Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Revolutionary War Comes To Vermillion Creek 2020: A Bonafide Public-Invited Reenactment

I's been about a year since I've been able to participate in an actual  "public welcome"  reenactment event,  so to be here at Vermillion Creek - the 1st and only bonafide public-invited reenactment of the year  (at least,  for me,  that is)  - was a very much needed respite from the daily rigors of 21st century life.  I know there were one or two other events that occured,  though they were quite a ways away from where I live,  which made it a bit tougher to get to,  so that's why this was my first for 2020.  
Now,  that's not to say I haven't done a few private events and even a couple makeshift events as well,  which were great,  to be honest.
But this one at Vermillion Creek was bonafide.
Taking place over the weekend of October 3 and 4,  I heard continuously from the other reenactors on how good it felt to be out doing what we love.
And they were right---it felt so good!
By the way,  we social distanced from the public,  all of whom were wearing masks.  Most of us reenactors hung with those we normally hang around,  so it was all good.
You know I took plenty of photos,  as did numerous others,  and I grabbed what I happened to like the most for today's post.  I appreciate the other photographers for graciously allowing me to use a few of their best here.  Of course,  the photographers names are listed with each photo.  If there is no name,  then the picture came from my camera.
So let's take a journey to the time of the Revolutionary War --------
Ah...there  'tis...the reenactment site.
It was so good to be back-----
You can see and feel autumn in the air.

The reenactors/friends,  the canvas tents,  the smoke from the camps,  the public...
it truly did feel wonderful to be back doing what we love.

Besides myself,  a few other members of Citizens of the American Colonies living history unit were there.
Jackie & Charlotte - 
There was a nip in the air,  which gave us the opportunity to wear our outer garments.

Jennifer camped for the weekend...
her campsite always looks period-perfect.  Don't put your farb on her table!
I have the same attitude...we work hard to be correct---you should,  too!

Susan had her  "Carrot Patch Farm"  sutlery set up.
And she continued to make product to sell while there.
Feel free to visit her farm - yes,  it's a real farm! - to purchase homespun items such as men's hats  &  caps,  socks,  and fingerless mitts,  to name a few of Susan's items.
Click HERE to visit her farm.

Let's visit the blacksmith:
In a village,  many blacksmith shops were located near inns,  because people coming into town might have needed something repaired.  The blacksmith could repair almost any thing made of metal.  If a tinsmith,  silversmith or gunsmith were not available,  the blacksmith would do the job.  Blacksmiths could repair kitchen utensils,  tools,  wagons,  buggies,  sleds,  hardware;  make and repair weapons;  make ammunition;  and shoe horses.  Blacksmiths who shod horses were once called ferriers.
Joey has been an apprentice blacksmith for sometime, 
and now he takes his talent on the road. 

The Continental Army depended on the blacksmith to keep their rifles,  bayonets,  swords and knives in good condition.  Without the blacksmith,  their supply lines would have broken down.  Blacksmiths also made sure that the horses ridden by officers and used to pull wagons were well shod.
Joey made for me a sort of trivet---like the bottom part of a spider pot
used for hearth cooking.
Yep---we already put it to use,  which you shall see in an upcoming post.

And looking up the road,  more time travelers have found their way to the 1770s.

Katherine,  Kaitlyn,  and Noelle are the newest members of
Citizens of the American Colonies.
And this was their first 18th century experience...
Welcome to a new time travel adventure!
Since they also reenact the Civil War era,  they are a bit seasoned,  so to speak...
Noelle and Katherine are trying to convince Kaitlyn that sitting in the
pumpkin patch,  a-waiting the Great Pumpkin,  would be a fruitless venture.

The Doctor's Are In...
Tom Bertrand  (above)  and Henry Trippe  (below)
The events of 2020 really gave those who portray doctors the opportunity to teach about plagues of long ago.  In fact,  in the first years of the Revolutionary War,  George Washington and his Continental Army faced a threat that proved deadlier than the British:  a smallpox epidemic,  lasting from 1775-1782.
Charlotte many times portrays a scribe,  and will read or even write letters for
those who are unable.

The site for Vermillion Creek reenactment is in the far-back area of
the Peacock Family Farm,  located in a very out-of-the-way area of  mid-Michigan. 

So we walked down the road a piece to see what was ahead...
(photo taken by Charlotte Bauer)

The Peacock Farm has a cabin built upon it. 
It's not an actual historical cabin, 
but it certainly was built to have a period feel.

