Friday, 29 September 2017

Swinging 60s.

So another period to be ventured into, so how does American civil war (ACW) reenactment differ from Napoleonic or indeed medieval/renaissance?


Popular culture suggests ACW is very popular and the event this weekend was said to have been the largest event of its kind for years yet was probably about as big as Hole park, itself the biggest UK event for Napoleonics.. so that notion probably owes a lot to American media whose go to reenactor is a simple ACW guy.
It was agreed to have been a great event, two societies, Soskan (The southern skirmish association) and ACWs (American civil war society) working together and both having encouraged new comers to come along as guests and give it a go seems a good way to put on a bigger show and bring in new blood.


I think I mentioned before that I have a theory that British reenactors have an ingrained idea that the army is about standing to attention, respecting your officers, keeping a stiff upper lip etc all from exposure to TV and films and the likes of trouping the colour in the UK and that this is a contributing factor to why the French Napoleonic camp has a reputation for being more relaxed. We are free of those conceptions.

All of ACW stuff is a bit like that. It's not British (or German) and they are volunteer armies of citizen soldiers, often poorly supplied, fighting for democracy. Rank distinctions in the Confederate army were particularly hard to tell, everyday duties seemed to just organise themselves.


More people want to be Confederate. Why? I feel the popularity of being Confederate is about the mood and the dressing up box. To an Englishmen it's more exotic, more wild west, and the poor supply gives more leeway in clothes and equipment. To some the south is romantic, the union is a more regular army. With shoes and everything. The elephant in the room is slavery but people do subscribe to the 'it was about southern rights and secession' argument. Right, yeah. But politics didn't come up. Most people I know from Napoleonics were Confederate, maybe they'd spent all their money on fancy kit for that.


The groups I camped with in the trees were fond of using the term 'Progressive' to describe what they do, living like we did at the campaign weekend except for them it is every event. Progressive was also used for anything going a bit further than usual.. want to give out handbills to people? You could print them off from your computer.. or you could actually construct a working printing press and use that instead.. that would be progressive. However there was a faction amongst them who felt women should stick to historical female roles and also that no Union troops/people should be admitted to the Confederate camp, it's all got to be that real. I wonder if as they get older and fatter they will give up in the name of authenticity? Wouldn't be a lot of people left!


One thing I'm not so keen on, may be the music. I don't mind the fiddle, which can be emotive and soulful as well as frenetic but the whole banjo yeehay! cotton eye Joe thing does make me grimace somewhat. Dixieland always makes me think of excitable old men having a hoe down at a wedding.

Will I be doing ACW again? Yes I hope so, looking forward to seeing calender for next year. Will I continue as a war correspondent? Maybe.
It was fun to be an independent civilian without military duties or timetable or rank although there was a bit of a lull on Saturday. Sketching was a good way to spend time.
Normally reenactors don't take on an almost role play identity, they are themselves as generic soldiers or whatever their role, but as a civilian and a new guy it seemed appropriate.
If I could be in any ACW unit it would be the Zouaves, I love the big red trousers and uniforms copied as a military fashion from French colonial troops but sadly, and perhaps strangely for people who like dressing up, there are no zouave units in the UK.


I had been in correspondence with a few folk about joining up, a challenge was I can not get another firearm without getting a big cabanet which is impractical so I need a non infantry soldier role, or borrow a rifle every time, which is also a drag. Artillery? Musician? Medical corp? The latter seems most likely.. especially as I may have taken advantage of a fellow selling old kit....


and so ends the season, which means things may be quieter here but I do have some musings I may yet choose to pour forth, until then Au revoir!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Our man in the field, part two.


The Battle of Antietam, part two by Wilhelm Schmetterling (see previous edition for part one). 

Roll calls sounded once more, I wondered how much shorter some of those lists of names were on this misty Sunday morning. Chewing stale bread I wandered along the leafy lane into the main camp, with an optimistic coffee cup. I was not disappointed by the Texans, whose coffee did not contain the whole coffee beans like that brewed in camp 'You have to drink it with your teeth' I was told.  By a long perambulation I took myself over to the federal camp in order to secure some more sketches.


It certainly seemed hostilities were to be resumed, and I again met with the excellent and well provisioned medical corp and tagged along as they surveyed the ground where it was believed the rebs might try to resolve the business began just yesterday. Drums rolled and bugles called again. I dashed north as it was my intention to be on the other side of the fence today, in the company of Southerners.


Like drops of oil flowing together the Confederates formed up, the droplet I was with were my camp mates, and they sang lustily as we marched to form up. Then the long wait that I wanted to last forever yet also be over with, even more so I wanted someone to blow a whistle and announce the war was over. You can all go home. But no, we were soon marching to more carnage.

A long, sunken road ran parallel to another corn field. I almost choked when I realised this was the very ground I had looked over with the medical staff and we were approaching just where they said we would, should I say something? Were the Yankees just waiting to fire? We stopped, lining the road, then the tips of union colours were seen baring through the cornfield. A wild cry went out as the first men in dark blue appeared, along with sharpshooters in green, who met their opposites. Three Union cannons also opened fire.

                               

To be near a shell that impacts the soft earth is a strange thing, the initial blast is like the clap of a hand, a puff of smoke, black at its heart, throwing debris in a circle and gone before you can react. Then from above gravity brings down the clods of matted earth and then your eyes sting at the final act of thin soil floating back to earth. I was glad of my spectacles and saw men with eyes watering from having looked up too soon.

The company ahead could not stand the weight of fire, fallen men were dragged back into the corn into which the foray was disappearing, a lull in the storm. 
But what was that against a fence but a federal flag, just there, a hundred yards away. 'Go on Jimmy!' a man shouted and a lad in a slouch hat was running into the open land between the lane and the field, the cornfield from which a hundred guns might be poised to fire at any moment. As he drew close and seised the flag the cheering increased, was he going to make it? Back he ran with the cumbersome prize, a shell falling in his path, but no rifles sounded. He was here, he did it. Jimmy was a hero at that moment and what joy there was on his young face.


Drums quietened the moment, they were coming back, beneath the green flags of the Irish brigade. The intensity of the fire seemed to increase as the already depleted southern ranks were whittled away like one louder voice drowning out another. All alone the line which began as three ranks deep there were empty spaces or single men loading and firing, loading and firing, until the blue ranks had such an advanatge as to know a charge would win them the field, and so it was, I removed myself to a gap at the end of the lane and saw the Union troops break into a run that ended the last shred of resistance. The battle of Antietam was over. 


What was it all for? You may be aware by now that it was reported as a Union victory as the next day General Lee's army moved away south and that urged to give a heady pursuit General McClellan went exactly nowhere. 

As for myself I boarded a train, to a hotel with a type writer and a hot bath. I sit here now and reflect on the horrors I have seen but also on the nature of courage and I remember men laughing and joking. 
Laughter lost in the maelstrom.


Wilhelm Schmetterling, Maryland, USA.










Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Our man in the field. Part one.

                                   
                                 The Battle of Antietam.
                             As told by Wiener Zeitung correspondent, Herr Wilhelm Schmetterling.

A strange premonition came upon me as I stood at an old gate looking across to the first row of army tents, that I would be caught in a suppressed chaos, a primordial trial that men fought to harness, to unleash the best, and the worst in men. War, for I had been caught on the edge of it before, back in '59 at a place called Solferino.

There was much bussle but I was not challenged, even as I paused to sketch a half dressed man beneath a flag I did not recognise but I learnt it was Southern by the hints of grey apparel and collection of hats in circulation. Although in truth when men speak of 'The blue and the grey' they might as well add a hue called butternut to the Confederate, along with cheque and various wallpaper samples. A white whiskered fellow hailed me and enquired what I was about and I feared my accent and dark attire might make him think me a Northerner but he soon satisfied himself I was not, as did a cloud of his fellows attracted by a stranger in their little town. I did think it prudent not to ask for directions to the Federal lines but took off in the direction that the camp seemed to guard against like a dog on a porch.



