Pictures by Judy Kopitar.
Hawthorne Christmas Parade 2022
Our 1830s Victorians marched once again in the annual Santa Parade in Hawthorne, NJ! Though our numbers were diminished from 2021, we still had a smart showing with Sharon carrying the Union Flag while our grenadiers marched down the street with bayonets fixed. At 7 p.m. the town's Christmas Tree was illuminated, marking the official start of the holiday season in Hawthorne. Following this, we met with Tina at a local diner for a lovely dinner and to warm up from a chilly but festive night.
Pictures by Judy Kopitar.
The "Retreat to Victory" event hosted by the Bergen County Historical Society commemorates the fighting withdrawal of Washington's forces after the fall of Fort Lee to the British in November of 1776. We were very happy to be back at New Bridge Landing for this event again and it seemed to be bigger than in years past. Despite temperatures coming near to freezing, there was a large turnout of public as well as reenactors on both sides. Additionally, George Washington and two other officers on horseback were present to oversee the Continental Army. The event ran from 11 to 4pm and had two skirmishes scheduled.
The British force was a composite company of a few groups: the 15th (Lights), 35th (Grenadiers), 43rd, 54th, and 55th Regiments along with loyalists from the 4th Battalion NJ Volunteers. Opposing us were the New Jersey Line and militias. The first engagement saw the British force stopped and turned back at the bridge over the Hackensack River. The second was witness to a more successful British push which crossed the river and drove the rebels back from both sides of the Von Steuben House. From there, the rebels were steadily driven back. In the central field near the barnyard, the 54th and 35th Grenadiers formed the left, with the 43rd and 55th in the center and 15th Light Infantry on the right.
A bottleneck was pressed heartily by both sides, with the British forming a dense but powerful force while the light infantry were sent forward to deploy to the right in the open space near the Campbell-Christie House. This allowed the main British infantry section to hammer home the attack which then came to a victorious conclusion, although Washington and the main part of his force was able to effect an escape.
Our thanks to all the wonderful volunteers and staff who made this excellent event a stunning success!
White Plains Revisited: 2022
The Battle of White Plains 1776 was commemorated at the Jacob Purdy House once again. The White Plains Historical Society were fine hosts throughout the day. At 10:30, the Union Flag was raised by the 35th and the 42nd Royal Highlanders to mark the start of the "occupation" and at noon there was a brief salute and raising of the Colours with General Washington. The background of the battle was explained to the public by "Abigail Purdy" and the names of the American Continental soldiers who died in the engagement were read with a drum roll for each name. The event had a few brief moments of drizzle which may have kept some people home, but there were bands playing military music throughout the afternoon and the reenactors were fed a lovely stew. Crafts, a surgery, and military life were on display throughout the event, remembering and commemorating a battle of particular significance to the 35th Regiment in particular and the New York campaign in general.
An extraordinary time was had by all at the Royal Engagement 1839 celebration held on the lawn of Willow Hall in Morristown. Our largest early Victorian event to date, we had Kim G. portraying HM Queen Victoria and Shane P. as HRH Prince Albert in addition to 6 soldiers and 5 ladies-in-waiting to the Queen for a total of thirteen Victorians in peak style.
The occasion was 183 years to the day when Victoria, as social superior, proposed to her cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Their union was sealed on February 10, 1840, and lasted 21 years until Albert's death from what is believed to have been typhoid fever. Victoria never really recovered from losing her beloved husband and thereafter seen as having changed from the vibrant mother of the nation to the somber monarch in perpetual mourning.
Our event, however, was a universally happy one. The 35th Royal Sussex Regiment had an Other Ranks mess alongside the royal picnic, attended by those of quality. A luncheon was served for all, followed by a tea at 3:00 and a hearty dinner of stew, bread, and pie in the evening. Compliments are extended to Tony S. who served as cook for the day as well as to Sharon for all her efforts with food preparation. Shane brought his silver and finery along with additional furnishings to elevate a humble camp into a place fitting for a regal yet relaxing afternoon out.
Military drills were carried out to practice the men in the particulars of marching and musketry. A feu de joie was fired for Her Majesty on the joyous occasion.
