Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Port Stanley Encampment

Port Stanley, ON held "Harbourfest" last weekend. The big draw was the "tall ship" (which some folks read as plural), the brigantine St. Lawrence II. This ship is a nice one and offered tours and cruises of Lake Erie (at $50 a pop.) The reenactment was secondary... which was OK. The King's Company/17th US Infantry and the light company of the Royal Scots camped out on the green in front of the Royal Canadian Legion for Friday and Saturday. We had a grand time and had a  huge number of visitors.

We were asked to come and do two skirmishes on "Little Beach" as well as set up an encampment as extra colour for the Festival. We did them both. I personally got to know more of the men from the Royal Scots and a fine group they are! We all answered questions and did the skirmishes (In what reenactment do the reenactors get to fire in line, fire as skirmishers, fire a salute to the brigantine, surrender, drill, answer questions, demonstrate muskets and equipment, run a "mini-militia", meet General Brock {an actor and a great guy}, and get a meal at a local spot for our trouble?) I'm also learning the US bugle calls for light infantry and I got to do two of them.

The combined detail of the reenactors fire a salute to the St. Lawrence II on Friday afternoon.
Present Arms! Unfortunately the Scots didn't leave us too much room for this posture on the wharf.
Robby and Owen are in the front. I'm in the back rank, a rank of one!
"General Brock" is on the far left of the photo. Such a good sport!
Robby cuts loose with a practise/demonstration shot.
He's firing his/our family's new musket - a 1795 Springfield US model.
A mere .69 calibre piece! Oh, it was his 18th birthday as well!

The Scots at drill on Saturday, practising "Reverse Arms" to go to "Mourn Arms."

Sam at her loom. This was a huge draw for the curious in the camp.
(Owen sleeping was not quite as big a draw.)
Katie cross-stitching. The women in the camp do all sorts of period handicrafts.
They often cook, but we couldn't have a fire at this setting. No problem, though!
Across the street was an all-night convenience store and an open-late liquor store!
The festival midway offered burgers, souvlaki, pad Thai, and Nicaraguan food in addition to rides!

Nick and I as "pickets" on the bridge. It's one of the few half-split drawbridges left in the world.
Nick set the password, accepting "Please!", "God save the King!", "Ice Cream", or "Sex" before
allowing folks to pass. So many good sports in the crowd, although it baffled most children.
Robby and Tyler attempted to stop Katie at their picket post.
It didn't work.
Tyler, Sam, and Robby - note the "heroic pose" for the guys.

Justin, our corporal, and a few of the 17th run the "Mini-militia" through its paces.
The King's Company has wooden musket cut-outs and we use them to give the kids
a taste of period drill. They especially like "Charge your bayonet!" and let loose a
growling "Huzzah!"

Drill continues! At one point, General Brock came to review the "new recruits."
He spoke to each one individually.

In the afternoon skirmish, the Pandora comes in to take off the US raiders.
In the morning battle, they were British!
Some of the crew wade ashore to contact the infantry. The crewman (whose  name I don't know - sorry) carries a reproduction blunderbuss - that sounded like a cannon when it was fired! Our friend, Bill, in the green, was master-at-arms of the boat.

My moment of glory! As advance scout, I was first on the beach and called the rest of the unit with my bugle.

Skirmishers from the Royal Scots prepare to exchange fire with us.
Tyler, Robby, and the Pandora's crewman with his blunderbuss serve as part of the skirmish line.
The musket smoke is very evident. Black powder is a messy thing.
Justin and Nick advance onto the beach.

General Brock and his redcoats prepare a volley. These guys are good - very well drilled and good at their impression.

Tyler and Robby keep up a hot fire! This was Tyler's first time out reenacting in quite a while... and he liked it!

Evacuating the wounded! Jeff "took a hit" and I helped him to the rear.
He's in the regulation coatee and 1812 shako. I'm in the summer roundabout jacket and the 1813 "tombstone" shako.

The 17th fires a volley! This was Justin's first time to give commands and he did a mighty fine job! We often have a sergeant, but he was away from home. As I said above, we went from open order to skirmish to line and finally had to "surrender" to the Scots as the Pandora sailed away, shouting "We'll be back!" There were quite a few small raids across the Great Lakes during the War of 1812. Very few large actions, but a lot of small skirmishes.
General Brock read "his" proclamation after each of the battles. The crowd loved it. They moaned each time a redcoat fell and hissed at us in our US uniforms. (Some of the Scots had US kit and added to our numbers in the morning battle.)
It was all good natured fun and the audience asked a lot of good questions.
Glenn from the Royal Scots Light Company fields questions. He's quite knowledgeable and has authored at least one book on the War of 1812 in Southwestern Ontario.

The King's Company as the 17th US Infantry in all our gory glory.
First rank from left: Justin (corporal), Nick, Tyler, Jeff.
Second rank from left: Owen, Robby, John
 A good little event. We all agreed it was a lot of fun, a good chance to meet and greet the public, and a great stretch for our reenacting chops. I mean how often do you get to eat pad Thai in a Model 1812 coatee?

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