Monday, 7 October 2013

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.