Union camp. Seemed a little more on the European model, rows of near identical tents, many stencilled with italics. I felt some wary eyes on me and smiled, moving on. Maybe this was not the right time for a tour as more tents rose up, then a call hailed me, Captain Story of the US navy whom I had bumped into on my travels. I hoped the acquaintance would boost my status and soon I was also in conversation with the main surgeon.



With dusk drawing in I realised I had no place to rest and spread my meague things, it had been mentioned men with modest shelters were bivouacked in the opposite woods, but back in Confederate country. I made the wood as a shower fell and like a turtle drew myself under canvas for its brief duration. Then found my camp mates, one of whom, Lloyd, was most interested in my work and I felt in gaining his trust I was welcome to live amongst these hardy souls.

Whilst I came with bread and cheese and a hip flask tucked between my notebooks, apples and corn were in abundance in the region even with such a host that lined either side of Antietam creek, a brewery in Sharpsburg had also sent liquor and men visited in small bands and with little rancour, maybe the proximity of battle had made men seek solace in their campfires. One of those nearest my nest was populated largely with French speakers from Louisiana.


Apparently it rained, quite heavily, in the night but I do not recall waking until low voices and the hint of dawn crept into my consciousness, and the shout for roll call summoned a small host in earthy shades.
All became motion and I felt rather like a fifth wheel and excused myself to wander freely, and sketch.
Attracted by a meandering of officers towards a commandeered building I found myself attached to the high staff rather as a stray dog follows men, everyone assumed I was invited along by someone else. To wit I was privy to the plan of battle for the day unfolding.


Drums, bugles and much shouting was putting that plan into action. Companies were forming up. I threaded my way through the camp and joined the union forces between the 18th Missouri and the 19th Indianapolis, just a few yards from the colour party, directly ahead of us was a cornfield, the crops taller than a man. Marching forward, even with several pairs of feet trampling through the crops ahead of me I still struggled occasionally and if a man fell back more than a few paces he would see the fellow ahead disappear, swallowed up. A whole regiment could be hidden in such a field!

Emerging from the far side we saw a wooden fence about twenty yards ahead, and the far treeline, and then something else, men rising up as if sown from hydras teeth! the rebels were here and opened a galling fire. The sharpshooters soon had to fall back and the blue line poured out fire. Men fell and were dragged aside or replaced. I instinctively ducked and took what scant cover I could, only too aware of the valiant nature of those around me who stood unflinching whilst shot and shell filled the air. Those firing at least had a distraction but those in the colour party could only stand and abide their fate. One of the flag bearers suddenly pitched forward, body breaking through the splintered wood of the fence, one leg projected awkwardly backwards. A man instantly stepped in to take up the fallen colour.

My professional observations were forfeited about now to aid the fallen, one can not simply observe whilst men die and for the rest of the battle I helped move the wounded to a safer spot or to the aid station, on more than one occasion I moved to help a soldier who had fallen just feet away only to discover he was already a corpse.


A different species of scream now caught everyones attention, the confederates were coming forward over their own tidemark of fallen, giving their yowl, and suddenly our line seemed pitiable. The charming young medical officer advised me I might want to vacate the field, using much the same tone as he might advise a man of the best place to buy a dependable watch.
Back through the corn I came upon a small party of soldiers working their way to the right flank and out they poured to give a volley, but against them was such a number of rebels that one volley was all they fired into the flank before swiftly retiring.

