A Walk through a Piece of Pamplin History

Where we are and where we have been:

Two Pamplin brothers came to the new world in the 1600’s from England and settled in the colony of Virginia.  Most of the Pamplins in the US can be traced back to these two.  For the past few days we have been exploring some of the territory that those early Pamplins inhabited. 

First we went down the road a few miles from Appomattox to Pamplin City.  It is now a small community of about 200, just off the highway lying partly in Appomattox and Prince Edward Counties. 

It boasts a Family Dollar, and a very nice Volunteer Fire Department building.  The town was named in honor of Nicholas Calvin Pamplin who he purchased land in the area in 1844, and then donated a large amount of land to encourage a rail line to be built through the area, since he realized the potential benefit to the village.

The real claim to fame is the Pamplin Clay Pipe Factory – now a designated historic site.  It was built in the mid-1800s, closing in 1952.  At its peak it turned out a million clay pipes a month. 

After spending the night in Pocahontas State Park, once again in the rain, we visited Pamplin Historic Park and National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. 

 It is the most amazing, well planned and executed historic park that I have ever seen.  We have been to several Civil War Museums and Parks as well as other history parks and this one is outstanding. 

To begin your excursion through the “Duty Called Me Here, Life of a Common Soldier” gallery, you choose a Civil War “comrade” from several choices and you are given a headset device that is programed for your comrade to relate his story. 

 The interactive Gallery is filled with life like scenes of soldier life as well as over 700 artifacts.  The gallery is set up so that you wander through a camp with rough hard packed “dirt” paths and depictions of practice drills, medical care, leisure time, preparation for breaking camp, then on through the march to new locations, realistic battle scenes where you actually feel the ground shake from the boom of cannons and a line of “the enemy” advancing in your directions, as you “duck” behind a barricade. 

The gallery winds on around to a winter camp as your comrade continues to relate events from his personal experiences. (The stories are taken from actual letters and memoirs of that soldier)

After leaving the gallery, you exit to walk down the path to Tutor Hall, the home plantation of a great, great grandmother of some of the Pamplin clan.  The home was built in the 1817 and occupied by the family through late 1864 when it became the brigade headquarters of Confederate General McGowen. On April 2, 1865 General Grant’s army of the Potomac broke through the defenses of Petersburg, which stretched through the fields of Tutor Hall.  The loss of this battle caused General Lee to abandon defense of Petersburg and nearby Richmond.  He began the retreat that lead to his surrender at Appomattox seven days later, on April 9, 1865.

Tutor Hall has been restored to the Antebellum 1860 condition with the “big house”, tobacco hut, slave quarters, and farm buildings, all depicting the life of an upper middle class family in the 1860s, as well as the slaves and field hands. 

We came away with a better understanding of their life and times as well as the devastation and ruin experienced after the war.  The land was so devastated that it was no longer able to provide crops to support the family.  The farm was sold in 1869 to a family from New York for a small fraction of the value in 1860.

You are once again engaged by your “comrade” as you leave Tutor Hall and go out on paths leading into the actual areas of the Breakthrough Battlefield.  There are costumed interpreters stationed throughout the battlefield to recreate the daily life of the Civil War soldier.  It was a truly unique experience.  Check out even more about the park at www.pamplinpark.org.

We returned to Pocahontas State Park for another night.  It is a beautiful park with the campsites placed among pines, hemlocks and other tall trees.

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One Response to A Walk through a Piece of Pamplin History

  1. Sue L says:

    Makes me wish I had Pamplin ancestors…how many people have whole towns and factories named after them?! Your pictures are great!

    – Sue