Monday, August 22, 2016

Colonial Kensington 2016: 18th Century America Comes to Life


Lynn has gone for a soldier
(photo by Lynn Anderson)
As I sat at a table wearing my cocked hat, breeches, buckle shoes, and other garments signifying the fashion of 250 years ago, it took me a few minutes to get my bearings.
It wasn't a matter of "where am I" but "when am I."
That's what happens when one travels to four different time periods in less than a week.
You see, it was only a day before this Colonial Kensington event that I was firmly planted in the mid-19th century while doing a historical farming presentation with my living history partner. And the weekend before I was rooted in the year 1861 as our Civil War group depicted home life and early battles of "the 2nd war for independence" at another reenactment.
And now I found myself as a Citizen of the American Colonies, staunchly in the 1770s.
The four days in between? Why, I was stuck in the 21st century.
 Like I said, that's four different time periods in six days.
Whew!
So, as I sat beneath a wooden structural covering, watching the ladies and gentlemen of the 18th century move about, and then turning to see military men - both for and against King George - I began to assimilate into the American culture of 250 years ago...the winds of time swirled around and engulfed me until I was there.
Such is the life of a time-traveler.
Colonial Kensington is an excellent event depicting the period of the American Revolution. This was my third year attending and I enjoy it more and more each time. Of course I did have my stealth camera at the ready - I call it my "stealth camera" because I quickly remove it from my haversack (or carpet bag if I'm in the 19th century), snap a pic, then immediately return it. More often than not, most are not even aware I took a picture.
And that's as it should be.
So, with that in mind, I was able to take plenty of "sketches" to document my time in time.
I hope you enjoy them.

For the opening ceremony each day, all military form up with the regimental colors.
Though there were not as many regimentals as we'd've like to have seen, I have a feeling this 18th century era of reenacting will be growing larger with the sestercentennial of the Revolutionary War at hand, and giving the popularity of such shows as TVs "Turn: Washington's Spies" on AMC, the play "Hamilton," and HBOs "John Adams," we shall, in all probability, see an increased interest.
It is quite a sight to see when the soldiers of the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War fire their muskets for the public.

Around the Village:
Creating a tent-town that depicts an era in time can be a great experience for both reenactor and visitor. The reenactor can enjoy working on a period craft or presenting as a person from the past while the visitor can be drawn into that long-ago world by way of the clothing worn and the activity being done.
As I sat 'neath the overhang, I noticed this young lady sitting on her own, working on a sewing project.
So I went over to her and asked if she minded if I made a few quick "sketches" of her.
She happily obliged and what you see here are the best of my results.
There was just something striking about her - she sort of gave off an impression of independence in a time when women were not allowed to be very independent.

Or maybe she has a large brood at home and needed a few minutes of peace while the children took care of the chores.
I don't remember her name but I do thank her for allowing me the opportunity to take her photograph.


Jeff (on the left) is a long-time colonial-era reenactor. We've fairly recently become friends and I have enjoyed watching as he does daily life presentations.
Next to Jeff is Lynn, someone I've known for many years. You may find Lynn as a colonial one weekend and the next she will be dressed as a 1970s hippie. She loves period clothing!
And then we have Lauren, who I've known for a few years now and she is strictly a colonial woman...except when she's living in the 21st century.
The guy on the right? Yup...that's me! No, I'm not really that short---we were on a decline and I happen to be the "low man."

Richard Heinicke is one of Michigan's top blacksmiths and can be found at local Colonial and Civil War events, working his craft for the public to see.

He makes quality items to sell such as tent stakes, lantern holders, candle holders, open-flame and open-hearth cookware, shovels, and, well, you name it. Anything for the period camper.

As he works his craft, he sets up shop right there on the spot. Yes, he sells what he makes. As you can see, he has a large quantity of iron works for sale here.

Mr. Strode makes pewter dinnerware. He uses replica period molds, so, for example, when you purchase a spoon from him you know it's going to be worthy of any 18th century reenactment.
Again, he is another craftsman who works his trade for the public to see.

I found Mr. and Mrs. Lockwood taking a stroll along the lane.

Mr. Lockwood is another long-time reenactor who, until this day, I had not yet met. The two of us had much in common in the history department and a fine conversation ensued.

