First let me state that this was my first time attending a Revolutionary War reenactment. I’ve been to probably tens of dozens of Civil War reenactments throughout my life (close to a hundred, when all is said and done), but because of other issues with scheduling conflicts and school and family I’ve never had a chance to make one focusing on Revolutionary history. And for my first ever experience, all I have to say is…WOW! But more on that in a second.
Overall, I had a very positive experience at the Brandywine reenactment. It was a beautiful day out, the reenactors were all great and eager to get photographed in their period-correct attire, the impressionists were walking around and talking to people. It was a great experience. My review will be balanced positively, but I did have some minor..well, let’s not call them complaints. Let’s call them inconveniences.
I reported a few days ago that the event this weekend boasted over 500 reenactors and impressionists and 15 sutlers. On Saturday, while it was hard to gauge it completely, it didn’t feel like 500 reenactors but that may have been because the camps were so centralized with outlying camps further back along the path. It was nice that everything was fairly close together,
but it would have been a little better historically if the British camp and the American camp were spread further apart (I have also been corrected by many reenactors that they would prefer that the camps remain close together; I concede that from a reenactors perspective, this is definitely a better option on so many levels, so I retract my ‘meh’ rating and give this two thumbs up!).
As for sutlers, mainly the tents displayed baked goods and artsy items. There was only one military sutler at the park, which I found disappointing. I did, however, purchase a new very fine black round hat for a good price.
Just a friendly nudge to the organizers: I hope next year, if they do this event again (and I hope they do), they reach out to more military sutlers who sell wares for reenactors. I was looking forward to purchasing some equipment to start a Rev War impression of my ancestor, a militia captain; usually at reenactments the prices of goods come down because they are are pretty much promised sales.
We arrived early (about 10:50 or so as we were held up by Villanova’s graduation traffic) to the battlefield as we were expecting a full day’s worth of events to preoccupy us. But we had explored all the sutlers and camps by 12:30 in the afternoon, and with the battle not starting until 2:30, we had a lot of time to kill. So half of the time we were at the reenactment, we spent standing around in a spot we had picked out overlooking the reenactment area (though it was a really nice spot).
The only other thing I cringed at were the signs that lined the walkway of the sutlers path. Most of them were quotes (though I found a sign that incorrectly quoted Paul Revere as saying ‘The British are coming!’ which every history student knows is a myth; he would have said, ‘The regulars are coming!’), but there was one sign that read ‘No drones’ which confused everyone.
Clearly it was a political statement, but no one could figure out how it related to the day’s events (I was corrected in the comments that the ‘no drones’ sign may have been about the use of aerial drones to get photographs or video from above–those pesky things would make any reenactor want to lob something heavy at them as it kills historic presentation).
On the plus-side, the food was priced reasonably, the port-a-potties were everywhere and spaced out enough that you could always find one close by–that was extremely successful planning. Additionally, there was plenty of parking. The rainy night before left the parking area a little muddy and that meant fun times were had by all as everyone tried to drive through it in their sedans (which couldn’t be helped).
Nevertheless, the staff and volunteer personnel were extremely friendly and very helpful throughout the day. All the sutlers were very nice and everything was inexpensive. Everyone did a fantastic job and I’d like to personally thank them for their time and effort in putting this event together and making it awesome for everyone.
Prior to the reenactment proper, the British artillerists put on a firing demonstration which was really cool. The company was extremely informative, very sharp at firing their gun, and were very professional during all Q&A. (Author’s note: If anyone reading this can tell me the name of the artillery unit below, I would love to put them–as well as any other reenacting unit there–on my list of living history groups on the left hand side of the site)
I enjoyed this. I really need to stress that: it was awesome. I wish it had been a little closer to the spectators so I could get better camera shots, but safety is always the biggest issue at these events–not just for the spectators but for the reenactors as well. Below are some of my favorite pictures that were taken during the reenactment; I have photoshopped them to give them a grittier feel. Please do not steal them or use them without my written permission.
For those interested, I’ve added links to the Rev War reenacting groups that have contacted me to the side bar on the left side of this website. Go to their pages, see what they are all about. Reenacting is a great hobby and is in need of new blood. It can be expensive initially, but it is entirely rewarding and fulfilling. All the money you spend is immediately worthwhile the second you are on the battlefield, or sitting around a camp fire with other members of your reenacting family, or talking to interested spectators, or in a picture, or giving people a detailed account of the battle. There really is nothing like it, besides the real thing.
And some more photos, unedited, because so many have enjoyed what I’ve posted so far (you’re welcome). With my other photos, please ask permission to use these for your personal sites. I also ask that you continue to give me credit on the images, and link back to this post or my blog: