Monday, 26 May 2014

It's an Oww-y.

A week ago last Friday, my wife and I were carrying a folding table at the church when Beth fell on an uneven sidewalk and turned her ankle. Brave soul that she is, she sat in the car and carried on. (I think that the promise of a fish'n'chips lunch with Lake Erie perch helped her to bear up.)

She's been hurting and has suffered swelling since then. When we got up this morning, she finally decided -with some prompting from me- to got to the emergency department of the local hospital.

The good thing is: this hospital is the provincial leader in fast service through triage and treatment. We were out of the ER and on the way to the pharmacy to get some pain/swelling relief pills in 2 ½ hours.

The bad thing is: What we thought was a bad sprain is actually a fracture of the bones where the tibia and fibia meet the ankle. Now she has an "Air Cast" which is giving her a lot of support, but that looks like something Iron Man would wear to fight crime.

Ain't it lovely and high-tech?

So Katie and I will be driving a lot and cooking a lot and so on and so forth.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Burning of Dover Mills --- a bicentennial celebration

On or about May 16-17, 1814, a force of about 750 US soldiers and sailors descended upon the area around what is now Port Dover, ON with the intention of burning the local grist mill. This action was a part of the constant cross-lake raiding done in the War of 1812 although since Lake Erie was pretty much controlled by the US Navy, the majority of the raiding was done by the American forces. The force in question landed on the beach and camped there. The next day, they engaged a mixed force from the Norfolk County Militia and the 19th Light Dragoons. The Crown forces were small because British and Canadian forces were stretched thin across the shores of the lakes and most of the front line troops - regulars, fencibles, or Incorporated militia - were heavily engaged against larger invasion expeditions. In any event, the US forces chased off the defenders, burned the mill, and returned to their bases across Lake Erie.

This being the bicentennial year of that raid, the town of Port Dover hosts a small reenactment. Since it was chilly and a little wet with rain threatening, the reenactment was a small one with a small but appreciative crowd. The staff of the Port Dover Museum set up a reenactment on the beach including some reenactors actually landing from boats on (or more likely near) the shore. The breeze make things tricky and the amphibious section found themselves wadding ashore through hip deep swells. A second group of reenactors representing more US troops walked down to the beach and entered through the crowd in front of a beach-front tavern/restaurant.

It was a small event, but it seemed that everyone had a fun time. There was a pig roast on the beach later in the afternoon, but the crew I came down with decided not to stay for it. As it was, we were home in time for dinner.

(Most of the photos are courtesy of Laughing Devil Photography, Tom Mavin's wife, and Michelle McKenny, among others. Thank you to all.)

US Rangers (aka the British Indian Department) get ready to set sail in HMS Ferret which served as a US  Navy ship for the day. She was accompanied by HMS Pandora in putting raiders ashore.

Well-armed sailors of the US Navy's Lake Erie squadron.

The Pandora manoeuvring to get close to shore. Our man, Lyle sits amidships waiting to land.

The regulars are landed!

The Ferret lands its troops. This happened before the Pandora arrived.

Here you can see just how far some those folks had to go as they came to land.

The defenders' cannon cuts loose. It was aimed out into the lake with blank ammunition.
A noisemaker, but a BIG one!

The 19th Light Dragoons and the Norfolk Militia with an "adviser" from the Royal Scots grenadier company prepare a spirited defence.

The Militia, defending their town (and a really great ice cream stand on the wharf behind them) trade volleys with the invading US Rangers.

Nick, one of our company's members, turned out as Norfolk Militia (civilian clothes with a white arm-band.)
Nick portray a number of people, including Colonel Talbot who was instrumental in the settling of this end of Ontario.

The captain commanding the 19th Light Dragoons reloads his carbine.
A  nicely uniformed bunch who toasted "the hunt" in fine style before the skirmish.
(With apple juice and real style!)

Captain Roy - in command of the Rangers.

Our friend, Raiffe, portraying Major Abraham Markle who served as a scout at the actual battle.
A gentleman in the best sense of the word and a well dressed one.

The regulars of the 17th Infantry - with our toes in the lake - prepare to shoot a volley.
It was a good day for shooting. We fired some grand volleys with few misfires.
From left - your humble correspondant, Lyle (loading), Kevin (visiting from the Royal Scots), "Artillery Gunner" from the Canadian Volunteers, Kevin B., Rob, and Jared.
... and the Pandora in the background.

