Monday, March 22, 2010

THE History Trip!

Penn State Altoona history students Jared Frederick, Dustin Faust, Eric Sral, and Justin Shope gather around a Napoleon Civil War cannon at the Perryville, Kentucky Civil War Battlefield. Led by Dr. Steve Andrews, these student went on a week-long journey through historical sites in Kentucky and Tennessee. Below are a small selection of the photos we took to chronicle our historic journey.

In this video, the esteemed Dr. Steve Andrews musters his best southern accent to tell us of Perryville in the context of "the Civil War in a nutshell."

After a full day of driving from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, our first stop was Perryville Battlefield State Park, located in the rolling hillsides of rural Kentucky. Other than three or four other people we encountered during our visit, we had the battlefield entirely to ourselves. It was a pleasant change of pace when pondering the frequent congestion of battlefields like Gettysburg. Perryville was the largest and deciding in Kentucky. The Confederacy ultimately lost the state as a result of this battle.

We also visited the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace in Hodgenville, Kentucky. This statue of Lincoln was placed on the town square on February 12, 1909 for the centennial of the Great Emancipator's birth.

...And this statue was placed on the opposite side of the town square exactly 100 years later.

The Big House...Fort Knox, Kentucky. Yep, that's where they keep all the gold! This is as close as we got.

Fort Knox is also the home of the Patton Museum. General George S. Patton was the famed WWII commander who sported a riding crop and these ivory handled pistols. Many artifacts from his personal and military lives were on display.

Student Eric Sral tries his WWI gear on at the Patton Museum.

The museum was a veritable treasure trove of armored tanks and vehicles ranging from WWI to the present, including American and enemy tanks. The photo above is a huge life-size diorama featuring an original Mark 4 Tank from 1917. Just below the gun turret on the left side of the tank, you may notice a small whole where a German shell plowed through the armor. (Also take notice of the German grenade "flying" in mid air.)

And of course, there was a German King Tiger tank, which was absolutely gigantic. Keep in mind, I am 6 feet 3 inches and the tank is actually bigger than what it looks in the photo. The tank's extremely thick armor and very accurate and powerful gun overpowered it against almost any armor the Allies could launch at it. Often, it took three or five Sherman Tanks to knock out one of these. The vehicle could move 25-30 miles per hour.

Fellow Penn State student Eric Sral crawls to avoid carnage of the impregnable Tiger Tank.

I try my hand at tank driving in the armor simulator.

Student Justin Shope does the same.

Our esteemed history professor, Dr. Steve Andrews, trained at Fort Knox in the 1970s and drove tanks in Cold War Germany. His insights into this aspect of the trip added a unique perspective to our visit to the fort.

Dozens of WWII tanks and beyond adorn the museum and base's grounds.

We also visited a little known battlefield in Kentucky known as the Munfordville Battlefield. In the far background you can see the remains of Fort Craig, a Civil War fortification.

The Anthony Woodson House at the Munfordville Battlefield was burned but rebuilt after the war. This will someday hopefully become a visitor center to the park.

Dr. Steve Andrews takes a moment of spiritual reflection at the river near Mammoth Cave, KY.

History students visit hell....Nah, just kidding. This photo was actually taken in Mammoth Cave, the largest cave system in North America. There is over 357 miles of navigated caverns, and likely more not yet discovered.

We had to descend this very narrow and steep stairway into the belly of the cave known as "Grand Central Station."

Some good colorful shots from inside the cave.

The Hermitage - Home of President Andrew Jackson just right outside of Nashville, TN.

Penn State students at the grave of the 7th President at the Hermitage.

Also near Nashville is Fort Negley, an old Civil War fort used to guard the city from Confederate attack. It is now preserved but much of the structure was neglected following the war's end.

The student group stands at the McGavock Family Cemetery at Franklin, Tennessee. It is the largest, privately owned military cemetery in the nation. Over 1,500 Confederate dead from the Battle of Franklin are buried there. Carrie McGavock and her husband, John, oversaw the burial process. This battle witnessed a charge double the size of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg.

The inside of the McGavock house, Carnton, still bears the blood stains of those southerners wounded in the battle.

Student Jared Frederick stands with our tour guide and New York Times bestselling novelist Robert Hicks, who's book, The Widow of the South, brought international recognition to the story of Carrie McGavock and the Battle of Franklin.

In Murfressboro, TN, the students visited the Oaklands Mansion, where Jared Frederick's Civil War ancestor Sgt. Sylvester Weakland was encamped with the 7th PA Cavalry when ambushed by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's Cavalry.

This blood stained canteen was found on the Murfreesboro (Stone's River) Battlefield.

Unfortunately, we took one casualty on the trip. Student Justin Shope was struck down by a rebel bullet and was buried on the fields of Murfreesboro. Other than that, it was a fantastic trip that none of us will forget! Special thanks to Dr. Steve Andrews, Dr. Marc Harris, and Carole Bookhamer for making this trip possible!

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