Teaching through our historic sites

On-Site Educational Activities

All on-site educational activities are available to all classes depending on the amount of time available. Some components are staff-guided while others options are teacher-led. Depending on the size of the group, components will not necessarily be experienced in this order. All classes will see the orientation program if not viewed prior to the visit, the Harper House and the exhibits in the Visitors Center. This will take approximately 2 hours including a stop at the gift shop. Please allow time for bathroom breaks, gift shop sales and transition from station to station in your planning. Every effort will be made to satisfy your requests. However, staff reserves the right to alter planned programming due to inclement weather or unanticipated staff shortages.

The core on-site program lasts 1 ½ hours and consists of four components.

  1. Exhibits on the Battle of Bentonville – Inside the Visitor Center, students will see Civil War exhibits and a six-minute fiber optic map program which outlines the troop movements during the first day of the battle. Artifacts from the battlefield are on display as well as information on the Harper family and their home. An exhibit search activity will be distributed to guide students through the exhibit information. The film will be shown if it was not viewed ahead of time. (20 minutes)

  2. Harper House Tour – Students will be led on a guided tour through the 1855 farmhouse of John and Amy Harper which was used as a Union field hospital during the Battle of Bentonville. Here students will see the downstairs of the house as it would have looked at the time of the battle with the parlor, dining room and Mr. Harper's office converted into treatment and operating rooms. (10 minutes)

  3. Available beginning October 2011 as part of the Harper House Tour - Civil War Triage - In this inquiry-based activity, students will learn about basic medical practices and equipment of the Civil War with a special emphasis on the front line emergency procedure known as triage. Student volunteers will be assigned to re-enact the roles of wounded soldiers, surgeons and stewards and will be guided through the triage process in a field hospital setting. (15 minutes)

  4. Kitchen and Slave Quarters – Students will visit the two reconstructed outbuildings on this middle class farm, a detached kitchen and the sparse living quarters for the three enslaved people were typical of this time period. (20 minutes)

  5. Student Activity (Select one when booking your reservation):

    • a. Small Arms Weapon demonstration – Students will learn about the Enfiled rifle, commonly used during the Civil War, as well as the uniform and accouterments (additional equipment) carried by a soldier. An interpreter in Civil War uniform will demonstrate the loading and firing of an Enfield. 25 minutes)

    • b. The High Cost of War - In this activity, students will learn about Civil War artillery and the roles of the crew who manned the cannon. Student volunteers will assume the roles of the crew while the remainder of the class will launch an assault on the gun in an attempt to seize it. Students will discover the high cost of war through the "casualties" inflicted on the group. This activity can lead to post-visit classroom discussion on how the war affected society. (Minimum of 25 students needed to make this activity effective.) (25 minutes)

If the group has additional time for its visit, they may wish to utilize one or more of these supplemental program activities which are teacher led.

  1. Walking Trail and Trenches – This teacher-guided ¼ mile walking trail takes students to a trench line used by reserve troops during the battle. On this trail, students will see reconstructed field fortifications and a replica field artillery piece (cannon). This area is located near the woods line across Mill Creek Church Road from the Visitor Center. (25 minutes)

  2. Harper Family Cemetery and Monument Area – Here students can visit the graves of unknown Confederate soldiers, the Harper Family cemetery and view several monuments erected to honor the Confederate soldiers from North Carolina, Texas, and nearby Goldsboro. (20 minutes)

  3. Battlefield Driving Tour – Upon request, groups may receive a map that will guide them to four venues of the actual battlefield. At each stop there are interpretive panels describing the action that took place at that location. Three of the four pull-offs are capable of handling large buses. (60 minutes)

Teachers may request the Bentonville Battlefield Scavenger Hunt when scheduling their visit. Students can complete a worksheet by answering the questions related to various stations during their visit of the Harper House, the Monument Area and the Visitors Center.


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