Session 1 Comes to an End

Welcome to the last, but still great, addition of the NIAHD blog! The students danced with the Heritage Dancers, went on a photographic scavenger hunt, and proved their skills by answering jeopardy questions on their respective courses. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone. Congratulations to the seminars who proved victorious.

Both classes this week ended in wars. Not between each other, of course, for they are all too close for that. Colonial began on Monday with a visit to where Patrick Henry adamantly stated, “Give me liberty or give me death!” These famous, or potentially infamous if you adhere to the British side, words Henry proclaimed at St. John’s Church on March 23, 1775 propelled both the colonies and our students into a revolutionary fervor. Monday also brought our students to Henry’s own plantation, Scotchtown, and Mr. Henry himself later came to speak to all the students on Tuesday night. On Tuesday, the Colonial students had their long trip to the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia where they were able to explore examples of traditional homes for some of early America’s most prominent immigrant and native groups. They also spent their time with the Museum’s cats (there is a feline theme at many of NIAHD’s sites, we must admit). Wednesday brought our students back to dear Colonial Williamsburg where they got the chance to peruse many of the tradesmen’s shops and also experienced some military drills. Who knew marching together in line could be so difficult? For their final trip, the students ended where the American Revolutionary War effectively ended: Yorktown battlefield where “the world turned upside down” for the British Army.

The Civil War class started their week at a place of great political importance for the war: Fortress Monroe in Hampton Roads. Fortress Monroe witnessed the invention of the term “contraband of war” when referring to runaway slaves, a visit by President Lincoln, the transformation of naval warfare from wood to iron, and the imprisonment of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Tuesday brought the students closer to the Battle of Hampton Roads, and we do mean physically. While on a trip to the Mariner’s Museum, the students got a backstage tour to see some of NOAA’s conservation efforts on the U.S.S. Monitor. Not only did the students see the ironclad’s turret, but also an officer’s coat restored after 140-plus years underwater. On Wednesday Civil War received a battlefield tour of Gaines’ Mill, the site of one of the Seven Days’ Battles and the only Confederate victory from that campaign. They also discussed the impact of this little remembered battle that involved roughly 91,200 men and 15,500 casualties. Wednesday and Thursday also brought up questions of memory and memorialization in the War’s aftermath through visits to three cemeteries: Cold Harbor National Cemetery, Shockoe Hill Cemetery, and Hollywood Cemetery. By comparing and contrasting the layouts and physical memorials present at these three sites, students discussed how both North and South confronted (and arguably crafted) the Civil War and its memory.

While closing ceremonies may bring moments of pride and potentially a few tears, just remember that NIAHD is always here. We loved having you and seeing you thrive as students, nerds, and budding historians. Always remember, as Dr. Whittenberg stated on that first night, history is a milkshake; it is made up of many components and there is always a new way to put one together. No matter what, it’s always delicious and you can never have just one. Go forth and conquer the history world NIAHD students! We are waiting to see what you do with your shot.

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Article contributed by Emma Rothberg

Published in: on July 15, 2016 at 4:05 pm Comments (0)