Throughout 2023, Mother Nature has been particularly antagonistic as far as event planning. August through October saw six consecutive weekends of rain and the earlier part of the summer was marked with rain, rain, and rain as well, almost always managing to put a damper on weekend events. Sometimes we got lucky that the rains can just after we packed up, and sometimes we got rained on. We were fortunate that November was not particularly soggy and we had two great Revolutionary War events at Ft. Tryon Park and New Bridge Landing with nice weather. Unfortunately, that streak was broken again. The Friday, December 1, Christmas Parade was a wash-out for Lord Donegall's Regiment, which was looking forward to making a reappearance since the COVID lockdowns began. So, alas, we have no pictures to show, nothing to report. We are, however, looking forward to Saturday, December 23, at Old Bethpage Village where our 1830s Victorians will once again join them for their Christmas Candlelight Tours. Fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate!
On Sunday, November 19, the 35th participated in what is Part Two of a two-day long Rev. War program commemorating the capture of Fort Lee and Washington's retreat across Bergen County to escape the advancing British. The museum and park at Fort Lee hosts an event on Saturday and some of the reenactors march from there to New Bridge Landing in New Bridge to continue the second part on Sunday. For us, we arrived Sunday with 3 soldiers and 3 ladies. We fell in with our comrades, the 43rd, 54th, Brigade of Guards, and 4th NJV for two skirmishes held during the day. The first, held in the late morning, saw a scrap begin on the far side of the bridge, eventually pushing the rebels over the bridge to the Von Steuben House. Here, we paused for a lovely lunch provided by the Bergen County Historical Society. We had a nice hot beef or lentil stew with rolls and butter. Just the thing for a chilly autumnal day.
The army re-formed for the second demonstration. From here, we began by the Steuben House and pushed the rebels again, over the grounds, clear across the property to the Campbell-Christie House, and secured our victory as Washington and his men escaped to continue the Revolutionary War. This event is called the Retreat to Victory because Washington was able to evade the British and fight-another-day.
This event is always a favorite of ours. The staff were very kind and put on a great venue which was well-attended by the public of all ages and backgrounds. We spoke with many, many people during the course of the event and found it a great way to wrap up the 2023 Rev. War season.
We thank Rebecca Cataldi, Jeff Bross, and Sharon Van Vliet for these pictures. Also, check our Chris Lauterbach's YouTube channel for videos of the event. In fact, we'll just give you the links right here!
This year, the 35th was once again in attendance at the Fall of Fort Washington event at Ft. Tryon Park in New York City. This event, near the Cloisters, commemorates the final significant opposition to British control over the city. The event, hosted by NY Parks Department, is held each year to commemorate the Continental withdrawal over to New Jersey. The 35th was the only British presence this time, but we nevertheless had a great time working with our Continental counterparts and George Washington, portrayed by Mike Grillo. Washington himself was not at the fall of Fort Washington, but Mike nevertheless presents that side of the story and talks about the conflict from the perspective of the commander-in-chief. Norm Goben spoke about the battle for the fort itself, which was assaulted by Hessians from multiple angles. Dawn Elliott was doing cooking demonstrations while Joel Schlemowitz put on a period puppet show to entertain the audience. There was also a blacksmith with a portable forge, showing how ironwork is done.
We spent the day talking with a steady flow of visitors who had very interesting questions and were universally pleasant to interact with. We also took the opportunity to fly our new King's Colour reproduction for the first time. The British camp, which was our fly, was therefore unmistakable with the 6' square flag marking our place.
We thank everyone involved with the event, particularly Ollie DeMeio, and look forward to next time. Pictures below are from Jennifer Beckett and Manonce, Artist.
The Royal Sussex happily returned to Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome after a long gap. We last visited back in 2016, as reported by our VAD, Meredith. The weather being less-than-cooperative this past weekend, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome WW1 weekend was pushed to just Sunday. Wind conditions meant that, unfortunately, the old airplanes could not safely fly, but the volunteers and staff showcased their birds on the runway. Joining up with the East Coast Doughboys and the Tsarist 39th Tomsk Regiment, the Royal Sussex and VADs made sure that the British Empire was represented for the day's First World War commemoration. A short ceremony was held before the ground-show with the playing of the national anthem and all the reenactors were invited to participate in the salute. We spoke with visiting members of the public about who we represented and, despite the less than ideal weather, had a great time with our friends and among the venerable old warbirds of a century ago.
Thank you to the East Coast Doughboys for some of the pictures below.
Our autumnal 1830s Victorian event at Willow Hall was blessed with decidedly non-British weather, with the exception of a very brief, very light drizzle, during what has been a soggy, wet summer overall. A strong turnout of our members made an excellent day of living history interpretation, with a particular emphasis on military drills, marching, and firing exercises. As always, our gracious hosts at Willow Hall made a wonderful experience for us and for the members of the public who came to see our encampment. L. Cpl. Tom capably handled our section and the day's army exercises culminated in a speed firing demonstration to see who could load and fire the most rounds within 60 seconds. Our ladies were on hand, providing excellent company and working on their own projects. We had a surgical discussion with our regimental doctor at 2:30 and then at 3pm, the event began to wind down with everyone invited to enjoy a tea with snacks and refreshments. We struck the camp at 4pm and managed to have everything packed away with time to spare for the incoming rainy weather. All in all, an excellent time for everyone involved.
