Tag Archives: 18th century Militia

April Muster: Carter Mansion Celebration, April 2-3

Saturday, April 2 & Sunday, April 3   

Ramona Invidiato


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 seven-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 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!


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Filed under 2011 Militia Activity, 2016 MILITIA ACTIVITY, Carter's Mansion


Good Afternoon,


First, I wish to thank all that were able to go to Walnut Grove this past weekend. It was a most enjoyable time and the site manager and our host (the SC Rangers & Capt. Moss) were very appreciative of our assistance and presence.


The Carter Mansion celebration is coming up soon. April 2-3. You may recall that we decided to scrap doing the Colonial Skills and Trades in February on account of the unpredictable weather, and chose to present them at the Carter Mansion Celebration instead. This is a great time to showcase these types of programs. The weather is warming up and there is no lovelier place than the Carter Mansion. Please let me know if you would like to present a program, display, or talk that weekend. I am open to new ideas and comments.


As usual we will be doing the salute to the Carter Family in the cemetery Saturday morning and the Skirmish both days at 1pm so come prepared to shoot.




Col. Bogart


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Filed under 2016 MILITIA ACTIVITY, Carter's Mansion, Officer Communication

2016 Winter Militia Muster, Feb. 6-7

fort winter

Fort Watauga in winter

Winter musters are usually miserable affairs. It is sub FREEZING, snowy, wet, and those who participate are not your typical sunshine patriots. This year the muster was on Feb. 6 and 7 and the weather, while coolish, was hinting at a stellar spring to come.

On Friday, those who were setting up the cabins and camps arrived to a dry fort . The Tavern was up for grabs but the Bennetts did their usual wonderful job making the Talbot House look prosperous and warm. (click on the pictures to see the captions) Somewhere in the preceeding month, Earl Slagle upgraded the Longhunter lean-to to a more secure structure and he and Kim had a very impressive camp there complete with a bear claw that Kim skinned, hanging from one of the poles. Bucky Simerly set up a primitive digs in the man cave and it was very comfortable. Doug Ledbetter and Bill White did a superlative job making the last cabin warm and inviting.

When there’s not much going on, my thoughts turn to COOKING and along with Lisa Bennett, we just about fed the whole militia. I’m thinking that the hillbilly Hilton is rapidly becoming a publik house, yet unnamed, but perhaps someone will make me a sign “The Cock and Bull”. There was fun, frolic and eating all day for two days.

Becky and John Garrou were in the visitor’s center with their fine display of period drink. It’s a great idea and serves two good functions. One is to get Becky out of the cold, yet she still can participate and the other is to welcome guests to the museum and to the doings of the day. The only thing is I miss being with her when she’s up there. I need a sign on the door… “visiting the Carters”… or something like that.

There was no set theme; mostly it was military drilling with practicing various commands and marching. I have often threatened to have a shirt made with the militia logo on the front printed crookedly and in the back, the sentence “Militias don’t do straight lines” but I have to say, the boys looked spectacular as they followed the officers’ commands.

straight line

BY GAD!!!  Straight Lines!!



Besides drilling and drilling, there was an artillery demo which always is a big hit.


Ready, aim, Fire at Will!

ethan not will



The most notable thing on Saturday was the special recognition program at Noon. Several junior ROTC cadets from the Carter County high schools including Elizabethton High were recognized at a special and well attended ceremony. It was a pleasure to see these young people take the mantle of leadership.

The Watauga Fife and Drum outdid themselves on Saturday. There was a full compliment and they performed a medley of new songs. Hats off to the FIFE AND DRUM!

Sunday was a very quiet day. I bet there were only 20 visitors the whole day in spite of the fact that it was warm and beautiful. The Talbot House was packed for service and Dave Doan gave a beautiful homily about the meaning of Ash Wednesday. One has to hand it to him. Dave was sick, getting over a nasty stomach flu but was there and preached wonderfully. It , like Saturday, was a good day for laughter and seeing old friends and meeting new.