Remember the photographs earlier in this posting of the young lady sewing? Well, later on in the day I happened to look up to see another young lady, and she was moving along the lake. 
Again, I am glad I pulled my stealth camera out to capture this image.

This young lad and lass were working - they were hauling wood for their mother's cook fire at camp.

Politics and War:
If you are a metro-Detroit area colonial/RevWar/F&I reenactor, then you know Ken Roberts. This man is a wealth of knowledge and a heck of a nice guy.

That's my son Rob on the left. He is interested in becoming more involved in Rev War reenacting, but, well, sometimes life and money get in the way. But he does come out as often as he can!

I've mentioned numerous times in previous postings how much I enjoy being immersed in the Founding Generation. I have also mentioned of befriending one man in particular, Benjamin Franklin, and that has greatly added to the experience.
Every year at Colonial Kensington, Franklin is on the schedule to speak with the public each day of the event, and so he does.
Dr. Franklin sits with an audience and answers questions posed to him about his experiments with electricity as well as of important occurrences in his life. This man does an amazing job in the Franklin persona, and one feels as if they were in the company of the great Founding Father himself.
It was unfortunate that Dr. Franklin had to unexpectedly take his leave a day earlier than planned. In doing so, I, as Paul Revere, was asked to replace him for the scheduled talk, since I have been portraying myself in that manner of late.
Yikes!
As Paul Revere, I've spoken in front of school groups as well as had my "coming out" at a reenactment earlier this year, though that was in a much more casual setting where folks - kids mostly - came up to me at my tent and asked questions.
But here at Colonial Kensington I was asked to speak at a scheduled time in front of people who were specifically there to hear a Founding Father - Ben Franklin, in particular! - and this was a mite scary for me.
In the world of famous historical character interpreters, I am only a novice. At this time I know the 'frosting on the cake' of Revere's life, for the real deep biographical information is something I am still learning and adding to my presentation.
It'll come with time...
That being said - - -
I sat for a bit, contemplating how I wanted to do my first real interpretation of Paul Revere while at a reenactment. And yes, in this photograph I really was going over in my mind how I wanted to present myself in that manner. In fact, I didn't even realize this picture was being taken.
~photo taken by Lynn Anderson~

Over the years I've watched other historic interpreters bring folks from the past to life in their own special way - people like Bob Stark as Benjamin Franklin, Fred Priebe as Abraham Lincoln, and the Colonial Williamsburg "Nation Builders" (Jefferson, Washington, & Henry) - and my plan is to take a little from each, plus throw a bit of my own style into the mix in hopes of doing Mr. Revere the honor I feel he deserves.
~photo taken by Lynn Anderson~
Well, after giving a half hour presentation that also included a few replica artifacts (including one of the two lanterns that were "shewn" in the Old North Church tower on that fateful night of April 19, 1775), I received an ovation from the audience and very nice compliments from my reenactor friends who stayed to listen.
I did it!
Whew!

And now, with Lexington & Concord behind us, the Revolutionary War has "officially" begun:
 A Proclamation by King George:
And just who are these rebellious 'seditionists'?

Not this peaceable group, I'm certain.
Well...maybe...hmmm...
Not long after the war began, the states and Congress established regiments that enlisted men for longer terms than they did previously. Now, instead of enlisting for a few weeks or months, they could be in for years. And with the longer military terms being required, these volunteers were taught military basics so they could maneuver on the battlefield.
With strict discipline and training, American soldiers were able to stand up against the Redcoats and earned their respect.
The Continental Camp
"Equipment for camp was vitally important to the soldier's comfort as well as his life. Probably the most important piece of camp equipment for the American soldier in the American Revolution was his blanket. It protected him against the cold, and, when he did not have a tent to sleep in, from the moisture in the air. It also served as an overcoat when a soldier did not have one. Blankets were usually made of wool, and Governor Caswell considered them a priority when he supplied the troops." NC-pedia
Musket, bayonet, accoutrements, and lantern.
"Tents provided protection from the cold and rain. They came in various sizes, generally depending on the occupant's rank. The officers' larger tents were called marquees. They were made of canvas or heavy cotton, usually about ten feet across by fourteen-feet deep by eight-feet high. By comparison, a private's tent was about six-and-one-half–feet square by five-feet high. It was expected to hold five men." (J. Lloyd Durham - NC-pedia)
Five men in this tent?