The 35th Regiment was invited to participate in Simcoe's Raid, an event held in Piscataway at East Jersey Old Town Village. This was to commemorate the loyalist/rebel conflict which took place in the region that ultimately resulted in the capture of John Graves Simcoe, the commander of the Queen's Rangers who first arrived in America in 1775 as an ensign in the 35th Regiment. Simcoe's Raid was held over the weekend with Crown forces and rebel forces more or less occupying the village itself prior to the skirmish event. The 35th was represented by Privates John V.V., Jesse G., and Tony S., with our camp followers Sharon V.V. and Rebecca C. There were a number of Hessians, including the Jaegers and Von Knyphausen, with British forces represented by the 35th, 23rd, and Brigade of Guards. Loyalists were represented by the Queen's Rangers and 4th NJ Volunteers, the Crown hosts of the event. Opposing us were militia forces supported by a wall gun (a very large musket) and a small cannon as well as dragoons.
From the unit, John and Rebecca volunteered to assist with setting up the rail obstruction that would be used in the skirmish scenario. A rail fence was put together fairly quickly as many hands make light work. Throughout the village there were demonstrators doing things from 18th C. cricket to a talk on printing and handwriting, crafts, tailoring, and more. We practiced on the "green" in the center of the village, going over tactics such as advancing and firing by files, to try to maximize our firepower for the skirmish.
The weather was hot but not ludicrously hot. It was, however, extraordinarily humid. Pte. Jesse G. gave a quick talk about the warning signs of heat-related illness prior to our moving onto the battlefield where we would make use of the rail obstruction we built.
The battle itself progressed with the Crown forces advancing onto the field, meeting with militia who appeared in different stages. Some were already in place as we advanced, later more appeared on our left flank, then others still to our rear. A volley and bayonet charge dislodged the rebels from the railings, but the cannon and advancing rebels made the position untenable. Simcoe went down and the British with the Hessians made a fighting retreat off the field, driven away by the rebels.
We thank our hosts and their partners, the staff at the village, and everyone involved who made an excellent event for us to be a part of and engage with the public.
The Society was invited to set up at the Wharton Canal Music and Craft Festival in Wharton, NJ, and we happily agreed. John and Kyle represented the unit, setting up our display with some helpful volunteers who very graciously lent us a hand in putting our fly up. We showcased our 18th, 19th, and 20th Century impressions and offered information about the Society to a steady stream of visitors. We can say that we had so many visitors that it was a non-stop event for us. While we do not know exactly how many people we spoke with during the day, we almost depleted all the brochures we brought along. Special commendations to Kyle for discussing and demonstrating the flintlock musket and comparing it against the SMLE of the First World War. John primarily focused on the uniforms of the regiment and how the Society itself operates. The festival itself was a very large affair and while we didn't get a chance to see it, we were told that about five thousand people had come throughout the day, being brought in by shuttle bus or locals walking to see. There were bands, crafters, kayak rides, ponies, and we were not the only reenactors present, either. Another Revolutionary War unit and a Civil War group was present, although they were on the other side of the festival. The event's staff and John Manna were wonderful to us, the weather was cooler than expected (which was also fantastic), and we found the occasion to be another great day for the British Empire.
Some pictures shared by Jeff Bross.
The 3rd annual Living History Timeline at Ringwood Manor was a success, despite the threatening weather reports on Saturday. A wide variety of historical representations were on hand each day and a brief rain shower on Saturday at 2pm did not extinguish the fun of the event. This year, our representations spanned the Roman Empire through the Vietnam War. Sunday's weather was perfect and saw larger numbers of visitors, engaging with our participants the whole time. Reuben Fast Horse, Lakhota teacher, linguist, and entertainer, spoke each day to gathered audiences and Michael and Maria Grillo as Mr. and Mrs. George Washington spoke on Sunday afternoon, wrapping up the event. Ringwood saw one of the largest turn-outs of Royal Sussex Society members in quite some time, spanning a number of different impressions, but nevertheless united by their common unit.
The Royal Sussex thanks the staff at Ringwood Manor and all the participating reenactors making this year a great event for everyone. We also thank Bethany Schulte and Chris Lauterbach for these pictures.
The 35th Regiment's Grenadier Company was represented at the British Brigade's Battle of Monmouth this year. Our presence, albeit smaller, saw the 35th falling out with our stalwart allies in the British battle line. The real 35th's flank companies were present at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, before being transferred under the command of General Grant to the Caribbean. This move was designed to counter the French threat after France openly sided with the rebellious colonies in their cause for independence.
Fresh off the streets from parading in Hawthorne, our Great War commanding officer was joined by Tony S. who represented a German officer for a historical presentation at the Annex in Glen Rock. The "Glen Rockin' Seniors" listened to a talk that ran just over an hour on the causes of the First World War, how the men at the front and women in support roles lived, and some aspects of the nature of the combat conditions themselves. Hand-outs were passed around the audience, including reproduction newspapers, a National Registration Act identification booklet, a pamphlet on food economy, and more. The end of the talk had a question and answer period followed by pictures. We were introduced to two members of the Daughters of the British Empire who came to visit and enjoyed speaking with them. We thank First Light Home Care and Daria Boyd for having us and for the opportunity to continue our historical public outreach.
Overview of activity, events, and other news for the Royal Sussex Society.