances, but we did peek in windows and wander around the grounds to give a 3-dimensional aspect to our studies. I remember thinking that the houses (which were restored or rebuilt to their 1770s appearance) were some of the prettiest houses on our drive, particularly Lafayette’s headquarters. I also remember thinking that it was weird that there were two different headquarters–one for General Washington and one for General Lafayette.

Valley Forge, PA

Another site we visited from the Revolutionary War era was Valley Forge. I always let my imagination run wild as to what the conditions would have been like over 200 hundred years before in the very spot I was standing on, but I had a hard time at Valley Forge because we visited in July in a car without air conditioning. Valley Forge was the winter campground for the American Army during the winter of 1777-78 where thousands died due to exposure, poor nutrition, and overall poor supplies. It just wasn’t the same in the middle of summer. Even so, we watched a movie and explored some of the reconstructed huts. Even in summer, they didn’t look like they would keep any elements out and I was surprised that any soldiers were left alive or even wanting to continue fighting after that winter.

National Cemetery Gettysburg, PA

An even more famous battlefield during a completely different war was the Gettysburg Battlefield. I visited this battlefield on several occasions and always felt so sad that so many men lost their lives during that fight. The victor on the books was the North, but I don’t think anyone can win with the loss of almost 8,000 lives and 38,423 wounded and missing.

The second time I visited it was with my 11th grade class from Dayspring Christian Academy. It was a little more distracting doing a field trip with a class of 20 some others, but it was fun too. I thought that since I had already been to Gettysburg that it would all be review, but that wasn’t the case. We visited the actual sites of a couple of the different skirmishes including Little Round Top and Devil’s Den.

This was what I had to say in my Field Study report after visiting Gettysburg with my class:

Liberty is very high in cost. The price varies, although it is paid most often with the lives of many people. Usually when people want liberty they have to fight for it and it involves the shedding of blood. When we desired to be set free from the bondage of our sins, Jesus gave His life for us.

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