Thursday, June 16, 2016

Colonial Days at Historic Fort Wayne 2016

Presenting Historical Ken as Paul Revere
Regular readers of Passion for the Past might recall that just a short few weeks ago a number of us in the Civil War living history world were spending time in the 1860s during the Civil War Days event at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne. This was the weekend in mid-May where we spent our time inside the 19th century home that we get during any Civil War weekends we do there, which was perfect for us this year considering we had heavy snow flurries. Yes, it was snowing here in southern Michigan in mid-May - a true rarity.
So here we are, scarcely a month later, and we got slammed with mid-90 degree temperatures and high humidity, making for a miserable day for any sane person.
I did say "sane"?
Haha---we're talking about "Historical Ken" here, you know...the middle-aged guy who loves to wear clothing from days of old and pretend to live in the past - - - yes, even on this sultry Louisiana summer-type day, I was there dressed as if I were living in the 1770s.
"Sane" indeed!.
The price we pay to present history, eh?
Shining up the pewter...
When I do colonial reenacting, there is a strong sense of Patriotism for me, something that seems to be sorely lacking in modern society, especially in young adults. You see, I am pretty unusual in that I believe in our country (even though I don't always agree): I believe in its past, its present, and its future. And so did our Founding Fathers. And this is one of the reasons why I reenact: whether I "time-travel" to the 1770s or to the 1860s, I never fail to feel a strong sense of patriotism, of which I carry back to the future with me.
And I get laughed at for it sometimes, whether on Facebook when I post something patriotic, or at times right to my face during a discussion. And, like I said, it's usually the younger (under 35) set that thinks of me as some old relic who just doesn't know any better.
I would like to say I don't care, but I do. I want to see patriotism make a come back.
And it just may - - - 
Have you noticed lately that the Revolutionary War era - the times of our Founding Fathers - has been pretty popular as of late?
In the past decade or so there have been a number of successful television shows centered around America's founding years: HBO's "John Adams," The History Channel's "Sons of Liberty" (really a bad movie, but it did well in the ratings, showing that people are interested), AMC's "TURN: Washington's Spies" series, and the very popular play/musical "Hamilton."
All showing respectable ratings (or, for "Hamilton," high acclaim from reviewers and sell out shows).
That's got to tell you something.
Interest in our Nation's founding is growing.
I am so excited!!

The real Paul Revere, as painted by
John Singleton Copley ca1770
Hmmm...looks like I'll have to get
myself a green waistcoat, eh?
This year I presented myself as Paul Revere at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne Colonial Days event, which was the first time ever for me during a reenactment. I've done Paul Revere at schools and for history time-line parties at museums, but never have I claimed the name "Paul Revere" at a reenactment.
I was a little nervous initially. I really had to be 'on,' you know? I knew I had to get it right. For the most part, I did, though I had a little mix up for the first presentation, but I recovered for the rest of them. Yes, I know that I don't look like Mr. Revere, but it helps that most people don't know what he actually looked like any way (even though there is that very famous painting of him by John Singleton Copley from roughly 1770).
Still, I have been enjoying it immensely.

As I have been doing with other reenactments postings, I will let the photos taken do most of the talking here, though I have added my own commentary as well.
Again, many of the following pictures were taken with my camera, but quite a few were taken by B&K Photography (good friends of mine who are magnificent photographers) and are noted as such with watermarks on each of their pictures.
Enjoy - - -  
I brought a few items with me to accent not only my presentation, but to help give a glimpse of 18th century life. On the back left is the replica lantern from Christ Church (known better today as Old North Church). Next to that are some of the pewter pieces I acquired, a few period books, including "Common Sense," bound as they would have been in the 18th century, Revere's version of the Bloody Massacre in Boston, a couple of broadsheets of the time, and a quill pen with an ink well.
Part of my mission in portraying Paul Revere is to dispel the many myths of the man, including telling of what actually happened on the night of April 18 and early morning of April 19 in 1775.
But I also want to put an end to the modern idea that Paul Revere was virtually unknown until Longfellow's 1860 poem. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was a well-respected and well-known man & silversmith in Boston, and was also known for his engravings (among numerous other activities) - this is besides his ride on the night before the Battle of Lexington & Concord, of which made news in dozens of broadsides/newspapers. In fact, Revere's ride is mentioned in a history book originally published in 1850: "The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, Volume 1" by Benson J. Lossing. 
~Dispelling the myths~
One of the most gratifying comments I received from two separate people - one on Saturday and one on Sunday - was how I made them feel more patriotic after they listened to my presentation.
Spreading patriotism and having Americans feel good about our country really does me good.