Thank you, Retha Reece, Doug Walsh and Tim Massey for taking such wonderful pictures.

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Filed under 2016 MILITIA ACTIVITY


OC German door

An Epiphany blessing for the New Year


Ed Note: Click on the pictures to see the captions.

This year, Christmas felt like a tropical time with temperatures in the 70’s and, like many of us,  I was hoping against hope that the end of the Christmas season would be a continuation of the warmth that made the daffodils start to pop up. Old Christmas was right on the heels of New Years Day and while it was substantially colder, the weekend turned out sunny and bright.

Old Christmas is one of the most loved events the Militia does each year. As in many countries, Epiphany marks  the close of the Christmas season and we honor the settlers and their holiday traditions. On Friday, one could see everyone who was staging a cabin working on their decorations. Many of us had been spending weeks at home making the baked goods that were going to be the showcases of various tables. Cindy and Harry Jordan did a sterling job creating a French cabin, complete with manger and Buche de Noel.


Earl Slagle looking in at the french cabin






Earl Slagle was the lone wolf in the woods, roasting venison for a holiday in the field as a longhunter.

Dan Akerblom brought the pine forests of Banner Elk , NC and festooned the Tavern with green. He and Ethan Wallin recreated Dutch traditions.


Dab Akerblom , Tavern master , decorating in the Dutch manner

The Talbot House looked so veddy English. The Bennetts did a superb job making it so inviting and welcoming.

Tony DeVault created an  Irish Christmas in the cabin nearest the woodshed. It looked very nice, festooned with ivy and greens in all the corners. Probably of all, he recreated the primitive yet beautiful atmosphere of those settlers just starting out.

The hilliblly Hilton was the German cabin and this year, the ol’ widder woman had a boarder. Just like in years gone by, the doors of those who homesteaded were open to any traveler and Travis Souther stayed the weekend to partake of a German Christmas. The loft was inviting and just as it would have been two centuries ago, the widder stayed there with the goods  and the man stayed downstairs and kept the fire. I have to say I had the best night’s sleep I have ever had winter camping in all the years I’ve been doing this.


Because it was rather chilly, John and Becky Garrou stayed in the Visitor’s Center where it was more comfortable for her . Near the Christmas tree, they had a beautiful spread of goods for the guests and a fine display of drinks of the period. It was a terrific idea and with their sweet personalities,  a great way for visitors to be introduced to the 18th century at Christmas time.

I noticed that although there was a steady stream of visitors, especially in the afternoons on Saturday and Sunday, we weren’t as bombed as we normally have been in years passed. It was a manageable crowd and I think that, having learned lessons in the past, we managed them better than ever before . After hoisting the colors, there was plenty of time for everyone to circulate, visitate and jollificate.

On Saturday afternoon, when the crowd was at its best, everyone assembled near the french cabin to watch a presentation by Alan Begley to Jennifer Bowers and Chad Bogart. They were cited by the National Guard for working so hard and diligently in helping to put together the Maneuvers event back in September. it was wonderful to see these individuals honored for their hard work.

The best part of the day for me, personally,  was looking up and seeing Colonel Bob McCroskey. It was marvelous to see him and sit at length and share time.

Sunday, though warmer than Saturday, was very quiet  until later in the afternoon. It was a repetition of Saturday except for the Church service that was conducted by Ronnie Lail who preached a wonderful service. One can saw truthfully that Ronnie packed the church full as there was standing room only in the Talbot House. Everyone decided to save best vittles to share after the public left so towards the end of the day, many of the members went to the Talbot House to share food and company.

We’ve had several Old Christmases where it was a struggle to stay warm, a struggle to cope with the crowds but this one wasn’t one of those events. everyone had fun, enjoyed the public and each other. You could hear music, the sounds of the children, laughter and chatter. It was a tremendous way to close the old season and open the new one for 2016.



ED NOTE: Thank you so much Retha Reece for taking these outstanding pictures.


Retha and Ken Reece

Thank you Tammy Markland for getting the pictures of the presentation.