I however felt as an observer that I could not do justice to the affair without recording something of the scene once the fighting was done, and passed back onto the field, only to be met by a line of confederates all with their guns trained on yours truly, fearing I was but the vanguard of another surprise attack! Much flapping and a mime of note scribbling convinced them I was not a belligerent but for a moment my life had flashed before my eyes. All that was left for me to do was help a limping soldier, pale and silent, to the aid station where I witnessed a pile of dead, gone beyond mortal help.


I needed to compose myself and found my feet drawing me back behind the lines, towards Sharpsburg, I should have been writing notes but I felt numb and knew I would recall more later, I had never been so close to the fire at Solferino. I picked up an apple and ordered a drink from Newark brewery before the days victors in grey and butternut could return.

Despite the fallen that night seemed more animated than that before the battle, maybe it was the drowning of sorrow or the celebration of survival, and a regimental band later struck up what I took to be popular tunes. Mozart was not amongst them. I gravitated to where the white whiskered sentinel had hailed me the day before and met up with the same party, listened to their tales and wondered with a writer's mind about whether these heroics, or comedies, were embellished for the audience. In time I returned to the quiet scenes of the camp beneath the trees where men sat more typically around a fire, orange flames lighting their faces and I sat for a while too before bidding them goodnight and falling into the oblivion of sleep. I thought of the men I had met and marched into the corn with just that morning, where were they now? Some thought the Union army would be gone tomorrow, cautious McClellen woud never stand, others foretold another battle to come...



                               End of part one, to be concluded in the next issue of Die Wiener Zeitung.













Saturday, 2 September 2017

La Bossiere-ecole


Last year it was Frequieres, this year the campaign weekend was about twenty kilometres outside Paris and seven of the 45eme were bound for adventure in the French countryside.

Our camp site was on the edge of a farm, I presume, as there was the shell of a barn at our disposal and a rectangle of rocks that marked out a firepit, and a latrine made out of a box over a hole with a wall of twigs and sticks but no door, so singing or whistling was required when occupied.


We all contributed some rations to a stew and then some disappointing news came that apparently the farmer had decided we could not use the land where the second nights camp was meant to be, some of the French wanted to be static but some of the more mobile souls wanted to set off into the wilder regions for a stop over in the woods next night. (later it emerged this might have had more to do with some organisers not wanting the French forces to split up).  Oh well, food was eaten, wine was drunk and we crashed out on the ground in various degrees of makeshift shelters from just a cover to a canvas sheet roped up to trees.


I did wake up in the night when I got bitten and could feel something moving about in my trousers. I don't know why anything would venture into my trousers or just how they get in, the top is belted and the bottoms have gaiters over shoes again with straps at the top. It turned out to be a beetle about the size of a twenty pee. Reveille sounded at 6, The morning was misty.

Not having to march straight to a point in the woods to make camp at the end of day some saw fit to empty their packs of all unnecessaries, I however wanted to keep all my food/drink/gear with me as I would if I was on campaign, I was here to live it more than ever.


Down grassy paths we travelled, along hedgerows and through woods, and (unlike last year) it was not long before we saw some of the enemy in the opposite tree line, greater numbers emerging than last year, we let through a King's German legion trooper who had twisted her ankle, and then the first vollies started flying. Skirmishers peppered shots at us, and we marched forwards, then back again. The enemy passed down a wide track to the left soon followed by their cavalry. Word was we had won that fight as we were deployed in line again a force coming on in columns or dribs and drabs.


we metaphorically counted to one hundred to let the allies go, and set off again, coming out of a wood someone thought they had heard noises behind us, I volunteered to go back and look, and just as importantly in a wood, listen. but no one was there. we made to cross a mowed down wheat field, everytime this raised the question of 'What if the cavalry come out now?'  it nearly came about but we managed to scrambled into a bushy area and gave them fire, caught between two units the horse retired.


More marching, par le route, and it seemed we were looking for a source of water which was eventually found at a cemetary with a tap although myself and the Caporal had got a local lady to provide a couple of bottles which she literally ran in and out of the house to fetch. The locals would provides taps and hoses for water on several occasions. Opposite the cemetary we crashed out, some folk took off sweat damp uniforms to hang over a wall to dry. 

