Sunday, 3 August 2014

Old St. Thomas Church Family Fun Day

Over the past few years, Old St. Thomas Church, an Anglican church built in 1824, sets aside a weekend for a family fun day. It's an open house for the church which is a lovely old building and is still a consecrated Anglican Church although no congregation meets there. There are games and stories for the children, hot dogs, pop, and ice cream for all. The King's Company aka the 17th US Infantry has been present for the past two years to add a demonstration to the event. We fire a few volleys, demonstrate and explain drill, show period children's toys, and let the people see things like hand weaving and embroidery.

This past Saturday, we were out there again. One of our members, Canon Nick Wells, was named administrator of the church in his capacity as an Anglican priest. He met people at the front gate dressed as Daniel Repalje, the man who donated the land for the building of the church. Mr. Repalje was a local farmer and land owner whose farm was burned in November of 1814 during what became known as McArther's Raid. Brigadier General Duncan McArther crossed from Detroit to Sandwich (now Windsor, ON) with more than 700 Kentucky and Ohio mounted infantry, some US rangers, and a group of warriors from the Wyandot tribe. They intended to raid the settlements on the Grand River and put pressure on the British right flank as the Crown forces were engaged in the siege of Fort Erie and the defence of Burlington Heights. The raiders reached the settlement at Oxford (now Woodstock, ON) on November 4, engaged the local militia at Brant's Ford on November 5, fought and defeated the militia at Malcom's Mill on November 6. The raid then turned south and west to burn the mill at Dover, and on November 10 began the trek back to Detroit with the local militias in pursuit. On or around November 10, Mr. Repalje's farm in what later became St. Thomas,ON was burned. The raiders returned to Detroit on November 17, having burned a number of mills and hoisting about 400 head of cattle. It appears that the brigade major of the raid was one Captain William Bradford of the 17th US Infantry; so our reenacted unit had a hand in the raid! A number of the companies of the regiment were also engaged in the defence of Fort Erie. The unit may have been scruffy, but it as a fightin' bunch!

So we set up camp, demonstrated musketry, and drilled the "Mini-militia" with some of the visiting children.
(All photos courtesy of my wife and John's family.)
A "wedge tent" set up as an example with blankets, shakos, and a coatee.
It also served as a cover for the muskets when the weather threatened.

Ladies of the Company Tina and Felicity in a quiet moment under the company fly.
All the ladies all together - Tina, Beth, and Felicity.

Felicity and Mr. Repalje (Nick) greet some young visitors.
We all take a real joy in making history come alive for so many people.

Nick at the Rapelje family tomb stone.

A view of the church from the cemetery as the weather turned threatening.

Nick in his period civilian attire.

The company engaging the public over a table of period toys.

"Make ready!... Aim!... Fire!"
Long Shadow of the Lenni Lennape (Rob), John from the Royal Scots light company, Andy, Kevin (obscured in the photo, behind Andy), Tyler, and your humble blogger as sergeant get ready to cut loose a volley.

Tyler and I drill the first group of Mini-militia. Marching in Indian file.

A later volley with Tina guarding the line.

From left to right - Rob, John, Andy, Tyler, Kevin, and myself as we prepare to fire.
Rob was using our trade rifle (.50 cal) while the rest used muskets (either Brown Bess .75 cal or the Springfield .69 cal).
His smaller gun made a HUGE bang when fired.

A good volley!
John gave us a good example of the British uniform of the time. The 17th all turned out in either white hunting frocks or the white summer roundabout and cloth caps, which made for a nice uniform appearance.

Stacking arms early on. The different lengths of the various muskets made it a tough thing to do.

A second group of recruits learn to "Charge your bayonet!"
The kids love to yell "Huzzah!" as they bring the musket down.

The combined reenactors quit the field after firing and policing the field for our cartridge papers.

Kevin and Tyler help to drill the recruits. I suppose they'll send us all of to the wilds of Indiana or Illinois now.
Maybe New Orleans... who knows?

The Memorial plaque in the church cemetery.

The historical marker outside the church yard.

An impressive family memorial
Trouble at the gate! Trouble indeed!

A good view of the front of the church building.

Our brave Royal Scot, John, who worked quite well with us "Bloody Yanks."
Thanks, John! You added a lot to the day's presentation!
Next weekend is the Siege of Fort Erie and I think we're all looking forward to it.

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