Monday, August 6, 2018

Frankenmuth: Cass River Colonial Encampment 2018

Frankenmuth is the home of Greta Van Fleet, perhaps the hottest thing to happen to rock music in 20 years. Their sound hearkens back to the earlier days of Led Zeppelin. In fact, Zeppelin's lead singer, Robert Plant, commented, "There’s a band in Detroit called Greta Van Fleet, they are 'Led Zeppelin I.' Beautiful little singer," Plant joked, "I hate him!”
And before Greta Van Fleet took to conquering the rock music world, Frankenmuth was also known as 'Michigan's Little Bavaria,' due mainly to its Bavarian-based architecture, food, music, and employee clothing, all giving off a perception of ye olde Germany.
For historical reenactors, however, the Frankenmuth of late is becoming a destination point during mid-summer to bring America's 18th century history to life.
Utilizing a combination of French & Indian War and Revolutionary War reenactors, the old sketches, drawings, and paintings from our history books that depict our Nation's turbulent beginnings come alive before the visitor's eyes.
Of course, nothing-but-nothing can top a well-written and well-researched history book, and I highly recommend the student of history seek out some of the more celebrated of these tomes. But I also like to think that we, as living historians, can add to the writings of America's past; a wonderful history lesson one can witness live and in person.
And that, in a nutshell, is what Frankenmuth's Cass River Encampment was all about.
I was able to make it for only one day - Sunday - for I was spending my Saturday immersed in the 1860s (see previous post), which means I was in three different time periods during the same weekend: 1770s, 1860s, and 2018.
So there I was at Frankenmuth, stealth camera in hand, dodging the rain drops as I moved about the camps. Yes, it was a mostly wet day and I didn't get around nearly as much as I would have liked to, but I've been through plenty worse (as most of us reenactors can attest to).
Won't you join me on another time-travel excursion?
The event is always well attended, as you can see by the rows of tents...and this is less than half of the canvas that was set up!
A good showing indeed.

A few of the tents, such as Mr. Calder's here, were wonderful presentations in of themselves. A scene right out of the past. 

The fellow in the middle came all the way from Long Island, New York to participate in this event. We spent part of our time speaking about the differing American accents, for he definitely spoke like a true "TV" New Yorker to me, 
which was very cool.

Members of the 1st Pennsylvania.
This is the unit in which my son is also a part, though he could not make it to the Frankenmuth reenactment this year.
As a reenactor, I've not taken part in any battles, neither Revolutionary War nor Civil War, but I just may give it a try in the Rev War. Yes, I do come out and will present as Paul Revere here and there, but I also portray a farmer of the period as well, therefore I could also be a Minute Man. I do own a farmer's musket, but it needs some repair to the mechanism, which shall occur over the winter months. The musket in my hands below is not the one I speak of, but one that I used as a prop for this picture. With me are a few very good friends:
Tony, representing the 1st Pennsylvania, a couple of Minute Men named Ken in the center, and Bob Jones, sometimes George Washington, but today he was in the 
13th Pennsylvania.
Patriots all. 

The doctor always does a fine job holding visitor's interests while speaking and showing the medical practices of the colonial period.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin in front of his sutlery called The Salty Lantern.
This is the only person I know who has the Declaration of Independence memorized!

Say hello to Abbie, one of the proprietors of Samson's Historical (her husband is her partner in this venture), a fine shop that caters to the 18th century reenactor.
Say...who is the person in the mirror?

Sue Hanson runs the Carrot Patch Farm, with help from her cousin Heather. Sue spins raw wool into yarn and then crochets or knits items sold in her shop, including socks, mittens, scarves, hats, and the like.

The local blacksmith, Richard Heinicke, bounces between the 1770s and the 1860s, selling his wares to all who may need them. He is very well known and his work is well-respected in these parts.

There were a few of the local Voyageurs also camping and showing a little of frontier life on the Great Lakes.

The Massachusetts Provincial Battalion - the host unit.
Thank you for such a great event!
Though the rain showers were off and on throughout the time we were there, it did down pour for the day's big battle, which took place on the Covered Bridge. I chose not to witness it - I preferred to remain dry. However, there was a second battle on this day, and, yes, it was raining again, but I was able to watch (and capture it) while 'neath a tent fly.
To my knowledge, the battle here was not a representation of any one in particular, but a sort of conglomerate, encompassing a variety of scenarios, and since this was a showing of what the battle skirmishes were like, I thought I would fill the picture comments with facts about Revolutionary War battles:
Over the course of the war, about 231,000 men served in the Continental Army, though never more than 48,000 at any one time, and never more than 13,000 at any one place. The sum of the Colonial militias numbered upwards of 145,000 men.

