Sunday, December 18, 2011

Do you sleep in the tents?

 "Do you sleep in the tents?" This is one of those questions reenactors are asked quite often. This answer differs based on who answers, but I figure folks just want to know more about how reenacting works. Here are some of our answers.

Am I sleeping in a tent tonight? Yes I am. I spent a fair bit of money to buy a period appropriate tent.  I hauled it here in a vehicle that was bought only after knowing it would haul the tent poles.  With some help from other reenactors we put the tent up where the quartermaster indicated it should go. I put all my belongings into it, set up my sleeping area inside, and I will indeed be sleeping in it for the weekend.

Are most the tents occupied at night? Yes, most the tents have one or two people sleeping in them at night. Does every reenactor sleep in a tent at night? No, some reenactors are within 45 minutes of home and go home at night. Some reenactors prefer to sleep at the local hotel. Are we required to sleep in the tents? No we are not required. We're volunteers, and very few places we go have rules that are that strict. Do the tents belong to the site? The tents are private property, same as almost everything else you see. It all belongs to the reenactors participating for the weeknd.

Did the soldiers sleep the same as we did in the tents? Well in the 18th century, the British Army assigned 6 men per tent. 2 would be on duty and 4 off at any given time. They slept crosswise, not the long way as we do today.  The doors were staked shut so the guy sleeping across the front would be responsible for opening and closing the tent. There were two or three blankets for each tent and the only bed would be either some straw or pine boughs. The soldiers had much less space than the reenactors do. Soldiers also carried less stuff than your average reenactor too. However I can tell you there isn't all that much space for two people in a 6 X 6.5 foot regulation tent. I would hate to have to try to sleep in one with 3 other people.

Why do I sleep in a tent instead of in a hotel? Well, for one thing its less expensive. Depending on how many weekends you reenact, hotel expenses could quickly add up over one season. Staying overnight in the tents gives you a bigger appreciation of what it was like in the 18th century. After the evening meal there is socialing by candle-light. Sometimes a soiree or dance or tavern is happening in camp. The sounds of the camp waking in the morning add to the whole experience as well.  After all, we fall asleep to the sounds of period songs being sung, and woken by either a cannon (morning gun) or the drummers and fifers playing throughout the camp. You just don't experience that sleeping in a hotel down the road.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Questions reenactors often hear...

Events for the 2011 season are pretty much over now.  Until events start back up I thought I'd share a bit of the the events as a reenactor might experience them. For instance, there are certain questions we hear at almost every event.   I often wonder if it’s the questions that folks want answered or if its just an easy way for  them to start a conversation. I know if you’ve never seen an encampment, its often a little scary to walk up to someone you don’t know, whos dressed differently and just start up a converstion from nothing. So maybe the answers are less important than the conversation that follows.

“Is that a real fire?” … yes it is. Ask us often enough and we just might give you a silly answer though. What I often wonder is, is the person asking if this is the type of fire that the soldiers would have?  Well, the soldiers didn’t have a tripod or spit to cook on unless they were encamped for a while someplace, and they certainly didn’t haul cast iron every night from place to place. They had one tin pot for each tent (6 men, called a "mess") and shared it among themselves.  So you’re thinking ‘Why do you see the fire set-ups like that at encampments?’ Well, we’re not given rations, so we often have more to cook.

 In the eighteenth century, there were big fire pits dug and one man from every mess would cook using those big fire pits. Today, we are usually on historic grounds where digging is a no-no, and creating that type of fire pit is impractical for just two days  Sometimes we can’t recreate everything exactly the same. We do use equipment  & cooking methods that were used in the eighteenth century… but on the average they are more than the ones the average soldier would have had. The cooking we do is more the type of thing you would see in a long-term encampment, not on campaign.

“Are you going to eat that?” (while pointing to something over the fire) Yes, 99.9% of the time we are going to eat that. It takes a bit more effort to cook a hot meal between splitting a hauling wood, keeping the fire at a certain temperature, no running water, and no refrigeration besides a well hidden cooler. After all that effort, we certainly plan to enjoy the results… as long as it doesn’t end up burnt beyond belief. We do occasionally eat those meals too. For example at the Salmon Hole Massacre a few years back, we unintentionally burned black four loaves of a new batter bread recipe. It was all we had, so we scalped the black off, pulled it into little balls of dough, and served them with the stew. Folks said they were damn fine dumplings, too. They would have done the same in the 18th century, no wasting what little they had.

“Are you hot in that?”  Well, if its summer and you’re hot, chances are I am too. I know the clothes are intimidating and there seems to be many more clothes than we wear in modern life. However the clothes are natural fabrics.. wool, linen, cotton and silk. The advantage of natural fabrics is they breathe… so I might be covered head to toe in linen. But the breeze goes through it and each time it is washed it gets thinner and lighter. If its wet, it dries fairly quickly because of the air circulation. If its layered, its warmer. The regimental uniforms are wool, often lined with wool. Sounds horrible mid-August, but remember in the 18th century, your uniform usually was given to you in the fall (as long as the supply ships arrived on time) and you wore it morning noon and night, so by the following August, it wasn’t the heavy pretty wool regimental you see on a re-enactor… it’s a worn, patched, thinning garment that would be no where near as warm as ours are.