Here we see the Massachusetts Provincial Battalion forming up and getting ready for battle. 
General orders to the Continental Army
July 9, 1776
"The General hopes this important Event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer, and soldier, to act with Fidelity and Courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms: And that he is now in the service of a State, possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit, and advance him to the highest Honors of a free Country."

With fife and drum I marched away, 
I could not heed what she did say,
I'll not be back for many a day. 

Johnny has gone for a soldier.
The television series "Turn: Washington's Spies" is one of the more popular shows on AMC. Though mostly taking great liberties with history, it is still a top-notch drama to watch because of the quality of the scripts, the filming locations, and the portrayal of the characters.
One of the show's heroes...or villians...is Robert Rogers.
Rogers was the founder and commander of the first Ranger Regiment (Rogers Rangers) during the French and Indian War (1756–1763), which was formed as a British provincial unit that fought on the Loyalist side during the American Revolutionary War.  
Rogers left the unit in early 1777.  The Queen's Rangers were then placed under the command of several unsuccessful commanders before John Graves Simcoe took charge. Simcoe reorganized the Regiment into more of a legion rather than an average group of backwoods men.
Care to join this Regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Commander John Simcoe?
The Queen's Rangers
And here they are, marching along the road.
Are they looking for Samuel Culper? 
Hmmm...

And next we have Grants' Co'y 42nd Royal Highland Regiment:
The 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot was a Scottish infantry regiment in the British Army also known as the Black Watch. Originally titled Crawford's Highlanders or The Highland Regiment and numbered 43rd in the line, they were renumbered 42nd and in 1751 formally titled the 42nd (Highland) Regiment of Foot.
The British Army was, at that time, the best in the world. They came from England, Scotland, and Ireland and were joined by the German Hessian soldiers as well as many American Loyalists.

But they were met with fierce opposition:
Lift up your hands ye heroes and swear with proud disdain
The wretch that would ensnare you shall lay his snares in vain.
Should Europe empty all her force, we'll meet her in array,
And fight and shout and shout and fight for North America!

Torn from a world of tyrants beneath this western sky.
We form a new dominion, a land of liberty.
The world shall own we're masters here, then hasten on the day.
Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah, huzzah for free America!

"Both armies seemed determined to conquer or die." John Glover

"Never did men fight more bravely and never were men more cool." William Moultrie

" I have heard the bullets whistle...there is something charming in the sound." George Washington

"I should be for exerting the utmost force...to finish the rebellion in one campaign." Lord George Germain

Scouts and Indians:
In 1763, the British issued a proclamation banning American colonists from moving westward onto Native American lands. For this reason, coupled with several other economic and political factors, many Native Americans, including 4 of the 6 tribes of the powerful Iroquois Confederacy, sided with the British at the outbreak of the war. Yet some several tribes sided with Colonials, including the two remaining tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Oneidas and the Tuscaroras.

"Our attack became very fierce; and, close quarters, very animated."

Large numbers of scouts and skirmishers were also formed from loyalists.

The loyalist units were vital to the British primarily for their knowledge of local terrain.

"They attacked with great intrepidity, but were received with no less firmness."

"Believe me, any two regiments here ought to be decimated, if they did not beat, in the field, the whole force of the Massachusetts Province; for tho' they are numerous, they are but a mob, without order or discipline, and very awkward at handling their arms" 
Quote from a letter written by an unnamed British Officer

"Use the bayonet!"

