Rebels and Redcoats
This field trip took us to downtown Charleston and back in time to the year 1781, after the British laid siege to the city and Charleston had finally surrendered. Throughout the trip, we met many “characters” from that time, people who dressed and spoke as if they were still living in that time.
The Old Exchange and Provost Building
We began our tour here… in the dungeon! Students learned that it’s original purpose was not to hold prisoners, rather it was to store goods. When the British took over, they turned the cellar into a dungeon to hold their prisoners of war. We also learned about some famous Charlestowne men and women that were held prisoner.
Upstairs, in the Great Hall, we learned that many big decisions were made there when it was used as a meeting hall; the decision to boycott tea and have Charleston’s version of the “tea party”, electing delegates to send to Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence, and many more. We even got to sign a copy of the Declaration! Besides a meeting hall, it was also used to hosts balls. That means, we got to learn a simple version of the dance moves of the time, The Minuet.
The Hayward-Washington House
At the time of our visit, in 1781, Thomas Heyward Jr. was imprisoned in St. Augustine, Florida and his family was preparing to flee to the North. We learned from the lady of the house, Elizabeth, about ways that they resisted British rule during the occupation and how she and her family lived during this time. A visit to the kitchens, separated from the house for fire concerns, revealed that while technology has advanced, many of the tools and techniques existed back then. Students also discussed what life would be like as a slave, both in the town house and out on the plantation
The Powder Magazine
Many students would claim this stop was the highlight of their trip. Here, students learned about the contents of black powder and how to store it properly. They got to try their hand at making musket ball cartridges that would have been used to fire a musket, they then got to hold and practice drilling with a musket. Students were surprised at how many steps it took to load and fire a musket and cannon (don’t worry, it was only pretend!). Using quill and ink, students signed their initials in agreement to enlist in the Patriot Army!