Overmountain men fighting at Kings Mountain, the turning point of the War. fought  in the Southern Theater.

Overmountain men fighting at Kings Mountain, the turning point of the War. fought in the Southern Theater.

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area Presents:

The Overmountain Victory Trail Celebration

Friday, Saturday and Sunday,

September 25, 26 and 27

It was the year 1780. The tide of the Revolution had turned against the colonists.  The British, forced out of New England, gained new allies in the divided South and won victory after victory in a bloody civil war.  Charleston had fallen, and American forces had crumbled at the battle of Camden. But then the impossible occurred…The frontiersmen of the western mountains began a long march, gathering an army along the way, from the highlands of Virginia to the hills of South Carolina.  There, at a place called King’s Mountain, they destroyed an army and opened the way for the final American victory at Yorktown.

The route they took from Virginia to South Carolina, we now know as the Overmountain Victory Trail.  Come celebrate with us as we recreate the muster of the Overmountain Men, which occurred here at Sycamore Shoals over two hundred years ago. Re-enactors in period clothing will be on hand throughout the weekend to share stories of the excitement and danger of that tumultuous time.

The celebration kicks off at 2:00 pm on Friday, September 25th as the Overmountain Victory Trail Association recreates the historic Watauga River crossing. For the past 40 years Members of the OVTA have recreated this historic occurrence since 1975, following the same route and timetable as their legendary forebears from Abingdon, VA to Kings Mountain, SC.

In conjunction with the OVTA crossing, the Tennessee State Guard will be celebrating their 235th anniversary as they trace their inception to the gathering of the Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals in 1780. Tennessee State Guardsmen will join the OVTA in the recreation of the Watauga River crossing. Following the crossing the Tennessee State Guard will hold a timeline Pass in Review showcasing the guard’s involvement in Tennessee’s military history.

The celebration continues both Saturday and Sunday as the Washington County Militia present living history demonstrations and activities in and around Fort Watauga.  Also, as part of the weekend’s activities, join us as we celebrate National Public Land’s Day on Saturday, September 26. At 1:00 pmjoin Historic Interpreter Chad Bogart on a special guided walk through the grounds of Sycamore Shoals and along portions of the walking path. Discover the vital role Sycamore Shoals played in the early frontier community, and how its significance would impact our nation’s history. Hear the story of the Overmountain Men and their historic gathering at Sycamore Shoals.

It will be a fun filled and action packed weekend sure to entertain and educate all ages. Admission is free so bring the entire family and relive some of the most crucial days of the American Revolution.





2:00Watauga River CrossingMembers of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association and the Tennessee State Guard recreate the historic crossing of September 25th, 1780.

Following the Crossing – TN State Guard Timeline Pass in Review – The Tennessee State Guard celebrates its 235th anniversary by showcasing their involvement in the state’s military history. Program presented in the Fort Watauga Amphitheater.



9:00“The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon”Join The Overmountain Men inside Fort Watauga as they assemble for morning colors and then listen to the stirring words of Reverend Samuel Doak as he delivers his famous sermon and prayer. The militia then departs in search of Patrick Ferguson and the tory army.


11:00“Gearing up for War” – Join Ken and Retha Reece inside Fort Watauga and learn about the gear, equipment, and food carried by the Overmountain Men in their campaign to Kings Mountain.


12:00 – “Echoes of Revolution” – Join the Watauga Valley Fifes and Drums for an exciting glimpse into the musical world of the 18th century.


1:00 – “Trail Talk: Walking in Frontier Footsteps” – To celebrate National Public Lands Day, join historic interpreter Chad Bogart for a guided walk along the park trail as he recounts the story of the Overmountain Men and their historic gathering at Sycamore Shoals. Program begins at Fort Watauga.


2:00 – “Life on the Homefront” – Come to the Talbot House for a look at the woman’s role on the 18th century frontier. See how the women and children fared after the militia had marched off in search of Patrick Ferguson and the Tory army.

3:00“Every Seventh Man” – Oral tradition states that the Overmountain Men left behind one in seven to guard the settlements as they went in search of the tory army. Witness the Watauga Home Guard drill and hone their skills as defenders of the frontier. Learn about the different firearms used in Colonial America.

4:00Camps Close – Join us tomorrow for another exciting day of life on the colonial frontier!



