Brandywine Battle Reenactment: A Review and Photos

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.

The Camp:

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Facing the British and American camps from the other side of the reenactment area.

The Meh:

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).

The Good:

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)

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A British 3 pounder; light artillery battery that is useful for moving with light infantry across the field.

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Firing the 3 pounder! The shock wave of the blast that close almost knocked me back because I wasn’t expecting it.

The Reenactors:

The Reenactment:

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.

UPDATE 5-20-14:

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:

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22 responses to “Brandywine Battle Reenactment: A Review and Photos

  1. Great pictures, I was with the second New Jersey, we made some of the same comments. However, i must admit it was nice to see the interaction between the Crown forces and the Continentals. We normally do not get to have that interaction because we are so far apart. As a reenactor it was great to socialize with the “enemy”.

    • John, you’re right! I have reenacted Civil War for years and I do enjoy having conversations with the enemy as well. Sometimes it gets a little heated, but with the right bunch of people it is a great experience.

  2. Nice pictures. On another note…your background at the top is a painting of the 1st Delaware Regiment that is God awful. It has so many things wrong with it that it really is unusable. Bayonets on the wrong side, cartridge box on wrong side, hats cocked on the wrong side. – Chris Mlynarczyk – President – 1st Delaware Regiment

    • Chris,

      Yes, it is completely inaccurate. But it catches the eye. If you are feeling generous, please feel free to comment on the banner image (they rotate between header images so just refresh the screen until it comes up) expressing all of the inaccuracies and link to any information on the regiment that you would like. I’m all about correcting misconceptions!

  3. “No Drones” may be an attempt to ban”quad copters” equipped with cameras. I have been to two reenactments where these noisy anachronisms were flown over the troops to get overhead camera shots. I had to fight a strong temptation to throw a handful of birdshot down my barrel.

    • David; Ah ha! I guess that makes more sense. We couldn’t figure it out. I have yet to experience an event with these aerial photographers buzzing around, but I can see how that would make you want to lob something heavy at them.

  4. Glad that this event was your first Rev War one; a great weekend at a fantastic site.

    If I may though – there were several modern (local?) vendors at this event (where those signs were, at the top of the hill) – even though a few were making 18th century wood items. The “sutlers”, however, were farther down the hill and had come from several states. The offerings included clothing, linen fabric, buttons, sewing items, candles, games, jewelry, shoes, floor cloths, pottery, hats and much more – all 18th century as reproductions or in the style of. Granted items were offered that wouldn’t have been sold by sutlers following the armies, but all of the sutlers sell to the reenactors on a regular basis at various events. The modern vendors also were in pop up tents where the sutlers had reproduction cotton or linen canvas period correct tents and were dressed in period correct clothing. Sure hope you visited all the sutlers at the bottom of the hill as well!

  5. Does anyone know the names of the other units who participated in the reenactment? I’d like to add them to the site.

  6. Pingback: Another Major Revolutionary War Reenactment: The Battle of Wyoming, July 12-13, 2014 |·

  7. H.M. Marines were also there as an add-on to the 43rd (our commander was the British 2nd in command )
    britishmarines.blogspot.com

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