Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Harbourfest 2013

The city of Port Stanley, ON held it's second annual Harbourfest last weekend. It has a nautical theme and featured tall ships, carnival rides, various vendors of clothing and gee-gaws - all items you never knew you couldn't live without, an art show, and drink. For the second year, the King's Company of Historical Reenactors was present, reenacting the 17th United States Infantry from the War of 1812. We were joined by the Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society in their impression as the 1st Regiment of Foot, the Royal Scots. On Friday afternoon, we set up a number of tents on the square in front of the Royal Canadian Legion building, where we did displays, drill, mini-militia (for the young folks), and answered questions. No cook fires were permitted due to the gas and electric lines under the grassy square, so we made due with the local fare - fish'n'chips, Italian sausage sandwiches, hamburgers, poutine*, etc.
   Two small reenactments were held on Saturday - at 11am and 5pm - on the area known as "Little Beach". Both had rather enthusiastic audiences despite the wind and drizzle. The camp was busy with visitors and we all posed for a lot of photos. Unfortunately, I came down with an upset stomach and had to bow out of the evening skirmish, but it was time to take down the tents anyway. My son, Rob, had to work that evening, so it was the opportune time to go.
   {* Poutine - a Canadian delicacy consisting of French fried potatoes covered with a light brown gravy and cheese curd. Not fattening at all... no, of course not. The sound you hear is your arteries clogging, although it is no less tasty for that. It is originally from Quebec and I'm told "poutine" in Quebecois means "mess."}
Not much to say, so on with the photos. Credit goes to my wife, Beth, Jeff Brown, Barbara Hohn, and the St. Thomas Times-Journal.
Friday Afternoon drill - I was acting-NCO for Jared, Owen, Kevin, and Rob while Kevin's son picked up a few hints.

On Saturday, we were joined by the HMS Pandora. Lake Erie was choppy and the day was windy which made it an adventure for the crew. They had to be towed in to the harbour one time because the wind was very much against them.

Katie and Kevin's daughter see to their embroidery. The "camp wives/laundresses" do period crafts while in camp.
My wife says no self-respecting woman of 1812 would ever be  idle!

Regimental mascot, Pooka, lounging in camp. A dog's life indeed!

On Saturday, Croghan's Company, 17th US  paraded for inspection by our corporal, Justin.
The Royal Scots light company did their drill behind us.

Croghan's Company lines up - Corporal Justin, Rob, Jeff, Andy, Andrew and Ben in the front rank.
Lyle, Mr. Blank-file, Kevin, myself, and Lyle in the rear rank.

"Pinging the rammer" - for safety's sake, before any action, we run the musket's rammer down the barrel. A clean barrel rings with a bright "Cling!" If any foreign bodies or extraneous crud is there, the rammer makes a dull "klunk." Stuff in the musket barrel could be deadly. We never ram after loading for fear we'd leave the rammer in the barrel in the excitement, turning our musket into a spear gun. 

Croghan's Company takes aim, but not at Justin! This is a case of forced perspective.
Note how the rear rank rests their left forearm on the right shoulder of the man in front. That's called "locking up" and it makes for close order and safety. Each man knows where the other is, to either side and behind.

Croghan's Company in action on Little Beach. Kevin has just taken a mouthful of black powder - nasty stuff!

Croghan's Company return fire. Andrew is down.
My musket did nothing but misfire all day. Drat!

Matthew, our runner, is down as well.

Lieutenant Stott prepares his men. Both units have paid close attention to detail in their uniforms.
The US side tends to be a bit scruffier. I blame the difficulty of keeping us in supply.
Since my musket misfired constantly, I fell back - wounded, and not just by pride.

Bob Rennie, a reenactor who plays General Sir Issac Brock at such events,
gives his proclamation to the residents of Upper Canada. He is an incredibly good sport and gladly reviews the "recruits" during the mini-militia drill.

On Saturday afternoon, before I was too sick to care, Beth took this picture of the lot of us.
Front rank - Justin, Andy, Rob, Kevin, Andrew
Rear rank - Me, Lyle, Jeff, Jared
Ben and our sergeant, Jonathan were present earlier but couldn't stay. Nick and Tyler were unable to attend.
Oh, and the hunting frock is PERFECTLY acceptable for the 17th US; I don't care what any one says.
At Fort Meigs, OH, after their uniforms were reduced to rags in the winter of 181, the local women sewed up hunting shirts or frocks for the entire unit as well as two other regiments.

Originally our outfit was called "the 17th, North" as opposed to "the 17th from Erie", Erie, PA that is. That group calls themselves "Chunn's Company." Chunn's Company was at Frenchtown, Fort Meigs, and the siege of Fort Erie. We decided to take the name "Croghan's Company" for one Captain (later Major) Croghan who lead a company of the 17th Infantry at Fort Meigs and later defended Fort Stephenson with a small unit of the 17th and one field gun against 4-5 times their number in British regulars and 10 times their number of First Nations warriors - who may or may not have been much help, from what I've read.

Next weekend, a small display at Old St. Thomas Church and the weekend after that, the reenactment of the siege of Fort Erie in the town of Fort Erie, ON. In September, the Backus Mills reenactment, and in October, the reenactment of the Battle of the Thames in Thamesville, ON, on the actual site of th battle. I'm also on holiday soon and it's time for my twice-yearly Shako Napoleonic wargaming battle with my wife's Italian corps. Do I choose Austrians, Swedes, or British? (I've been painting.)


  1. Thanks, Ray! I was pleased. Credit goes to quite a few other people.