Looking back at the battles: An encampment at the Homestead

Submitted photo Continentals firing during the Daniel Boone Homestead's Rev. War Reenactment.

The Friends of the Daniel Boone Homestead presented the largest colonial living event since 2008 on Saturday Aug. 10 & Sunday Aug. 11 on the homestead grounds.

“Although there were never any Revolutionary battles fought on the homestead itself, Berks County was prominent during the war,” Brad Kissam, a volunteer with the Friends of DBH said.“During the Valley Forge encampment most of the Calvary were sent to Reading (the source of cannons, and other manufactured war supplies) while the British occupied Philadelphia - the colonial capitol.”

There was much foraging of local farms for cows, wheat etc. by the British troops. They would offer payment in gold, or they would just take them. Resistance could mean death. The locals would inform the troops of the whereabouts of the enemy.

“The war encampment allowed visitors to see examples of troop life. Including tents with only straw or a blanket for a floor, also the presence of wives and sweetheart who traveled behind the troops to do laundry and cook, as well as vendors who followed the troops, selling wares of the eighteenth century,” Kissam continued.

At 2 p.m. each day a dramatic and realistic vision unfolded as a troop parade and inspection was followed by a march to the Grand Battle by the Red Coats and the Continental Army. This live engagement in the field was a demonstration of the tactics and the close combat the soldiers endured due to the lack of distance the muskets and rifles could fire. Their training was choreographed. It was their goal to fire as much lead as possible onto the oncoming enemy and make them quickly retreat or surrender.

In line form, the soldiers stood with their gun fire of long rifles and the muskets making billows of smoke from their black powder creating the fog of war. The wounded and killed falling over onto the ground after being struck put you there. Just a blink and you were back in the past.

The reinforcements hiding up the hill behind the trees would sneak down and come up behind the Red Coats.It was close range and all the Red Coats had the advantage of bayonets. How The men who fought for our freedom were courageous.

Over 100 re-enactors were present at the Homestead. They are all volunteers and their research ensures 99% accuracy in their clothing and gear. Some slept under the homestead’s trees with only straw, leaves or a blanket to lay their heads on and cover them, true to the reality that our colonial soldiers lived.

“They come from all walks of life: professionals, tradesmen, factory workers and women and children. To them it is a hobby. Some hand stitch their clothing, or go to private seamstress and suppliers. Some go to events every weekend. Theirs is a common bond. They’re not as large as Civil War groups since they are limited to only the original colonies,” Kissam stated.

The strains of colonial music and drum beats would fill the air. A Bag Piper, Don Walls, his father originally from Scotland (from the lineage of Brave Heart) also entertained the crowd.

Demonstrations of hearth cooking, blacksmithing, and the Visitor’s Center and Homestead were also available to the public.

“The Homestead is owned by PA Historical and Museum Commission, but is run by the Friends of the Daniel Boone Homestead with Amanda Machik as Museum Director with four employees and a host of dedicated volunteers. The schedule of events is approved by the state commission and there are pages and pages of regulations which are known and adhered to by the participants. Only weapons firing blanks with no projectiles are allowed and crowd safety rules are enforced,” Kissam said.

For more information on the Daniel Boone Homestead visitdanielboonehomstead.org or call 610-582-4900.

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