And what can be more patriotic than standing, as Paul Revere, next to a Betsy Ross American flag?
Hmmm...How about having Paul Revere and Ben Franklin standing next to a Betsy Ross America Flag?

I suppose I can also say this was the first official outing for my new reenacting group, Citizens of the American Colonies. One of our members came out for her very first time:
This was Carrie's first time out as a colonial. Carrie, if you recall, is also a Civil War reenactor and usually portrays our servant girl. We had some extra clothing for her to borrow for the day so she could join us in the 1770s. She told me she enjoyed herself and plans to come out again, maybe with husband in tow.
The gentleman standing behind us is long-time RevWar reenactor Ken Roberts.

Ross is another long-time RevWar-era reenactor. Though not shown in this picture, he is a weaver, a spinner, and a maker of woven belts. A man of numerous talents!

Speaking of spinning, here we find my wife, Patty, spinning wool into yarn on her wheel. We do have a larger walking wheel but decided not to bring it to this event.
Next to my wife is our friend Lauren. Lauren does a few local events but enjoys the larger reenactments back east.
And here are some of the tools of the spinning trade:

I see a a couple of carding paddles, a niddy-noddy, a 'lazy-kate,' raw wool, spun wool, and a mitten Patty crochet.

Here are a couple of riflemen from the Philadelphia Rifle Company. Rich, the fellow in green, is also a Civil War reenactor.

Here you see Rich and I together - both belonging to different aspects of the same team.

The Queen’s Rangers, a British provincial unit that fought on the Loyalist side during the American Revolutionary War, started off under the command of Robert Rogers who was the founder and commander of the first Ranger Regiment (Rogers Rangers) during the French and Indian War (1756–1763).
When the American Revolutionary War broke out in earnest in 1775, about fifty Loyalist regiments were raised, including the one that Robert Rogers raised in New York. It first assembled in August 1776 and grew to 937 officers and men, organized into eleven companies of about thirty men each, and an additional five troops of cavalry.
This reenacting unit was founded in 2014 by Scott Mann, who had been in the hobby for many years. He formed the unit for the same reason all had joined - for the love of history.
A Queen's Ranger Loyalist and a Boston Patriot.

Call me crazy, but this member of the Queen's Rangers certainly reminds me of someone on TV...hmmm...
(hint: anyone a fan of AMC's "Turn - Washington's Spies" ?)

What would a Revolutionary War reenactment be without a battle?
What you see here is the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment marching out of the fort.
The 42nd Royal Highland Regiment, nicknamed the Black Watch, were originally raised back in Scotland as a police force to stop thieves that preyed on livestock. The common theory behind their nickname comes from the fact that they operated primarily at night. Dressed in kilt made from government issued plaid and equipped with muskets and traditional Highland weapons the Black Watch was a true force to be reckoned with. After their service as police it was decided they would be more effective as a military unit. They were given the regimental number of the 42d Regiment of the Royal Highlanders and continued to wear the government tartan, now known as Black Watch tartan.
The 42d Highlanders was an elite unit, known for bravery and fierceness in battle, and their service record in America includes the French & Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812.
Throughout their service the 42nd established a reputation as England's premiere Highland Regiment.

This reenacting unit of the 42d Regiment of the Royal Highlanders represents the unit as they were during 1776 when they first arrived in New York. They fought in many battles, from New York to Philadelphia to Monmouth.