                                 

When we set off again down a road between woods the cavalry came up behind us but it seemed they merely wanted to pass and trotted off to by pass us, further down the way we skirmished in the trees in pairs whilst larger groups held the road, rushing down a slope towards more firing many of us took a double take at a couple standing obliviously in the middle of fire and fury to film a video with their ipad. 
Out in the open came a great melee as troops were fed into the throng seeming to give us the advantage of numbers, but the Belgian cavalry appeared and came round the flank, our two intrepid scouts (chasseurs a cheval) met them but outnumbered it would only prove a speed bump. Our group fell back into the trees but were given an ultimatum by a dashing Dutch officer to re-join our main force or be shot. We decided on the not being shot.
We all stopped in some trees on a slope to regroup and catch breath but the big Belgian unit were already coming on! unarmed I went forth to meet them and offered their Captain a drop of brandy, he declined, but I negotiated a five minutes armistice. 

Shortly after skirmishing resumed but the day was drawing to a close and it petered out. It was quite a long way back to the camp after a day of marching and fighting and it wasn't long until the army started to straggle apart. At one point we found a young recruit just sat in a cottage doorway clutching an empty water bottle, don't know how he came to be alone without water but we gave him some and a bit of bread cake and took him with us. It was a challenge not to drag our feet on the way back, with long sighs as we turned a new corner to see the road went up a long sloping hill. sacre bleu!
On making camp we collapsed and many stripped down to trousers, some in bonnets, to hang up sweat damp clothes and the camp must have looked a bit like Smurf village. Each group was awarded a bottle of wine for our efforts. Many of us spend the evening 'Walking like John Wayne.'


That night having been denighed a rougher camping site I stole away a distance with just a blanket and my rolled up hábit (jacket) and slept under a tree, quite well until the thunderstorm. Starting in the distance until the lightning crackled overhead and the thunder was accompanied by rain and dogs howling like wolves! Fortunately the tree I was under was not straight and afforded better shelter than a straight trunk.

Sunday saw our group up and ready to march before time, and ourselves and a small unit of line Grenadiers were posted to keep watch around a crossroads (a track) opposite the village. 


We watched and waited and heard the enemy drums.. from where exactly though? And then it all went quiet. Split into our skirmishing pairs we took to different points. 

We waited longer then moved towards a corner of a wood where upon enemy cavalry appeared. We gave fire to support the small group of grenadiers on the path.. they gave a small volley but the rules of engagement were that infantry lose to cavalry when in the open. (Six men do not make a square) 

Having crossed a ditch and began up to the village we were fired on from the treeline, a patrol of Scots lights and Landwehr.. skirmishing broke out as our officer, a good man, joined us and we advanced. One of the foe shouted an 'An officer!' and fired. The officer promptly moved close behind soldat Bonbon for the rest of the advance. At the end of which we formed and charged up an awkward thickly wooded slope. A close flash of fire was odd and it would turn out our leader had a bad, black burn on his lower leg, although after treatment he was fine getting about.


Having taken the patrol prisoner we took them up the slope to the village by the church and awaited the arrival of the main allied army, surely with us skirmishing and some support fire from the Imperial guard cannon they cannot have failed to hear the noise?  Locals had also been attracted to see what was going on. One of them brought a tray of tea for the prisoners but as guards we also indulged, one pot was mint tea which was very refreshing. Then the enemy were spotted at the far end of the slope, they sat amongst the trees, presumably having a rest before launching an assault. I finished my tea and was relieved of guard duty as the prisoners gave their parole. We waited a bit more.


