Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fort Douglas Day

We were really lucky, because I found out about Fort Douglas Day at the beginning of June, and it was just in time to coincide with the beginning of our unit. We are right in the middle of the Civil War's Sesquicentennial Commemoration (2011-2015), which means there are tons of events taking place on the East Coast, but I felt lucky that we got to go to something even way out here in Utah!

Fort Douglas was named after Stephen Douglas (of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates---the man who lost to Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 Election). He was kind of famously anti-Mormon, so the naming of the fort was a bit of a slap in the face to the Latter-day Saints living in Salt Lake. There's all kinds of interesting history there (some background here, here, and here) but eventually the army and the Mormons got used to each other and Fort Douglas became an accepted part of the Salt Lake City area. It's not used as an army facility anymore, but there's a nice little museum there, and on this particular day there were Civil War Re-enactors there too! It was awesome.
They were all SO nice. I think I never really understood the Civil War re-enactment thing before (in my ignorance), but now I get why people like it. It's such a fascinating time period, and it would be a cool hobby to immerse yourself in. I loved how willing they were to talk to the children and to share their knowledge with us.

This lady was playing a---well, I didn't know what it was, and she was too busy playing to talk to me, but it just occurs to me now that it must be a dulcimer. "A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw . . ." It sounded beautiful!

An officer's tent

The boys were so excited to see the muskets set up in tripods like this, just like the illustrations in the books we'd been reading

These soldiers let the boys fire their muskets, which was SO exciting! I thought it was fascinating to see how the flintlock gun worked. It really does have a flint which you pull back to strike the steel and make a small spark in a little pan of powder. That ignites the powder in the cartridge inside and pushes out the bullet! Probably not that advanced of an observation, but I haven't been around guns much, so it's all new to me. (Also, the expressions "a flash in the pan" and "keep your powder dry" finally make sense.) I actually found all the Civil War weapons, and how they worked, extremely interesting. (More on that later.)
And best of all, they fired the big artillery gun for us! Hooray!

This was a great event. I think we'll try to go back next year!

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