I’ve been an 18th century reenactor since I was 9 years old with the 24th Connecticut Militia Regiment based out of Northeastern Pennsylvania. For those who didn’t know Northeast PA spent most of the 18th century in a fierce debate (and minor war) as to whether is was part of Connecticut or Pennsylvania. Anyway, reenacting is when you dress and live as if you were from a certain time period. It my case it’s the late 18th century and usually the time period during the American Revolution. When I go to events it is often to a historic house or in the case where a battle took place during the War. The reenactors camp in period correct tents, cook correct food, have a pretend battle, shop at a market full of sutlers and generally live life like a person would have in a active Revolutionary War camp.
This weekend was the annual reenactment of the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey. On Sunday my Dad and I woke up wildly early and headed to New Jersey for the day.
The Battle of Monmouth was fought June 28, 1778. The British troops (who had been occupying Philadelphia) were heading to New York City to help protect it from the French (who had recently joined the War on the Colonists side). Washington and his troops were heading out of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and were hoping to stop the British before they got to New York.
On the VERY hot day in June Washington sent a little less then half his troops to attack the back of the British line. For a mix of reasons this did not work and the troops were forced to fall back. Washington with the main body of the army attacked the British line again and the two sides engaged until the late afternoon. The British troops eventually broke away from the Battle and continued on there way to NYC. Washington wanted to follow but his troops were in no condition after fighting (and marching) in the heat. Both sides consider the Battle a win although I think it’s probably better to call it a draw.
This is the Battle where the legend of Molly Pitcher was born. It is said that a woman brought water the the men in the artillery line and as legend states after her husband was wounded helped the artillery line. There were women (camp followers) who would bring water to the wounded and hot soldiers but it is unknown if there was actually a women named Molly who helped that day. It does make for a good story and it is a fun one to tell kids when you are trying to get them more excited about history. It is also, interestingly enough this was the last major battle fought in the North during the War.
The event was a lot of fun. There was probably around 125 participates and the weather could not have been better. Sunny blue skies and not to hot. (This was probably my third time at Monmouth as a reenactor and it has always been dreadfully hot at the event so I was happy today to not get any major sunburn and not feel heat affected.) I spent some time shopping. I bought a new black straw hat that I think will look great when I am dressing up a bit for events and some straight pins to keep the hat on my head.
I also checked out the new visitors center (which I think) is only about a year old. They filmed a really great new movie in what looks like an HD setting and it had some interesting cinematography. The visitors center looks great although I regret not going in while the battle was going on because there were so many people I barely had time to read anything.
Speaking of the battle, I went. I don’t always. Sometimes it seems like to much work to leave camp, walk to where they are having the battle and try and find a spot to sit. But the weather was so nice today I had to go. Being the brilliant girl I am I say myself right in front of the British artillery and I may never be able to hear correctly again.
I took a quick video of the cannons!! (link here)
If you ever get a chance to go to a reenactment go! They are a lot of fun and it’s a really interesting way to experience history.
*I know I look scowlie in the selfie. I’m still working on my selfie skills. I’ll work on it!! 🙂