Imagine my surprise when my husband brought home a booklet about the Military Trail of History right here in our small town. I was so excited! I LOVE History and so do my kids. So off we went taking almost a whole week to cover the booklet and all the sights. Since we are studying American History and have learned about several of the early wars this was a perfect fit for us. Also, I feel it is so important that we all, as Americans, learn our history and what our soldiers have done to keep us free!!
The booklet states that "this Military Trail was a vision ten years in the making. Military history is the blueprint of America's history. From the pre-Revolutionary War to the most recent wars this trail pays tribute to those who have secured and protected America from right here in our community". How cool is that?
We began our tour at the Army Depot. We drove past guarded gates, saw row after row of tanks, and various other big machinery. My boys were in their glory! LOL! Samuel kept saying, "shoot guns, shoot guns". Boys! :) Back in 1941 construction crews built 798 underground igloos, 17 warehouses and 12 above-ground magazines on this property.
The first shipment of ammunition arrived by railroad in 1942. More than 3 million tons of supplies were moved to this facility making it one of the largest depots of its kind!
Next up was the chapel that sits on the Depot property. It is absolutely beautiful! My pictures do not do it justice. The neatest factoid about this chapel is that it was built by prisoners of war. Apparently, the depot held over 1,200 Italian prisoners that were captured by the Allies in October 1943 when the Italians surrendered. Those prisoners built this chapel using stones from many of the original farmhouses that were on the site. The chapel features a 65 ft. Florentine belfry, a San Francisco entrance, and a Roman interior.
I had no idea we had a 9/11 Memorial Park too. It was a perfect time to talk to the kids about what happened and why back on September 11th. There were pictures of the before, during and after of the towers. Nolan had a hard time with it and asked lots of questions. He is my tender-hearted love. The site included a 2,000 pound sculpture made from 3 steel beams salvaged from the World Trade Center. There is also a time capsule to be opened September 11, 2101.
We visited a Church that is said "to have been one of the most patriotic congregations in the valley". At the beginning of the American Revolution this pastor delivered an inspirational sermon and all but 2 adult men in the congregation marched off to join the War! This congregation produced 1 general, 4 colonels, 12 captains and alot of officers in the Continental Army.
Also, not far from that church Molly Cochran Corbin was born and lived. She is the 1st woman to receive a military pension and the only Revolutionary soldier to be buried at West Point with honors. She accompanied her husband to the war and when he was killed she took over firing the cannon. What a woman!
Aw, just look at those cutie-pies posing with 3 generations of soldiers! This was the site of a fort built to protect the people from the French and Indian attacks after the French and Indian War of 1755. There were homes and a mill, stockades with a lead roof to protect the structure from flaming arrows. It was also built so it was adjoined by water on 3 sides aiding it's defense. There was also a WWII memorial and a Korean War Memorial here.
We spent lots of time hunting down headstones in various cemeteries. We'd read about the various heroes and I'd say they are buried somewhere in here let's find him and off they'd go on their mission. They truly enjoyed it and we were able to talk about why we have cemeteries, what the dates on the headstones meant, why some had lambs on top (babies/young children that had passed), why some had flowers and others didn't, but most importantly we were able to talk about what comes after you are put in the ground or cremated. Good, good discussions.
Here they are with the one guy that was a stickler to find! We spent alot of time looking for this one and covered the grounds twice before Kyalynn found him. He was one of 26 African American Civil War veterans who fought as a member of the United States Colored Troops (USCT).
This is Fort Loudoun. It played a key role in a colonial revolt by James Smith and the Black Boys. They traded weapons with the Indians and pre-dated the Revolutionary War by 10 years. They were called Black Boys because these white settlers would blacken their faces and use Indian tactics to disrupt British shipments. Historian Neil Swanson believes "the seeds of unrest of this country against the British were sown here at Fort Loudoun".
This was so huge! It's a life sized bronze soldier on top of solid granite. It's a memorial to honor veterans from all the wars. The detail on the soldier was amazing! Eyelashes, fingernails, wrinkles in the pants - so life-like. My kids were astounded by how much it cost.....$75,000 for the granite and an additional $30,000 for the soldier statue.
Ok, ok, I just have one more to tell you about. Actually, I could go on and on and on, so many interesting stories and information.....but I won't. LOL!
This is the grave of Henry Bonebrake. Who is he you ask? Well, he won the Medal of Honor for his action in capturing the enemy's flag in 1865. He didn't use a gun, or a canon, oh no! This man fought in a "hand-to-hand struggle with a Confederate soldier to capture his flag by superior physical strength".As a side note: This cemetery blew me away. I have never seen such huge and elaborate headstones and memorials before. There were huge obelisks like the Washington Monument, above ground tombs with life-size angels guarding them, memorials that were long like a fence row. Beautiful and good golly, mighty, mighty expensive!
All in all, it was a fabulous learning adventure, for all of us! The kids loved it and couldn't wait to tell daddy all about what they saw and learned each night. Hopefully, it also gave them even more understanding of what it has cost so many for us to be Americans and to be FREE!