Sunday, 8 May 2016

A Memorial for Veterans of the War of 1812

Yesterday, my wife and I were privileged to take part in a memorial for some local veterans of the War of 1812. Through our friend, Nick, we were asked to turn out in uniform for the ceremony around the laying of metal plaques on the grave stones of three men who took part in the War of 1812. This took place in the village of Sparta, ON, in an old cemetery. A fourth man who served is buried in that cemetery but in an unmarked grave, so no plaque was laid.

All the men served in the Middlesex Militia, the local defence force. Depending on their age, they may have served in the mobile (marching) units or stayed in the sedentary units for local defence and security. It was hard to tell what the ages had been at the time. It appears at least two of the men were members of the Quaker community around Sparta. I felt that this was unusual since the Quakers in general are pacifists. It appears that some of the community "stepped away from their beliefs", as one of the narrators stated. After the war, they returned to their community and their farms.

Local dignitaries (like the mayor and the local member of the Provincial Parliament) were present as well as some descendants of at least one of the men (one in the uniform of an officer of the 1812 era militia with an original sabre), some of the leadership of the local Quaker community, Masonic leadership, a colour guard from two branches of the Royal Canadian Legion, two uniformed member of the modern Canadian forces, and a civilian piper.

There were seven of us reenactors. We marched in after the colour guard and followed them out at the end. At the proper time, we fired three volleys in salute. Despite the beginning of some drizzle, the muskets when off properly. The group was mixed, Crown and US, which led to some confusion regarding commands, but nothing too serious. Beth served in the honour guard and suited up in uniform for the first time. She said it was fun, but she decided that she prefers to stay in the camp. She IS glad she had the chance to go out in uniform with the musket. She has taken the field perviously as a warrior of the Lenni-Lenappi (Delaware) Nation.

It was an honour to do this and I was happy to take part in it. A lot of our reenacting is for educational purposes or to "burn powder." An event like this is a bit more serious.

From the left: Norm of the Provincial Marine and the HMS Pandora, Nick of the 17th US Infantry, Glenn of the Royal Scots Light Company, Joe in the uniform of the Royal Artillery, another Royal Scots Light Company man (who's name I never caught, sad to say), Beth of the 17th US Infantry, and myself of the 17th serving as first sergeant.
We are clustered around one of the men's graves and you can see the plaque on the ground just in front of the tombstone.
The cemetery is at the corner of Sparta Line and Centennial Road just outside Sparta, ON.

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