Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Life in the Talbot Settlement - part 2


     Lots of photos, so I need a second blog to handle it all.

     I didn't touch on the War of 1812 part in the first one, but this one will be almost all 1812! Although Backus Page house was not built until the 1850's, it is used to demonstrate the sort of raids that were done all along the coast of Lake Erie in 1814 and as part of MacArthur's raid in the Fall of 1814. 500 mounted volunteers from Kentucky and Ohio left Detroit and moved through southwestern Ontario to the Grand River at Malcolm's Mill. The column defeated the assembled Canadian militia there, but found themselves almost surrounded by militia and regular British Light Dragoons. So they turned back to Detroit, following the trail that is now Highway 3 in Ontario.

     The house raid was the big noise of the event for the War of 1812 reenactors. They portrayed American, Canadian, British, and First Nations fighters. The raider were looking to arrest Colonel Thomas Talbot, the leader of the local community. (They almost got him three times, but he escaped each time.) Rather than burning the house, the "raiders" took some items of symbolic value. A firefight began; the US troops sustained a casualty (Alex every time), and finally withdrew. On Sunday afternoon, I was "captured" as the American commander. It was a load of fun.

(The sources of the photos were noted in the previous blog entry. I continue to thank them.)

Mike M. as a Kentucky Volunteer in the act of loading.

Bill as one of Caldwell's Western Rangers fires

Alex, our perpetual casualty in full dress

Angela, the museum director, finally put on period clothing and
defended the house.

Beth, the "Reenactor Wrangler" for the weekend, helped defend the house as well.

Nick, as Colonel Talbot, raked it in for his protrayal.

Mike M. leading drill.
The Kentucky mounted infantry wore black hunting frocks with red trim.

Mike R, of the HMS Earl of Moira, works his wood shaping bench.
He is making the fabled "Battle Spoon."

Have you ever seen a happier guy?

Paul, corporal of the Royal Scots, looking very business-like.

Bill, in Ranger kit, sneaks up.

Not THE Battle Spoon, but one like it... sorta, kinda.

Mike R. faces off against Kevin of the 21st US to defend the house with THE Battle Spoon.
(Afternoon battle)

Okay... so it never really worked.
The raiders advance on the house in the morning battle.
(Jared, Marcus, and Alex)

Jared of the 17th (our corporal pioneer) and Kevin of the 21st keep up a hot fire.

Troops of the 60th Rifles, the Royal Scots, and the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles return fire.

Although it was not part of the raid, here's a photo of the gun crew of the HMS Nancy
in their demonstration. Loud and proud!

Can't miss at this range, Jared!

Steve, commanding Caldwell's and the entire Crown side, with Paul and Rob of the Scots.

Angela clouts the American commander with a broom! It almost hurt!

Saturday afternoon, Ann and Beth chase Jared as he escapes with the loot.

     And now for the Academy Award for Best Wound and Death for a Young Ham... Alex!

On Saturday, Marcus drags Alex off the field.

Sunday morning, Bear loots Alex of his pocket watch, cane, and loose change.

Sunday afternoon, we involved the surgeon to deal with Alex's wounded arm.
(Isn't he grinning a bit too much for a guy about to lose a limb?)

Hold still! This won't hurt me at all!

Well, look at it this way... all the women love scars!

It got very real all of a sudden. Looks a bit rubbery for a young guy.

After every raid, we saluted the audience. After the final raid, we presented Angela and Beth for much-deserved applause by everyone there.

Beth and Angela presented to the crowd.

As proper ladies, they responded with a curtsey.

The reenactors salute all in attendance.

A few extra photos.

Raiffe address a gathering at the ACW camp from behind the "social distancing" ropes.

WWII reenactors speak to a sutler... again with the social distancing ropes between them.
Backus Page House Museum took every possible effort to do this event as safely as possible.

"Get it right! Pillage... THEN burn!" 
(Stock photo)

Your humble blogger is interviewed by the museum staff
for their YouTube entry.

My friend Steve can even make me look good!