The order for us to march down the side of the field and form a firing line came but by now their was a sense of reluctance, no one wanted to go far. The allied cavalry thundered passed and attacked the undefended cannon and crew but this was apparently to give the locals something to look at. As we formed line some grumbled that the cavalry might return to try and hit us in the flank.. some French had also called it a day, in ones and twos firing off their rounds and going to the rear. The rest of us fired down towards the Belgians at extreme long range, really to provoke a reaction 'Come and get us!' but still nothing. with a shrug we turned around and called it a day.  A few of us helped move and limber the cannon up. Off to lunch!


And so in a small park the weekend ended with bread, melons, pate and cidre. Soon after we marched back across the field with the crossroads and began to pack up.

A stark contrast of events was seeing pictures of Detling military odyssey where impeccably clean redcoats marched out of their tented camp with flags flying to the sound of 'Hearts of oak' and polite applause to fire a few vollies at some pirates before giving a hurrah and being back in time for tea and biscuits. I still enjoy those events, mainly because I am there with good friends, but after a campaign weekend they do feel a bit like a Church fete.


This is one of my favourite images of the weekend, by photographer Nicolas Villeret having seen Albrecht Addams watercolours of scenes from the Russian campaign, the tired figure, sans one shoe, so echoes those images of a tired soldier.

La Bossiere-ecole is held once every two years but I hope there will be an alternative one in France next year. There is such an event hosted by two rifles groups in the UK next month but work life gets in the way. I'd like to do one in UK although I am aware what a 'crowded isle' the UK is, whist continental Europe has more open rolling, wooded country where the locals don't mind a bunch of grown men playing soldiers across fields and lanes.


This is also last Napoleonic event of the year, a good end! Remind me to make repairs and replace those lost buttons before next April.

Vive L'EMPOREUR!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Intermission.

                                                               
When I started this blog it was to chart my progress and experience getting into reenactment, where to buy stuff, where to get information, what to avoid, how events were organized, what common experiences there were?.. I'm not sure if the blog really fits that remit anymore.

Should I talk about tips and tricks of gun maintenance? or camp cookery? or delve more into the history, revealing everything a soldier would have had in his pack? should I review gear? what has faded and torn? what arrived three months late? or carry on with the story telling... Or I could find things to rant about I'm sure.

Don't worry, this is not like your insecure friend threatening to delete their facebook account so people can cry out  'No, don't go!'

The blog will continue.

I like the idea of being able to look back after ten years and read about a day I spent at Horsham town museum as much as reliving some epic aspect of a battle in Eastern Germany so it will at least go on as a Diary and if you want to tag along for the ride then great. I did ponder whether to write about Eastbourne as it is an event I have been to four times now, but felt it would be incomplete not to at least give it an honourable mention as a nice day out!


There are still new things on the horizon, I should be going to the American civil war international event near Nottingham next month.. new era and also new experience as I will be going as a civilian, a journalist in fact and for some reason, more so than soldiering as a Frenchmen, I feel I should have a new character.. Wilfred Armitage of Maryland, freelance journalist, failed author. Trying to capture the truth of the war that divides a nation, claiming impartiality, but not really convinced of it himself. I suspect this feeling is borne of playing an individual instead of one of a group. You can talk about the history of the 45th regiment, their trials and tribulations, how they fought, their battle honours, you can't do the same in the third person for a fictional character.. although you can talk generically about journalism, telegraphs, news agencies and the general history of the times.


The possibility of making an appearance at an eighteenth century do as some stray Frenchmen helping the jacobites (or possibly the Americans) may also come about, have tricorne will travel. I still have not had cause to wear my Franciscan Monk's habit.. yet, but adventures in the 45eme will always be the priority.

                             Ever Onwards. There's always something new. 








By the Seaside.

The sun was shinning down on the happy beach goers as I strolled along Eastbourne promenade towards the redoubt.. but then.. Thunderbolts and lightning! Rhandolph has landed! 


It certainly helped wrap up the event for the day and soon the 45eme crew were off to the Belgian cafe for the evening. I was tempted by the £17.50 beer of the century just to find out if it was REALLY worth it, to say you had tried it.. but didn't, we instead had giant six pint carafe things with a tap on the side. All very agreeable, with Dutch hummus.