Tammy Markland


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Filed under 2016 MILITIA ACTIVITY


To those who lived in the Eastern Appalachians in the last decades of the 1700’s, the Revolutionary War was a distant drumbeat being fought and stalemated somewhere up north. For these people, it was an echo in the mountains that surrounded their hard scrabble lives. For the most part, though there were others, these early settlers on the frontier were not English, per se,  but came from the large Irish territory, the Ulster Plantation. These Scot-Irish whose ancestors where already displaced once, ignored the Royal Proclamation where George III promised the indigenous peoples that there would be no British subjects settling permanently west of the  Alleghenies and dug out a tenuous  life in the wilderness and lived as they wished.

The call of war sounded closer when the British decided to end the stalemate , invade the Southern colonies thus splitting the colonies and the resistance with the hope of ending the war. They banked on loyalists fighting along side the British soldiers. What they didn’t bank on was the ragtag group, these “mongrels”, “barbarians” , these “Backwater Men” as Major Patrick Furgeson  disparagingly called them, who sometimes appeared in the low countries, who fought like devils with their strange Indian cries, who could fell a deer at 200 yards, who harbored rebels and their families in the depths of the mountains and lived to fight another day. The sound of war was made crashingly real when Furgeson,commissioned by Cornwallis to subdue the rebels on his western flank,  out of frustration, threatened the leaders of this group by saying  If the Rebels “did not desist from their opposition to the British arms,” he would “march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders and lay their country waste with fire and sword.”  This enraged the leaders of these very independent people who mustered over a thousand men and set off on a 330 mile journey in a nine day march which brought defeat to the Tories and death to Furgeson. These men  set off ,not to fight for a nation but to defend their cabins and farms and the mountain life they valued.

Why they fought! (Timothy L. Overman and son)

Why they fought! (Timothy L. Overman and son)

Every year in September, The Washington County Regiment , in conjunction with the OVTA (Overmountain Victory Trail Association) , holds its commemoration of the Overmountain Men’s gathering at Sycamore Shoals. This year it was held on September 25 through 27th. It threatened rain all weekend, so much so that the school day scheduled for Friday was cancelled. The day turned out sunny, however and the historic site hosted the Tennessee State Guard who were on maneuvers at the park. I didn’t stop for a head count but I bet there was a hundred  if there was one, and It was really cool to see them mass together, so erect and so serious. The Watauga Valley Fife and Drum leading the way, the Militia, distaff members and the whole company of Guard participated in crossing the Watauga as the Overmountain Men did 235 years ago. Prior to the crossing, Steve Ricker told the story of the battle of Kings Mountain to a rapt audience and the Reverend Doak, played by George Cobb, gave that rousing sermon which rededicated the men and brought the men’s determination to a fever pitch.

Steve Ricker telling the story to a captivated audience.

Steve Ricker telling the story to a captivated audience.

Interesting perspective of the crossing with Superintendent of the National parks in the south, John Slaughter, in the foreground.

Interesting perspective of the crossing with Superintendent of the National parks in the south, John Slaughter, in the foreground.

The militia, members of the OVTA and the Tennessee National Guard crossing the river

The militia, members of the OVTA and the Tennessee National Guard crossing the river

It speaks for itself!

It speaks for itself

After the crossing the Overmountain Men , followed by Representatives of the First Tennessee Regiment (War of 1812) and then the whole contingent of the Tennessee State Guard assembled in the ampitheater for a short program. It brought home that there has been a continuum of volunteer service protecting communities here and wherever they are needed for the last 235 years and that these last are the inheritors of a grand tradition. One member of the Guard  sang the most beautiful rendition of the national anthem I’ve ever heard and there were speeches. Then three guardsmen were singled out for recognition for excellence.

Scott Smith who lives in Church Hill, TN, was one of the three who received an award of excellence.

Scott Smith who lives in Church Hill, TN, was one of the three who received an award of excellence.

The Guard, the OVTA and the National Park Service all had display stations at the visitors’ center and they stayed all weekend, providing the public with information and answering questions.