Her Majesty also presented the captain with a brilliant knight commander's breast star for what has since been dubbed the "Order of the Diamond." This, she said, was in recognition of his 20 years serving as the Royal Sussex Society's president and commander.
Our team came together to assemble a fantastic event. Once the event ended, thanks to working together, took down and packed up one of the largest camps we have made in quick time, leaving no trace behind on the grounds.
Pictures below by Ari Lopez Wei, Meredith Barnes, Athena Wu, Ryan Schmelzer, and Sir John Van Vliet, Bt. KCD.
The British Brigade's big event of the year was held at Sandy Hollow Park in West Chester, PA. This is a location familiar to the 35th as we have done some events there in years past. This also marked our first British Brigade event since the winding down of Coronavirus restrictions, and it was an exciting experience to once again be part of a huge recreated battle. We had our camp fly set up along the edge of the company street near the sutler Samson Historical. We were near our friends the 23rd Royal Welch, DeLancey's loyalists, and Hessian Jaegers. As a unit, we were brigaded into a heavy company, called Second Company, comprised of the grenadiers and the highlanders.
We were also very happy to have with us our new associate member, Jennifer B., who came down from New England to join us. Our stalwart men and women set up our camp and spent the weekend engaged with a steady stream of visitors throughout the weekend. Each day featured a large battle that had the British deployed to a far field to start. The enemy came upon us and we steadily drove them from this distant, vast area through the woods. Once we cleared the Doodles from the woods, we engaged them in an open, pitched battle in the fields under the eyes of thousands of visitors. Both Saturday and Sunday's scenarios played out similarly, although on Sunday we did something not often done at Rev War events--we formed square in the presence of cavalry!
Saturday evening was particularly special as well because we were treated to the sight of a SpaceX rocket that lifted off from Cape Canaveral, but was visible even in the Pennsylvanian skies. Some thought it was a comet, but this was not the case. Once the spectacle of the rocket faded into the cosmos, a fireworks display lit up the evening for a few minutes to everyone's delight.
Sunday we almost got away scot-free, but Mother Nature had a rainstorm brewing up west of the Appalachians. Within half an hour of our return from the field, we were taking down the camp but not fast enough to avoid the relatively-brief but intense downpour which soaked everyone and everything. For some, this may have been a blessing, especially if they had camped out on site and had not had a shower the whole weekend. Nevertheless, soggy as we were, our spirits were not dampened and Brandywine 2022 was a tremendous success! Photos to follow.
Wow and thank you! Our event this past weekend was the largest we in the Royal Sussex Society have held there to date, signing in 53 attendees in total. That is because of our great participants, Sue Shutte, and the wonderful staff at Ringwood Manor. We truly appreciate the time they took to come out, as well as sharing their expertise and love of history with the visitors. We also want to thank our special guest speakers Reuben Fast Horse and Michael Grillo for their excellent talks given each day on Lakhota culture and George Washington respectively. I also want to thank Sharon and Elizabeth for helping out with the day-of sign-ins, to Tom who served as Camp Marshal and my invaluable second-in-command, to Justin for all his assistance, and to Matt and Michael W., and Clint for their help with the Friday afternoon camp set up.
The weather was truly on our side Saturday and Sunday, and our collective concerns about a frying-pan heatwave situation did not come to pass. We got a break in what had been a scorching summer so far. We still have a bad drought to contend with, and the ground was extremely dry, so we appreciated everyone's understanding with not having any campfires which could have posed a serious danger. The directive came from the fire marshal and is a condition unfortunately affecting the whole area. And while we certainly need rain, I'm glad it didn't rain at least for this past weekend!
We had reenactors coming from as far away as Richmond to be a part of our event and, from what I have heard, everyone seemed happy. The visitors certainly were. It was great seeing so many familiar faces as well as new ones. One of the recurring comments I heard from visitors was that they were impressed by the wide variety and scope of the displays and the friendliness of everyone in attendance.
We will enter into discussions soon with the park personnel to set a date for next summer to hold another timeline at Ringwood. With the exception of 2020 and 2021, we have been fortunate to be able to hold at least one living history program there each year since 2005. Good people who might be interested in attending next year are encouraged to reach out and, when the time comes, to register. There is a lot of physical space we can use to expand and further grow this event.
