Friday, 26 May 2017

The Road to Culloden 2017

For the third time, the yearly event memorializing the Battle of Culloden of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion was held at the Backus Page House Museum in Wallacetown, ON. I've been taking part in this event for these past three years and I joined in one held in London, ON about eight years ago. My wife, Beth is on the museum board and is a volunteer for a number of events there.

I'll leave it to you, good reader, to see to the details of the conflict. It's called a "rebellion" since the Scottish Highlands (and others) rose to support "Bonnie Prince Charlie" against the Hanoverian king, George II. It might be better characterized as a civil war. Whether the Stuarts or the Hanoverians were the legitimate kings of Great Britain is a discussion for both wiser and harder heads then this author. Let it be enough to say that the event is popular one to many reenactors, especially in the Wallacetown area where many Jacobite clan families were eventually settled. Colonel Thomas Talbot set up the land grants for the crown in the 19th Century and he gave the choice lands to... everybody but the Scots, since he didn't like them.

The event itself is a lot of fun. Saturday, May 20 was an absolutely gorgeous day - cool, bright, and breezy. My son, Rob, and I served with the Sutherland Independent Companies, a militia unit. Andre, who portrayed Col. John Campbell, the Earl of Loudoun, had hurt himself and was barely able to speak. So since I was his sergeant last year, I was promoted sergeant major and served as his voice in the field and in the camp shenanigans. The turnout of the public was quite good and there were a large number of Jacobite clansmen present. The Government forces were smaller, with the Sutherland Militia, the soldiers of Clan Campbell, and both grenadiers and "hatmen" from the regular army represented... and cannon for both sides. (Photos courtesy of Beth, of Laughing Devil Photography, and of William J. Wright. My thanks to all.)

Andre as Colonel Campbell, the Earl of Loudoun

Chris as His Royal Highness, Charles Edward Stuart - "Bonnie Prince Charlie"
He's been portraying the Prince for quite a few years and does it well.

I believe this is Lord Elcho.

Mike, as the chief of the Prince's Bodyguard and a sergeant of Baggot's Hussars

Rob and myself in the government camp.
This was Rob's first time out, so he was in trousers and a plaid vest.
Beth had made me a red jacket and a set of trews.
My knee braces would look strange with a kilt on.
The MacLachlan (Tom) inspects the Jacobite clan soldiers after the morning flag raising.

The soldiers of Clan Campbell - supporters of the Government
Marcio (far right) was the sergeant. The whole group were part of the King's Royal Regiment of New York,
an American War of Independence reenactment group.

The Campbells, the Southerlands, and the Grenadiers of the 1st Foot (The Royal Scots) at drill.

The shenanigans begin!
I addressed the crowd of onlookers for Lord Loudoun while a planted reenactor heckled me.
I had the grenadiers arrest him...
...Which they did...

... only to have a band of Jacobites rescue him.
Jeff, in full uniform of a grenadier of the Royal Scots.

Beautiful onlookers in proper attire.
In the afternoon, the reenactment got loud, with a battle scene based on a MacGregor ambush of Government troop near a small fort in the highlands. Andre led the Royal Scots and the Campbells to reinforce the fort, which was held by the Sutherlands and a mixed group of regulars as well as a small artillery piece. The Jacobites attacked from three sides, much to the delight of the crowd.

Strategy session at the "fort." - Sutherlands and Regulars

They fired first so we fired back!

The second group of Jacobites begin their firing, coming up hill from stage right.

The MacLachlan supervises the firing line,

Lord Loudoun commands the reinforcing force - Campbells and grenadiers -
to hold their ground in the face of Jacobite volleys.

As the pipes skirl, the Jacobites advance "at the ordinary."

The reinforcements have come up-hill and take a defensive position.
My skirmish line is off to the photo's left behind the cannon.
The dreaded "Highland Charge" begins.
The fire discipline of the Clansmen wasn't equal to that of the regulars, so the solution
was to come to hand-to-hand as quickly as possible.
Sword and targe and Lochebar axe would do the trick!

The Government forces begin to surrender. You kneel and reverse your "firelock."

The two uniformed "regulars" and I stand off a batch of Highlanders
who had come around the back of the "fort" to take us from behind.
The "Fort" is actually a small barn on the top of the hill on the Museum property.
My son and "Wee Tom" didn't surrender, but took to their heels and ran off.
(They actually hid behind the other barn until we marched off the hill.
Then they dashed over to a path and met us as part of the crowd.)
Earlier in the day, the Prince and his entourage went for a stroll, to the accolades of the crowd.
I was returning to my tent area with my lunch as the group passed.
It assured Mike that my lunch made me neutral and I bowed to His Royal Highness who wished me a good lunch!