We have the Continentals on the high ground - - - -
In terms of numbers: 40,000 soldiers fought in the Battle of Long Island, making it the largest battle. 30,000 men fought at Brandywine, Pa., and 27,000 participated at Yorktown, Va..

What you see in this picture is one of the very few times I was able to capture the 'flash in the pan' from a musket.

Under normal circumstances, 18th century combat entailed that two armies march toward one another, shoulder to shoulder, and usually in ranks of about three men deep. When the opposing sides were within range, orders were given to halt, present arms, to fire, and then to reload..

Though the tactics utilized during the Revolutionary War may seem rather archaic today, the unreliability of the smoothbore muskets, usually only accurate out to about 50 yards or so, necessitated close range and proximity to the enemy. As a result, discipline and shock were the hallmarks of this style of combat, with concentrated fire and bayonet charges deciding the outcome of a battle. 

The American patriots, whether serving in the regular army or with colonial militias, wore a virtual hodgepodge of uniforms prior to standardization. Beginning the war donning brown uniforms, George Washington then settled on navy blue jackets accompanied with white breeches, and cocked hats for his army. Additionally, regiments from different regions possessed uniforms with either blue, white, red, or buff facings and trim.

For the better part of three centuries the British army was personified by its bright red uniforms and bleached white breeches. Though specific units bore alternative trim colors ranging from green, yellow, black, and white, the vast majority of infantrymen were clad in the distinctive red coats, white breeches, gaiters, and black cocked or fur hat. Grenadier, and light infantry units wore modified versions of the standard British uniform, with the Cavalry usually wearing green coats.

Battles were fought over a wide range of locations including Quebec in the north down to Savannah Georgia in the south. Some were small clashes with little significance where others were major engagements known to any kid who has ever opened a history book. Some of these major battles made once little known towns such as Lexington, Concord, Saratoga, Princeton, and Yorktown famous.

In 1778, France formally entered the war against Great Britain, recognizing the independence of the United States.. 

The crushing defeat of the Continental Army at the battle of Camden, S.C. stands out as the most costly battle of the war. Approximately 1,050 continental troops were killed and wounded, while the British suffered 314 casualties.

Throughout the course of the war, an estimated 6,800 Americans were killed in action, 6,100 wounded, and upwards of 20,000 were taken prisoner. Historians believe that at least an additional 17,000 deaths were the result of disease, including about 8,000–12,000 who died while prisoners of war.

Unreliable imperial data places the total casualties for British regulars fighting in the Revolutionary War around 24,000 men. This total number includes battlefield deaths and injuries, deaths from disease, men taken prisoner, and those who remained missing.

At its peak, the British Army had upwards of 22,000 men at its disposal in North America to combat the rebellion. An additional 25,000 Loyalists, faithful to Great Britain, participated in the conflict as well.

Some engagements involved large numbers of prisoners, such as Yorktown, in which the British surrendered over 8,000 soldiers. In Charleston, S.C., the British captured 5,000 continentals, but similarly suffered a major setback when 6,200 British surrendered at Saratoga, N.Y.

Americans were defeated in the skirmish depicted here, but, as a whole and against what seemed to be unbeatable odds, the American colonist won the American Revolutionary War. From a string of early battle defeats they were able to regroup and defeat the mighty British army. This was made possible by many factors including the bravery and determination of the patriots, the amazing military leadership of such men as George Washington, and the ability of Benjamin Franklin and other diplomats to influence the French to aid the American's cause..

As mentioned earlier, I was in three different time periods on this particular weekend: 2018, 1863 (on Saturday), and 1777 (here in Frankenmuth on Sunday), and had such an amazingly great time in each with all of my wonderful friends - - - -
But, I wanted to post what was, perhaps, the most special moment for me:
My grandkids, with my daughter-in-law, without even knowing I was there reenacting, showed up!  I am holding Liam, Samm is holding Addie (who doesn't seem too sure about her Papa's clothing), and that's Benjamin standing.
I love these guys!

Ben even tried on my hat!

And so did - - - - daughter, Rosalia!
It was so good to see members of my family here!
So, as you can see, I've been pretty busy in my time travels, and the fun is not done yet, for there are plenty more opportunities for me to spend time in the past, which you shall see coming up in future posts. Yes...I sometimes feel as if I reenact the present time and live in the past.
And that ain't all bad!
With that being said, until next time, see you in time.

Here are a couple postings I wrote about some of my favorite history books that I have in my library:
Books: Researching the 18th Century
Museum in a Book

The battle and military facts in today's posting came from THIS page and THIS page.

Interested in reenacting? THIS post I wrote as a basic guide about colonial clothing may help.

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