10:00Worship Service – Feel free to join the militia for Sunday morning service held in the courtyard of Fort Watauga. Following the service witness the Washington County Militia fall in for inspection of arms, and orders are given for the day.


12:00Artillery Demonstration – Join members of the Washington County Militia as they fire the fort’s cannon and talk about artillery in the 18th century.

1:00 – “Life on the Homefront” – Come to the Talbot House for a look at the woman’s role on the 18th century frontier. See how the women and children fared after the militia had marched off in search of Patrick Ferguson and the Tory army.


2:00“Every Seventh Man” – Oral tradition states that the Overmountain Men left behind one in seven to guard the settlements as they went in search of the tory army. Witness the Watauga Home Guard drill and hone their skills as defenders of the frontier. Learn about the different firearms used in Colonial America.


3:00Retiring the Colors – Camps Close – Thank you for joining us for a great day of frontier living history. Join us next time!



Open Hearth Cooking – Flintlock Musket & Rifle Demonstrations – Tavern Life – Militia Drill

Colonial Music – Leatherwork – Wool Processing – Colonial Games – 18th Century Camp Life

And Much More!!!


All activities are weather dependent. Schedule is subject to change or cancellation.


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Now THAT is a flag raising!

Now THAT is a flag raising!

Good Afternoon,

For those who will be helping out during the school day please take notice. I spoke with Colonel McCroskey yesterday and he would like to have a flag raising ceremony on Friday, September 25th at 8:30am before the school kids arrive.

Thank You,

Maj. Bogart

I’m glad Bob asked to have a flag raising. Lately there has been so much in the news about people burning and stomping flags that it almost brings me to tears, whether out of frustration or sadness, I can’t say. Maybe both. I remember being in college during the height of the Vietnam War and saw someone try to burn a flag. As much as I was opposed to the war, I respected the men who chose to go and fight and respected the country which did not persecute a peaceful dissenter. Whether it’s a Confederate flag, Gadsden flag or an American one, flags
such as these represent a history and a people who lived and died for a belief. The miracle is that in this country, people can pull together in times of stress or tragedy and raise their children in a place of relative safety, prosperity and opportunity. I hope that those who disrespect the flag keep in mind that the history of this country created a climate where they can do such a thing with impunity.

‘Nuff said…..

Grand OLD flag

Grand OLD flag

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Independence on the Frontier , Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area, June 27th & 28th  

Framing the Declaration of Independence

Framing the Declaration of Independence

Step back in time 239 years to a colorful revolutionary world and witness life as it was on the 18th century frontier during a very tumultuous time. In the summer of 1776 colonial leaders met in Philadelphia to draft a document that would forever change the world. As our guest to Fort Watauga, you too can be part of the excitement as news of American Independence reaches the colonial frontier. What did the colonists think about a new nation? Walk among historical characters and hear their varied reactions to the Declaration, from fear of war to the hope of a brighter future.

The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia, host living history organization at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area, will be encamped in and around Fort Watauga giving visitors a glimpse of life in 1776. A myriad of activities will unfold throughout the weekend such as militia drill and training, artillery firing demonstrations, open hearth cooking, tomahawk throwing and a special reading of the Declaration of Independence on Saturday at 1:00 followed a short celebration.

Get an early start on your Independence celebrations and bring the entire family out for a weekend full of history, patriotism, education, and family fun. The event will run from 10:00 until 4:00 on Saturday, June 27th and 10:00 until 3:00 on Saturday, June 28th.  Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area is located at 1651 W. Elk Ave. Elizabethton, TN 37643. For more information about this event please contact the park at 423-543-5808 or log on to these websites: http://www.sycamoreshoalstn.org or http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/sycamore-shoals

Independence on the Frontier: Schedule of Events


Saturday, June 27th     

10:00 – Raising the Colours:  Start the day off with a bang as the militia falls in for inspection

and raises the flag with a patriotic ceremony.

10:30 – Wataugan Footsteps: Join Gillian in the visitors center and learn about an important

woman on the frontier, Ann Robertson, who played a crucial role during the siege of Fort

Watauga in 1776.

