Tag Archives: 18th century reenactment

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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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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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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From Jennifer: Date Change of Carter Mansion Muster

Dear Friends,

The date of our annual Carter Mansion Celebration and Muster has been changed to Saturday and Sunday, April 2nd and 3rd, 2016. The times of the event will be from 10 am til 4 pm on Saturday and 10 am til 3 pm on Sunday.   The previously announced dates were the following weekend of April 9th and 10th and we apologize for having to make this change.

We hope you will add this weekend to your calendar and join us at Tennessee’s oldest standing frame house; a site full of late 18th century history and beauty.  The two day event will highlight the history of Carter County’s finest historic structure, along with traditional arts and family fun at the home of the historically prominent Carter family. Travel back to the 1780’s and tour the Carter Mansion. Witness living history re-enactors demonstrating aspects of 18th century life, and see local craftsmen showcasing traditional skills.

For additional information, please contact Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park at 423-543-5808.  The Carter Mansion is located at 1031 Broad Street in Elizabethton, Tennessee

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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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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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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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