Have you heard the expression how time flies where time seems to move very or more quickly? That is how I felt a few months ago attending Mount Harmon's National Revolutionary War Reenactment & Colonial Festival. I couldn't believe it's been three years since I last visited. Why? Of course, the pandemic canceled every reenactment for almost two years. Plus, there seemed to be terrible weather one year, I believe a hurricane.
How, then, to describe Mt. Harmon MD?
This excerpt is from their website Home - Mount Harmon Plantation
Mount Harmon Plantation originated as a land grant of 350 acres to Godfrey Harmon by Caecilius Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, in 1651. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Mount Harmon prospered as a tobacco plantation. As you drive down the two-mile lane, through the tunnel formed by Osage orange trees, you will appreciate the isolation of those times, when transportation moved most freely by water. Three of the owners during the period had their own schooners to transport tobacco to the British Isles and return with furnishings and necessities for the house and farm.
There was no major American Revolution battle here or anywhere in MD. The closest was when General Howe landed 13,000 troops in Elkton, formally Head of Elk, during the Philadelphia campaign in 1777.
It took me a little over an hour to get there. It was on a very, very hot Sunday. Some activities were canceled due to the extreme heat. What's great about a reenactment is that you never know what to expect.
At this event were Spanish reenactors. I never saw that before. In this photo, they were praying before the reenactment battle.
Attending reenactment events on Sunday is always fun. A Christian religious service, most times, will be held. I always try to participate.
Having special events for spectators happens often. One of the most popular events is the children's drill with wooden muskets. They pretend their 18th-century soldiers, and the highlight is when they charge with a loud scream. Fun.
When you visit Mt Harmon, you notice Brick Georgian Manor House circa 1730, surrounded by 200 acres of open space. This vastness is evident during the reenactment because when the reenactors are scattered far from the mansion, I can't get good photos even with my long lens. Pictures like this show the scope of this reenactment. Here is the link to the photo gallery. Thank you for reading! Blog # 52 will be posted in November 2022. Be safe & well!
Why am I celebrating my 50th blog with my 51st? Because I had posted part 2 of my fantastic interview with Noah "Ned Hestor" Lewis last month, his comments were too much for one blog. But now, I get to reflect on achieving 50 blogs.
My first blog doesn't at all resemble the format I use now. The layout, font, etc., are different. In my four-plus years writing this monthly blog, I've conducted interviews, visited historical sites, discussed many of my photos, reviewed many reenactment events, and even described a reenactment wedding I photographed in KY. Fun, fun, fun!
I remember my first blog interviewing David Hospador in June 2018. Wow-that time went by quickly. My first thought was to interview him at the Battle of Monmouth event. I bought a recorder to record the interview. He suggested reviewing the questions at home, where he had more time to think of his responses. Great idea! I have continued this technique with all my other blog interviews.
What photos do I include in this blog? I've already discussed so many of my best images before, so which ones? Then I realized some of my photos are unique.
This one with the reflection of the Delaware River in George Washington's spyglass is a good example. In blog #24, I reviewed this photo and the one with the black powder poured from the cartridge into the flash pan. Again both, one of a kind. This photo was from Germantown in 2012. I discussed it in blog #26. It became one of my first good and unique reenactment photos. I have many pan-firing photos, but none like this, with metal-looking slivers flying everywhere. When first posting this photo, I had no idea how rare this particular photo is!
Over three years ago, I had the honor to photograph a reenactment wedding in Louisville, KY. I describe my KY trip in blogs #s 11, 12, and 13. What a wonderful experience that was. Plus, the day before the wedding, I was able to visit a replica of Fort Boonesborough, a frontier fort founded by Daniel Boone and his men in 1775. As a child, my favorite TV show was Daniel Boone starring Fess Parker. Are you old enough to remember that show?
And lastly, one of my recently taken photos that, for me, resembles an actual war photo. In blog #41, Chadds Ford 2021, I discuss this photo. Through creative manipulation, I created one of my more powerful photos. Every time I see it, I get a different reaction.
I'm preparing for my next milestone, blog # 100. I hope to have at least five new, unique, never seen images to showcase!