Saturday was another one of those days, threatening rain which never came. There was good traffic throughout the weekend where people came and saw various displays of 18th century living. one of the more interesting ones , I though, was Ken and Retha Reece’s display of trekking equipment and how one made pemmicin to take on trips. There were militia drills throughout the day and the crowd pleasing cannon demonstration in the latter part of the afternoon.

Fine tradition of service over time

Fine tradition of service over time

After the public left for the day, many of the members went to the burial site of Mary Patton who provided the excellent black powder for the Overmountain Men. She was remembered in a moving ceremony culimnating in a military salute and the pouring of black powder on her grave.

Sunday was less fast paced and more relaxed. Under cloudy skies, George Cobb preached the sermon explaining the references to the sword of Gideon and Macedonia. The park was lightly attended which was just as well as the militia got together for the first time, and actually was able to socialize.

My breakfast buddies and I having biscuits and apple butter or molasses Sunday morning.

My breakfast buddies and I having biscuits and apple butter or molasses Sunday morning.

I think the members were gathering their reserves to see the changing of officers in the afternoon. At 3 :30, Colonel Bob McCroskey stepped down as Colonel of the Militia and passed the baton to now Colonel Chadwick Bogart. It was very moving to hear Bob enumerate the accomplishments of the regiment over his six-year tenure, listen to his reasons for stepping down and read Chad’s commission to him and all assembled. Chad had tears in his eyes and he accepted the commission and praised Bob for his service, His first command , though, was to the distaff members as he bellowed ” you WILL Wear modesty cloths at ALL TIMES”. The verdict? Yep, he has what it takes as every woman looked down at her chest to see that her cloth was put on correctly.

It was a busy weekend, full of fun and emotion as the Washington Co. Regiment of North Carolina Militia, the OVTA and the TN State Guard met together to commemorate one of the most important events in the Up Country of North Carolina.

Pam Eddy and Lisa Bennett pouring black powder of Mary Patton's grave

Pam Eddy and Lisa Bennett pouring black powder of Mary Patton’s grave

Salute at Mary Patton's grave

Salute at Mary Patton’s grave

Colonel McCroskey presenting the new colonel with his commission

Colonel McCroskey presenting the new colonel with his commission

Colonel Bogart accepting his commission, praising the militia and the willingness of its members to do whatever it takes to further the goals of the historic site and do it with willingness and humor.

Colonel Bogart accepting his commission, praising the militia and the willingness of its members to do whatever it takes to further the goals of the historic site and do it with willingness and humor

George Cobb showing Pam Eddy and myself the reference about Macedonia in Acts from the New Testament crafted by James Moore.

George Cobb explaining to Pam Eddy and myself the reference about Macedonia in Acts. The Bible in my hands is  the New Testament crafted by James Moore.

The passing of the baton.

The passing of the baton.

Colonel McCroskey explaining to the crowd that he felt the Militia needed a constant presence from a Militia leader and that his health prevented him from being with the group especially in inclement conditions.

Colonel McCroskey explaining to the crowd that he felt the Militia needed a constant presence from a Militia leader and that his health prevented him from being with the group especially in inclement conditions.


Filed under 2015 MILITIA ACTIVITY, Sycamore Shoals Historical Site

Colonel and Commander Bob McCroskey

BobMcCroskey: As Bucky Claubaugh would say

BobMcCroskey: As Bucky Claubaugh would say “a FINE man”.

Today the regiment was notified that after six years of leadership and countless years before of friendship and advice, Colonel Bob McCroskey is stepping down from his position due to health issues and Major Chad Bogart is taking his place as leader of the Washington County Regiment of No..Carolina Militia.

We’ve all seen some very fine leaders: Grant Hardin, Dennis Voelker, Harry Jordan, but to think that Bob’s booming voice won’t be leading a charge at Guilford Courthouse or on the field during the seige makes me very sad. The word that comes to mind when I think of Bob is “elegant”. He is a big man, well proportioned and his presence is elegant and commanding. I bet in his salad days, this naval officer must have been quite a sight in his dress uniform. He’s still got style and plenty of it ,and I think everyone who knows him  would agree. Another word I think of when I think of Bob is passion; he is passionate about living history, the history of the area and keeping the story alive and his enthusiasm is contagious.

