Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Reenacting Season Has Begun!

This being the merry merry month of May in Michigan, it's the beginning of the reenacting season! Well, the official beginning, for a few of us really never quite stop (see my previous posting of the lantern tour and of my postings showing our various gatherings throughout the winter and early spring months).
April brought drenching rains throughout the month, but May has been picture perfect so far with beautiful spring weather at hand.
To begin with, Friday had members  of the 21st Michigan Civil War reenacting unit giving a school presentation to the teens and pre-teens at Kelly Middle School in Eastpointe. The kids were very attentive and asked well thought out questions.
Here, please allow me to show you a few photos:

Here I am speaking to the kids about, among other things, what the citizens of Gettysburg went through before, during, and after the great battle of July 1863, including the caring of wounded soldiers. By the way, with all of the controversy these days about keeping our 2nd aamendment rights, they were surprised to hear that school boys their age often carried pocket knives and even guns to school. You never know when a rabbit might hop on by on the way home!

Kristen spoke to the kids on the clothing of a well-dressed upper class woman. They were literally shocked to hear (and actually see) that she was dressed in nine layers of clothing!

Such purty stockings!
In fact, we all had purty stockings! (Great picture Kristen - thanks for allowing me to use it!)

My daughter spoke of her life as a northern farm girl and of her daily chores, including oil lamp duties, which consisted of cleaning the glass chimney, trimming the wick, and filling the oil fount. She also spoke of her other chores such as gathering eggs and milking the cow, and the one that got the best reaction from the kids, emptying the chamber pots!

Larissa, portraying her older sister, told of their farm clothing and the "recycling" of older clothing for other uses, such as being made into an apron. She also dressed up a few of the children - usually a talkative boy - in a slat bonnet and apron, much to his chagrin!
Between the four of us, we taught the children more about what their lives might've been like had they been alive in the 1860's than any school text book could. And considering most school books rarely touch on the everyday lives of the people of the 19th century, I suppose we really gave them quite an eye-opening lesson!

Oh, did I tell you the school principal fed us lunch? Yup - we had period correct pop and pizza! (Thanks, Kristen, for allowing me to use this photo you had taken of us!)
Our military also had hard tack and coffee - - I mean, pop and pizza!

The military men of the 21st Michigan fascinated the kids by bringing the Civil War up close and personal. They spoke of a soldier's life on the march and in camp as well as the horrors of the battles.
The long-haired boy and the hardee-hat wearing boy are my two oldest sons, both very much into and involved in reenacting, almost as much as their father! They, too, dressed up kids in full uniforms.
Yes, they did get to fire their muskets, much to the delight of the kids (and much to the disdain of the nearby neighbors, most of whom have dogs).

 The very next day was the first "official" reenactment of the 2013 season for us in southeastern lower Michigan: Walker Tavern. For the past three years this event has been cloudy, rainy, and cold.
But not this year: with the temps reaching into the 70's and the sun out in all its vitamin D glory, this was a picture-perfect event. Well, almost; it was very unfortunate that both of the historic buildings on the land were closed, including the tavern itself. I'm sorry, but the powers that be had this date on their calendar since last year and there was no reason the structures should not have been ready for the public to visit them.
(If you want to see and read more about this 1830's tavern, please click HERE).
But we had a fun time nonetheless - - - - - -
Um...did I say "fun"?

Woo Hoo!!! The reenacting season has begun!!!
The ladies of the 21st Michigan stand in front of the 170 year old Walker Tavern
I posed with the ladies on the side of the tavern
 The fence line along the Old Chicago Road made for a picturesque setting.

A lovelier group of ladies you will be hard-pressed to find! Even with my daughter in a tree!
We had heard what sounded to be gunshots and cannonading, so Kristen climbed a tree to see if she could spot the commotion

"It came from over there! Oh my! It looks"

"Oh! Oh! It's a battle! We must skeedaddle!!"

Kristen jumped from her perch. But it was such a long way down that she...

...crashed to the ground...dead...the first civilian casualty on the Battle of Walker Tavern.

Silly Kristen! It is just a battle reenactment!
And the men came matching out onto the battlefield

They prepared to squelch the rebellion

~The rebels~

The firing was pretty intense for such a small group of men. (I snapped this photo just at the right moment!)

The cannon fire was pretty intense as well

The Union plowed through and captured the Confederates. The battle was over for this day.

A couple of men that survived the horrors of the battle

A caught a couple of Confederates stealing a pie! (Actually, they won it at a pie auction.)

Some of the Union men that survived the battle had their tintype taken for posterity

I hope you enjoyed this little foray into our first reenacting weekend of the season. As you can see, though we take our hobby seriously, we also like to have fun as well.
On the way home, as we drove along the Historic U.S. 12 stage coach road, a few of us stopped in Clinton, Michigan, where we stood on what is, to us, hallowed ground, for it was the original plot of land that the infamous Eagle Tavern (now restored in Greenfield Village) once stood.
The Eagle Tavern is perhaps my very favorite place to eat, and not only because the food is outrageously good, but because of the historic feel and setting.

Here I am standing next to the historic marker for the Eagle Tavern. After restoring the dilapidated building inside Greenfield Village, Henry Ford renamed the tavern "The Clinton Inn" as a tribute to the town from where it originally stood.

The Clinton, Michigan post office now stands where the Eagle Tavern once stood. However, if you look closely at this photograph, you may see the ghost of the old tavern on its original ground. The Eagle tavern was about 11 miles east of the Walker Tavern.
The Eagle Tavern in its original location - this is a photo from the later part of the 19th century

The Eagle Tavern as it now stands inside Greenfield Village. This building will be revered and appreciated by millions for generations to come!
Good folks, I hope this day and the week ahead brings nothing but the best of blessings.
And we'll see you next tine in time...

More links for further research:
Old Chicago Road/U.S. 12/Michigan Avenue
The Eagle Tavern
Greenfield Village


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