Thank you for reading! Blog # 52 will be posted in October 2022. Be safe & well!
Below is a photo of Noah that I found by accident when researching for another blog. He is very active in the Philadelphia region.
6) What are your thoughts on the future of American Revolution reenactment events?
I am really concerned about the willingness of our present-day culture to change the facts of the past because we like them. The other day I was approached and told not to talk about the musket. When I asked why I was told it was too scary. I replied don’t you think people should know it was an everyday tool of our colonial ancestors and not just a weapon for war? It was used for protection of home, hunting, and driving off predators by men, women, and children. I think if you give incomplete information, wise decisions are harder to make.
7) During the American Revolution, most free & escaped enslaved African Americans fought for the British. Is this a topic you also discuss in the presentations?
Yes! I label it “Black People Choosing Sides”. At first I was astounded by the fact that twice as many American Blacks fought on the British side as versus the American side. But as I thought about it, it made sense. The main driving force for the patriots was the country’s independence and their personal freedom. For us Black People, the predominant driving force was our personal freedom. And many of the American Black People made the choice of the side that was most likely to give that freedom. After all, it’s never good to be on the losing side. On the American side, an enslaved Black person, as a general rule, you were not promised your freedom. In fact, when Gen. Washington took over the army in Cambridge Massachusetts, he was bothered by the amount of armed Black people in his army. He was so bothered that he issued orders forbidding the recruiting of any Blacks soldiers in the Continental Army, enslaved or free. Later after reconsidering he changed his orders to allow free blacks people to be recruited. You may have considered that he could have these people fighting for him or against him. Also Lord Dunsmore, the Loyalist governor of Virginia, would make the proclamation saying that all enslaved Black People, belonging to rebels, in Virginia, if they would rise up and fight for the crown, they will be given their freedom! Now think about it and pretend you don’t know the outcome of this war. Who do you really think is going to win in a fight between Great Britain and a bunch of farmers and business people? Our American men are brave and are willing to fight, but they’re not well trained soldiers. However, the British are well-trained, well led, well supplied. It seems obvious who is going to win. On the American side, you as an enslaved black person, as a policy are not promised your freedom, but the British are promising freedom. So if you have a choice to make, what side would you pick? I must say I do find it astounding that so many Black People, slave or free, chose to fight for a country that had enslaved their people, not knowing if they were going to have their own freedom or not by the end of this war, but yet they fought! By the end of the war, 10 to 25% of Washington’s Army would be People of Color.
8) Many of our nation’s founders were enslavers, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and even Benjamin Franklin. Should our opinions on their accomplishments be reevaluated?
Oh yes! Just like anything else, when we learned new information we reassess our perspectives. Where that reassessment will take us, I guess that’s up to the individual. I do believe this, the more complete information we have the better we can make our judgments and the better we can decide what we want to learn from it.
Below is a recent photo of Noah taken at Valley Forge National Historic Park.
Of course, I invite everyone to come to my website, www.nedhector.com to learn more.
Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery-lwfsm.com
Africans In America-www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/
I suggest visiting the many historical sites to learn and get a feel of history.
* Museum of the American Revolution-www.amrevmuseum.org
* Chadd’s Ford-www.chaddsfordhistory.
* Brandywine Battlefield-www.
* Bartram’s Garden-www.bartramsgarden.
* Mount Vernon-www-mountvernon.org
* Independence National Historical Park-www.nps.gov/index.htm
* Swedish Cabin-www.dcva.org
* Daniel Boone Homestead-www.
* Paoli Battlefield-www.pbpfinc.org
* Thomas Massey House-thomasmasseyhouse.org
* Morton House-www.parrett.net
* Peter Mott House-www.petermotthouse.
* Mouns Jones House-historicpreservationtrust.org
* Deshler Morris House-www.nps.gov/inde/
* New Sweden Centre-www.colonialnewsweden.
* Washington Crossing State Park-www.dcnr.pa.gov/
* Hope Lodge-www.ushistory.org/
* Fort Mifflin-www.ushistory.org/
* Monmouth Battlefield-www.state.nj.us/dep/
* Landis Valley Museum-www.
* Atwater Kent Museum-www.