11:00 – “Fix Bayonets”: Join Mr. Davis of the Continental Army and learn about the uses and

tactics of the bayonet, one of the most feared weapons used in the Revolutionary War! Then cheer on the Militiamen as they test their skill and aim with this 18th century weapon.

12:00 – “Echoes of Revolution”: The Watauga Valley Fifes & Drums perform martial and field

music of the Revolutionary War.

1:00 – Reading of the Declaration of Independence: Join in the excitement as the document

declaring our freedom from Great Britain is read publicly inside Fort Watauga. A short

celebration will follow.

2:00 – Kids Militia & Rubber Band Rifle Shoot: Attention all able bodied kids! Fall in and

drill with the Washington Co. Militia. Then join in the fun of an old fashioned rubber

band shooting match!

3:00 – Artillery Drill and Demonstration: Learn about 18th century artillery as the Militia fires

the Fort’s Cannon.

4:00 – Militia Drill & Retiring the Colours – The Washington County Militia demonstrates the

tactics and firearms used during the Revolutionary War, and then retire the flag for the day.

Camps Close to the Public: Join us tomorrow for another exciting day of 18th century

living history.


Sunday, June 28th    

10:00 – Raising the Colours:  Start the day off with a bang as the militia falls in for inspection

and raises the flag with a patriotic ceremony.

11:00 – Worship Service: Join us for Sunday Service held inside Fort Watauga.  

1:00 – Kids Militia: Attention all able bodied kids! Fall in and drill with the Washington Co.


2:00 – Artillery Drill and Demonstration: Learn about 18th century artillery as the Militia fires

the Fort’s Cannon.

3:00 – Militia Drill & Retiring the Colours: The Washington County Militia demonstrates the

tactics and firearms used during the Revolutionary War, then lowers the flag for the day.

Ongoing Activities Throughout the Weekend Include…

18th Century Cooking Techniques and Foodways – Colonial Carpentry – Wool Spinning and Fiber Arts – Flintlock Rifle and Musket Firing Demonstrations – Colonial Woodsmen Skills

And Much More!

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Carter Mansion Celebration, April 11-12, 2015

Five miles east of the fort is a little slice of elegance on the frontier and it’s always nice when the Militia has a muster at the John and Landon Carter Mansion. This year it was on April 11-12 and I’ll tell you, there were a lot of people sweating it  on Friday before the event. For one thing, it had been raining like a bee-ach-e and cold all week and the forecast didn’t look too promising almost right up to the very end. There weren’t too many people setting up on Friday and the question that was bandied about was whether there would be enough people there to hold the skirmish as the boss (Major Bogart) hadn’t really come up with a Plan B. Scott and Ethan Wallen, Bobby Hamm, Earl Slagle and the Garrous set up in the rain and prayed for good weather. With my bad luck when it came to events and the weather powers, I even offered to sleep at home thinking that with the Jonas removed, things would be good. Oh me of little faith!!! As bad as it was prior to the weekend, that’s how glorious it was from late Friday to Sunday.

Becky and John Garrou and their display of "Smalls" The place was jumpin' all weekend!

Becky and John Garrou and their display of “Smalls” The place was jumpin’ all weekend!

Part of the discussion regarding attendance was that so much was going on this particular weekend and the members were pulled in every direction. At Rocky Mount, there was Wooly Days and also a big meeting of the OVTA, and several members had to be there for that. There was a big Civil War event at the Tipton- Haynes house in Johnson City as well and several thought that these would pretty well siphon off members and the public too. In spite of that all, we had a decent public attendance and the members worked around their schedules and came in force.   Weather was dry and cool and people came from everywhere. There were all kinds of displays, from Jennifer Bauer’s husband doing flint knapping and she dying wool, to The Garrous’ mercantile stall, “The Gourd Man” Jim’s  fine display of gourd items, Ronnie Lail’s rope making machine, Cindy weaving and me spinning wool. Kay Milsap had the children all gathered as she demonstrated 18th century games , Bobby Hamm had fur and bone trade goods and the list goes on. At 1 PM, the group recreated a skirmish between the Tories and the Patriots. Actually this battle didn’t really exist the way we do it but the hard feelings and in-fighting sure did. After the Transylvania Purchase, John Carter and Charles Robertson fronted money for several families to buy the land they had settled on. When it was known that some of these families were loyal to the Crown, the Commitee of Five pulled the plug on these people. I suppose today we’d call it foreclosure. John, as Chairman, planned to take the deeds to New Bern to re-register them and it’s this that the argument and subsequent skirmish is based on. People LOVE the yelling, the shooting and it makes for a bit of drama. Of course, what they don’t know is that Carter never made it to the capitol but died along the way from smallpox and the box of deeds was never found. After the skirmish, the ladies laid on a tea for one and all. It always astounds me how much food we end up having- kind of like the loaves and fishes . the tea went off without a hitch!

