Thankfully the COVID crisis is improving. We now have a President taking this pandemic seriously. Plus, the vaccines are here-good news. Maybe by spring or at least summer, life will be getting back to normal? Some reenactment events are scheduled this year, yeah!
I thought this would be a great time to review my Williamsburg galleries and select my top 10 photos. For this blog, I’ll discuss numbers 6-10.
Visiting Colonial Williamsburg is a special occasion for me at any time but particularly when events such as Prelude to Victory or Under the Redcoat occurs. It feels a little like you're living in the 18th century.
#10 & #9 photos were taken in 2011 at the Under the Redcoat event.
Here is a simple photo that reminds me of what makes Colonial Williamsburg so special. When walking the largest outdoor living museum in the country-around 300 acres, you'll see horse-drawn carriages & wagons slowly meandering the streets carrying visitors. You do have to be careful walking in the streets if you know what I mean?
The winter months in Colonial Williamsburg are unique. It is fun seeing the snow and makes for great photos like this one. It was taken early in the morning, the best time to shoot, and the colors pop.
My perfect day is to arrive in town just before sunrise. I will bring a large coffee and my Nikon SLR camera attached with the all-purpose 24-85 mm lens. On most mornings, I’ll observe W&M students jogging, retired folks walking their dogs, and maintenance crews in their pick-up trucks cleaning the area. Between the Wren Building on William & Mary campus and the Capitol, a short distance of less than a mile, I get to stroll around the town where so many of our Founding-Fathers frequented. Amazingly, that Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Henry, and others walked these same streets. Even Benjamin Franklin, then postmaster, visited Williamsburg in 1756 & 1763
The building at the far right is the William Pitt Store a Children’s Boutique. It sells replica items from 18th-century hats to toys, games, and books.
This photo is of the restored Capitol (rebuilt in the early 1930s) from the Under the Redcoat event in 2011. When only a specific focus area in the photo is in color is called selective-color. I changed it to b&w except for the British flag. Some people don't like this technique? I only do this on select photos to make them distinctive. For me, this photo just in b&w isn't as appealing. Do you agree?
Thank you for reading. Blog # 35 will be posted in May 2021 with my top 5 Colonial Williamsburg photos Be safe & well!
At any 2-day weekend reenactment encampment, there has always been an early Sunday morning religious service. It's stated in the event schedule. I always try to attend. Usually, there will be between 10-25 British & American reenactors plus spectators like myself. The Christian observance usually lasts about 20 minutes.
When I first arrive I take a few photos. Then I'll put my camera down and participate in the service. From all my weekend reenactment photo galleries, British Brigade Deputy Commander Mark Hagenbuch is leading us. He reads a few bible passages, selects a few hymns, delivers a short sermon, and ends with a group prayer. At the end of the service, I feel comforted just like my regular weekly church service. It helps provide me peace and hope.
At an event in 2017, I noticed this cross made of sticks in front of a reenactors tent. I don't remember which camp it's from?
In my 3rd blog, over two years ago I wrote how much I enjoy visiting Colonial Williamsburg. They regularly had two events that I wish would be held again, Under the Redcoat & Prelude to Victory. Under the Redcoat is held first in late June. It depicts the British occupation (for about 10 days) of Williamsburg in 1781. The town is taken over by the British army and the reenactors set up camp throughout the historic area. Martial Law is declared.
On Sunday morning, a church service was held in front of the Capitol. All troops were required to attend.
Also, in my 3rd blog, I wrote about Prelude to Victory-
This event celebrates the anniversary of George Washington & the French General Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau and their armies stopped in Williamsburg for a few days rest before proceeding on to Yorktown for the last major battle of the war.
On that weekend Sunday, there was a religious service at the side of the Colonial Williamsburg Courthouse. Besides American troops attending there also were many Williamsburg visitors.
At any weekend reenactment event, I will check the schedule to learn what time and where the religious observance will be. When you're at an event try to attend. You will feel refreshed!
Thank you for reading. Blog # 34 will be posted in April 2021. Be safe & well!
Last month, I reviewed two more core reenactment events I've been regularly attending, Washington's Crossing Historic Park and the Battle of Trenton-Old Barracks Museum. In this blog, I'll review the Valley Forge National Historical Park. I visit as often as possible. This past Sunday, 1/31, is a perfect example. We were in the middle of a massive snowstorm. Time to take some wintery photos!
My young son sure enjoyed playing in the snow with his sled! What a fun day.
Luckily for me, it's only about a 30-minute drive. Anytime it snows, I'm hoping I'll be able to visit and photograph the restored cabins/cannons. Below is a great example. It's cold and uncomfortable, but capturing great photos is worth it.
The Valley Forge National Historical Park has many different events over the years including, the annual march in and out of Washington's troops from December 19, 1777, to June 19, 1778. At its peak, there were 1,500-2,000 log huts measuring 14 x 16 feet. The encampment had over 12,000 soldiers plus 400 women/children, making it the fourth-largest city in the United States at that time.
Most Americans know of George Washington leading his troops at Valley Forge in 1776. Many know that Baron von Steuben trained the Continental Army the essentials of military drills, tactics, and discipline? Did you know that many other famous Americans also were at Valley Forge in that encampment?
The list of famous Americans at Valley Forge during the encampment is long and impressive. Let's start with America's most famous eventual traitor, Benedict Arnold. Plus, the Marquis de Lafayette who's future relationship with George Washington, was almost like a father and son.
Add another future President, James Monroe, and Chief Justice John Marshall's who was Thomas Jefferson's bitter rival and 2nd cousin. And finally, one of those bizarre occurrences Alexander Hamilton and his future killer in a dual Aaron Burr. Wow, they knew of each other then. Did they communicate often at the encampment?
