Harpers Ferry

First Shots of American Civil War Fired Here

03/31/2010  | 
historic places

In order to prepare for the upcoming Sesquicentennial, students in 2011 need to visit Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. That visit will give students of the Civil War the proper perspective they will need in their understanding of the events leading up to that war. Without too much stretch, it can be said that the first shots of the American Civil War were fired at Harpers Ferry.
At Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the interpretive program allows students to ”become” one of John Brown’s men, a Harpers Ferry citizen, or a slave.

The national park has a myriad of exhibits on John Brown and the raid on the federal arsenal in 1859. The park interprets the invasion of the federal arsenal and John Brown’s abolitionist views as being the moving force that was the “gasoline” that was poured on the ‘smoldering coals” already prevalent in the nation at the time.

At Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the interpretive program allows students to “become” one of John Brown’s men, a Harpers Ferry citizen, or a slave. This allows students to make decisions as such that they would have had to make as the real participants. Award winning podcasts, developed by students for students, show the interpretation of those long ago events as seen through the eyes of today’s students.

Park interpreters will walk the students into the actual building where the raid took place. Students can sit on the cases of muskets found at the Kennedy Farm where the raid was planned, or sit in the courtroom as part of John Brown’s Trial. A John Brown trail has been established in the national park that offers students the opportunity to visit all the places where the raiders were located during the siege.

The Harpers Ferry National Park bookstore offers hundreds of period literature on all aspects of the Civil War. Their collections ranges from children’s books to reference materials suitable for most any researcher.

A visit to Harpers Ferry should include time to also visit the nearby Jefferson County Museum in Charles Town. On display are the wagon that carried John Brown to his execution, the trunk and desk from his jail cell, an actual pike, the jail door where Brown and six other raiders were incarcerated, and other historic items. An artillery shell from the bombardment of Charles Town from 1864 is on display. The shell was found in the base of a building which was renovated in 2008. At that time, the shell was still live! An actual letter from George Washington is part of the museum’s extensive displays.

The museum has a pre-planned scavenger hunt designed to help students make the best of their time at the museum.

Our very experienced staff can help put your trip together to maximize your time and to stretch your budget. We also provide free programs for you group at lunch or for an evening program if you are staying overnight.

For more information call 304-535-2627 or visit www.hello-wv.com.

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