Monday, 5 October 2015

Fanshawe 2015 - Last of the Season (more or less)

 The Invasion of Upper Canada is the reenactment held at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London, ON. Held in early October, it is just about the last reenactment of the year for this area of Ontario. We start in the Spring with Longwoods Conservation Area and end in the Fall with Fanshawe. The
Village is part of the larger Conservation Area with has facilities for hiking, biking, boating, and just taking in nature.
Beth and I went up on Saturday with the intent of taking part in both of the day's battle reenactments. The weather was wretched - an intermittent light rain with high winds and blustery cold. I joined in the morning's battle in the town as sergeant of the regular US troops. The other units included the Canadian Volunteers, a militia unit calling themselves New Hampshire militia (actually they were the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in their grey overcoats and wide-brimmed hats), and the Tennessee Rangers (who are usually the British Indian Department.) It's not unusual for some of the Crown units to "turn coat" and serve as Americans since so few units are actually dedicated as US Forces. In fact, most of the US "Regulars" were guys belonging to the Royal Scots Light Company who either had US kit or wore their overcoats. This first skirmish took place in the town, the reconstituted built-up area of the village where building were either moved in from elsewhere or rebuilt according to the plans of the old days.

(All photos courtesy of Beth, Steve Zronik, Phil Edwards, and John Stephens and family.)

Early in the skirmish, Major Phil directs the movement of the militia unit.

The light troops of the Tennessee Rangers infiltrate into the edge of town... just past the stocks.

The Canadian Volunteers (top hats with green hat bands) and the New Hampshire Militia are placed in line by Major Phil.
The red coats reload as the US regulars advance into the town square.

The Regulars and the Volunteers prepare to advance past the picnic tables.

Mark (in green pants in the centre) checks his alignment while Jared (far left) comes to shoulder arms.
Your humble blogger is half behind the tree.

We had to take a few steps back when Crown reinforcements arrived.

Autumn splendour... ruined by the First Sergeant.
I gave my musket to my friend, John, whose musket was in the shop. So I carried Bruce's cane.

Men of the 41st of Foot advance past the briar patch.

I think he's having too much fun.

We prepare for another volley. That's my friend, John (with my musket) on the far left. Mark and Joe are still loading.

Now Mark's having too much fun... as the "dead" red coat covers his ears.

Make ready!    Take aim!

The smoke of the last volley hangs in the air.

Me at my most belligerent... with stick and gloves.

Now we're ALL having too much fun.

The American line all through the village square

We were all moving slowly to the left. Major Phil is giving me the orders to move my section.
They had all knelt down for some reason; I don't remember ordering that.

The Volunteers prepare to fire and the militia gets off a good volley.

John strides bravely into the briar patch. Major Phil went in later and came out covered in burrs.

Terms were about to be given to the retreating Crown forces.

The Volunteers clear their muskets after the battle.

Preparing to march back to camp.

The Regulars are dismissed with their usual style.
Actually, I think the Regulars look pretty darn good!
Looking all purposeful, we move to our left at Major Phil's orders.
At the end of the battle, John, Jared, and I were interviewed by a local radio station.
Since it was a local college's station, the camera was for a credit class.
We acquitted ourselves well.

Not a bad looking bunch, if I may say so myself.
As the skirmish ended in the town and while I was attending to some misfiring muskets in our section, Beth tripped and fell on some chestnuts on the ground or possibly a ground hog hole. We ate lunch and then since it was starting to really rain, we went home to hot baked potato soup and a warm blanket for Beth. All in all, it was for the best.
On Sunday, Beth and I went up to the Village again, once church services had ended. This time, she took the field in her Delaware gear with her .50 calibre rifle. The afternoon skirmish, the only one of the day, was in the town again, but this time the sun had come out and the wind died down.

The best laid plans of mice and men...
There was just a skeleton crew for the US side on Sunday, so the presence of Beth, Kevin, and myself was appreciated.

On a much nicer day, Kevin, Bruce, and your humble blogger consult with Henry who was the officer of the day.
Usually he's the brigade surgeon.

Kevin and I served as "right hand" pickets for the beginning of the battle.
Bruce and Sgt. Mike of the Volunteers were on the left, and the Rangers were the advanced pickets.
The Regulars kept in reserve advance into the square.
These fellows are part of the Royal Scots Lights and called themselves the "Republican Scots" or something like that.

Major Phil awaits the Crown onslaught.
Phil has his own leatherwork company and my family and I have bought a number of items from him.
Good workmanship and always a good value.

The professionals get ready to show everyone how a volley is done.
And here's what they were shooting at. Infantry and Royal Artillery.
As Kevin and I reload, the volley goes off!

The Royal Scots in their usual uniform advance into the battle.
Independent fire!
The Scots know how to do this too!
Falling back but fighting all the way. You can see Beth just behind the bluecoat's shoulder.

Lots of gun smoke. Kevin is down and I've had my shako "shot off."
We all prepare to sell our lives dearly at the redoubt. (It's a rail fence, but we can dream.)

Many Strings has just tomahawked me and I'm dying with a little of my scalp left.

Major Phil comes forward to receive terms for surrender.

Major Phil, Sgt. Mike, and the Scots RSM bring down the US flag at the flagpole on the village square.

The Stars and Stripes is folded with proper respect.

Bruce, Sgt. Mike, and Major Phil pay respect to the Union Jack as it is raised.

Both forces pay respect to each other and to the crowd.
Beth and I went home tired and happy. She burned off over 35 rounds for her rifle. I fired a bit less but I had some flint issues. It was a good reenactment, even if it was sparsely attended by reenactors. It was still a load of fun. Come see us or come join us next year!

As the weather gets chillier, there will be more indoor gaming, so my readers will see more figures and dice rolling.

... and a parting shot!


  1. one of these days, I shall have to attend as a drummer of a militia company as I don't have much 1812 clothing. I do have frock coats, a blanket coat and a bonnet. Plus drum

    1. Those clothes would do it. Musicians are always in demand! I hope we can be on the field at the same time some day.