Family-friendly Stones River National Battlefield in Tennessee…

Another Civil War battlefield, Stones River National Battlefield, is located in Tennessee, just south of Nashville.  When we left our backwoods campground, we took the RV with us and headed to Stones River.  They had plenty of parking for our big rig (tho I don’t know that they would during the summer when it is busier…), and we ended up spending the majority of the day there.  The kids got their Jr. Ranger booklets, and we toured the museum and watched their short movie.

The museum isn’t very big, but it is well done, and the kids did the parts of their booklets that they had to in here.  There is also a gift shop, where we found bumper stickers! :)   (we love to collect bumper stickers from the places that we visit, and we plaster them on the back ramp of our 5th wheel)

Then we hopped in the van and drove the battlefield tour.  The first stop was a walk around the stones that part of the battle happened at.  There are natural trenches in between the rocks, like a labyrinth, and while it made great cover from enemy fire (it changed hands, so both Union and Confederate occupied it at one time or another), it also could be very dangerous as the bullets would ricochet down the trenches.  The park service has a couple of metal soldier cutouts stationed in the rocks, like the one behind Jake…

The area was incredibly beautiful.  Stones River was one of the bloodies conflicts of the Civil War, and it’s hard to imagine the carnage that happened here 150 years ago.

We completed our walk, and finished the rest of the drive that comes back out at the visitor’s center…

this was a cornfield, the area that is right next to the visitor’s center

then we drove across the road to the national cemetery where the kids had a page in their books to do while learning about the cemetery…

the kids had activities that taught them how to learn about a cannon based on it’s markings…(we’ve learned it other places too)

After the cemetery, we drove to the different breastworks.  At the second site, daddy dropped the little girls and I off at the next door playground…

Where they ran off some energy!

And then it was a mad dash to get back to the visitor’s center before they closed (we are really good at that last minute thing).  In this particular Jr. Ranger booklet, the kids had to complete 6 of the activities that are geared towards their age range in order to earn their badges.  They were really cool metal badges, and the little boys especially were pretty stoked to earn them.
One of our personal family requirements for the kids when they are doing the Jr. Ranger program, is that they have to complete as many of the activities that they can given the time that we are in the park.  I really want my kids to learn to always do their best even if it is more than what is required in any given situation.
When we had received the booklets from the initial ranger, he forgot to tell the kids that if they did 10 of the activities for their age range (I think that was all of them), then they would earn a patch also!  When the lady ranger that checked us out asked the kids if they had done their 10 to get the patch, the kids eyes got real big, and they were just sick… had they known, they would have done 10 for sure, but since we were having their books checked at 5 to 5, there was no chance of doing more pages any more that visit!  Then they started frantically counting their pages, and lo and behold, because they had gotten used to doing as much as they could, they all had done 10 (except Emma and Peanut, who needed 2 more, and they were super easy – the ranger told them what to do! LOL! :).   So, the kids were tickled that they earned both a super cool metal J.R. badge, and also a bonus patch that they didn’t expect.  I loved that they got a lesson about how going the extra mile pays off in the long run.

Us northwesterners have been so surprised at how many Civil War battlefields have been preserved, so many of these we had never heard of!    Even Caleb is enjoying getting out in the warm sunshine in this beautiful country and exploring new places with us!

Lilla Rose

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