Monday, October 26, 2015

Alamance Battleground

With all our studies of the Revolutionary War, it never occurred to us that there was another battleground in our area besides Guilford Courthouse.: Alamance Battleground. While it wasn't actually during the war, it was a skirmish that was a clear precursor and, according to some scholars, the true "first shot" of the Revolutionary War.
The Battleground had an open school week, where admission was free and they had a number of re-enactors there demonstrating the various crafts and roles people played at the time. 

First, we got to see a 4-pound cannon up close. The kids even got to act like they were on the gun crew and learn how to load and fire the gun. 

They got to see and feel different types of cartridges and shot that were fired at the time. There wasn't really one that i would have wanted to be on the receiving end of, but grape shot sounded particularly unpleasant.

We moved on to listen to a gentleman talk about being a "long hunter". He would spend weeks or months out in the woods tracking and hunting game for meat, skins and furs.

The kids then got to learn about candlemaking.

 Right next to that was a man turning wood on a foot-powered lathe. 

 He let all the kids get a chance at pushing the foot pedal and Olivia got to actually hold the gouge as she did it. 

It's really rather impressive the quality he was able to get from so primitive a set of tools. He didn't use any sandpaper to finish his works, only his lathe and chisels/gouges.

 After that, we talked to a man who was dying yarn. He showed us the various colors he was able to get from natural sources.
 He had a pot of water with black walnut husks over a fire with yarn being dyed a dark brown.

He also talked about how linen (made from flax) took and held color differently from cotton or wool.
 Now, this was right up Rebecca's alley: a doctor. He explained a whole lot about how medicine progressed during that time and how doctors knew, for example, that if they didn't get out the piece of shirt that went in with the bullet, the patient would get sick and die, but what they didn't know was why.

 He showed us his medicine chest and Rebecca got to see some suturing needles up close and was surprised that they are very similar to what's still used today.

Nearby there was a log cabin where a woman was spinning cotton into thread. It's impressive to see how fast that spinning wheel moves and how it twists the puffy cotton into such tight thread.
 Inside, we were lucky enough to get to see two ladies finish weaving a rag rug on the loom.
 I can't imagine having to string that monster...
 The kids got to help pull the finished rug off the loom.
 It was rather long... It was actually a runner for the floor of the cabin.

The kids had a great time and it was cool to get a hands-on demonstration of how things were at the time we've been studying about.

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