* Mercer Museum-www.mercermuseum.org
“An Imperfect God” by Henry Wiencek
“Negro President – Thomas Jefferson and the Slave Powers” by Gary Wills
“The Negro in Eighteenth Century Williamsburg” by Thad W. Tate
“Black Courage 1775-1783” by Robert Ewell Greene
“Black Heroes of the American Revolution” by Burke Davis
“How the Irish became White” by Noel Ignatiev
“Forten The Sailmaker” by Esther M. Douty
“1619-1784 Braving the New World” by Don Nardo
“Rough Crossings” by Simon Schama
“Following the Drum – Women at the Valley Forge Encampment” by Nancy K. Loane
“African Americans in Pennsylvania” by Charles Blockson
“The Philadelphia Campaign: Brandywine and the Fall of Philadelphia” by Thomas McGuire
“The Surprise at Germantown or the Battle of Cliveden” by Thomas McGuire
“The Nagle Journal” by John C. Dann
“The Revolution Remembered” by John C. Dann
“A Great Improvisation” by Stacy Schiff
“The Floating Brothel” by Sian Rees
“The Negro in the American Revolution” by Benjamin Quarles
“Phillis Wheatley” by Merle Richmond
“Race and Revolution” by Gary Nash
10) Is there another question I should have asked?
Yes! But it is not a question that you should have asked me. It is a question you should ask us as Americans. If a building is no better than the material it is built out of, then will a better knowledge of us as a people help us to become better people? We are the material that our country is made up of.
Thank you for reading! Blog # 51 will be posted in September 2022. Be safe & well!
There were so many more questions I wanted to ask Noah “Ned Hector” Lewis after posting blog # 46. Soon afterward, I asked him to interview for another ten-question blog part 2. He graciously agreed. For this interview, I wanted to ask more in-depth questions.
His first interview was exemplary, this one is even better! In this blog, I'll post questions 1-5, and next month questions 6-10.
I want to thank Noah for sharing and expressing his sentiments so powerfully.
I was actually able to get back to 1800 in the northeastern corner of North Carolina in Northampton and Hereford County to Noah Lewis and Leah Scott. There hit a wall that I was unable to get past. I suspect they were Meherrin natives. These two people are the reasons I started searching the American Revolution. After all, 1800 is not that far from the American Revolution. Finding these two was amazing for the following reasons. First, I found their marriage bond dated 1823. Noah was 23 years old. What was so amazing about that? It implied that he was a free man. Slaves were not allowed to formally get married. You’re probably curious about the term “marriage bond”. I was too. It turned out that during that period of time a man would have to put up a $300 bond if he wanted to get married. The bond here is much like a bail bond. It was to guarantee something, in this case, the fidelity of the man. Since information traveled so slowly, a man could marry a woman under deceptive circumstances. He could be for instance a bigamist, a swindler, or a fugitive from the law. If this was the case, and the marriage was annulled, the woman would find herself being considered as damaged goods. She would use that money to try to restart her life.
The reason I suspect being a Meherrin native is they live in the area of Murfreesboro, North Carolina where my relatives are. My relatives back then owned a lot of land next to the reservation. Physically, I am a light skinned black man. The last named Lewis appears in the tribe. When the tribe was decimated, many of the members went and lived among the black people. Other members would pass as white. I verified that I had a native American connection via a DNA test. Why wouldn’t this information had been passed down to the descendents? During this period of time, especially in this particular area, the last thing you wanted anyone to know is that you are a native. Have you ever heard of the Trail of Tears?
My efforts to trace my genealogy in the colonial period are what lead me to discover Ned Hector and colonial African-American history. Although not related to Ned Hector, what I learned was an eye opening experience.
2) Have your school classroom visits changed after COVID, such as integrating technology?
I have had to expand my efforts to communicate my information. I have developed some virtual presentations in which I retain some elements of interactivity. I’ve learned to speak through mask and face shields. Taking some clues from our colonial ancestors, I’ve learned to teach colonial dancing using handkerchiefs. In some cases I have learned to use PowerPoint to enhance my presentations. In some cases, when doing presentations outside or in large venues separated from my audience, I have utilized portable PA systems. Sometimes you do what you have to do, to do what you need to do.