(photo taken by Charlotte Bauer)

We spent some time there,  simply enjoying the atmosphere of the past.
(Photo taken by Carol-Anne Mann)

And just on the other side is Vermillion Creek itself:
The natural surroundings helped to give this event
a feeling of immersion. 
The inside of the cabin was set up as a trading post.  I had heard 
that the owners of the farm wanted it to be utilized and they came
up with this idea,  which was pretty darn awesome.  When
visiting we truly felt we were out on the frontier...perhaps
western Pennsylvania or deep in North Carolina.

The natural lighting added greatly to the overall period feel.
Yeah,  that's just me looking out at the creek.

This just might be my favorite picture taken on this day.  It is my friend Jackie
walking on the road that ran along the creek.
The area was perfectly rustic,  which oftentimes does not happen at reenactments.

And being in such primitive surroundings,  the campsite of the Native Americans
fit in perfectly.
It always adds so much when we have American Indians take part.

The story of America is a great one,  and all sides should be told, 
both the good stories as well as the bad.
In speaking with these reenactors I was told there was plenty of good on all
sides as well. 
I appreciate hearing their take,  for their stories need to be heard.

Here I am speaking with one of the local natives about trading/bartering for some corn.  As we spoke,  he taught me a bit more about the ways of trade between the two cultures.  It was a wonderful dialogue - as I said,  I wish more natives would get involved in reenacting,  for together,  there is so much we can teach each other as well as the visitors  (no,  not everything was doom and gloom).  I feel the same about African Americans as well.  There is so much more information than the concentrated little bits that most people - those SJWs -  tend to focus on.  I cannot express enough to research beyond the memes seen on  "Facebook University."

The Peacock Family Farm also sells pumpkins,  and the pumpkin patch was right alongside the tents.
Pumpkins are believed to have originated in Central America over 7,500 years ago.  The first pumpkins held very little resemblance to the sweet,  bright orange variety we are familiar with.  The original pumpkins were small and hard with a bitter flavor.  They were among the first crops grown for human consumption in North America. 
One of the first American pumpkin recipes was included in John Josselyns New-England Rarities Discovered,  published in the early 1670s.  During the 17th century,  women challenged themselves in the kitchen by developing unique and tasty new ways
to serve pumpkin.  
Today,  the most popular way to prepare pumpkins is undoubtedly pumpkin pie.  This trend first began during the 1800s when it became stylish to serve sweetened pumpkin dishes during the holiday meal.  The earliest sweet pumpkin recipes were made from pumpkin shells that had been scooped out and filled with a ginger-spiced milk,  then roasted by the fire.
(pumpkin information from The History Kitchen)

I love to watch historical TV shows such as Turn: Washington's Spies,  Poldark,  and,  more recently,  Outlander.  However,  these shows are made for entertainment purposes and are not to be considered historically accurate.  That being said,  TV series of this type always tend to throw bits of real history in with their drama,  which triggers me to go on a research binge to get the deeper story.  This recently happened to me while watching an episode during the 5th season of Outlander,  where there was a small-pre-Rev War battle fought that I was not familiar with.  
Now,  the photos shown here do not depict the Battle of  Almance,  for the soldiers you see represent the 1st Pennsylvania and the Queen's Rangers,  neither of which were formed in 1771.
I just thought the pictures sort of went along with the story.
The Battle of Alamance was fought on Thursday, May 16,  1771.  It pitted two groups of North Carolinians against each other.  
The western farmers  (Regulators),  led a simple but harsh life,  depending on farming and bartering to supply their basic needs.  Few ever reached a status involving a great degree of wealth or education.
There were approximately 2,000 backcountry farmers called Regulators and around 1,000 militia troops  (citizen soldiers)  under the command of Royal Governor William Tryon involved in the two-hour battle.  

Having officers,  a battle plan,  and more weaponry,  the royal governor and his men easily defeated the ill-prepared Regulators.

Although the Battle of Alamance was not the first official battle of the American Revolution,  it did provide some valuable insight for revolutionaries as discontent with British rule continued to increase. 
Governor Tryon and the militia took fifteen Regulators as prisoners during the two-hour battle.  Out of this total number,  seven would be executed by hanging.  Tryon ordered  (one of the Regulators)  be hanged at the militia campsite without holding a trial.  The remaining six men were hanged in Hillsborough on June 19,  1771 following trials. 
The information for the Battle of Almance was taken from THIS site.

