Jan 13, 2010

Patriots Week After Action Report

We've wrapped up another year of reenacting which, for the 1st Rhode Island, culminates with the Battles of Trenton and Patriots' Week.

Washingtons  Crossing

The 1st Rhode Island represented Revolutionary War soldiers of African descent throughout the Patriot's Week celebration. Leon Brooks  and Noah Lewis attended the reenactment of Washington's  Crossing. Noah, who portrays Ned Hector, a black Continental soldier, crossed in a Durham  boat in this years successful attempt. Leon Brooks stayed on shore.  

Battles of Trenton

Sunday morning, on the 27Th,the troops formed up at the Old Barracks for the First Battle of Trenton. 1st Rhode Island Regiment(1RI) formed up with  other units to portray Glover's Regiment of sailors and New England regiments. Seven RI participated, making for a strong representation of the free men of African descent who had  fought in this regiment.


The Battle of Trenton is a street fight where the battle is fought in the streets of the town rather than out on a battle field. The audience is right up close to the action, watching from the sidewalk as the troops march and fire through. the streets. The action was crisp, the troops firing musket volleys by ranks (lines) and peeling off to the sides so that the next rank can fire.  Shouts of "huzzah!! arose with intermittent cannon blasts that resounded through the streets, setting off car alarms. Smoke from cannon and musket fire wafted though the street. We burned through a lot of powder, which always makes reenactors happy.  After the battle The troops paraded back to the Barracks to the cadence of the drums.  1RI returned to the Old Barracks' armory room and prepped our weapons, so they would be in good working order for the second battle - replacing broken flints, brushing and wiping down musket parts.  

Reenactors were served a hardy lunch at the Masonic Temple. During the break many took time to make purchases from sutlers (vendors) of period clothing, equipment, and other items. At 1:30 afternoon we formed up for a memorial ceremony for the fallen Hessian's in the Battle, and marched to Mill Hill park for the Second Battle of Trenton


Despite the  cold, there was a good turnout for the day's events. After the last battle the troops marched we returned to the Barracks to clean and stow our weapons and equipment. I headed to the Continental Inn in Yardley to join Glover's Regiment. There, to the amusement of the regular patrons', we celebrated the days events, lifting our voices singing old sea shanties, and drinking ale brewed by the owner according to a 200 year recipe. Arr! It don't get better than this, mate!


African Americans in the American Revolution Presentation 

Old Barracks staff and 1st Rhode Island Regiment member Fred Minus gave a presentation on the military contributions of black soldiers at the Masonic Temple on Monday of Trenton's Patriots' Week. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the topic of Africa-American military history. In his presentation he provided insight into the motivations of blacks to fight, tying in the impact of the ideals articulated in the Declaration of Independence, and the events on free and enslaved blacks. He described the outcomes of black veterans who fought for this country's or their personal freedom, many of which had to face re-enslavement, prosecution, or had to evacuate with the British. The presentation dripped with delicious tidbits of information about the impact of the American Revolution on slaves seeking freedom in the South, revolts in the Caribbeans, and how the experience of blacks fighting in this war contributed to motivating blacks to fight in the Civil War, 80 years hence. You say you never heard about any of this? Surely not! Like many in attendance, you were probably absent the day it was covered in your American History class. 

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