3) What are your thoughts on critical race theory, and have you introduced this topic in your presentations?
I have been told so many different things about the critical race theory that I decided I’m going to leave that to those that want to tussle about what it is and is not. What I’m going to do is convey history as clearly and honestly as I can with the hope that it will bring us together as better people.
4) Since you’ve presented in public schools for many years, what history curriculum changes do you believe are needed?
Over the years that I’ve been working with schools I have noticed a slow removal of history as a subject out of the curricula. Since history is not part of the STEM core curricula, in many schools it has been relegated to social studies or deemphasized as a lesser subject. I have a fear that there will come a time when our nation will have no idea where our government came from, how it operates, and how to maintain it. Ignorance does more damage than anything I know off. I believe that we need a fuller and more complete history taught, so we can learn from our mistakes.
5) Have you been a mentor to students or have exciting stories to share?
I haven’t had anyone follow me around that I have acted as a teacher for, but I have had situations where I was told that what I did affect it individuals in my audience. At a presentation at Freedoms Foundations in Valley Forge, I was told of a young Asian boy from California that told his teacher that now he knew he fit in America as part of the e pluribus unum in reaction to something I said during my presentation. I was very moved. At the Graeme House Park, a woman walked up to me and said, “You probably don’t remember me, I was a little girl when I first saw you. You are the reason I started reenacting. Later that evening, while after a doing presentations at my station in the house, a little girl came up to me and said, “I like what you’re doing. I want to do it to.” I told her today’s your lucky day. I directed her to the woman I talked to earlier that day, and told her to talk with her. When our evening was done, the woman told me that they had signed her up as a junior helper. Some time ago I had a young man tell me that I inspired him to become reenactor. I often wonder if I’m really doing any good. Then I am reminded that you never know how your message is affecting people.
Since the last blog I did for Kenneth a couple things happened. I was given the honor by the Brandywine Battlefield Park to represent them as their, “2022 Volunteer of the Year”. I was thrilled to speak for the Daughters of the American Revolution at a dedication of a historical plaque for a Black Revolutionary War soldier named Oliver Cromwell in Burlington New Jersey. Crooked Billet School was built where a skirmish of the Revolutionary War occurred. About three years ago, the school was torn down and rebuilt. In the rotunda area they honored Ned Hector by putting a picture of me as the artillerist Ned Hector on a wall mural. On April 29, 2022 I had the honor of presenting Ned to the students there.
Thank you for reading! Blog # 50 will be posted in August 2022. Be safe & well!
In last month's blog, 10 American Revolution Reenactment Motion Blur Photos-6-10, I reviewed five photos using panning or radial blur filter. For this month, I'll discuss five more shots.
In blog # 25, I said about this photo.
The focus of this photo is the Native American warrior. Both American & British troops surround him. Who's he attacking? You can't tell. I knew this would make a great photo when the warrior extended his arm with a ball-headed war club.
I accentuated him further in a comprehensive photo editing program, ON1 Software, by adding blur and movement. These few minor editing changes make this photo unique!
This photo is from the Philadelphia Campaign 1777 2012 gallery. My first thought on this photo is how the colors are bright and dynamic. This clarity is unusual since most reenactments are held right after lunch, the worst time of day for taking photographs because of the harsh light. I applied the radial blur filter moderately to augment movement.
Photo blurring, moving the camera side to side at a moderate speed, is not an exact science. It's trial and error, and sometimes you get lucky. I did with this photo from the Battle of Germantown in 2011. The streaks of color make this photo appear like a painting. Just a pleasing image, hard to replicate.
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 remarkable!
This photo is from the practice event in 2018. I added the radial blur filter to add more focus to the subject, General Washington.
This photo was from the Jockey Hollow encampment in 2012. During the marching /drilling demonstration, the reenactors fixed bayonets and slowly moved towards the public behind a split rail fence. The first time you experience this, it doesn't feel very comforting. Can you only imagine this during an actual battle? Terrifying!
Thank you for reading! Blog # 49 will be posted in July 2022. Be safe & well!