From Wikipedia about the 1st Pennsylvania:
The Congressional resolution of June 14,  1775,  authorized ten companies of expert riflemen to be raised for one-year enlistments as Continental troops.  Maryland and Virginia were to raise two companies each,  and Pennsylvania six.  Pennsylvania frontiersman,  however were so eager to participate that on June 22 Pennsylvania's quota of two was increased to eight,  organized as a regiment known as the  "Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment."  A ninth company was added to the regiment on July 11.  All thirteen companies were sent to Washington's army at Boston for use as light infantry and later as special reserve forces.
The men of 1776,  including my son Rob 2nd from left. 
Generally,  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 tricorn  (cocked)   hats for his army.  Additionally,  regiments from different regions possessed uniforms with either blue,  white,  red,  or buff facings and trim.
As for the 1st Pennsylvania,  Doctor James Thacher,  a young doctor from Barnstable who observed the regiment during many of its battles,  provided this description of the riflemen:
"They are remarkably stout and hardy men... They are dressed in white frocks or rifle shirts and round hats.  There men are remarkable for the accuracy of their aim;  striking a mark with great certainty at two hundred yards distance.  At a review,  a company of them,  while in a quick advance,  fired their balls into objects of seven inches diameter at the distance of 250 yards . . . their shot have frequently proved fatal to British officers and soldiers who expose themselves to view at more than double the distance of common musket shot." 
(Source: James Thacher, Military Journal during the American Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783)

The regiment saw action during the New York Campaign,  Battle of Trenton,  Second Battle of Trenton,  the Battle of Princeton,   and the Battle of Brandywine
The men of 1779
The unit also fought at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778 and the Battle of Springfield in 1780.  Two companies,  those of Captain William Hendricks and Captain Matthew Smith,  accompanied Arnold's expedition to Quebec and were captured in the Battle of Quebec.  The regiment was furloughed June 11,  1783,  at Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania and disbanded on November 15,  1783.
Tony Gerring has been rebuilding his unit.  The men actually have sewing days where
they hand-sew each of the garments they wear.  Dedication at its finest.
Now,  I must admit,  since my son belongs in the 1st Pennsylvania,  I kind of favor them a bit more than the others.  Hey---I'm his Dad! 

From Wikipedia:
Rogers' Rangers was a company of soldiers from the Province of New Hampshire raised by Major Robert Rogers to fight in the French & Indian War.  
They were disbanded in 1761.
Later,  the company was revived as a Loyalist force during the American Revolutionary War.  A number of former ranger officers defected to fight for the Continental Army as Rebel  (Patriot)  commanders.  Some ex-rangers participated as Rebel  (Patriot)  militiamen at the Battle of Concord Bridge.
Members of Roger's Rangers
When the American Revolution began in 1775,  Robert Rogers offered his services to General George Washington.  However,  Washington turned him down,  fearing he might be a spy,  since Rogers had just returned from a long stay in England.  Infuriated by the rejection,  Rogers offered his services to the British,  who accepted.  He formed the Queen's Rangers  (1776)  and later the King's Rangers.  Several of his former rangers served under General Benedict Arnold in the revolutionary forces around Lake Champlain.

Members of the Queen's Rangers
(Photo courtesy of James D. LeMay)
The Queen's Rangers first assembled on Staten Island 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.  The unit immediately set about building fortresses and redoubts,  including the one that stood at Lookout Place.  Rogers did not prove successful in this command and he left the unit on January 29,  1777.  The regiment had suffered serious losses in the Battle of Mamaroneck,  a surprise attack on their outpost position at Mamaroneck,  New York,  on October 22,  1776.  Eleven months later,  on September 11,  1777,  they distinguished themselves at the Battle of Brandywine,  suffering many casualties while attacking entrenched American positions.  They were then commanded by Major James Wemyss.  On October 15,  1777,  John Graves Simcoe was given command,  when the unit became known informally as  "Simcoe's Rangers."
Simcoe's Rangers of 1779
John Graves Simcoe turned the Queen's Rangers into one of the most successful British regiments in the war.  They provided escort and patrol duty around Philadelphia  (1777–8);  fought in the Philadelphia Campaign;  served as rearguard during the British retreat to New York  (1778);  fought the Stockbridge Militia in The Bronx  (1778);  fought on October 26,  1779,  at Perth Amboy,  New Jersey,  where Simcoe was captured but freed in a prisoner exchange on December 31,  1779;  at Charlestown,  South Carolina  (1780);  in the raid on Richmond,  Virginia with Benedict Arnold and in other raids in Virginia  (1780–1).  The unit surrendered at Yorktown and its rank and file were imprisoned at Winchester,  Virginia.

The morning colors came together before the reenacting day begins...

