Sunday, 9 June 2013

Stoney Creek 2013

Croghan's Company, 17th US Infantry was present at the reenactment of the Battle of Stoney Creek. Rather than go over the entire history of the battle, I'll refer you to this summary (Maybe not the best, but it'll do):

The reenactment was a grand one, not only since it was the 200th Anniversary of the battle and the reenactment took place on the actual grounds of the battle. (It's now a park in the city of Hamilton, ON.) There were a few hitches but not bad. My family and I day-tripped taking Tyler with us, and meeting Andy, Steven, and Kevin there. (Steven runs with the 16th US infantry and is Andy's son.)
Tyler, Kevin, Robby, myself, and Andy at the reenactment of the Battle of Stoney Creek,
1 June, 2013. Kevin doesn't have full kit yet, I'm in my summer whites, and Andy's in a borrowed blue coatee.
"Springing rammers" to show that the musket is unloaded. Steven is to the left of
Andy in his green trousered uniform of the 16th. ("The Pickle Pants") Andy is still
in his hunting frock. Sergeant Ed from Chunn's Company of the 17th and Corporal
Jim from the 19th were our NCO's for the day. Good men all.

The inspecting officer is checking for clean muskets, neck stocks and other trivia.
Apparently my cartridge box hangs too low. When I fixed it, it fell off the straps
at afternoon drill. I refixed it better.

The morning was set-up and drill. Tyler and Kevin are still learning the full drill and are catching up fast. There are still things that we all need to brush up on... things like "mourn arms" for the remembrance of the dead at the end of the battle reenactment, or how to "stack arms" at our campsite. The afternoon battle was preceded by some political speeches and an inspection of both armies by some members of Parliament. It was bloody hot and I simply couldn't take it. So once we were in position to chase the retreating British, I had to drop out under a tree. Heat is not my friend. I'm glad to say that all the other reenactors, without exception, were helpful and sympathetic to me even if they could perform their duties.

After I cooled off, we discovered that Rob's musket wasn't firing. We checked with a friend of ours who was blacksmithing at the event and he "hardened the frizzen" on Rob's musket. This involves grinding the frizzen (the part the flint strikes when the trigger is pulled), heating it in a furnace, treating it with iron filings or something similar, cooling it in water (Steam!), and putting it back on the musket. Result? His replica 1795 Springfield fired every time but one in the night battle!

Beth and Katie were doing fine service in the camp, answering questions, giving information, and being hospitable to reenactors and visitors alike. We set up a dining fly and a lot of folks stopped in for a chat. The ladies are not "uniformed reenactors" but they are just as much reenactors as the people in uniforms.
The company reloads in the afternoon battle. Tyler and Andy are in the front rank,
Rob in the rear. I'm under a tree 'way out of frame.

The Crown forces - lots of them. Crown forces, not just British, but Canadian
Fencibles and militia, and His Majesty's Woodland Allies - First Nations' tribal warriors.

Beth talks to our favourite leatherworker. She was commissioned to gather new
gear for the company - leather and brass work, blankets, etc.
As she said "Love to shop with other people's money!"
The evening battle was cool. Dusk was falling and the Crown forces marched through our camp to their preparation place. We were subject to numerous and confusing orders. First we were not to march onto the field. Then we were told to lay aside some gear and uniform to show we had been surprised. (I asked Lt. Fitzgerald/Betsy Bayshore if we could go out without pants. She threw me a long-suffering look and said "No. You must wear pants." Some people don't know how to have fun.) Then we were told to line up and march onto the battle field where our pickets were already engaged. I had laid aside my shako and went out in an odd little skullcap. Rob and Tyler tore off their stocks. Kevin went out bear-headed and left his bayonet in camp. It was a crazy battle. We were met at the edge of the battle field by General Rob T. who said "I'm going to gesture wildly for a minute but I want you over there to the right!" We marched on the oblique to get there and we fired a lot of powder. My musket worked like a champ - no misfires at all. At one point, I told Sergeant Ed I was going to take a hit and I fell at the next volley. General Rob told me to "Get your sorry ass out of my artillery lane." I began to crawl to the rear when an artilleryman helped me. As I got up I accidentally smacked General Rob in his... *ahem* generals with some part of my kit and I fell back to drink water, watch the battle, and grimace painfully. I apologised to Rob later. 
American troops - regulars and Kentucky Volunteers - lounge about,
waiting to be surprised.

The US reinforcements dribble/gaggle/stumble in. That's General Rob, Lt. Betsy, and
Captain (?) Phil in survey mode to the left of the tree.

The combined company of the 17th advances. Kevin and I are in the back rank in white.

The US skirmish line at dusk. Your humble author is to the left of the officer,
in white, near the wood fence.
The US doesn't win this night action. They were beaten up pretty badly 200 years ago at the battle which proved to be the high-water mark of the US advance in to the Niagara area.
I like this event. There were some problems and my aversion to heat caught up with me, but I know I'll go again.
More photos!
The US regulars advance in the afternoon battle.

The evening battle. It's there! It really is!
(almost all the photos are courtesy of my wife)

The Woodland Allies and some British Indian Department advisers.

"Adam? I need a haircut. Could you take a little off the top?"

The Kentucky Volunteers and the US regular Rifles doing what they do best.

Tyler, catching Z's.

The afternoon battle - loading continues. Tyler, Andy, and Rob are in the line.
Lt. James from the 16th is passing by.

Steven and I take up the invitation of a friendly tree.

We reenact Croghan's Company of the 17th US regular infantry, but our group's title is "The King's Company of Military Reenactors." Some of our members also do French & Indian War and World War I. We hope to involve ourselves in the American War of Independence as soon as some kit comes in. Here I'm passing out "The King's Shilling" to our newly set-in members, including Katie. Katie carried a musket and did light infantry drill last year at this event, so she got the shilling as well.
The Kentucky Volunteers prepare for inspection.

What started as some preliminary drill for new recruits ended up as company drill.
Sergeant Ed ran us through our paces.

Before the afternoon battle and the interminable political speeches (and a worthwhile
First Nations remembrance of the dead), all the reenactors received a medal from the site
with the province's help.