The reenactors participating here - Grants' 42d C'oy Royal Highland Regiment - recreates the look and accoutrements of a Highland soldier of that time. They reenact all over Michigan, and are the hosts of Colonial Kensington in metro-Detroit area. Jim Puzar is Captain, Dave Keeley is Sgt, and David Marquis is a Corporal.

Although the terms militia and minutemen are sometimes used interchangeably today, in the 18th century there was a decided difference between the two. Militia were men in arms formed to protect their towns from foreign invasion and ravages of war. Minutemen were a small hand-picked elite force which were required to be highly mobile and able to assemble quickly. Minutemen were selected from militia muster rolls by their commanding officers. Typically 25 years of age or younger, they were chosen for their enthusiasm, reliability, and physical strength. Usually about one quarter of the militia served as Minutemen, performing additional duties as such. The Minutemen were the first armed militia to arrive or await a battle.
In February of 1775 Concord was one of the first towns to comply with the order to create Minutemen companies out of the militia. Of approximately 400 militia from Concord's muster rolls, one hundred would also serve as Minutemen. When a battle took place Minutemen companies from several towns combined their units.

The militia were a vital and necessary force, playing a crucial role in not only the Revolutionary War, but in earlier conflicts. Without these "ready in a minute" men, our history may have been written in a very different way.

An officer from the 43rd Regiment of Foot was sent to the North Bridge in Concord with a number of light infantry. Minutemen from Concord, Acton, Littleton, and other towns combined forces. After a few volleys were fired, the British light infantry retreated back to the Concord Common area. Lacking central command, with each company of Minutemen loyal to their own town, they did not pursue the redcoats. In the running battle that ensued fifteen miles back to Boston the Massachusetts militia would see their last action as Minutemen in history. The militia would go on to form an army, surrounding Boston and inflicting heavy casualties on the British army at Bunker and Breed's Hill.
Although lacking central command, the Minutemen were still better organized and battle-tested than any other part-time military.

Though this was a smaller event, the soldiers certainly gave quite a show to the visitors.

A Queen's Ranger gets it by the butt end of a musket.

Unfortunately, due to previous situations in the City of Detroit during the 1970s and 80s, many of the historic structures that make up the Historic Fort Wayne complex have been destroyed beyond repair, as you can see by this and a few of the other photos.
Thank God for the volunteers that have been able to save what they have, including the fort and barracks and a few of the houses (including the one a few of us use during the Holiday season for Christmas at the Fort).
That being said, there is one tiny piece of a bright side in a sort of selfish manner for these dilapidated houses: they do make a great backdrop for a battle, looking every bit the bombed out houses they are.

Here we see "Molly Pitcher."
There is some debate among historians as to who the "real" Molly Pitcher is. Most believe that the title is a composite character of all of the women who fought in the Continental Army.
The actions of Molly Pitcher are usually attributed to one Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley. The nickname "Molly" was common for women named "Mary".
She married William Hays, a barber, in 1769. Hays was a Patriot involved in the 1774 boycott of British goods that arose as protest for the unfair tax being placed on the colonies.
In 1777, Hays enlisted in the Continental Army and was trained as an artilleryman. Mary followed and joined a group of camp followers.
They took care of the troops, washed clothes, made food, and helped care for the sick or injured soldiers.
During the Battle of Monmouth, in June of 1778, Mary Hays carried water from a spring to the thirsty soldiers under heavy fire from the British. When her husband collapsed (sources claim either heat stroke or injury) and was carried off of the battlefield, Mary Hays took his place at his cannon. Once, a cannon ball came so close, that it actually went between her legs, ripping her petticoat. She is only known to have said something along the lines of, "Well, that could have been worse," and went back to firing her cannon.

By the late 18th century, artillerymen were considered elite troops. In an age of widespread illiteracy, soldiers who could do the geometric calculations necessary to place a cannonball on target must have seemed almost as wizards.
Among the cannon most used in the Revolution by all armies was the standard smooth-bore muzzle-loading gun which had been little changed in the previous two hundred years and which would serve as the principal artillery weapon of most of the world’s armies for another hundred.

