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.
The Royal Sussex returned to the Hawthorne Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 29, turning out one of our largest parade showings to date! Our Lt. Colonel led a Colour Guard comprising both British and American soldiers, carrying the UK and US flags. Our VAD contingent, our strongest turn-out ever, had two new faces in ranks, while we were also joined by a period civilian contingent to represent the home-front. The regiment marched behind the 6th New Hampshire Volunteers Civil War unit, following a route of just over one mile through town. On passing the reviewing stand in front of the Borough Hall, the Colour Guard saluted with an "Eyes Right." We thank our newest member, Bethany S., for taking pictures and sharing them with us!
The North Haledon Free Public Library was once again host to one of our presentations. They had a Revolutionary War program in February which was well received, prompting a request for a Victorian talk, to which we were all too happy to oblige! All the seats were filled for the talk which ran one hour, discussing some important aspects of the early years of the Victorian era, covering subjects from domestic life, labor, military policies, and empire. Sharon and John thoroughly enjoyed themselves, taking interesting and thought provoking questions from the audience at the end of the presentation. It was particularly delightful to see a number of people in the audience a second time, having enjoyed the talk in February.
Pictures by Library Director Susan Serico and Patricia Dykstra.
Set exactly between St. George's Day and the upcoming coronation of King Charles III, the Society's early Victorians gathered to celebrate both occasions with a tea. Though the weather was generally abysmal (and British) spirits were running high. Anne, Athena, Meredith, Sharon, Kyle, Michael, Tony, Tom, Shane, and John passed an afternoon of diversions, snacks, story-telling, and a game of whist. A brief skit was also presented, with St. George and his Companion Knights giving souvenir coronation lapel pins out as well as seeing that the king was offered a toast for his reign. A fine time was had by all! A special thank-you to our members who shared their photos with us!
Once again the 35th Regiment was delighted to attend the East Jersey Old Town Village British Occupation event in Piscataway. The idea, like last year, was to present a colonial town that was occupied by British and loyalist forces. While Saturday had intermittent rain, we were still able to carry out activities and talk to the visitors. We tip our bearskins to Ray H. of the 4th Battalion NJ Volunteers Loyalists and the site staff for hosting the event. Saturday was a little rainy on and off (English weather!), but it seemed like the turnout was bigger than last year despite that. The idea was to showcase the crown forces side of the Revolutionary War and what a New Jersey town hosting or occupied by the troops would be like. The program had guard mounting duties, drills on the green, musket demonstrations, and cannon firings during the morning and afternoon. We were also delighted to be invited to join the tea party, whose gracious hostess talked about the history and culture surrounding coffee and tea in colonial America and England.
The site is a collection of historical buildings which have been preserved, framing a central green (or parade ground, depending on your perspective). Below is a list, provided by Ray, of the units represented during the weekend. Photos have been shared by Rebecca Cataldi and Jeff Bross.
Royal Artillery 4th Battalion. Capt. Anderson's Company (Lamb's)
Brigade of Guards, Grenadier Company
15th Regiment, Light Infantry Company
35th Regiment, Grenadier Company
42nd Royal Highland Regiment, Grenadier Company
4th Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers, Capt. Hayden's Company
Von Wreden's Company of Hessian Feldjägers
Von Preuschek's Company of Hessian Feldjägers
Infanterie Regiment Von Donop
Rhode Island Regiment (posing as Dunsmore's Ethiopian Regiment of Virginia)
2nd New Jersey Regiment, Helm's Company (who drilled as Loyalists)
Overview of activity, events, and other news for the Royal Sussex Society.