Hot! Rock Ford Plantation 2012 Event Report

This past weekend Marc and I attended the British Brigade-sponsored Revolutionary War encampment at Rock Ford Plantation.  It was my first British Brigade event and I have to say, I was impressed.  The organizers seemed fairly on top of things, the reenactors and tourists were equally catered-to, and the overall authenticity level was much higher than I had expected it to be for such a large event.  Sure, there were still women running around in “English bodices” and men running around in clothes that were way too big for them, as well as an overabundance of cookware in the camps, but overall, the authenticity level was pretty damn good considering how many reenactors were there, and the fact that it was not a juried event.

Marc and I arrived at the site around 8pm on Friday and met up with Travis, our sergeant.  We were part of the “advanced party” for the British troops, so we were off in the woods, sleeping under the stars, with no tents.  The rest of our unit members arrived throughout the evening, eventually numbering seven men at arms and one campfollower (me).

On Saturday, they drilled in formation with the rest of the Brigade while I took some early morning photos.  Around midday, they left to head into the woods as a scouting party for the battle, and I headed to the spectator lines to get photos.  The battle went quite well, and I liked how it kind of swept through a whole swath of the site.  That evening Marc ended up joining the musicians at the dance, and accompanied them with his period cittern.  I even convinced him to join me for one dance!  Around 10:30, the free beer stopped flowing and everyone went back to their camps.  I finally met Sarah, a reenactor I know from Tumblr, while at the dance and she followed Marc and I back to our camp and we all chatted for a couple hours before finally turning in.

On Sunday, our unit (the Queen’s Own Loyal Virginia Regiment) declined to participate in the church service, so we had a much more relaxed morning and even had time to take a stroll among the sutlers’ row.  Due to the higher temperatures on Sunday, I chose to wear modern clothes on Sunday, which also made it considerably easier to partake in my role as a photographer.  After a quick lunch, the men left once again to take their places for the battle, and I headed down with my camera.  I had better positioning during the battle on Sunday, though since the QOLVR was mostly in the woods with Claus’ Rangers on Sunday’s battle, I got very few photos of them.  After the battle, we wrapped things up quickly and were out of the site within an hour or so.

All in all, it was a great event, and I really enjoyed getting to participate in such a large encampment!  If any of you readers were there, what were your impressions of the event?

11 Comments

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  1. I really enjoyed what I saw. I never knew the Revolutionary War period was so well organized or had such numbers. The only Rev War events I had previously attended were rather small. The battle was pretty impressive. And I loved seeing the horses in action. Although the cavalry’s swordplay could have been better, its understandable considering they probably don’t have the opportunity to practice that stuff. I wish I could have stayed longer. From your photos it looked like the evening was quite fun. Being primarily a medieval reenactor, opportunities to participate in such large events come very rarely. Perhaps I will improve my gear and come out next year for the whole thing.

  2. As a spectator (rather than a reenactor), I completely enjoyed Sunday’s event! The amount of reenactors was spectacular! In addition, I was highly impressed with all of the information the reenactors told me. I spoke to kitchen cooks, a woman maintaining the children’s games (in which I had more than fun with), and a reenactor who chose the role as a surgeon. I’m convinced, as a person who specializes in history while at college, that one can learn more by experiencing history rather than reading it. The reenactors made me believe that I was living in the 18th century, and it was lovely!

    • I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it as a spectator! You’re the ones we’re there for, so it’s great to be able to get feedback!

  3. It may have been the best event I have participated in over the past 14 years. The battle was a great deal of fun. We were attached to the 84th Royal Emigrants Lights so worked as light infantry, with two newbies in our line it made a huge impression! As for the “large” clothing, remember that both armies were always under-fed especially on campaign so clothing that is too large is exceptable. As for the kitchens, the flying camp should have none and the line of dining flys represent the officers mess area even though every one in a unit eats and lounges there. If it were to be set up correctly, the cooking wheel would be set up and the troops would eat else where, the officers dinnig flys would be similer to what we set up normally.

    Generals Coy, 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foote

    Cruachan

  4. I am happy to read your nice comments about the weekend at Rock Ford. Since we are a tiny museum with only one full-time staff member, the event was almost completely volunteer run. We are so proud of our sight and wanted to do it justice. The reenactors were magnificent in spite of the hills and the heat and the battle was spectacular. I’m just sorry I missed the cittern at the barn dance! (I was busy fiddling around with the malfunctioning beer tap!!).
    Pam
    Rock Ford Plantation

  5. I was in the woods with the Third Brigade on Saturday and Sunday, and both were interesting scenarios. I have to agree about the camp. Sometimes they look more like tailgate parties than military encampments. And we should have more linen and hemp and less cotton. But where does the line get drawn? Using period fabrics is expensive and they are difficult to find and sometimes to work with. More military activity in camp would be welcome, but you risk resentment from people who have been doing this all their adult lives and would rather lounge between battles. At some point, one has to balance authenticity against participation or the numbers drop.
    Gordon
    2 Bn, King’s Royal Reg’t of New York

  6. After a trek through 4 states with 4 horses in tow I can say that the event was well worth it . It is always awesome too have as many horses on the field as we did. The tactical demonstration on both days were full of action and hard riding for all the Dragoons involved. My hat is off to the few infantry units we engaged. They all reacted well either pulling back when they knew they were in an untenable possition or “prepareing to take horse” when we threated them. Very good event . My helmet is off to the event organizers for their efforts .

  7. Nice story about the weekend.

    A reminder? Not all of those who are in historic clothing are reenactors with units. Some may be sutlers with perhaps less than authentic clothing (though most are dead on with accuracy). Some may be visitors who just want to “dress up”. And there are always the volunteers of the site, who might not have all the knowledge they need to be appropriately dressed.

  8. I’ve just joined the hobby this year and this was my first major event.Driving in from massachussets was a bit daunting, but once arriving I was enormously impressed with the grounds the battles the dance the number of sutlers and especially Gen.Hand’s home.The ballgown displayed especially for that weekend and the weapons we were allowed to handle made us feel truly appreciated.My regt all agreed it was an excellent event. thank you so much. Evan Gately, Pvt.~ Col. Baileys 2nd Mass. reg’t