Friday, October 9, 2015

Last month Palatka was again occupied by Union forces. And some Confederates.  And a family from 1863.  And 240 school children. 

Civil War canon brought from Fort Clinch for the event

The fifth annual Occupation of Palatka occurred last month, Sept. 25-26, on the lawn of the Bronson-Mullholand House in Palatka, FL.  Historians and war reenactors were brought together to educate the public about the daily life of the Civil War soldier.  People were often surprised to discover the rich history that occurred right in their back yard!  Both Union and Confederate troops (at different times of course) occupied the Bronson-Mulholand House.  The officers stayed in the house and the soldiers camped on the lawn.

Photo by Mandi Tucker
  FPAN brought the Maple Leaf Shipwreck tarp to their Friday's "school day" where 240 local 4th graders came to The Occupation.   The kids learned about the Maple Leaf which was a paddle-wheel steamship contracted by the US army.   On April 1, 1864, The ship had just unloaded 90 cavalrymen and their horses in Palatka and was returning to Jacksonville.  It was still loaded with 400 tons of cargo when it hit a Confederate "torpedo" (a wooden beer barrel filled with 70 pounds of gun powder) and sank into the St. Johns River off of Mandarin Point.
courtesy of

The Maple Leaf tarp is painted with the ship wreck's site plan.  The kids experience "diving" to discover "artifacts" (wooden blocks with pictures of actual items found on the wreck), then identify and map them.   They not only learn about the Maple Leaf, but also about the job of a maritime archaeologist and the importance of context and mapping when uncovering a site.

 The kids were very engaged with the exercise, but I had the canon going off every 10 minutes to ensure that they were kept on their toes!

Photos (except where noted)  and Text by FPAN Staff, Robbie Boggs

One Response so far.

  1. I don't need no Civil War - but I do when everyone is so cute and historical in their uniforms.

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