Monday, 7 October 2013

The Battle of the Thames... 200th Part III

Here's a TV news report on the festivities and reenactment:

The Battle of the Thames... 200th... Part II

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by the necessity of sleep...

(Once again, my thanks to my wife and daughter, Tara Haves, other reenactor photographers, Laughing Devil Photography, and Art & Soul Photography for their kind permission to use their photos.)

At last Saturday's reenactment of the Battle of the Thames, cavalry was included. A professional rodeo drill team -the Canadian Cow Girls- provided the horses and "men." (It's an all female group who donned false sideburns and a few burnt-cork beards to gallop across the field waving pistols and tomahawks.) As they charged and the British line broke and ran - just as they did in the actual battle - they swirled around the right flank troops, who reversed their muskets and surrendered. Our company took charge of the prisoners and marched them off. I was having difficulties getting through the high clover so I took rear guard.

The Kentucky Mounted Rifles a/k/a the Canadian Cow Girls in full gear.

The Red line breaks!

Regulars, Militia, and Provincial Marine surrender. I think I'd do the same if I saw those big animals running down on me.
Very little cavalry was used in the War of 1812 in North America; the terrain was not suitable.  The Mounted Rifles charged at the Thames, ran through the line, dismounted, and fired their rifles at the rear of the British line. There was also an unsuccessful charge by British Light Dragoons at the Battle of Chippewa on the Niagara fontier. Some New York Militia cavalry and US Dragoons charged at the Battle of  Crysler's Farm but were shot up by their own troops.

Following the dispersal of the Redcoats, the Native warriors stood their ground and were engaged hand-to-hand by the Kentucky militia - dismounted! This is unusual for a reenactment, but the whole crew rehearsed and practiced their part and it was well done.

An enthusiastic warrior runs to the attack.

Kentucky! Remember the Raisin!
(the actual battle cry at the Thames - referring to the River Raisin where Kentucky prisoners were massacred, even though Tecumseh tried to stop it.)

Native warriors await the charge. (On the left is our friend, Many Strings)

The Royal Scots grenadier company awaits the attack in open order.

Our friend, Shawn Scott engages the enemy with hatchet and knife.

The State Militia in pursuit.

Caldwell's Rangers trying to sort out a confused situation.

The reenactor who has played Tecumseh for 19 years battles a young Kentuckian.
There is a video I'll include a link to further down that shows the hand-to-hand melee.
The warriors stood their ground and "died" as warriors.
The Battleof the Thames was the end of Tecumseh's dream of an independant First Nations state on North American soil. He has gathered warriors from many tribes and put them together as a force to be reaconed with. US numerical and technical superiority and some promise breaking by the Crown authorities caused the breakdown of this dream. It died with Tecumseh.
Once the battle ended, all the reenactors followed our traditional practice of standing at "mourn arms" (muskets reversed, places on the left shoe, hands folded on the butt, and heads bowed) while the fifes and drums played a lament for the dead. A First Nations drum and singing group then sang a lament in their language. Then the amazing thing happened. While we stood we were over-flown by wave after wave of Canada Geese heading south. Their honking drowned out everything! It was a thrilling moment. When we got back to camp, Andy said to me "It was the spirits of those who died thanking us for our remembering." It very well could have been; it was certainly a graced moment without a doubt.

Just look... and remember.
 It was a grand day, although awfully hot and sticky for October in Ontario. I take as a priviledge to have been part of it, to honour the fallen, their dreams, to honour the US, Canada, and Great Britian, and to honour the First Nations... and Tecumseh.

Here's a link to a video on the event:

A few closing photos:

the 1st Regiment of Foot, the Royal Scots - Light, Grenadier and one center company

the combined 17th US Infantry after the battle. Ed Bolla was first sergeant, I was second sergeant, Justin was corporal.

Our friends, White Turtle (standing and fireing) and Blue Bear (kneeling in red turban) fight the good fight.

The Kentucky Militia colours - the US banner for the day.

Prolonging the 4-pounder.

Are you tired of cavalry photos yet? Me neither! Don't worry! The tomahawks were rubber!

One last view of the US line from the Crown forces perspective.  The 17th in on the far left.
The big numbers in the background were there to make sure you knew what year it was!
Odd... I'm hungry for funnel cake now.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Battle of the Thames... 200th

This weekend, our crowd (The King's Company of Historical Reenactors) attended the reenactment of the Battle of the Thames (or the Battle of Moraviantown) in force. Beth, Katie, Rob, Tyler, Nick, and I worked Friday at the Education Day, where we saw about 4200 students and worked with a portion of them. Rob, Tyler, and I helped the Royal Scots Light Company run the mini-militia, Nick portrayed a Moravian Church missionary (the Moravians, a Protestant denomination, worked a lot with the First Nations peoples in Canada) while Beth and Katie did a demonstration of camp life. It was pretty wild and woolly at time. The day was hot and humid for October in Ontario, but not beyond what could be handled.
(The photos I'm posting come from my wife, a number of reenacting friends, from Art & Soul Photography, and Laughing Devil Photography. Those worthy camera folk have given permission to share their photos and the watermark remains on the shots... as do my thanks!)