Next morning with some time until public admission we all went to the beach and some ventured into paddling in the sea, some put off by the prospect of having to do up their gaiters all over again.
Then along the prom for an ice cream or two. It was a lovely event as it did feel very much like a family outing to the seaside.


Since our last visit the museum has been extended and is now dedicated to the redoubt and it's personal history instead of the more regimental museum of before.
After a brief drill and firing display I managed to traumatise a child when her father jokingly said 'Look out, the Frenchmen is going to get you!' and playing along chased after the small scooter borne child going 'Raaaagh'. It remained in tears for some time afterwards. Oh well.


The skirmish began with us rushing in and firing a couple of vollies into the Scots before advancing, we then rushed the stairs where the rifles were.. and we were repelled, taking casualties.. meant to be A casualty but in the moment three of us all decided to be that casualty. No one can say we don't die. This unfortunately left only Duncan, who I believe may have picked up a musket, and John to carry on the fight.
Briefly.

Professor Flapjaque returns to entertain the masses.

Eastbourne is always a good little event where the museum/saff pretty much leave the smattering of reenactors to do their own thing. I suppose it can only help support the redoubt/museum and we are pretty much volunteers, all here for the fun, ice cream and Belgian beer. 

Should be back next year! 





Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Absolutely Marvelous.



Three days later and I still can't get Abba out of my head. 

For some time we have had an invitation to drop in and parade about at the Marvelous festival, a celebration of (hopefully) top quality tribute bands, whom I shall refer to by their proper names. Last year the invitation got a bit more formal, a group, with actual things to do, and this year even more so. Arriving on the friday evening there was a couple of drinks in the small stage tent, just out of the rain, and the treat of an Elvis impersonator.


One of our main duties was keeping certain areas free of tents/chairs/people as everyone poured in looking for an advantageous place to sit/set up camp.. mine was the walk way that split the main viewing area in half and by the disabled seating area. When the gates were flung open it was quite daunting to see this human wave armed with deck chairs, pic nic baskets and crates of cider coming towards me like a horde of refugees from Tunbridge Wells. After only a few quiet words the lines of demarkation for the walk way were set and it became evident that it was a no go area. 

This was a large chunk of Saturday afternoon, everyone sat under the rainy awning.

At five o'clock we did a musketry display, announced from the stage more people wandered over than expected and so a firing competition was quickly improvised into the bargain, this would be repeated on the Sunday. People mingled asking questions afterwards including some very tipsy women who wouldn't believe they were real guns despite one of them having watched the end of the display.


A free staff dinner later we returned to the camp, where I managed to fall off my chair carrying a glass of wine, before disappearing to go and see the (UK) Foo Fighters.

Our musketry display was received with rapturous applause, and this was just my bit.

'So do you normally dress like this at the weekend?'


Sunday morning, the joys of litter picking. The punters had all been given a bin bag on entry which was a good idea but still there was rogue rubbish, including a sadly deflated parrot and random olives... and then, after it had rained all night, we were given pitchforks for spreading hay into the worst of the mud and big puddles. 

Down on le farm.

No one wanted to be near the crowds when 'Waterloo' came on. 


Some of the bands completely passed me by although I did catch some of Bryan Adams, not deliberately, which is basically the soundtrack to midlife crisis. I was glad we left before Madness were on as it is my experience that hearing Madness instantly changes grown men into those weetabix characters from the 1980s. 
I would have liked to have stayed for the grand finale of Queen though but it would quite simply have meant staying over another night with no money left and in whatever ditch I could find. 

It was literally a marvelous weekend, despite the rain, and something a bit different. Another experience reenactment has brought to me that I would otherwise have missed. Maybe next year I shall try to make it to a battle prom, which is basically a classical concert with a few musket vollies thrown in. If only Rammstein would give us a gig.

until then 'We are the champions!'