J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Revolutionary Reenactors to Visit Longfellow Sites

As winter comes on, the Revolutionary War reenacting season in New England is drawing to a close. Here are a couple of October events with links to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s iconic poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.”

On Saturday, 13 October, from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. the 10th Massachusetts Regiment will be at Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge, recreating the early Continental Army units that served in the siege of Boston. This event is part of the site’s celebration of forty years of being in the National Park Service.

The room in that mansion where Gen. George Washington dined and probably met with his generals, delegates from the Continental Congress, and other important figures became Longfellow’s study, where he wrote much of “Paul Revere’s Ride” in 1860.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, 27 October, Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury hosts the annual “Battle of the Red Horse Tavern” from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. Though there was no skirmish there during the Revolutionary War, it’s a nice open ground in the heart of Middlesex County, and scores of Continental and British troops are expected to participate. The schedule of events is:
  • 11:30 A.M.: Demonstrations of artillery, fife and drum, clothing, &c.
  • 1:00 P.M.: First Battle — east fields
  • 2:15 P.M.: Second Battle — south fields
Longfellow visited that site in October 1862, a year after the last innkeeper in the Howe family died, leaving no heirs who wanted to follow his profession. The old Howe tavern had become a boarding-house, and for Longfellow a symbol of the fading past. He was inspired to collect several narrative poems under the title Tales of a Wayside Inn. Among those pieces was “Paul Revere’s Ride,” published in The Atlantic Monthly two years before but now retitled “The Landlord’s Tale.”

That book proved so popular that in 1897 a wool merchant with antiquarian tastes bought the boarding-house and officially named it Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. Henry Ford bought the property in 1923, and in 1960 it became an independent non-profit corporation. Hosting events like the “Battle of Red Horse Tavern” is part of the inn’s educational mission.

(The thumbnail above comes from Tom Deitner’s photographs of past events in Sudbury.)


Robert S. Paul said...

Not Longfellow-related, but there's also a reenactment weekend in Millbury on Oct 20-21 (The battle of Pearson Farm).

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks! Here’s alink to the Millbury event, which is part of that town's bicentennial celebration.