Life in the Talbot Settlement (1)


     On the weekend of September 26-27, The Backus Page House Museum in Wallacetown, ON hosted a historical event - the "Life in the Talbot Settlement" timeline. This may have been the only full reenactment in Ontario this year. Just about every possible precaution was arranged to prevent an spread of the pandemic virus, including social distancing, masking, hand cleaning, and COVID-19 tracing information. The number of guests was limited to 50 each half-day period. 

     For example, Saturday morning, the gates opened at 10:00am. At 11:00, an equestrian display by the WWI reenactors took place. At 11:30, a display of 1812-era cannon fire, of an American Civil War volley gun (although it did not take place Saturday morning), and a Spanish Civil War machine gun (all done by compressed air) took place. At 12:00 noon, a "raid" on the house by War of 1812 reenactors took place. At 1:00pm, the first batch of guests was to be gone and a second batch came in. The afternoon's activities mirrored the morning's.

     Reenactors were present for the American Civil War (55,000 Canadians volunteered in various units during that conflict), the War of 1812, WWI, the Spanish Civil War (the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion of the International Brigades), and WWII. All the assembled reenactors reflected a portion of Canada's military history. A small number of units withdrew prior to the event because of health concerns, especially since they were coming from areas with a much higher infection rate than our Elgin County.

     Now the photos, which say more than my words. (My thanks to Laughing Devil Photography, Steve Zronik, Beth Goldsworthy, Rob McGuire, and Kylee Lanigan for the kind permission to use their photos.)

Although anachronistic, masks were worn by reenactors (outside their camp areas),
guests, and staff. Health and safety first!!!

Here Raiffe repeats his mantra:
"Keep your distance, you filthy plague rats!"

Among the sutlers, the Toymaker and friend.

This fellow had the most amazing stock for sale!

The ACW camp - Confederate to the left, Union to the right.

Many of the reenactors helped the museum by monitoring traffic
in and out of the house. Here a WWII reenactor in Canadian kit
watches the front door.

This way to the BID's camp and display!

The American Civil War surgeon shows the tools of his trade.

Backus Page house with Gwen and Paul

The music was fantastic!

Angela, the museum's cultural director, unveils a display honouring Jim Waucaush of the Oneida
of the Thames First Nation, who was captured at Dieppe and survived the POW camp to return to
Canada at the end of the war. His son -seen here- was present for the event.

The "Mac-Paps" showed up for their first public reenactment and showed up in style!
That's a WWII ambulance hiding under the camo netting... in case you can't see it.

A Lewis Gun reproduction belonging to the WWI reenactors.

Reenactors of the WWI Canadian Mounted Rifles go through their paces.

You can see the detail on this WWI reenactor's uniform and equipment.

A Confederate reenactor shares a salute.

The Union's supply officer/store keeper works the books.

A talk in the Union Camp.

Loading the volley gun.

... and firing it!

"No Pasaran!!"  ("They shall not pass!")

Jordan and Brendan in Mac-Pap kit.

It's never fun... to haul the machine gun.

Jordan and his toy... which drew plenty of attention.

The Mac-Pap troops carried and fired both the Canadian Ross rifle and the Russian Moisan-Nagant.

Canada's volunteers for Spain!

Daryl as the chief machine gunner.

Peter as part of the Canadian Blood Transfusion unit.
These Canadian medics pioneered battlefield transfusions.

If I seem to have spent a lot of time and ink talking about the Mac-Paps, it is because I find the unit interesting. SCW reenactors are very few and far between. This is a period of history that is almost unknown to many and their fight is worth a remembering. The Spanish Civil War was an exceptionally brutal conflict, pitting Fascists/Nationalists assisted by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy against the Left-wing Republicans who were supported by the Soviet Union. Men from all over the world went to Spain to volunteer for the Republic's forces. Some volunteered for the Nationalist side but it was less so. Orwell's Homage to Catalonia and Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls are both written about the Spanish Civil War, Hemingway's a novel and Orwell's a first person account.

     This is getting lengthy, so I'll continue with a second blog shortly.