Sunday came gloriously and instead of a tea, Major Bogart conducted a frontier service with communion. Everyone who was there was mindful of Easter that had just passed , Chad gave  a wonderful sermon, very touching and the Militia gathered  closely. Sunday was a more relaxed day but still it moved so fast that before one knew it, it was over.

The celebration at Carter Mansion is the beginning of the warm weather reenactment season and no more wonderful time could have been planned.

Thanks John and Becky Garrou for the great pictures.

Cindy Jordan and me in front of my domicile. Harry was with Earl Slagle down by at his camp

Cindy Jordan and me in front of my domicile. Harry was with Earl Slagle down by at his camp

Rope Making

Rope Making

Doug Ledbetter came from the Nolichucky with his Surveying equipment.

Doug Ledbetter came from the Nolichucky with his Surveying equipment.

Melodie Daniels and one of her "man-cubs". so cute!

Melodie Daniels and one of her “man-cubs”. so cute!

Ethan "God save the King" Wallen and Jennifer

Ethan “God save the King” Wallen and Jennifer

It was great seeing Col. Bob McCroskey.  Mel McKay is in the picture too.

It was great seeing Col. Bob McCroskey. Mel McKay is in the picture too.

communion with Chad Bogart, Jason Davis and Ronnie Lail

communion with Chad Bogart, Jason Davis and Ronnie Lail


The place to meet and greet

The John and Landon Carter Mansion

The John and Landon Carter Mansion

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Carter Mansion Celebration. April 11-12

For sure!!!!

For sure!!!!

Travel back to the 1780s… The American colonies have declared Independence, but the outcome of this bitter struggle is still in question. Hardy frontiersmen have crossed the mountains in ???????????????????????????????defiance of British law and have carved out homes in the wilderness. Conflict is rising between American Patriots, Loyalists who support the Crown, and native Indians who struggle to retain their way of life. But the people of this time still find cause for celebration and merriment so come out and see it all come together at the oldest frame house in Tennessee.

The Historic John and Landon Carter Mansion, built ca. 1775-1780, boasts beautiful over mantle murals, hand carved moldings and raised panels making it one of the most treasured sites in Tennessee history. The house is the only surviving link to the famed Watauga Association, the democratic government set up by the early settlers in the Watauga Valley. The home’s builder, John Carter, served as a chairman of the Association.

The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia, Sycamore Shoals’ host living history organization, will be celebrating its six-year anniversary during this exciting celebration! The Militia will be encamped on the grounds of the Carter Mansion and will present demonstrations of the daily lives of 18th century backwoods settlers. As part of the activities a re-enactment of a small battle between Patriots and Tories will be presented each day.

Local craftsmen and artisans will be on hand throughout the weekend showcasing and demonstration traditional arts and crafts. ???????????????????????????????Other activities throughout the weekend will include Tours of the Carter Mansion: Tennessee’s oldest frame house, Militia Drill, Musket and Rifle demonstrations, Traditional and Old Time Music, Storytelling, Colonial Military Music by the Watauga Valley Fifes and Drums, and much more. Come join us for a weekend of History, Entertainment, and Family Fun!

The Carter Mansion is located on the Broad Street Extension in Elizabethton, TN. For further information or directions to the Carter Mansion, contact:

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area

(423) 543-5808



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April 2011 Muster:Watauga Association not a Washout

It was a near miss this past weekend, April 16-17, and frankly, I don’t think there was a Regiment member who didn’t think we were in for it. On Friday when George, Bob, Chad,  Mike and I  assembled for the Watauga Association Muster, all we talked about was how we were going to get slammed by the weather and how we were ready to just hunker down and do the best we could. It was George holding down the Tavern, Mike and I in the Hilbilly Hilton on Friday night and I kept wondering if we would wake up to see Col. Mc Croskey’s  batwing-fly blown to bits but nothing happened. The Fife and Drum set up in Cabin 5 and it was great to see them inside the walls and we got to listen to them practice throughout the day which was a great background to all the activities throughout the day on Saturday.

