Interview with Sean O’Brien ~ KANE’S KORNER


Knox’s Artillery Regiment Group Creates Live Reenactment of the American Revolutionary War

Sean O’Brien resident of Tewksbury, MA certainly lives a life of service. Professionally Sean serves as a North Reading Fire- Fighter and also served in the Massachusetts National Guard. Much of his service time was dedicated to mortars.

Kane learned since a young age Sean has been a true history enthusiast. Sean explained to Kane that he comes from a long history of family members that served in the military and value the importance of learning from history. Sean said, my great grandfather served in World War I, my grandfather served in World War II, and my stepserved in Vietnam.”

So, Sean in coordination with many fellow history buffs, have formed a Reenactment group, the Knox’s Artillery Regiment. The goal is to recreate the history of a Captain Jotham Drury’s Company of Artillery, which served in Colonel Henry Knox’s Artillery Regiment circa 1776. The group actively reenacts the American Revolutionary War through living history and battle reenactments. Kane learned that Sean personally has been part of American Revolutionary War reenactments since 2006.

He started studying in detail British soldiers based on documented information from the time and participated in live reenactment battles. Sean reported to Kane that he is back in the books again as he studies specific soldiers of the Continental Artillery serving in George Washington’s army.

Kane was fascinated by the research and documentation utilized to bring the reenactment to life.

For example, since sewing machines were not invented yet, clothing made during the battle were handmade. To stay accurate, all clothing for the reenactment is hand sewn.

Using original documentation to provide guidance allows the team to be one of the most authentically uniformed and equipped artillery reenactments. Sean proudly told Kane that his team has acquired a light three pound cannon on a field carriage as well as commissioned a heavy iron three pounder cannon to be built and has two coehorn mortars for firing demonstrations.

Also to stay accurate to the times, reenactments only include food from that era and participants cook on open fire to prepare food.

Kane learned that Knox’s Artillery begins after the battles of Lexington and Concord when the British retreated into Boston being followed by New England Militia companies from New England.

After the Battle of Bunker Hill, George Washington, head of the Continental Army, appointed Colonel Henry Knox as the head of Artillery on October 17, 1775. Kane was reminded by Sean that the Massachusetts militia was very well equipped for its time. By law militiamen had to have certain pieces of equipment on their person.

Since they knew the conflict was coming, they were drilling for quite some time.

Medicine was not available since the treatment of war wounds was in its infancy and many men died due to infection and disease. Sean was excited to report that next year for the 250th he and other members of his group will march 11 miles from Billerica to Boston, with a group of reenactors portraying Captain Edward Farmer’s Billerica Militia Company.

Kane asked Sean if he was a historian since the research has been so intricate right down to learning as much as possible about the person you are bringing to life. Sean explained that the members are dedicated to accurate research, so he stated not formally by profession, but portraying history in an accurate light and bringing it to life is the goal. Did you know that Sean also goes into the classroom to teach the history of the Revolutionary War to students?

He and Kane discussed how fortunate they are to have basically the birth of the United States of America in their backyard. Sean explained that the students often have great questions.
According to Sean, “the ultimate goal is to keep history alive.”

Through the reenactment he wants his audience to have a visceral reaction. He hopes by smelling, hearing, and tasting the battle, people will remember the sacrifices that the average person made when they left their homes to join the fight for independence. Sean and Kane were reminded of the quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” George Santayana, The Life of Reason 1905.

Kane spent his Saturday exploring Battle Road in Concord as well as the Paul Revere Capture Site and Visitor Center. He was humbled by the experience. He is hopeful that he will remember to practice gratitude and not take his freedom for granted. Thank you, Sean, O’Brien for all that you do, and fellow members of the Reenactment movement. You are keeping us aware and a critical chapter in our history alive.

Check out they are recruiting.

Kane Peaslee, Woof

Columnist Valley Patriot ◊