They were cast of iron or bronze; loaded with a prepared cartridge of paper or cloth containing gunpowder, followed by a projectile.
 It was fired by igniting a goose-quill tube containing gunpowder, or "quickmatch," inserted into a vent-hole that communicated with the charge in the gun...
...and when fired, the recoil threw it backward, necessitating it being wrestled back into the firing position by the gun crew.

In medicine, the views held by 18th century physicians are very different from those held by medical practitioners of today. Physicians in the 18th century had no knowledge of bacteria, germs, or viruses, nor of the fact that disease was spread by them. Therefore, they did not practice sterilization, or personal or hospital hygiene.
There were approximately 3,500 practicing physicians in the colonies in 1775. Some were trained at the first medical college to be opened in America, the Pennsylvania Hospital, which opened in Philadelphia in 1768. It was followed by Kings College which opened two years later in New York. Because these colleges accepted only a handful of doctors for training, most American doctors were trained through apprenticeships, receiving seven years of training before they were officially considered physicians.
While these doctors were highly trained by the standards of their time, their services were not available to all of the general population. Many people lived too far away from any doctors to use their services, and other people did not have access to doctors because of social customs or beliefs. For these reasons, people other than doctors often assumed the role of caring for the sick or injured.
Despite this varied training, 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. The camp surgeon was constant alert for unsanitary conditions in camp that might lead to disease. He spent a good deal of time aiding patients rid their bodies of one or more of the four humors. Common diseases suffered by soldiers were dysentery, fever, and smallpox.
Surgeon's "tools."

Most wounds were caused by musket balls or the bayonet.  Bullets were removed only if within easy reach of the surgeon. If a wound had to be closed, a piece of onion was placed in the cavity before closure, and the wound reopened in 1 to 2 days.

Colonial physicians saw the development of pus a few days after injury as a sign of proper wound digestion.
Surgeons treated wounds by incising the wounds and fishing around with their fingers for the musket ball or fragment.

A successful operation!
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.

A few friends popped in to visit me while at Fort Wayne. 
Regular readers may or may not recognize these folks as Civil War reenactors, but all do or plan to do colonial as well in some form in the near future. In fact, Larissa on the left is a master presenter at the 1760 Daggett House in Greenfield Village.

My wife and I during a quiet moment in the afternoon.
Between Civil War and colonial, Patty is a bit overwhelmed with all of this time-traveling, but she does enjoy her time in the past, especially when she can spin on her wheel.
Oh, and spend time with her husband.

A number of firsts were accomplished this weekend:
first time setting up my own tent at a colonial reenactment
first time presenting as Paul Revere at a colonial reenactment
first time bringing out my own accessories at a colonial reenactment
and the first time presenting with Ben Franklin
I enjoyed it very much and am really looking forward to doing more, especially now that I will be bringing my own articles. And it's my great hope and wish that my friends will play a larger role in this adventure. I believe we are at the beginning of a growing era in the living history world - one which can help to return the excitement and pride of our Nation's past.
Yes...bigger and better things in the colonial world are on the horizon.
I can feel it...

Information for this posting came from numerous sources, including
Military Medicine During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
"The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, Volume 1" by Benson J. Lossing
Also, David Marquis, Caleb Church, and Dalton Lee helped out greatly with information as well.

Please visit B&K's Photography Facebook page: HERE

To read more of my postings on the colonial life and RevWar reenacting, please check out the following links:
A History of the Queen's Rangers
In the Good Old Colony Days
Kensington 2015
Paul Revere: Listen My Children and You Shall Hear... 
Travel and Taverns
With Liberty and Justice For All: The Fight for Independence at the Henry Ford Museum
Colonial Ken Visits Greenfield Village for New Year's 2015/16
Colonial Ken & Friends - 4th of July 2014: Celebrating Independence Day in a Colonial Way
Colonial Christmas
Life on the 18th Century Frontier 
Cooking on the Hearth - The Colonial Kitchen 
A Midwife's Tale - Film Immersion

Well, Ken...
Yes, Ken?
Until next time, see you in time.
(photo by Larissa Fleishman)