It drizzled through Friday night while the whole South East was blown away but, suprisingly, the weather cleared up over Fort Watauga  for Saturday. In the morning, colors were raised and there was all kinds of activity. Doug Ledbetter taught a tin punching class up at the visitor’s center. Rachael and I were  glad  to have the opportunity to see how that was done. While we were up there, we saw two lovely ladies and their children from Boone, NC ,  who came for the day and were a wonderful addition to the group. Zack Glouser came to be with the Regiment in full 18th century kit and it was a terrific first event for him as a participant. The Regiment drilled to get ready for May Seige and with a light attendance from the public, it was a day just to share each others’ company without the pressure of doing demos. The most activity was in the hawk and knife throwing area. The kids kept Mike and his new,  lovely assistant Marina VERY busy teaching and supervising and it’s looking like this may be the most popular activity at the fort on muster weekends. The big event came at 2 PM when all the male members got together to reenact the formation of the Watauga Association. It was absolutely wonderful how each member stood in for one who was an original signer and “said their heart on the matter”. This was repeated  on Sunday and frankly, I liked the Sunday version because there was extensive argument, for and against the charter which made it more exciting. I can’t help but think that version 2 was by far closer to what probably happened  originally.

The nicest part of the weekend was what happened after hours when everyone brogut a covered dish and came together .It was blowing rather hard and we were a bit skittish of having dinner outside; Lisa and Rachael did so much to make the Talbot House hospitable. I bet there  were twenty people crammed in there with tables loaded with some of the best food we had since Thanksgiving. It was DEMOLISHED and Life was sweet!

Sunday was a repititon of Saturday but the weather was glorious. Chad held church service under the trees and again the day was lightly attended probably because it was Palm Sunday. There were ten people who drilled (I being one because if I don’t use it, I’ll lose it) and  we learned the fine art of wheeling. The biggest surprise was when Dave and Jane Doan brought two mama sheep and five new born lambs. What a treat for kids and adults alike! The moms were tied up under the board walk near the far palisade and the babies didn’t stray far at all. It was a pleasure to see the delight of the children as they got to touch the sheep, this being a new experience for many of them.

Of all the musters we’ve had so far, even the January one, I think this may have been the quietest as of yet. That’s ok; May Seige will more than amply make up for it.

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2011 Battle of Guilford Courthouse: A Hundred Man March Minus a Little

I couldn’t sleep Friday night for thinking about what was about to happen on Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13 at the Reenactment of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. It was cold but at 3:30 AM, I got up, went to the Blue Springs, dressed in my battle clothes, laid back down  and waited. Last year, I was Molly Spyder, your humble servant, indentured, who followed the men, read the drama in their faces and in the tenseness of their bodies as they marched up to their doom. The  thought passed through my mind that I wanted some of  this action.  A chance remark from Commander McCroskey saying he wanted to see a hundred men out on the field, me saying that I’d even wear a binder if I could fight, and him showing me documentation that, indeed,  women did and can fight as it happened during the time,  made donning britches and taking up a musket a  reality for me this year.  As I was laying on my cot early  Saturday morning, I kept thinking about the instructions Mike gave me, the commands I had to follow . I was nervous about handling a musket for real, my mind kept wandering over the fact that people really died here and that this battle in this place was THE pivotal battle in the Southern Theater that made Corwallis’s defeat at Yorktown a reality. This was no fantasy, no X-Box game,  and that we were actually living a bit of history. The moon was a quarter and, in the dimness of the moonlight,  if one had a vivid imagination, ghosts were rising like a miasma from the campfire smoke that drifted across the field.
Saturday broke clear and crisp; there was plenty of banter and activity at camp.