Got a question? Think its dumb so you’re not going to ask?. Go ahead, ask. We’ve probably heard it before, but asking is the only way you’ll know the answer. Besides, if you keep asking you might just learn something. And if one reenactor doesn’t know, there are plenty more to choose from. We all know different things, just ask us.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Revolutionary War at Fort #4

This past weekend, I joined the 29th Regiment of Foot and Von Rediesel's German regiment  at the Fort at number 4.

 Kayla joined us all dressed up for the first time, and we had several folks that daytripped for the event.

Dispite the rain, both battles were held and an excellent time was had by all. 

We made Drunken chicken for the first time this weekend. First there was major discusiion about the recipe and our alterations.  The recipe can be found at MizRebecky's Recipes.

4 Chicken legs weren't going to do it for the group of us, so we substituted Chicken thighs... a lot of chicken thighs.  We were all pretty intent on what we were doing. Exact measurements we impossible as measuring cups and spoons just didn't exist in 1775 so we estimated best we could.

 The recipe calls for 1/4 pint of cider for one recipe. We were doing much more than just the standard recipe, so while Izzy added ingredients, Dave & Rebecca  were figuring out just  how much of which item was needed.  

Adding the Salt, pepper, Mustard and olive oil were all simple tasks. However adding the honey which had sat out over night was more of a challenge.
Marc was trying to keep us in 18th century mode and picked up after us.

 Izzy finally used a knife to get to the last of the stuck honey to encourage it to join the rest of the marinade.

 Then we mixed it up and set it to soak along side of the fire. Once it had warmed out some, we figured we could get the honey integrated with everything else just fine. 

While it soaked, we checked out the battle and some Sutlers.  After about an hour and a half or so of cooking, Dinner turned out to be excellent.

The "dessert" of hot buttered rum also was a hit with the clan. We decided we wanted to share with others, so ingredients were procured and a larger batch was made. Warm Cheer on a cold evening, all heated up in a copper pot.

Saturday night after dinner, a large contingent of the encampment gathered in the Great Chambers on the second floor for singing and entertainment. Much fun was had by all over the weekend.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Battle of Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh, NY - Battle of 1812 Commemoration is happening September 10th & 11th, 2011. Being a War of 1812 event its a later time period than most of our events. The Dark & Stormy crew turn out in full force to participate in the two battles and the Bateau race which is a highlight of the season.

The first year we were in the race, The Dark & Stormy crew had never really all paddled together. Our primary focus was not being last. After a few struggles, we got it under control and actually came in 5th. We've improved since then; last year we came in third.  You can see the very start of the race here with in the middle right. The only rules are... well there aren't really any rules, just you follow the race track and whomever comes in first wins. As a result, blocking other boats and tangling their oars is just as important as rowing like madmen all the way.

This year events will be happening all over town, and in some cases in outlying areas as well according to the schedule. In the back of the Encampment at the Kent-Delord house is the Naval Camp. However we stay pretty busy at this event. Not only the race and battles, but we go to the Israel Green Tavern, we travel through downtown Plattsburgh, we visit the other camps, we're down sailing the boat, we're basically all over the place. A couple of us went to college at SUNY Plattsburgh, so we usually hit the Monopole on Friday (our old watering hole) to have pizza and wings, same as we did back then. Come out and see the show(s).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 20-21 2011 in Vergennes

Coming up next- the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's Colonial Trades and Crafts Weekend. I'll be doing my Sailor impression this weekend there. The Dark & Stormy needs a bit of repair as she hit a rock coming in at Ogdensburg, so our boat willl not be in Vergennes. However there will be other boats, as well as many different 18th century talents being shown, so there's plenty to see.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crown Point Aug 13-14 2011

This was a  big event for the 27th Inniskilling at Crown Point. Well worth traveling to, we had one of our “all up” events where all Inniskilling members try to go for the weekend. We ended up with about 38 folks all told.

This is the one place we go that has two forts to explore along with the usual hustle and bustle of an 18th century encampment. A dry Sunny day on Saturday, followed by some overnight rain, and a slightly damper day Sunday.

We did some serious cooking over the fire to feed our regiment. There was french bread, buttermilk-honey bread, rye bread, 2 pies and some quick pastries along with a large dinner featuring pork and corn just to name a few menu items for the night. We certainly eat better than the actual British Army did.

We had some 18th century singing and entertainment along with our usual hiliarity in camp. We also had our traditional toast to the Inniskilling soldiers that were here in the 1750s at the barracks in his Majesty's Fort. The boys fought in a few battles and the ladies cooked so we all ate like kings. An excellent weekend indeed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fort de la Presentation in Ogdensburg, NY

July 23-24 2011, we made the trip up to Ogdensburg again. This year is different. Usually the 27th Inniskilling goes  as land troops, but this year they were supporting Springfield, VT's celebration. So the Dark and Stormy crew brought the boat instead and we had a blast. 

