The kids are out of school until next Tuesday, and Jarrod took off of work through Easter, so we decided to get out and explore today. Plus, the weather was a little warmer than it has been, so it was the perfect day to get out.
We started out at the visitor center, taking some time to go through the museum. We then watched a 30-minute film about the Battle of Gettysburg. From the theater, we went upstairs to the cyclorama. The cyclorama was amazing! The oil painting was painted in 1883 and is 377 feet long (longer than a football field!) and four stories high.
From there we got in the car and started the auto tour. We made quite a few stops and learned a great deal about the battle.
And what about the kids? Did they understand what they were seeing?
We read the Magic Treehouse book about the Civil War last summer, so we talked a bit then about the war. And Trenton learned a bit about slavery last year in pre-k.
We talked a lot about military strategy at while driving around the battlefields. Would it be better to be up on that hill or down here in the valley? We also talked about why the south had so many slaves and about how the south left the United States and made their own country. Nitty gritty gory battle details were left out, though the kids do know the number of those who were killed and wounded in the battle.
I was really astonished by how much the kids actually understood and how intelligent their questions were.
“There were no cars during the Civil War. So how did the hurt soldiers get all the way to this hospital? The battlefield is really big. That’s a long way to walk hurt.”
”This is a really high hill. And this is where the Union soldiers were. I think that’s why they won the battle.”
And as soon as we walked into the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Trenton asked this:
”Can we find out where Abraham Lincoln stood to give his talk? I want to stand there.”
The 30-minute film we watched talked a bit about the Gettysburg Address, and apparently it stuck with Trenton.
One thing that was a little difficult to explain was when the kids asked why the “little headstones” only had numbers and no names. We talked about how people in the military during the Civil War didn’t have dog tags like Daddy does. And we pretty much left it at that.
I loved seeing such a huge piece of history, and I’m glad that the kids (at least Trenton and Charlotte) are at an age where they can absorb some of it.