Getting ready for the day

The men were rolling cartridges or cooking, the officers were at meetings, and I was figuring out how to look mean and ready for war. It was a bit of doing, let me tell you but made better when I saw how many women actually donned men’s uniforms and were doing what I was doing. Througout the morning, there was good natured talk about how this newbie was going to be on the line and how a monster was being unleashed. Time was spent on what to call me and they settled on  Ray ( “You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me Johnny or you can call me Sonny, or you can call me RayJay, or you can call me RJ… but ya doesn’t hafta call me Johnson. ” BILL  SALUGA )  The fellows also offered fashion advice  and I went on a shopping spree. Godsey had clothes he couldn’t sell because they were too small or miscut so it was like a sale day at Macy’s and I came out with a complete set of man-clothes for a fraction of the cost. What was funny was the comments from the men like ” I like the blue great coat on you; the other one fades you out”. Fades me out???? You guys actually pay attention to this? What is this , the Ray-bow Colition???  I did get a royal blue great coat like Ronnie’s in the picture above; I looked  like a mini- Ronnie and called  myself “Mini Me”  (Dr. Evil:  “Mini Me? Mini Me? Could someone put a freakin’  bell on (her) or something?” Austin Powers. Note: Been there, doing that! :o)   )  Jacob also got a new green frock, looking pretty handsome, Earl got measured for a new coat  and Mike is sporting a new look too. I wasn’t the only one who sported some habedashery.

Ronnie and me???

The Regiment   formed the largest group on the field and teaming up with the Virginia Militia, we were a force to be reckoned with and totally impressive as we splayed across the field . The Washington County Regiment  responded to the call to arms in an unbelievable way. Every able bodied man, boy (and me) showed up. Randy Curde estimated that there was at least 20 dressed, maybe more and we picked up five from the Virginia Militia. The original North Carolina Regiment was estimated at  a little over a thousand. We weren’t doing so bad at half a hundred. How this translated was the boom effect. With all this fire power, the battle had to be the best yet.

I heard the number 42, comprising both groups. I suspect it was more… When we formed for inspection Saturday , the knot in my stomach was the size of  an orange; I was hoping I wouldn’t  disgrace myself, misstep, or otherwise make a fool of myself or the Regiment. Such was not the case, however. Chris Taylor generously lent me his Brown Bess which was a  good break for me as that is the same musket I trained on earlier in the week. Mike left to go onto the field so my security blanket wasn’t on the line but I followed all the directions to the letter and,  as we marched up the hill in formation counting the cadence, I could feel the fear and excitement as a real being, thrilling my whole body. When we entered into the woods, the knot was as big as a grapefruit and I was breathing  hard from excitement. My panties were even in a wad !!! 

Finally, it was time and let me tell you, there is nothing more scary than seeing those red- coats with the white bulls-eyes in the trees. Commander McCroskey was vigilant and hovered to make sure his men were all right. Cannon was blaring, and at the charge, Chad was barking orders- ready, steady, load, FIRE!!! Oh MY GAWD!!!!! I was so scared! They were coming; will I die? Will I get caught? Will my gun misfire? Mike stood close, whispering  direction and watching out for me. I fired off about 10 shots when my flint cracked in half on the field. Not too bad for a beginner but darned bad luck, nonetheless ! The commander from Virginia wanted some men to go down and Earl knew I had a dilemma so he told me to hit the dirt since my musket was useless. When it was time, four of us heard the direction “DOWN” and I flopped over on my side.

Dead and Dying at Guilford

Do you know how HARD it is to lay in the grass with the bugs crawling on your face and itching to scratch but can’t move? I kept one eye open and watched the Continentals  and British running over us, literally. One fellow stepped on my fingers, his leader telling them to “watch the dead..” Kim said a dragoon’s horse was inches from me- what a thrill…. and indeed, upon resurrection, it was the most thrilling afternoon I can remember in a long time.

Just call me Private Ato!