The Militia march back to the museum singing "The British Grenadiers."
The young man without a cap in the middle was one of a group of Venture Sea Scouts who joined us on the beach.
As Nick sings lustily, our friend Aaron - who usually turns out as a Mohawk warrior - does his turn in the militia.

The 17th Infantry, Croghan's Company passed the militia at one point and serenaded them with "Yankee Doodle."
My goodness! We're actually all in step! Including Matthew, our runner, in the rear rank.

A good little event, once it got going. There will be more to come in this busy summer. Stoney Creek, Chippewa/Lundy's Lane, Fort Erie. My family and I have actually been invited to turn out at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto for an American War of Independence event. (Now where's my hunting frock?)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Raid on the Talbot Settlement --- May 10-11

The Backus-Page Museum House had some difficulty setting up their event this year, but once it was settled, it ended up being fun... or so I was told. I could not attend due to my ministry and a fairly important meeting of the Conference. (That's the local section of congregations from Windsor to Woodstock here in southwestern Ontario.) Beth served as "reenactor wrangler" for the US side and the museum fed the reenactors a fantastic Saturday dinner of baked ham, mashed potatoes, and cupcakes.

... or so I was told.

Rob and Katie ran as Delaware/Lenni-Lenape warriors - Long Shadow and Yellow Jacket. Beth talked about camp life. Croghan's Company of the 17th, Tyler, Andy, Kevin, Eva, and Lyle were part of the American line joined by Michael McMoreland, the sergeant of the 25th, our old friend Roger of the US Marines, and another renactor who's name I was never given. The Kentucky Rifles were represented as well. The British Indian Department, some local Canadian Militia, the 19th Light Dragoons, the Royal Scots, the 60th, and a Royal Navy gun crew served as the Crown forces and Shaymus added his "thugs" to the number.
The activities included small unit reenactments, "The search for Colonel Talbot" (played by our friend, Nick), some mini-militia, and some vendors.

Photos taken by my wife or by Eva with Beth's camera:

Sgt. Michael takes the US forces through light infantry drill
Front rank - Eva, Lyle, and Andy
Second rank - Roger, one of the Kentucky Rifles, our unknown friend, and Tyler

This was Eva's first time out in uniform with the musket. Since Andy's been doing light infantry drill for a long time
and Sgt. Michael was never far away, she was in good hands.

Long Shadow (Rob) and Yellow Jacket (Katie) confer before mischief.

The skirmish line advances!

... and is met my the Crown's skirmishers
Captain Roy, personally reinforced with a Snickers® bar, in command.
You can see Light Dragoons dismounted, the Royal Scots in barracks jacket, Upper Canada Militia, "thugs", the 60th, and the British Indian Department.

The Royal Navy charges the gun.

The whole US skirmish line. I'm glad Michael was there. I'm too arthritic for skirmishing.

Cap'n Roy inspires us all.

Long Shadow and Yellow Jacket keep up a hot fire. Long Shadow has a Brown Bess musket and Yellow Jacket has a .50 calibre trade rifle.

Our runner's been shot! This young fellow - Lyle's youngest son - loves to take the field as a messenger, but when he's "shot" he still looks around a lot!

Later in the day, the capture of Colonel Talbot was attempted.  The local ladies and youngsters spread the alarm as the raiders crest the hill. (That's Beth sending the young ones on ahead.)

"Go find the colonel! He'll know what to do!" Shaymus tells the civilians.

The traitor Westbrook (played by Roy) asks "Where's Talbot?" Tyler backs his demand.
Shaymus pleads his innocence. 

"We'll be safe here!"

Colonel Talbot (Nick) and Westbrook (Roy) share a barn in the post-raid quiet,

The camp
The later afternoon skirmish gave the US the cannon.

Raiffe takes a wonderfully photogenic shot!

We're often asked "How do you decide who gets to 'die'?" Well, are you out of ammo? Is your musket not working? Are you tired? Would you just rather watch for a while? Did you 'die' last time?