In the evening, the tavern opened and grog was served.
For those wondering, "grog" is one part rum, two parts water, fresh lemons, and brown sugar to taste.
I had to go home to prepare for worship Sunday morning, so Beth told me all about this.
The recipe listed above is proper, but a mere guess as to what how much rum really was in the grog.

Rob and I enjoy ourselves at the morning shenanigans.

At the event, I purchased a Scottish basket-hilt broadsword.
It's quite a piece of work. My son is jealous.
(Patience, boy, patience!)
Sunday was not as nice a day. Rob and I made it out to the Museum shortly after noon. The rain had turned the hillside into a muddy, slippery mess. So the Museum director consulted with the reenactors and event organizers and all agreed to cancel the day's activities. Disappointing, but just as well. No one wants to see people hurt. So we collected Beth (who had stayed the night at the site), packed up our tent, and went home. So until next year - on the Victoria Day weekend. Come out and visit the Government camp! And the Jacobite camp! And the lunch canteen!

A few more photos:

Seamus, who is instrumental in organizing this event, pledges loyalty to the Prince and his cause.

Two ladies who wandered the site and often entertained us all with their singing.

Seamus kept changing his hat, claiming neutrality (green tam) while actually
supporting the Jacobite cause (blue tam with the White Cockade.)
{The beard is real, by the way.}

A lone Sutherland and the two regulars hold the one side of the fort.

The Jacobite cannon gives fire.

The Government artillery prepare to fire back. I'm busy loading and  staying "behind the gun's axle" for safety.

The Union Jack is replaced with St. Andrew's Cross. The Jacobites have won the day!
Next at the Museum:

Sunday, 14 May 2017


For any number of reasons - many of which don't merit repeating here - I haven't blogged much lately. Since few of you, my usual readers, are waiting with bated breath for what I write, I'll just add a little to what has gone before.

Last weekend, I had taken the weekend off and gotten a supply for duties at the church. My family and I intended to go out to the Longwoods Conservation Area for the first reenactment event of the season.

But it rained.
I mean it poured.
I mean parts of Toronto and Ottawa, the province of Quebec and the Maritimes were flooded.
The army was called out to aid in rescue and damage control.

So we stayed home, had a few friends in and played board games... of which I cannot find any photos. You've all seen games of Risk and of Ticket to Ride, so I will rely on your memories and imaginations.

Sunday dawned bright, glorious, and DRY. So we went out to the Conservation Area and met with our old friends from Fort Meigs, OH and their group from the 2nd Artillery. Some members of the Canadian Volunteers were also there as were the members of the 14th Infantry. This last crowd are actually members of the group that reenacts the 41st Regiment of Foot of the British Army. They just turn coat sometimes. (The following photos show what a nice day it was and all are courtesy of my wife, Beth.)

Rob, my son, and I as we crossed the bridge from the forest trail to the reenactment area.

The 17th (Croghan's Company) following the 14th on parade.

Awaiting the order to advance
Rob, Lyle, Matthew, Tyler, and myself
Since we would be in the woods, we went with soft caps rather than shakos.

The Canadian Volunteers with additional troops from various units
 - including the Kentucky Rifles - served as skirmishers

The Light Company of the Royal Scots (1st Regiment of Foot) lead the advance as skirmishers.
The "battlefield" for Sunday was rather small and attempted to resemble the actual field.

The 14th in the woods behind some fallen saplings and other gathered wood.

The Canadian Volunteers+ skirmished outside the woods while the line infantry entered woods.

The 17th in the woods. I have been roundly mocked for not kneeling down and simply taking cover
behind a tree. It's not the getting down, but the getting back up that's the problem!

The Scots fall back while the cannon prepare to fire.

The Crown Forces return, advancing in column.
With such small numbers (but such a beautiful day), some imagination is required.
In the skirmish at Longwoods, the British advanced on the US position and were
roughly treated by the Kentucky Volunteers who made up most of the US force.
The end of the battle and the butcher's bill.
Some of the reenactors appear to enjoy stacking themselves up like cord wood.

After the battle, salutes were exchanged and a medal was given to one of the Scots.
I don't know who he earned it,but it looked cool and... why not?
Present arms!

The salute is returned.

We all served under Major Marty of the 2nd Artillery and Major Phil of the Volunteers.

Parading out.
The 2nd Artillery, Cushing's Battery added an Ohio militiaman to their ranks.

Kettle corn - an all-time favourite!

Sutler Cyrus selling his candy wears.

4 & 20 Blackbirds always does a great business. Best cookies anywhere.

Cookies, Pickles, and scone mix for the home.

As a last comment, you can see how the black powder smoke lingers when we fire it.
Congratulations to Matthew, who served his first battle in the line and did an admirable job. He did the drill and learned his lessons, even though he was not given cartridge and powder on his first time out.