Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Fanshawe event returns!

The reenactment at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London, ON had been suspended for the past two years in order to let the bicentennial sites build participation. This year - 2014 - it returned. The folks from the Village were satisfied although the numbers of both reenactors and spectators were down. They felt it was a good start to a reinstate event. Who am I to argue? Besides, I had too much fun.
     We set camp on Friday but the reenactment took place on Saturday, October 4, and Sunday, October 5. The weather was quite cold (8°C with a wind chill of 4°C), damp, and windy. Those who came out were not deterred by this. The camps were small, and we ended up having only one open field battle and three village skirmishes in an among the buildings of the Village. (Usually there are two of each.)
     Morning in the US camp began with the raising of the flag and some manual of arms drill. About half of the US forces of the day were re-uniformed Crown forces... like the Royal Kentuckians aka The Royal Scots in red-trimmed black hunting frocks. A small skirmish in the town followed that. (Photos courtesy of my wife, Beth, who only had a small camera and her cell-phone camera that day.)

Kevin and I served as colour guard with Henry, the brigade surgeon. 

Major Phil explains what's going to happen.
From the left, 17th US, 16th US, "the Royal Kentuckians", the Tennessee Rangers (aka the British Indian Dept.) and Caldwell's Rangers.

As colour sergeant, I attempted to unlash the halyard. The flag did stay up all day!

Attention to orders! Then arms drill.
US Battalion HQ
the 17th two tents and the surgeon's tent up against the barn

The 16th give fire to cover the retreat of the US forces in Saturday morning's battle.

At the far right, our good friend, Mark gives orders to his unit.
He started the day as a ranker, became sergeant for the 16th, and then battalion Sergeant Major since he was senior sergeant on the US side. He's moving up in the world!

Major Phil, Captain Brad, and Captain Henry observe the troops at their work. Brad is an officer with the Royal Scots who changed sides for the day.
After a hearty lunch of Mr. Jefferson's style of Mac-and-cheese, there was an open field battle. The US troops marched through some waist-high grass to get to the field and we marched on alongside the artillery and the special effects fireworks. In the afternoon, the US got to win! Following the battle, there was musket cleaning and supper making. Beth made a delicious and warming chicken noodle soup with extra rice. (So what if it wasn't from scratch? You, dear reader, would've gladly eaten it on that cold field!)

Both sides exchange fire. On the far left, the US light troops attempt to flank the Crown forces.

A closer view of the US line. Captain James of the 16th orders his unit to reload. The skirmishing rangers keep up an annoying fire. At the far right, Captain Henry oversees the 17th's reloading. He said he didn't really know the drill since he was serving as a field officer rather than a surgeon. I told him not to worry; the sergeant's job was to make the officer look good.

You can see how meagre the sides were at this event. Next year will be better!

A truce is called and each side salutes the other.

We all formed one line and were to fire a full volley for the crowd.

And that's just what we did!
Sunday morning, I was at church... as I should be being the congregation's pastor and all. When I arrived at the Village, the morning skirmish was over. The afternoon battle us usually a field battle with the Crown forces win, saving the village from looting and burning. (One of our first rules is "Pillage, THEN burn!") Because of the weather and the small numbers, it was switched to a village skirmish. The combined 16th/17th was to perform a bayonet charge and all die valiantly. Those were our orders.

Fighting on the Village Green! Major Phil oversees the work of the US line.

The forces of the Crown advance. Major Phil confers with Sergeant Major Mark on the next move.

The gun in the background was captured by the Redcoats. The crew took off their jackets and turned the gun around since they were Crown forces now! Manning the guns is a speciality which not everyone can do, so for safety's sake, the gunners turned coat. (Literally!)

More movement! The combined 16th/17th/Canadian Volunteers get order form SM Mark. The Royal Kentuckians march back as Major Phil gives them directions.

Some US Rangers reload in front of Major Phil while the combined unit prepares to fire and charge. In the background, another few Rangers watch the rear since some Native Allies were creeping up on us.

Firing another shot.
This was as far back as we'd go.

Ready! Take aim! FIRE! Come to the port! Charge your bayonets!
(We didn't use bayonets really. Somebody could get hurt! Mainly, us!)

As the entire unit dies, I stagger off to die under a tractor.

Brave boys, we hardly knew ye!

Many Strings leads some of the British Indian Department to snipe at the rear of the US forces.
We closed up shop soon after the battle finished. Some of the crowd had stumbled onto this event, having come up to the conservation area without knowing of the reenactment, and they enjoyed it.
I'm looking forward to this event next year. I think it'll be bigger once word gets out. This event is usually the last of the season for this part of Ontario. We actually had some sleet on Saturday, so you can see why this is the final event. Winter comes soon and stays a while.

Now some photos from various sources. (My thanks to Laughing Devil Photography, Dave Westhouse, and Linda Lee. If I missed someone, my apologies to you. Please let me know and I'll correct the oversight.)

The 17th's camp on Saturday evening. The sun came out but it was still cold and breezy. Mark is sharing some peach crisp with us. Kim/Many Strings is enjoying Tina's beef stew. Beth, Kevin, and I are enjoying our meal as well.
"The Royal Kentuckians"
Captain Roy and Major Phil confer on strategy... or maybe on where to get cheap beer.
Sergeant Major Mark and the boys of the 16th on the firing line.
The Crown Forces on parade under the ever-watchful eye of the Regimental Sergeant Major (the four-striper out front.)
At the end of the day on Sunday, the US flag flying on the Village square was taken down with proper ceremony and replaced by the Union flag. Here Henry, Mark, myself, and Kevin serve as colour guard for the Stars and Stripes.
The Crown forces salute the colours. Captain Dave is on the far left and Colonel Hal in out front.

Major Phil and Captain Brad lead the troops to battle.

Them guys mean business! the BID and the Native Allies move to capture the guns on Sunday.

The US forces

The Crown forces... with music!

The Rat Catcher. I don't know if he is on staff or a volunteer at the Village but he wanders around with a cage full of rubber rats and asks for information on more rats to catch. He's really a fun guy to be around.
Our last reenacting event will be a small one in November. Our town of St. Thomas was burned on November 11, 2014 by US raider under Brigader McArthur. So there'll be something on that upcoming.


  1. Cool pics, love the comment "I stagger off to die under a tractor" that made me chuckle.

    1. Falling down isn't the problem; getting back up is! I'm glad you liked the narrative.

  2. ah man I miss the fun of reenacting, can't do it in Japan