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!


  1. Dressage is still an Olympic sport. Remember the brouhaha about Mitt having a horse in the Olympics and not even watching it during last year's Presidential election?

    1. Thanks, Martin! I remember that now. Still watching the horses and riders going through their paces is something to see. However, I doubt I'll ever be a part of a cavalry charge again!