On Saturday, July 10, the 35th Regiment's Grenadiers and ladies returned to Dey Mansion, the first event we have done there since February 2020, just before the coronavirus shut-downs. Unlike our previous encampments at the Mansion, this time we were set up on the front lawn, attracting attention from the cars passing by with the Mansion as a backdrop for our camp setup. We fielded three soldiers and three civilians, making use of the grounds for the rudiments of drill, practicing wheeling, line-to-column, column-into-line, and other maneuvers. The public came in a steady stream of small groups, ensuring that we always had conversations going with the visitors.
We received a lot of interesting questions from a diverse group of people throughout the day. Even though the weather was hot, we had the advantage of our camp fly and the sun shade, an invaluable addition to our camp for when the sun is positioned lower in the sky than our awning.
We were very appreciative of the staff at Dey Mansion who were attentive and friendly, helping us any way they could. All in all, a very successful Revolutionary War event!
Well done by Athena, Jesse, Madison, Tina, and Sharon! Your captain is proud.
Click here to view photos taken by Al Pochek during the event (Facebook link).
Above photos courtesy of Dey Mansion, Washington's Headquarters, Passaic County, NJ.
Cape May Goes Victorian
The Regiment attended the Military Timeline Event at Historic Cold Spring Village again, as part of our summer tradition. Unfortunately, two of our members originally planning to go were unable to at the last minute, so our showing was a little small, but that did not prevent us from having a good time. Usually this event is marked by high temps and extreme humidity, but this year the weather was in the 70s with low humidity--and few to no bugs! A particularly comfortable event, to say the least.
We have been set up in one particular area for the past several years, but as we were doing late Victorian this time, and a few of our friends were also doing late Victorian near the entrance of the site, we decided to join them and relocate our display. Thus, instead of having two small displays of one time, we had one larger one. This also meant that others could go explore the site and other exhibits while people were still in camp to keep an eye on everything. Nobody was ever left alone "minding the store."
On Saturday we were told about 300 visitors passed through and we spoke with a number of different groups that passed by, curious about the British Empire and Her Majesty's finest. Our display consisted of our civilian Kim, our nurse Sharon, and enlisted soldiers for the 35th Royal Sussex in the Egypt Campaign, 72nd Highlanders in the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War, plus the Derbyshire Regiment and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in the 2nd Boer War.
Before the Great Plague struck, the 35th had had small events at Ringwood Manor to coincide with the opening of the spring season--often in tandem with a Victorian baseball game being held on the grounds. This year, we were able to bring that back, and this year was our biggest Opener to date! With 10 members of the Society present, plus some late-Victorian guests, we ran a late 1830s display with all the trappings Victoriana. Our redcoats made a fine showing, as did our ladies, and we talked with visitors about the era in which Ringwood Manor was occupied by the Ryerson family, before passing to the Hewitts in the 1850s.
With beautiful weather, we were delighted to be back at Ringwood after such a long hiatus. This was also the first time we brought the early Victorian impression to the grounds of the manor and we were well-received!
Royal Sussex Society Turns 20!
To recognize the Society's milestone 20th anniversary, we held a special party in the parish hall of St. Clement's Episcopal Church on St. George's Day. We were fortunate that this year, St. George's Day fell on a Saturday, so April 23 was, in fact, the real date for the occasion. A number of our members attended and we had food, drinks, and camaraderie with our fellows, many of whom we have not seen all together in quite some time. Some of our thematic decor included white and red balloons, England flags, and our inflatable dragon.
The captain briefly explained the significance behind the Christian holiday and why St. George is the patron saint of England and many other countries. Her Majesty the Queen was likewise toasted, recognizing her historic Platinum Jubilee year. During the course of our afternoon lunch, Pte. Jesse G. was recognized for his meritorious service, dedication, and commitment to the regiment over the years with a certificate and the thanks of his fellow 35th'ers.
Among the highlights in the church hall was a display of the Regimental Silver and a cake which we had custom printed with our new 20th anniversary logo.
Thanks to everyone who came out and made our regimental lunch a success!
Overview of activity, events, and other news for the Royal Sussex Society.