Tyler and I pose for a photo on Friday. Friday's skirmish and Satuday's battle took place in the red clover field behind us. Note the  bleachers and the "port-a-potties" of which there were plenty! For 4200 students on Friday from various schools and home-schooled families as well as the maybe 20,000 people on Saturday, you'd need that many!

Saturday came with some nasty fog as we travelled from St. Thomas to Thamesville for the site. The major highway, Route 401 was closed about 12 kilometres east of our exit, so we travelled along Highway 2 in the fog. Highway 2 was engineered by following a goat through pasture land and this was not helped by the drivers who decided they did not need their head lights to drive in the fog. (Hint: you might be able to see me, BUT I CAN'T SEE YOU, which is why you put your headlights on in the fog! Spread the word!) The battle was set for 2:30 in the afternoon, so we drilled all the US troops and watched the cavalry (yes, cavalry!) and the Native warriors and the Kentucky Volunteers practise. More on that later.

A portion of Croghan's Company, 17th US Regular Infantry assemble.
From the left - your humble blogger as sergeant, Jared, Rob (my son), Nick, Andy, and Kevin.
Tyler, Lyle, and Andrew had left for a relaxing three kilometre running gun battle along the river Thames; they returned almost exhausted but took part in the battle. Justin was showing some friends around the site, and Jeff was in "civies", taking photos... which I hope he'll share with me to share with you.

Before the battle, the 17th delivered the "secret weapon" to Major Martin Land, Cushing's Company, 2nd Artillery. He tried to use this toy ray gun at Fort Erie, but was refused since he was "not trained nor familiar with this weapon." A proper field manual was included. He is now trained... and it's in writing! Marty commands the reenactors from Fort Meigs, Ohio, who came up as infantry this weekend. He's a good friend and a good sport for our shenanigans. He's also a bear for safety and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

My daughter, Katie, holds my musket while I kit up. Since Sgt. Ed Bolla was present from Chun's Company, 17th Infantry from Erie, PA, and is a far more experienced reenactor than I, he was first sergeant and I was second sergeant, giving commands to the second section on the march. Ed commanded us in the battle.

Newly recruited Kentucky militia learn their drill.

Sergeant Major of the Crown forces. He keeps them in line as does the SM of the US side.

The Crown's Musick - their Fife and Drum Corps who entertained often during the day.

The real thing! Troops of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment of the Canadian Forces put on a combat demonstration on the battle field before the reenactment. With the green and red smoke, the vehicles, and the automatic weapons, it was an impressive display. As the drove onto the field, my son yelled "Hey! NO FAIR!"

These guys came loaded for bear!

Loaded for bear indeed!

The Red Machine takes it's place on the field.

Two dragoons of the Canadian Provincial Dragoons served as pickets before the US advance.

Our company of the 17th had the honour of being the vanguard of the US forces for the battle. Here we are, following Colonel Bob Trumbull out to the forming-up place... right in front of the funnel cake stand!

Self-serving, I know, but I can't resist. Kevin, Andy, Rob, Justin, and myself.

THAT opens the ball! Most of the Crown forces were deployed in open order, but some were formed up tight and got off some good volleys...

... which we returned, firing by battalion and then by company. US Regulars (in grey and blue) and State militia (in white) are depicted here.

Our "company" flanked by the Veteran company, "make ready" to volley

A view of the Crown lines at the start of the battle.

The US line reloads (with me on the far left). Behind us is one of the great things about this reenactment -
who really were the major force for the US to win this battle.
Okay, the cat's out of the bag as it were. We had cavalry on the field. It really was a rodeo drill team, the Canadian Cowgirls, dressed in black hunting frocks and sporting false side burns. These ladies are professional riders who do what is called "dressage", a very disciplined riding that I believe is an Olympic sport (or was. Somebody let me know.) They came on the field, waving replica pistols and tomahawks with the US and the Mounted Rifle flags. It really is thrilling to see a cavalry charge, especially if it is not coming AT you. I spoke to one of the riders later on and she said it was a trill for them as well, since they do drill and musical riding and parades, but not cavalry charges. I'm glad they did it rather than a group of reenactors who aren't as drilled and disciplined.

Here they come!

It's worth a few more photos!

Great action!

I'm going to post more tomorrow since I'm tired and by that time, more folks will have posted more photos.
One of the most astounding moments is still to come.

More tomorrow!