The Delaware allies and the US sergeant

FINALLY!!! Katie has wanted to steal Roy's chapeau bras (she calls it a "taco hat") for years! And here they traded headgear for a while. She insists that I must call her "Her Serene Highness and Imperial Generalissimo, her Glorious Wonderfulness, Katie Buttons Goldsworthy or Yellow Jacket, as you prefer."
Not a chance.

Sunday morning muster

Gun powder and watermelon... Spring in Ontario!

The Light Dragoons. Some of this crew came all the way from Montreal, QC.
There, they also reenact the Napoleonic Austrian Hussar Regiment #1 "Kaiser."

The US skirmish line springs the trap on the Crown caravan.

Long Shadow loads on the run.

Captain Roy is about to be captured. Bayonets and tomahawk vs. sabre? Hmmmm.

Kevin guards the gun while Long Shadow loots... er, checks the casualties.

Kevin and Eva run the mini-militia for the wee ones.

Louisa takes a shot with the trade rifle.

A arial view of the Museum property. The US camp is in the lower right. The Crown camp is in the middle of the photo against the tree line. Something's going on in the big field.

The Longwoods Event returns!

In my reenacting life, I've looked forward to the event at the Longwoods Conservation Area since it's the first one of the season. It was on hiatus for a while because the organisers wanted to emphasise the Bicentennial events of the commemoration of the War of 1812. This year, it returned. A number of us gathered at the Conservation Area on the weekend of May 3-4. My extended "family" and I actually went out on Friday evening to set up our camp. We met a lot of old friends and made some new ones. Glory to the Royal Scots who organise this event.
Sad to say, Mother Nature didn't cooperate much and Saturday saw a number of periods of cold rain... but we're tough guys and girls and we don't let a little rain stop us! (Don't ask how I felt Monday; the aftermath doesn't come into it!)
Saturday morning, the US camp drilled and I have to say that though I'm still learning, I AM learning. There was a battle reenactment in the afternoon and that was messy. I was sergeanting Croghan's Company of the 17th US Regular Infantry and at one point only one of our seven muskets was firing! The rain wet down everything, flints shattered, and I bit too far into a cartridge twice! Yeah, I'm still learning.

(Photos mostly by Andrew Larson, a friend of the company and my wife - - - great photos!)
Tyler of the 17th keeping his lock dry.

Rob and I, getting things lined up.

The Crown forces looking very business-like... as usual!

At every Longwoods event at about noon on both days, a Native war council is held.
Rob is often "captured" and exchanged to the British for a musket or a muskrat or a cantaloupe
or something as part of the council. Here "our Guy" of the 10th Royal Veterans manhandles Rob.

Captain Bob ("Grandfather Lame Wolf") brings gifts to the warriors.

Many Strings (Kim L.) stands as chief for the day and accepts the gifts.

Redcoat in the rain. This photo shows the weather very well.

Reloading in the rain is dicey at best. Our friend, Raiffe is doing his best. At least he has a shako cover!

The US firing line - The 17th plus detachments, the 22nd, the 19th and the Canadian Volunteers
We got off a few good volleys. The 17th was reduced to "fire at will." My musket tool was passed around and
I gave my flint to Tyler, so I didn't use much powder on Saturday.

Rob takes a shot in his Native gear. In Saturday's battle, he ran with the First Nations' warriors as "Long Shadow" of the Lenni-Lanape or Delaware Nation.

A self-serving photo of the "Altkampfer."

Since Longwoods was only a 30 minute drive from home, we slept in our own beds and drove out again on Sunday. I had taken that Sunday off and had a supply preacher at the church. There were fewer people out on Sunday and a number of the reenactors had left as well. Still it was fun.

More photos now...

Croghan's Company +! Big Jim serving as adviser/right marker, the inexperienced sergeant, Kevin in hunting shirt. Nick, Tyler, and in the second rank, Lyle, Rob, and a friend from Buffalo, NY.
In camp, from left, Rob/Long Shadow, Tyler, your humble correspondent, Katie, and Lyle.
The Crown Forces Fife and Drum Corps on the march. As all can see, the sun was out on Sunday.
Rob and Katie fence while Eva guards the line.
Tyler instructs Felicity on the secrets of the boom-stick.
Eva tries her hand at the musket. Beth likes to make sure that all the female members of the reenactment group know how to shoot the musket or rifle whether they take the field of not!