What to Expect: Heavy Thunder 2023

Hear the roar of cannon fire! Join us August 19th, 2023 from 10:00-4:00 for our annual Artillery + Infantry Program, Heavy Thunder!

“The din of battle roared like one continuous peal of heavy thunder.

Capt. G.B. Gardner, eyewitness to the battle of Bentonville

You’re not going to want to miss this chance to hear the “Heavy Thunder” eyewitnesses like Capt. Gardner heard during the battle of Bentonville. Costumed interpreters will attempt to recreate a small portion of that noise with musket and cannon demonstrations. Throughout the rest of the day, visitors will be able to learn about the role of artillery and infantry during the Civil War by talking to reenactors, listening to presentations, doing family activities, and walking through the historic Harper House.

Whether this is your first or fiftieth event day at Bentonville, this post will give you some helpful hints about what to expect August 19th for Heavy Thunder!

Cannon demonstration photographed by Crissy Oravits

Here’s 7 things to know before you arrive!

1. See the Cannon Fire!

Cannon and Musket Demonstrations are the centerpiece of Heavy Thunder! Demonstrations will take place at 11:00, 1:00, and 3:00 in the field beside the Harper House (see map). Bring earplugs if you may be sensitive to loud noises. Bring a chair to sit and enjoy or plan to stand and watch! Demonstrations usually last about 20-30 minutes.

Heavy Thunder 2022 demo

2. Get your hands on history!

Volunteers and living historians will be spread around the site from 10:00-4:00 to demonstrate and talk about life during the Civil War! See the living history camp area, complete a coloring activity, and explore the site!

3. Prepare for the weather!

August in North Carolina is no joke! Heavy Thunder is rain or shine so come prepared for heat or rain. Currently the high is projected at 89 degrees and UV Index at 10 out of 11. Be sure to drink lots of water (available for sale in the Visitor Center) and wear sunscreen and/or bug spray! Seek shelter in the A/C of the Visitor Center if you’re feeling hot during the event.

4. Get oriented the Visitor Center

Staff or Volunteers will orient you upon arrival at our Orientation Table in front of the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center will be open 9:00-5:00. Enjoy the A/C, watch the 15 minute orientation film (playing on loop), view our exhibits and artifacts, and check out the gift shop.

Map of Event Activities – Will be available at Information Table in front of Visitor Center

5. See the Harper House!

Although it is under a complete exterior restoration, we plan on having the interior open! Check out the exhibits! An interpreter will be in the house to answer any questions you have about Civil War medicine or the Harper family. Additionally, staff and volunteers will have a table in front of the house to discuss the ongoing restoration efforts.

6. Don’t miss the battlefield

Beat the heat with your car A/C and tackle the 10 mile battlefield driving tour and self-guided audio tour! Or brave the heat on one of our walking trails and see trenches soldiers constructed during the battle in 1865.

7. Bring an appetite!

They’re offering a hot dog you can’t refuse, grab a bite to eat at The DogFather Hot Dog Joint! They’ll be serving up lunch from 11:00-1:30! If you miss them or don’t want a hot dog, grab a snack at Blackberry Creek Kettle Corn! Enjoy your food in our shaded picnic area beside the visitor center.

Visitors wait in line for the Dogfather at last year’s Fall Festival

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