Not all history lessons are taught in the classroom. The ones that really stick come from field trip ideas that engage young minds in their own community to gain knowledge by seeing, touching, talking, and doing. Back to school means planning and preparation for teachers to ensure an enriching learning environment. Looking for a new way to tell the tale of Sherman’s March to the Sea? We have a few school field trip ideas that include several historical Civil War locations found throughout Newton County.
Plantations and antebellum style homes are essential in the heritage of Newton County and the surrounding area. Packing up your class for a look at one of these finely crafted mansions tied to the War of Rebellion is sure to be something they won’t soon forget. Just off the Covington Square, rests The Twelve Oaks, inspiration for George Ashley Wilkes’ stately home in Margaret Mitchell’s period piece, Gone with the Wind. Its historical value doesn’t stop there. The sidewalk view of this breathtaking structure is a perfect place to recount General William T. Sherman’s journal entries of his thirty-day visit to what was then Harris Plantation. Let the story visually unfold of how the Military Division of the Mississippi began to infiltrate the quarters and pillage through Newton County right where they are standing. Bring along worksheets that are specific to the location and could only be filled out by observing and visiting the site.
The crippling impact of the raid was also felt on Burge Plantation in Mansfield, GA. Now a popular event center and home to a hunting club, calling ahead to make plans to visit is optimal. The elegance of Southern aristocracy lives on throughout the grounds of this thousand-acre tract of land and is a teachable representation of the restoration efforts seen county wide after the American Civil War. Excerpts from the diary of Dolly Burge, A Woman’s Wartime Journal, are a great resource to detail and convey to the students of today how devastating the invasion truly was. Burge Plantation is an impressive spot to encourage students to put their phones to good use and take pictures for future photo essays while discussing the lasting effects this traumatic war had locally and societally.
The Capture of Covington brought tragedy in many forms, but the overwhelming number of soldiers who suffered severe wounds during the War Between the States was crushing. Sites such as Old Church as well as Few and Phi Gamma Hall in Oxford, GA were transformed into places of rest for those weary and rundown from battle. Covington First United Methodist Church, which is located right off the Historic Downtown Square, also served as a hospital and would be an enlightening place to educate school aged children on historical accounts from this era. Get their wheels spinning and have them take notes to write first person journal entries as if they were the soldiers themselves, experiencing the travesties of wartime.
Don’t forget, there’s always access to Georgia’s March to the Sea Campaign Trail & Audio Tour at the Covington-Newton County Convention & Visitors Bureau as a self guided history tour. Paired with Covington's Voices of the Past Historic Cemetery Tour, both are a creative way to explore the cemeteries, monuments, and landmarks of the times and captivate eager minds ready to learn. Visit the Welcome Center for more field trip ideas and other history tours in Newton County.