Sunday was more of the same but better! Mike’s legs were hurting so he watched the camp but he let me borrow his belt and accessories. The men dressed me up, reminding me of boys playing with a GI Joe, getting the uniform on him just right (“Put that belt buckle over to the center…Now when you run out of cartridges, sling your box over to your back and go for the belt box…” )  The battle that afternoon was even better than Saturday as the plans were more elaborate. I replaced Chris’s flint, bought a pick and brush and a screw tool thing to tighten the screw at the top and  I used these tools, too. We took out positions in the woods, ready to fight in the exact place where the militia had fought two- hundred- thirty years before. I think everyone was at the ready, intensely alert and on edge. Because of that, though, when the Brits had the misfortune of having to pass us to go to their positions, we pounded them with good natured banter ( everyone sang “Yankee Doodle Dandy, “Hey you, with the bullseye on your back… ” Look at the sheepskin pillow on that guy’s rear- he’ll fall softly when he gets shot in the behind”… )You could  see some of them grit their teeth in passing. The Hessians also took some verbal hits (” Achtung!!! Sprechen de Americaner?, Hey you, weiner schnitzel!  Feiger hund!!!..) They took it a little better than the Brits and even grinned and waved back. Finally we saw  Cornwallis and his second themselves moving towards us (”  Man, look at all that gold- what a target” ) When they heard us,  they backtracked like big-rigs backing up (you could almost hear the beep beep beeeep as they backed up)  and walked  out-of-their-way, heads bowed,  to stay as far away from us as they could.
It was time to form our sections; the British were coming! let me tell you, there was an immediacy that I have only experienced at the beginning of a car wreck. Everything is fast but in slow motion like a freeze frame. We were shooting in teams; I kept watching Doug Ledbetter , shooting with him and Chris Keene (, a really fine fellow with a beautiful wife and two pretty little girls. I’ve met him though emails here but he and his family was here for this event with us. ) I kept hearing the screams of soldiers and over the top, McCroskey and Bogart yelling “prime, load,fire; prime, load and fire.” Chris’s brown bess performed like a chanp; I loaded shot after shot, felt the black powder scorch my face at time, the barrel so hot it blistered my skin… and the red line and the green of the Hessians kept surging foward. The Regiment broke into the open; we had to cross through brambles, the needles ripped open my right hand and arm but I didn’t feel it… The regiments were together at that point and we literally spanned the field, half a hundred strong. We had practiced shooting in kneeling formation and that was unreal exciting and had to look unbelievably good from the spectator point of view. First line kneel, prime, load, shoot; second line, prime (one step foward, knee in  the back of the front guy), load, shoot!!! Oh my GAWD!!!   We fell back; I thought Chad said “fall down” not “fall back”   and I hit the dirt again but picked myself back up and moved out,shooting as I went. I ran out of cartridges a long time before, Adam and Sterling ably provided us with more shot. I  thought I shot 34 or so, but Mike knows how many cartridges his bags hold and he said I let off 42. The barrel was so hot, it blistered my left hand and the thumb of my right as I was cocking. The best part was at the end, though. I had one shot in my gun; it misfired and so I used my pin, unplugged the touch hole , reprimed and poured what turned out to be a load and a half in my musket. It was time to retreat becasue the dragoons were coming but what was I supposed to do with all this powder? Heck, I shot it off- a final salvo, a HUGE boom- right into a dragoon on a white horse!!  I didn’t understand why Chad was screaming  “don’t do that!” I didn’t realize how close the horse was, a white horse surging out of white smoke. All I knew was that it was divine justice for almost tromping on me on Saturday. What if that white charger had left me a little meadow muffin gift all over my new man-clothes????
Now I’m Private Raybo!

Colonials nearby

 I’m still on a high from this weekend; can’t sleep for trying to get the excitement down to moderate levels. It was a unique experience to do what the men allowed me to do this weekend. I have to thank each and every one of them for their forbearance and humor. I  understand Gail Ellis’s passion about being a male cannoneer much better now. The thing about this particular weekend was that this was a battle that was a strategic loss. We were Col. William Campbell’s Riflemen, we fought Cornwallis’s Regiment and the Jagers, we shot within the killing distance of 40 yards, we , like them, felt the fear, the urgency. We were “in the moment”,  looking with horror as the British charged us with fixed bayonets and “ran like hell” http://www.carolana.com/NC/Revolution/revolution_battle_of_guilford_courthouse.html 

We shot as one, line over line, looked death in the face, even if fleetingly as those thousand or so North Carolina Militiamen and all the rest, looked death in the face for a certainty two-hundred and thirty years ago. They won  our freedoms; we recreated their lives.

Stay tuned for pictures as I gather them in from Retha who took great pictures and others from the event. i’ll be posting them in Webshots.  

Doug Ledbetter who made our new Regiment flag and Private Rambo


Filed under 2011 Militia Activity, rev war reenactment