Is there a doctor in the house?
"It caused my heart to ache to see so many of the slain and wounded." William Burke
Of course, after any battle, the surgeon would be one of those very busy necessary evils for many of the wounded. Medical practitioners of the colonial period in America most commonly held the theories of Hermann Boerhaave , whose studies produced the medical theory that disease was an imbalance of natural activities. He believed fever was the body's attempt to keep from dying and that digestion and circulation could be explained by mechanical ideas. Boerhaave recognized three conditions in the body that led to disease: salty, putrid, and oily. His remedy was to sweeten the acid, purify the stomach, and rid impurities through bleeding and purging. These practices were widely used by doctors in colonial America.
Remember the days of bloodletting? Yeah...these modern doctors have nothing on the doctors of my youth!
Revolutionary War surgeons did a notable job of attempting to save lives. Most were competent, honest, and well-intentioned, but conditions and shortages in medical supplies placed an overwhelming burden on them. Besides caring for those wounded in battle, the camp surgeon was responsible for caring for the camp's diseased soldiers.
Medicine for what ails ya.
The camp surgeon was on constant alert for unsanitary conditions in camp that might lead to disease. He spent a good deal of time aiding patients to rid their bodies of one or more of the four humors. Common diseases suffered by soldiers were dysentery, fever, and smallpox. Most illnesses were caused by unsanitary conditions in camp.
Most wounds were caused by musket balls or the bayonet. In cases where the bone was damaged so severely that a limb could not be saved, the surgeon performed an amputation without the type of anesthesia or sterilization we know today. In proceeding with an amputation, officers received rum and brandy when it was available, but for enlisted men a wood stick to bite down on had to suffice. Two surgeon's mates would hold the patient down on the procedure table. A leather tourniquet was placed four fingers above the line where the limb was to be removed. 

Then the surgeon used his amputation knife to cut down to the bone of the damaged limb. Arteries were moved aside by tacking them away from the main area with crooked needles. A leather retractor was placed on the bone, and pulled back to allow the surgeon a clear field of operation. Then the surgeon chose his bone saw, a small one to remove arms and a large upper femur saw to remove a leg above the knee. A competent surgeon could saw through the bone in less than 45 seconds. Arteries were buried in tissue skin flapped over and sutured. Bandages with pure white linen cloth and a wool cap were placed on the stump. The patient, who had more than likely gone into shock and had a much lower than normal temperature, was stabilized when possible. 
Only 35% of the persons who went through this procedure survived.

MUSIC! MUSIC! MUSIC!
When we think of the music of the WWII era, most of us automatically hear in our heads such jukebox hits as "In The Mood," "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "I'll Be Seeing You," or maybe even "You're a Sap Mister Jap."
WWI (the Great War) had "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm," "Over There," "Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," and "Sister Suzie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers."
Popular tunes from the Civil War included "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," "Dixie's Land," "Battle Cry of Freedom," and "Lorena."
Well, the Revolutionary War had some fine songs as well, and included such popular tunes that may have been sung in homes or even in taverns such as "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier," "Over the Hills and Far Away," "Barbara Allan," and "The Water is Wide."
The husband and wife fife & drum team you see here play an amazing array of popular tunes of the 18th century, including the ever-popular "Yankee Doodle," "Road to Boston," "British Grenadiers," and "The Girl I Left Behind Me."
The fife & drum, however, was used in the military to signal the troops: different beats were to let the men know when to rise in the morning, go to bed at night, when to fall into ranks, and, in battle, were used as commands so officers could control the movements of the troops.

There was a moment, as I was on the other side of the entrance gate, that I found myself in an interesting discussion with a Canadian couple who wanted to know what was going on, for seeing all the people dressed in the fashions of early America had piqued their interest. I told them this was a reenactment of the period during the fight for America's independence from England. The woman stood straight up and said, "That's what I like about you Americans; you have such strong pride and patriotism in your country and history! We have patriotism in our country, but not like America." (This is almost a verbatim quote)
Wow---that made me feel so good! It is wonderful to hear folks from another country take such nice notice about the good things in the United States!
And by the way, Canada is a pretty awesome place as well - -
Until next time, see you in time...

Many thanks must go to David Marquis and the folks from the Royal Highland Regiment & 1st PA Regiment for hosting such a fine event.
All of your efforts are greatly appreciated.

The medical information in this post came from the US History web site (click HERE)
Some of the soldier information came from THIS site
Other basic information came from the DK Eyewitness book "Revolutionary War," which gives an excellent overview of the American Revolutionary War for the younger set.
For more on the Queen's Rangers, click HERE
Some of the historical quotes came from numerous books in my collection.









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