The summer is usually a great time to enjoy military reenactments and encampments, but often those take place well outside the city. After all, the landscape out there looks a bit more like it did two centuries ago. But this month we’ll see some encampments within easy walking distance of subway stops.
Saturday, 9 August, 12:30 to 3:30 P.M.: Glover’s Regiment will set up camp on the front lawn of the mansion that became George Washington’s headquarters in 1775-76, now officially known as Longfellow National Historic Site. The regiment from Marblehead that this group reenacts used that same estate soon after the Revolutionary War began, before the new generalissimo moved it. The reenactors will sing sea shanties, demonstrate the manual of arms, and talk about life during the early days of the American Revolution. (Visiting the encampment and the grounds is free; there’s a small fee to tour the house. The nearest T stop is Harvard.)
Saturday, 16 August, 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., and Sunday, 17 August, 9:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.: The Freedom Trail Foundation will host the first reenacted British army encampment on Boston Common. British regiments arrived there in May 1774 as part of Parliament’s plan to pressure Boston into repaying the East India Company for its destroyed tea. Those troops were in barracks by late fall, but the arrival of more regiments in the early spring of 1775 and the start of the war meant the Common returned to being a military encampment until the end of the siege.
The foundation,, which is celebrating the Freedom Trail’s fiftieth year, describes its plans like this:
The ongoing scheduled program includes: drills and black powder firing demonstrations, mock tents and bed making, shoemaking, a medical tent, cooking, clothing and uniforms; a cricket game, court martial, stocks, music, and confrontation with colonial militia men. Children can dress in typical colonial dress and experience camp life and have their photo taken.Some of the reenactor regiments participating are His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot; 1st Regiment of Foot Guards; 5th Regiment of Foot; 9th Regiment of Foot; 4th or King’s Own Regiment; 21st Foot R.N.B.F.; and the 24th Regiment. The Freedom Trail Players will be on hand to interpret. Units will start setting up around 3:00 P.M. on Saturday, and folks can visit those areas until sundown, but there are no programs planned until the weekend. (Visiting the Boston Common encampment is free. I don’t know whether Park Street or Boylston will be the closer T stop.)
In addition, sutlers—dry goods merchants who frequently accompanied British camps—will be on hand with their re-created 18th century inventory of historic cloth, games, clothes, hats, accessories, and household items.