Sunday, 8 September 2013

The 1812 Event at Backus Mills Conservation Area

This past Saturday saw the small event at Backus Mills Conservation area, Port Rowan, ON. There weren't a whole lot of reenactors, but those who came appeared to have a good time. Beth, Katie, Rob, our friend Tyler, and I all went there together and stayed for the afternoon skirmish only. (Rob had a shift at his job in the evening, Katie was going to stay with some friends for a day or two, and Tyler had had a really draining week at his job, so going home early was not an unpopular decision.) The day was overcast, humid, and a bit rainy. Kevin and his crew, Tina, Andy, and Andy's son, Steven joined us there in the late morning.
     In the morning we did some drill. I could hear the major telling our adjutant: "Drill them! Drill them to within an inch of their lives! Drill them 'til they bleed!" The look on his face let us know it was a joke. There have been times when we weren't sure if the command was kidding. Since the group of "regulars" from the 16th, 17th, and 25th Infantry were detailed to be light infantry, I detailed myself to be command bodyguard and bugler for the afternoon battle. I ended up doing traffic control with Andy... which was necessary since the "battleground" was tight and some of the spectators tended to want to walk in front of the cannons!
Katie in her Regency gown. Quote: "My shoes are all squishy!"

He didn't like it but Rob took the corporal's epaulet and ended up being second corporal for the Regulars.
Here he looks stunned at the  weight of command.

Tyler tries stilt walking. I suppose it's an 1812 pastime.

Sergeant Jonesy leads the 16th on an end-around at the mill. Our friend Mark is just behind him in the tall gaiters and Steven is the last man in the closest file. Historically, the 16th were issued black coatees and green pants. Their nickname in the reenacting community is "the Pickle-pants."
Since it was so humid and still and since there was a  pond nearby, the musket smoke and cannon smoke lingered.
Here you can see how thick it was. If someone tells you about "the fog of war", this is part of it.
Tyler, Rob, and Kevin hug the fence in the face of skirmish fire from Crown irregulars.
The US light infantry skirmish line moves at the double-quick to head off a movement by the Crown forces.
White Turtle (on the left) and Sergeant Major (centre) observe the Canadian Volunteers as they fire at the Crown line.
I'm "just doin' my job" as staff bugler.
Our new friend, Blue Bear watches and he is NOT preparing to brain me with his warclub.

Andy and I got back into the battle after providing some crowd control earlier. Here we reload to assist in driving off a push by the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles, a Canadian regular unit of the period.

A classic photo if there ever was one. Andy takes a shot.

I add my fire to the shooting by the Indian Department troops. Captain Roy (fortified by a Snickers® bar) stands in his red turban. White Turtle watches his brother, Colin take a shot. The Indian Department often "turns coat" and serve as US forces. At Fort Erie, they were "the Tennessee Rangers."

As the battle was over, the US forces get back into line preparing to march back to camp. You can see Rob's corporal's epaulet. Adjutant Phil (a major today) lines the troop up. The unit next to the Regulars was a Canadian militia group that "turned coat" for the day. These reenactments often have only a few US units. 

Waiting during the parlay.
Left to right - combined US Regulars, Incorporated Militia, Canadian Volunteers, and the Indian Department's rangers.

Andy and I decided not to march back to the camp area and so we move off to the side to get out of the way of the marching folk. We ended up talking to a lot of spectators, firing demonstrations shots, and being interviewed by one of the local cable channels.

The "Red Machine" acknowledges our salute as they march back to the camp. There were reenactors of the Royal Scots (1st Foot), a red-facing regiment whose designation I can't remember, and the Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada. 'Way in the back the Glengarrys join the parade.

During our TV interview, Andy and I fired a demonstration shot or two. Beth caught this one perfectly! Andy fired and she caught the flash in his pan BEFORE the main charge ignited in the musket barrel. If I remember correctly, I misfired.

A close-up of the above.

Beth's recently embroidered "Black-eyed Susan Pouch." She also took all the photos shared in this blog.

... AND she baked this section of the "Shortbread Fusiliers!"
The cast-iron cookie mould makes great shortbread cookies!
The last reenactment of the season will be in October for the Battle of the Thames. This will take place on the actual site of the battle. We will also honour the memory of the great First Nations leader, Tecumseh, who lost his life at this battle.


  1. It was a fun event, weather was better today. The militia group you talk of is my home group, The Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada (IMUC), we were glad to help out!

  2. The red-faced unit whose number you couldn't recall is the 41st Regiment.