Sunday, 17 August 2014

Oxford on the Thames at war

At a small park between Ingersoll and Woodstock, ON, a small anniversary of the War of 1812 took place this weekend. In those days, the settlement was know as Oxford on the Thames, and it held a small mill on a brook - the site of the anniversary festival. Since the British Indian Department asked, the 17th US responded and sent a number of folks in "ranger" gear rather than our infantry uniforms. This included Nick, Rob, Beth, Kevin and his children, Tina, and your humble blogger.
In 1814, the area was burned out three times by raiders from Michigan and later Kentucky. In April and August of 1814, Michigan raiders led by Andrew Westbrook, a turncoat Canadian, came through the area and burned the settlement and in August, the mill. In November, McArthur's raid brought Kentucky mounted infantry, Ohio militia, rangers, and Wyandot warriors, although they found neither anything burnable nor the Oxford Militia near the site. A few days later, the raiders defeated the militia at the Battle of Malcolm's Mills on the Grand River, but turned south and then west to return to Detroit, all the while being chased by local militia, hostile First Nations warriors, and detachment of the 19th Light Dragoons.

In the morning - before the rains hit - we staged a reenactment of the April raid for the public.

The raiders arrive! Roy, the captain of the BID playing Andrew Westbrook (the role he played in the documentary A Desert Between Them) lead the rangers. Kevin (in white), Rob (in brown/"dun"/baby poo brown), and your humble blogger (in black) follow.

Westbrook calls out the inhabitants of the cottage. More of the raiders are seen here. Bob (far left) usually plays an officer and was on one of his first times out at a ranker. Mike (centre with the blue leggings) and Aaron (blue shirt, half obscured) are old hands with the BID.

There was dialogue going on in the cabin while Westbrook arrested the local militia colonel. We all waited and watched for the local militia. Mark (in grey, in the foreground) took to looting shortly.

See? I told you! I think he was looking for material or patches for his quilting.

The captive colonel is brought out. Aaron prepares to hand him over to me.

I escorted the prisoner to the stump in the background... where his sandals were waiting! The unarmed fellow (our "guide" in the yellow print shirt) took custody there.

Rob and Mike stand guard for any response from the Oxford militia.
One of the refugee townspeople cuts loose with a scream as the local church is fired.

Kevin, Aaron, and Mike return fire as the militia comes up... across the pond.

Militia? NO! The 19th Light Dragoons are backing the local militia! One had a blunderbuss.

Kevin returns fire.

Bob prepares to return fire. (His musket is BRAND NEW. We dirtied it up all proper!)
Tom, Nick, and your blogger load up to return the militia's fire.

Rob finds better footing with his .50 calibre rifle, Calls Wind.

Time to leave! I'm bringing up the rear.

The Oxford militia and the Light Dragoons work their way around the pond.
The townsfolk, with their pastor, follow the militia back to the settlement.

... only to survey the ruins.

The women and children tearfully return. Tina from our company comforts Kevin's daughter. The sergeant of the Light Dragoon is in the background with Colin of the BID off to the side.

Tina and Kevin's two children make a good showing of things.
Mark challenges the audience "You want a piece of us?"
Aaron, Kevin, and Rob play "Devil take the hindmost!"  Note if you will, the gun smoke hovering over the pond.
Safety check prior to the engagement. Safety first, last, and foremost!
Nick, Rob, and I in our ranger finery. Nick and I are in the hunting frocks of the style worn by the Kentucky mounted infantry. I'm jealous of his hat.

Bob was kind enough to take Beth's camera away from her and add her to the photo.
I'm very pleased because she rarely gets into a photo. She took all the others posted here.
We couldn't stay for any of the later engagements. It's Rob's birthday and he had dinner-and-movie plans with friends. Besides it was raining and damp. Next weekend is the Iron Horse Festival in St. Thomas, our home town and I'm sure I'll have photos of that to share.


  1. Looks like a fun event! Perhaps I need to get into 1812 before its too late.

    1. It was a fun event, although a small one. As for 1812, depending on where you live, It's never too late! Where do you live, by the way?

    2. Looks like you're in Virginia. There should be a number of outfits in Maryland and northern VA.