Below is the Issac Potts House that was used by George Washington as his headquarters at Valley Forge.
Today, the park is a spacious 3,500 acres with replica cabins/cannons, monuments & walking trails. In addition, Valley Forge regularly hosts encampments and special events including a Focus on Women & Civilian Contributions
Thank you for reading. Blog # 33 will be posted in March 2021. Be safe & well!
Happy New Year! In last month's blog, I reviewed my two out of five core attended reenactment events. This month, I'll reflect on two more, Washington's Crossing Historic Park and the Battle of Trenton-Old Barracks Museum. And next month, I'll review all the many events at Valley Forge National Historical Park.
By far, December is my busiest reenactment event month. In some years, there is an event every weekend. Washington's Crossing is the big one. It's two separate events. The first one is a practice festival held about two weeks before the main crossing on Christmas Day. Both are fun. But, the Christmas event is the busiest of the two; it's a family tradition with hundreds attending religiously year after year. My focus both days is capturing outstanding photos of George Washington, recently portrayed by John Godzieba. His resemblance to George Washington is remarketable!
When first photographing Washington's Crossing, I parked in PA & walked across Washington's Crossing Bridge to wait for the replica Durham boats (carried heavy cargo on colonial waterways) to land in NJ. Lately, I've stayed in PA and photographed Washington preparing his troops to leave PA and the reenactors boarding the boats. Just before departing, Washington delivers his motivational crossing speech. Very inspiring!
In the last few years, I've wanted to photograph the crossing from a different perspective. The bridge was the perfect solution. The photo below shows the ample size of the Delaware River compared to the relatively small Durham boat. Also, it provides an inkling of the tremendous undertaking it must have been for Washington and his men to cross in darkness during a blinding blizzard snowstorm. You truly understand the difficulty of the Christmas night crossing when you view the Durham boats up close.
The Battle of Trenton is held the last Saturday in December. It usually takes me about an hour by highway driving. Last year, I did something different by taking the SEPTA train to Trenton. It was a comfortable 2-hour trip and a brisk .08 mile walk to the Old Barracks Museum. A photo friend drove me to the train station when it was over.
The event commemorates two battles. The first and most known is the Christmas night crossing. This reenactment starts with a cannon firing at the Trenton battle monument and the fighting continues in the streets until it reaches Mill Hill Park.
Below shows the battle in the Trenton streets.
It snowed a few times during this event. That's what I'm always hoping for. My drive home then took hours, but the photos I got were worth the long commute. Below is a great example. The snow adds so much realism. It's an event you should try to attend at least once. You're so close to the reenactors during the street fighting you can reach out and touch them. It also gets so loud from the muskets and cannons that car alarms go off.
The lesser-known 2nd Battle of Trenton, known as the Battle of Assunpink Creek, occurred on January 2, 1777. The Hessians were repulsed three times & annihilated when attacking a fortified position, The afternoon battle depicts this battle on the Mill Hill Park Bridge.
Thank you for reading. Blog # 32 will be posted in February 2021. Be safe & well!
Happy Holidays! Wow-what a year! Writing this month's blog has been more difficult than I thought it would be. In 2020, I haven't been able to attend a reenactment event. Besides a contentious Presidential election, we have had to endure a Coronavirus pandemic that appears not to be under control any time in the foreseeable future. Add a recession to this mess makes for a stressful year. Plus, I have been working remotely from home since the middle of March. Luckily, everyone I know is well and healthy.
Not attending reenactments has me appreciate the 5 core events I regularly attend most years. Also, since I live so close to Valley Forge National Historical Park, I'll visit as often as possible to photograph something unique.
Every June I look forward to the Battle of Monmouth reenactment. I have so many good photos, over the years,from this event. It is an easy drive from my home in the western Philly suburbs, only about 1 1/2 using the PA & NJ turnpikes. Here are my comments about this event from my first blog posted in June 2018
Why do I enjoy this event so much? Its location is one reason. When walking behind the visitor’s center, you stop and gaze. There are clusters of trees sporadically growing everywhere. In the middle of the field is a big grass area gently sloping downward. In the distance is a large cornfield. The entire area is green throughout. It’s so stately. This awe feeling comes over me every time I visit.
When fall arrives in October, the Battle of Germantown reenactment occurs. For me, it's also a short 30-minute drive from the western suburbs to North Philly. This year there was the Revolutionary Germantown festival but with no reenactments and a limited number of reenactors. It felt great attending any event this year, even if it wasn't the same!
Amazingly, the original stone house that was so pivotal in the outcome of the day's battle still exists with visible bullet holes and cannon indentions in the walls. In 2020, I photographed the reenactment from the 2nd floor. What a special, unique opportunity it was to be permitted to do this. It was a tight fit with everyone crammed together. And wow, was it loud. It provided me an idea of what it must have felt for the British soldiers defending this house during the battle.
Visiting Ft Mifflin is an easy drive for me. It's right next to the Philadelphia International airport, a 20-minute trip. The first time visiting was in 2007. It reminded me of the time, as a young boy with my family, initially seeing Ft. Ticonderoga. Both forts appear so massive with their high stone walls and flags flapping in the wind. There is something magical about visiting these magnificent structures that is hard to describe. Maybe you feel the same?
In 1776, a British Navy bombardment destroyed Ft. Mifflin. The fort started to rebuild in 1794. Ghosts, including a screaming woman, supposedly haunt it. Ft. Mifflin conducts numerous paranormal programs & events yearly. Reenactors who have stayed overnight said they heard voices. Not exactly a restful night's sleep!
Thank you for reading. Blog # 31 will be posted in January 2021. Be safe & well!