A moment of silence was given in a memorial for Jamie Sanders, 
who was most recently with the Mohawk Valley Militia

On land,  Americans fought the war with essentially two types of organization:  the Continental  (national)  Army and the state militias.  The total number of the former provided by quotas from the states throughout the conflict was 231,771 men,  and the militias totaled 164,087.  At any given time,  however,  the American forces seldom numbered over 20,000;  in 1781 there were only about 29,000 insurgents under arms throughout the country.  The war was therefore one fought by small field armies.  Militias,  poorly disciplined and with elected officers,  were summoned for periods usually not exceeding three months. 
The 1st Pennsylvania marches to the battle.
The 1st Pennsylvania:
The majority of the war was fought in New York,  New Jersey,  and South Carolina, 
with more than 200 separate skirmishes and battles occurring in each of
these three colonies.  

Common types of field artillery were 3,  6,  and 18-pounder guns,  named for the weight of shot that the guns fired.  Larger cannons and mortars – which lobbed large-caliber projectiles in high arcs onto their targets – were often used in sieges given their destructive capabilities.  Howitzers,  with shorter barrels and larger calibers compared to cannons,  were also utilized by both sides.

My son,  Robert,  takes aim at one of King George's finest.
Could that be Dalton?

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.  Joseph Brant,  whose Mohawk name was was Thayendanegea,  served alongside British soldiers along with troops he led.  Yet some several tribes sided with Colonials,  including the two remaining tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy,  the Oneidas and the Tuscaroras.  In places like upstate New York,  western Pennsylvania,  and the Carolina frontier,  
warfare was particularly brutal and involved many Indian groups. 
So,  to have Native Americans join us adds so much history that needs telling.
(Photo courtesy of Scott Carol-Anne Mann)

This is the kind of magnificent photograph I dream of taking.
But,  no,  'tis not mine.

(Photo courtesy of James D. LeMay)

While the British held several key urban centers,  it’s important to understand that 90% of the colonial population lived in the rural countryside outside of British control and influence.  So,  in essence,  the British were only able to maintain power in areas with a strong military presence,  i.e.  the colonial cities
42d Regiment of the Royal Highlanders:
The British controlled many key cities within the American colonies,  with New York serving as its major base of operations for the duration of the war.  They also temporarily possessed the cities of Boston and Philadelphia and held Savannah and Charleston until 1782.
Photo courtesy of James D. LeMay

There may have been only a few dozen soldiers fighting the battle, 
but just look at the amount of smoke!
Now imagine entire battalions and what it would have looked like...

(Photo taken by James D. LeMay of Chris Hanley)

In the center here is John Fross, longtime Civil War reenactor,  WWII reenactor, 
and now his first outing as a Rev War reenactor,  as part of the 1st Pennsylvania.

Engagements were fought in every one of the original thirteen colonies,  with additional military actions taking place in the modern-day states of Tennessee,  Arkansas,  Indiana,  Illinois,  Kentucky,  Alabama,  and Florida.

The 1st Pennsylvania...after the battle...
(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Mailley)

A fine collection of projectiles meant to do harm.

One of the coolest things I've seen yet at any reenactment was the firing of an actual cannon ball from a cannon.
Each step of preparing to fire was taken with great care.
It really was very cool to see the ball loaded.

You could feel the little extra  "ooomph"  as the cannon fired.
(Photo courtesy of Charlotte Bauer)

Look closely...
I could not capture the fast-moving cannon ball but I did get the dirt flying up
from the ground where it initially hit.

Thank you,  Scott Mann  (on the right)  for all of your time and effort in putting
this together.
And hey to you Dalton!  (on the left)

(Photo courtesy of James D. LeMay)

Leaves are falling all around, 
it's time I was on my way.
Thanks to you I'm much obliged
for such a pleasant stay.
But now it's time for me to go,
the Autumn moon lights my way...

(This is a Charlotte Bauer pic)

Vermillion Creek was terrific.  Seriously terrific.  To be honest,  I would probably say the same thing even if the other events were not cancelled.  Yes,  it was that good,  and I appreciate all who took part - those who were willing to participate come hell or high water - for it was everyone involved that made this event what it was.
And thanks to all of the photographers for allowing me to use their photos to document this wonderful event.
I look forward to next year even more so now,  for knowing Scott the way I do,  I am certain he is planning expansion beyond anything he's done yet.

So,  until next time,  see you in time.

Battle sources came from HERE and HERE

For further reading:
Vermillion Creek 2019,  click HERE
Accenting My Historical Presentations,  click HERE
Lexington & Concord as seen through the eyes of those who were there,  click HERE
Stories of the Founding Generation,  click HERE

~   ~   ~