A Letter From the Battlefield

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From time to time the kids will make suggestions about what the topic of my column should be. This time it was my 11 year old, Janey. She was going into such great detail about what I should write that I half jokingly said, “You should write the column this week.” She eagerly set forth on my laptop with extreme concentration.

Below are her thoughts about visiting the Yorktown Battlefield where George Washington defeated Lord Cornwallis of the British Army during the Revolutionary War. The surrender of Cornwallis caused the British to give up their effort to hold on to the Colonies.

As all of you know, I am on a road trip across the United States of America. Usually, my mom, Jill Fales, would be writing, but for a change, it’s me, her daughter, Janey Fales.

We are in Williamsburg, Va., and today we visited the Yorktown battlefield, where the last major battle of the Revolutionary War took place. It’s weird to think that I stood where people fought 235 years ago.

The difference between learning in a classroom and learning on the road is that instead of looking and learning about things in a textbook and pictures, you can actually see it. Instead of looking at pictures of the trenches (ditches that people back then would hand dig during wars to protect themselves and hide) I got to see them in real person!

Well, my sister and brothers and I took it to the next level. We went to the gift shop and bought replica guns. We went to back to the battlefield, and divided into American/French and British armies. It was my sister, Sally, and I on the American/French army and my two brothers, Payton and Wyatt, on the British army.

We made rules. The main rule was that if someone shot you, obviously you were dead, but the other person on your army could tag you for five seconds and then you would be alive. My brother Payton and I both had double barrel shotguns, Wyatt had a musket, and Sally had a pistol. We had to decide about how far each one could shoot. The other rule was that each time after you shot, you would have to pretend to reload your gun with gunpowder.

We had it all mapped out, I was actually quite excited for the war, and if you know me, these types of things are not usually interesting to me. We decided to name the war “War of Brothers,” which I still wish we could have named “War of Sisters.” I like that better. My brothers thought that they would win, but surprisingly Sally and I won the first battle! Go American/French!

Each time we had time to make a plan. I had a lot of fun, but got very tired quickly of running up and down the trenches- they are very steep, let me tell you! I admit, I may have cheated a little when I was dead and yelled to my sister, “Sally, they’re coming! Hurry!” I can’t blame Payton for being mad at me for doing that.

When the war finally ended, the British won, which meant the Americans were still part of England. We decided we would fight again, to try to redeem the Americans.

My point is that if I had learned this in my classroom, I would never be able to feel how the soldiers felt when they fought. I would not have known how hard and tough it was to run up and down the deep trenches and defend yourself while making sure that you were somewhere you had a good spot to aim your gun and shoot. Not shoot, shoot, shoot, but have to reload after each shot. Not to mention having to carry a heavy gun and sweating in the hot sun, with all the mosquitoes biting you.

I now have so much more respect for soldiers fighting for our independence.

You can follow the Fales’ Great American Field Trip on Jill’s Blog www.thegreatamericanfieldtrip.blogspot.com.

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