 It was a beautiful weekend, plenty of time on the water for all of us.  We participated in our first bateau race at Fort de la Presentation this year. We came in third, although thats up for debate as not everyone followed the same track to the finish line.

We also spent a fair bit of time trekking from the Navy camp on one side of the site to the British camp and the Sutlers.  We did make our usual trip to the Freight house next door for dinner. These folks have good food and are very welcoming to the reenactors.   A few things were different - we didn't get lost downtown this year. We knew ahead of time of the doughnouts and breakfast goodies the community donates, so morning coffee was not a struggle. The weekend went smoothly and we're looking forward to bring the boat back next year.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

For Memorial Day

Below is a roll of honor for my direct ancestors that served in wartime. Many thanks for your service to our country.

Korean War and World War 2:
Robert H Dykeman, Navy

World War 2:
Warren Cornell

World War 1:
Lester A Cornell 

Civil War:
John Whaley, Charles S Beatty, Orrin Harrison, and William Hooker

War of 1812:
Noah Denton, Isaac Dykeman, and  Junia W Dykeman

Revolutionary War:
Obadiah Chase, Joseph Dykeman, William Hooker, John Varney, Heziekiah Dykeman, Benjamin Dykeman, Gershom Hubbell, Jonathan Silliman, Moody Howes, Jacob Reed, Henderick Van Blarcom, Ezra Mireck, Zenas Warren, William Rhinevault, John Knox, and  Jonathan Reynolds

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Culloden May 21-22 2011

First event of the season,  we were off to celebrate Culloden. The 27th Inniskilling played government troops at this event and we were badly outnumbered by the Scots. We were in the upper field at Fort Plain, NY above the museum.  Along one side of the field were dozens of scot groups, most who took a first-person approach to the events over the weekend, which is different from our third-person approach to reenacting. The British camp was far back in a corner, a slight hike to just about everything. 

MizRebecky & Lord Brigader PennyPacker

We had nine Brits encamped; two of which were soldiers. Luckily for us Lord Brigadier Pennypacker came to our aid and added to the ‘army’ by a third. Our battles turned into the type of squirmishes that lead up toCulloden, even after a few Scots transformed themselves into Government troops to help us out. Hopefully we’ll have a few more redcoats next time.

 We had a fair bit of Tourists come visit the site; many even hiked over to the British camp to chat with us. The Scots entertained us with a maypole dance and Highland Games. Their ladies invited ours to tea with the Prince. A “market fair” was held as well, which was excellently attended by both sides.

All of us Brits took a walk down to the museum together and thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits there along with very friendly staff to entertain us. Some plans were made for the next Culloden there, which should happen in 2013. Although we had a small turnout, it was an enjoyable event for all.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Captain said "Bring out your Tar!" and we did.

Not only tar, but also varnish, paint, caulking, mother’s polish, hot water and elbow grease… all necessary ingredients in getting the Dark & Stormy ready for another season on the water.

 Most of the boat crew spent a Saturday at the captain’s home with all the above and more to do just that, ready the boat for the 2011 season.
Jen Parillo took some pictures to share of the day.
Starting with pieces removable from the boat, the duckboards, rudder and dagger board all were refreshed with varnish and paint. Luckily we had a nice sunny day in the 60s which helped all the pieces dry in record time. Cleats were removed, repaired and reattached.

Some customized nooks and crannies to help our gunner were repaired and replaced. Aftercleaning and vacuuming up debris we painted the inside of the Dark & Stormy so she’s looking good for the summer.

A short break for lunch and we were back for the next tasks at Hand. We had to lift the boat up to work on the hull. We’ve learned a few things over the years, so this time it was much easier. We had braces ready and used some modern equipment for the lifting. Out came the tar & paint. Since we all wouldn’t all be able to work on the boat bottom together, we split up to work on other projects.

A new set of sweeps needed to be done to replace the ones we broke last year. So it was at this point Tim began sanding and then drawing the oar pattern on the boards we had readied the night before. The gunnels got a new coat of varnish and the sides of the boat bottom got some freshening up as well.

Brendan and I started by cleaning the swivel gun, a one inch bore that really should have been cleaned up before the winter started.. I decided to put a little Mother’s polish on the gun, to clean it up a tad… and while talking for a hour or two, managed to get Precious bright and shiny. Jp and Jamie also whipped a new anchor line in place.

Kathy, Jen and Sue gathered the goods to put on a great feast for us all. It was a lovely way to end a hardworking day. While we accomplished much, the Caulking of the sides, oar-making and a few little tasks still need some attention. However the Dark & Stormy is well on its way to being ready for our summer. I believe we’ll have the boat at The Fort at Number 4 the first weekend of June for some  fun. Come out and see us.