All of us have memories of Bob and the stories that will emerge will  take hours to tell. What I know is that he has been a selfless role model to  one and all and  has nothing but a kind word. Joy comes seemingly effortlessly to this man and from him to others. That’s a rare gift, especially in the face of challenges. During rocky times, his charity and firm yet gentle guidance kept the group together and made it very strong. After open heart surgery, as sick as he was  before the second surgery that saved his life, he still managed a joke, a hug and a smile. He is a very affectionate man and we all look forward to hearing his laughter, feeling a pat on the shoulder or a big bear hug. That is just his way and it’s encouragement, and recognition in a time when both are hard to come by.  The youth look at his like a loving grandfather, the rest, a loving friend. But most of all , he commands the respect and admiration of all who he is in contact with.

Bob was instrumental in so many things that we do now, musket drills, safety training, live firing , the Venture Crew, an online blog site keeping up with the unit’s events to name a few , and he’s challenged the members to do things they would never have considered before.We have a fully trained cannon crew and ,heck, could you ever imagine a person like Private Ray taking the field (though I think the reason why Bob encouraged me was so that I could que his hair in the morning). The membership of the group has expanded and we are gaining new members all the time thanks to his leadership and a team of leaders who work so well together.

Bob and Mel

Bob and Mel

It’s a logical choice to see Chad Bogart step up into the position of Colonel. I can’t think of a better choice. I wish I had his patience, people skills and diplomacy; those are gifts that he has a-plenty, and I know Chad will take us to new heights, building on the firm foundation that Bob has provided , but I just don’t think Chad will be able to bellow ” Women WILL WEAR MODESTY CLOTHS AT ALLLLLL TIMES”  with the same shiver- me-timbers sound that only Bob McCroskey can muster.

The Colonel and the new Colonel

The Colonel and the new Colonel

Kind words and a smile

Kind words and a smile

“….and finally let me say that ALL ladies WILL wear modesty cloths….”

Tell me that ain't dinner, Kimbo!

Tell me that ain’t dinner, Kimbo!

The face of Liberty!

The face of Liberty!

Weapon explanation and training

Weapon explanation and training

A selfless roll model to young and not so young

A selfless role model to young and not so young

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To the Washington County Militia,

The past six years have been by far the best when it comes to historic interpretation at Sycamore Shoals. That is because our unit, the Washington County NC Militia, has been committed to two things… rekindling old friendships with fellow reenactors and breathing new life into what had become a stagnated atmosphere in the living history feature of the park. Through this we have become an outstanding group of committed living historians.

This has been done, in large part, by the leadership of our Colonel, Bob McCroskey. Bob was the perfect choice to kick start the new unit back in 2009, and he has been a fantastic leader ever since. Bob has faced some difficult health issues over the past year or so and has not been able to be with us as much as he would like. Due to this, Bob has decided to step down as Colonel of the Militia. I know that you all join me in thanking Bob for the tremendous job he has done for us these past six years.


Bob’s resignation opened up the need for a new colonel and I wanted to let the membership know that I have been contacted by the Committee of Safety, and they have offered me the position.

After a lot of thought and prayer I have decided to accept the offer. I definitely do not plan to replace Bob, as no one could. I will, however, try to continue in Bob’s footsteps and lead our unit as best I can. I will need all the help I can get as I may be calling on many of you to assist in new and challenging ways. Any and all encouragement will be greatly welcomed and appreciated.

The change of command will take place at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon, this weekend during the muster event. Bob’s request is for as many as can make it to please attend the ceremony.

Again I want to personally thank Bob for all he has done for the unit, and I look forward to him being with us when he can. I also look forward to the future of the unit and to us all moving forward together.

Your Most Obedient Servant,

Major Chad Bogart

Chad A. Bogart

Historic Interpreter

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area

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