Last night, my husband and I were reminiscing about Halloween costumes from our childhood years. I had been a princess, a nurse, a witch – the usual. He had been a dinosaur and an astronaut. Then I remembered 6th grade. By that age, American Girl dolls had become very popular. There were only five on the market: Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, and Molly (the classics). I was already reading tons of historical fiction by age 11 and I loved everything about Addy and the Civil War time period. I begged my mom to let me be Addy for Halloween. I desperately wanted her pink dress too. But historical clothing patterns were not hugely popular at Joann’s. And I wasn’t African American. My mom didn’t think anyone would “get” my costume. Bless her for trying to protect me. I didn’t care at the time. I WANTED to be Addy. So mom and I cobbled together a blue skirt (which she sewed a black ribbon around the hem, just like Addy’s), we found a white blouse and added a little black ribbon bow tie, and then I think I had some type of bolero style jacket or shawl (similar to Addy’s). I really wanted her lunch pail because that’s what she took to school. But my mom was not keen on the idea of searching every antique store in the Detroit area just for a tin pail. Boo.
So the day of Halloween in small Catholic school begins with every student in the 6th grade class going around the room and making each child “guess” that person’s costume. Most costume’s were easily guessed. Finally my turn came. I was really proud. I was Addy – an American girl – surely all the girls in my class knew Addy!!! I stared blankly back at everyone’s faces. No one could figure it out. Then my teacher, for the sake of further embarrassment and moving along to the next person (whose costume was, I’m sure, much more easily guessed), asked me to explain mine. I said I was Addy, though I did not sound as confident as I had once felt. Everyone just kind of looked at me and went “oh” and turned to look at the next person.
Since that time, I continued my obsession with historical clothing. Now I’m living the dream. Only not as Addy, but as Felicity!!! haha. Felicity was my sister’s favorite. But somehow since college, I fell in love with the Revolutionary time period and I now own a closet full of Felicity clothes that are historically accurate. Yay me!!!!
I had the most wonderful opportunity yet: to attend a huge reenactment in Gloucester, VA. I’ve never been out that way before and almost every/any person obsessed with the time period knows, it’s worth it. And it’s close to Williamsburg (another must and another post). There were 1500 registered participants. We were camped at the grounds of the Inn at Warner Hall. The Brits were camped on one side and the Americans on the other side. The French troops were at the back corner of the house, right near the river.
Looking down the driveway at Warner Hall.
Standing in the French camp looking back to Warner Hall
Saturday was a bit overcast/drizzly. But my red wool cloak kept me very dry and very warm. Fighting a battle in the rain and a muddy cornfield must be less than stellar. I would not know though because I am not a soldier. The battlefield was huge, maybe two football fields long and two wide? Though I’m not good at judging distances so I really have no idea. All I know is that there were soldiers entering the field from every possible corner. Battles lasted almost a full hour. The British still march in wonderfully precise rows.
Saturday afternoon battle – Lauzun’s in blue coats with yellow facing.
Saturday morning the French participated in the boat landing. I would become a soldier just so I could ride in the boat. However, that means there is a possibility of falling out of the boat! I think the French/American forces won the battle.
Here are more battle photos because, well it’s fun to take photos with lots of smoke and ponies!
Conditions on Saturday were perfect for smoke rings!
Calvary makes any battle instantly better.
One thing I find very odd is that when I’m watching the battles going on, I’m constantly searching for “my men.” They are easy to spot because of their light blue coats with yellow facing. No matter how far away they are, if I catch just a glimpse, I think okay they are safe. I panic just a wee bit when I can’t find them. Then I think, wait, they are shooting blank rounds. No one is actually dying.
The big event of the weekend was burning down the house. A historically accurate house was built in just a few short weeks, so it could be burned to the ground by the British. We waited all weekend to see this happen. It was worth it. I wish we could burn something at every reenactment.
From afar – oooh black smoke makes for a dramatic battle
Close up view with a zoom lens – pine sap and creosote burn extremely well!
It kind of looks like the British are on fire, but it was because of my position in the crowd. The fire department was on hand and no one got hurt, which made for a very successful end to the Sunday battle.
In between battles and meeting new people, we went shopping. It is fun to visit the sutlers in person after just looking at their websites – such wonderful people and all very helpful! Thank you to The Silly Sisters and the Virginia Floor Cloth and Textile Company for displaying so many wonderful fichus!!! (When I started compiling my wardrobe four years ago, I had plain white fichus that were appropriate and just fine. However, one did not suffice. Two white ones did not suffice. Nope. I had to make myself an embroidered one. Then I had to go and buy four this weekend! Ha!).
Lastly, it isn’t a good weekend with friends if the men don’t cook.
Ian making rice pudding
Stan making bacon and eggs
Here are some more in camp shots. We can’t wait to experience it all again in five years. Vive le roi!
French camp with multiple cook fires going
Almost paying attention during morning role call
Sunday morning inspection
Although I ran around all weekend and took near 600 photos on my camera and a friend’s camera, these were the only photos of the female French camp women!
Anna and baby Violet
It was chilly both Saturday and Sunday mornings and in the evenings. About a month before the event, I asked my mother-in-law if she could knit me some full length arm mitts. And she did!!! I was the most excited about wearing these because they are the newest handmade addition to my wardrobe. They are 100% wool and super warm. By midday on Sunday, my arms were actually sweating.
Me wearing my awesome mitts knitted by my mother-in-law!
Not sure who the gallant soldier is, but I had to pose near a pony!
“Father” and I before he goes off to battle in the morning
Now we all must wait another five years and I must start sewing more clothing so my sister has clothing to wear when she comes with me!!