a sea of musket balls and gunpowder

I am neck deep in 18th century lists of military stores; things like powder horns, bayonet belts, grapeshot, and bear skins. It is heavenly!

I spent the weekend on the road. On Saturday I went to the Fort Plain Museum in Fort Plain, NY for a small (but wonderful) Revolutionary War encampment/reenactment.

Sunday was a long, fantastic day at the RevWar encampment/reenactment at Old Sturbridge Village. Nearly one thousand reenactors were there: soldiers, artisans, women, and lots of their children. All of these people are passionate about understanding the Revolutionary War and have made it their hobby. They go to these encampments to live as people did in the period. They dress, cook, work crafts, relax, have military drills and mock battles all as close to the original thing as possible.

This is a Patriot militia unit.

The British had fancy-pants uniforms and they still lost.

There were plenty of women with General Washington’s army. They were not ladies of the night. They were hired to cook, clean, sew, and help the sick soldiers. Many of them were married to soldiers. Some had their children with them.

The reenactors could not have been more generous with the time. I asked a bazillion pesky questions about the tiny stuff – how does one fire a flintlock musket in the air (answer: one usually doesn’t), the finer points of cooking in a dutch oven, and the art of rolling paper gunpowder cartridges.

Back to work on my story now. Remind to tell you about the guy who let me taste gunpowder…

12 Replies to “a sea of musket balls and gunpowder”

  1. This stuff is soooo cool. If we lived in New England, I would so be in one of those reenactment groups. I could dig playing in a drum and fife corps. I’m a revolutionary. Yep I am.

  2. I just want to thank you for using the word ‘wicked’ in catalyst a million times. LOL Its so true…at least in MA. Sorry, I was just examining your book! haha

  3. Reenactors are some of my favorite people in general, and especially when I’m looking for research help. A group in Vermont actually let me participate in a battle reenactment on board a gunboat replica when I was researching my first book.

  4. revwar

    i love sturbridge village! we went six and a half years ago when i was ten. also, there’s this place here in RI called Slater Mill. It’s kind of a similar lifestyle compared to sturbridge.

  5. Don’t have to live there. They’re all over the place, including in states that didn’t exist at the time they’re evoking.

  6. How ’bout that, we were in Sturbridge right then (the town, not the Village) stopping off at an antique store on our way back from Maine, and I heard about the twin reenactments that were occurring then. (The other, in Brimfield, was a CivWar event, as opposed to RevWar, in reenactor-speak.)

    I used to be a RevWar reenactor, in fact, and sometimes still help blacksmith in costume down at Fort Mifflin on the Delaware River. Anything you forgot to ask them, feel free to ask me.

  7. My family…

    Especially my Uncle Pete (Larrivee) used to work in all the re-enactments. Some interesting history (a lot of the gun powder came from Windham, Maine, 50% of the Union stores during the Civil War…http://agyw.livejournal.com/42727.html )I’ve done some of what you speak of– the Dutch oven when building a house in Pinedale, Arizona and when I lived in a tent in Sedona for nearly five months on the side of a mountain).

    If you like to camp, it’s a great experience. Get back to some of the sounds and smells of another time, as well as learning the difference between what one needs and what one wants. I look forward to the next book you wrote– Fever was mesmerizing.

  8. Wow, what wouldn’t I give for the time to do this kind of stuff! I know, I know, I have to make time. Speaking of which, you got me motivated with your WFMAD thing in July, so thanks!

    Do tell us about the gunpowder.

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