By: Jennifer Jones – 4-12-18
On a brisk Saturday morning March 26, 2016, the troops rallied for a special event at Endicott Park in Danvers, Massachusetts from 11-2p. For people who are interested in history, we really are fortunate to live in a great part of the country, as so much American history was formed here, 240 years ago. I had the unique opportunity to watch history come alive as a group of Revolutionary War reenactors took to the fields and marched as their ancestors did many centuries ago.
This group of living historians, is made up of several groups including but not limited to 3rd Massachusetts Regiment, 2nd NH Regiment, His Majesty’s Ship the Somerset, Colonel Daniel Claus’ Rangers, as well as other reenactors that travel from other states to participate. The event today is basically like a live chess match, where they work on strategy and how to react to the opposing forces. This took about 5 months of planning (larger events take more planning), and is important as they are gearing up for the “playoff’s/Superbowl” of their hobby: Battle Road in Lexington & Concord (MA), Ft Ticonderoga (NY) and the annual event at Old Sturbridge Village (MA) as they draw thousands of visitors each year. Most Battle reenactments are fairly accurate, but not accurate because they may be restricted by the space they allowed to use, and at times are usually closer than they should be but try to reflect true war fare.
In speaking with reenactors I gained some insight into this hobby. The reenactment season typically runs from March to October, and events can be found in various states along the east coast, as well as in Canada. Each even will be unique, as each region had different experiences and set of historical events. If you are looking for a more general representation of the 18th century, places like Colonial Williamsburg (VA), Philadelphia (PA), and Boston (MA) are probably your best bet. Some reenactors do an average of 12 events annually, and have been for greater than two decades. Where there are a select few that elect to participate in this unique hobby tend to see some friendly faces throughout the season at different events where they can get away from reality and truly experience the 18th century for a weekend.
Most living historians and reenactors try to be as authentic as possible as they want to experience the 18th century as much as they want to show the public. Fortunately, this hobby thrives with people who like portraying both sides of the war so if you were interested in this hobby, it’s important to find a group before you begin to build your wardrobe. As reenacting can be quite costly, annual dues run around $50. However, the equipment and clothing are quite costly as they are not something you can purchase right off the rack at a local department store. Most articles of clothing are hand-made because, they needs to be fitted to your body, and are usually sewn by hand for authenticity. Most people in this hobby will carry a Brown Bess or a Charleville, although you will also see a variety of other weapons: pistols, rifles, spontoons, carbines, swords, and fowlers depending on the reenactors impression. It is required that all soldiers learn the manual of arms before taking the field. This is to ensure that they are safe on the field with their weapon, are proficient in loading black powder, firing the weapon, and marched.
If you or anyone you know may be interested in reenacting some words of wisdom from Tom Tringale- “Be interested in the hobby, don’t look at it as just “cowboys and Indians” or a chance to “go out and play with a gun”. Take it seriously and be respectful of those who came before you. To find a listing of 2016 events you can google “The British Brigade” or “The Continental Line”. You may also find additional information for all things 18th century http://materialculture18t.wix.com/18thcmcrc or check out one of the local groups Claus’ Rangers http://tnatole.wix.com/clausrangers