Gunston Hall AAR
- Dear List,
I just want to give a heartfelt thank you to the wonderful people of the 1st,
3rd and 7th Virginia regiments, as well as the 1st MD, the Swordmasters, and
the local, "independent" colonial reenactors who joined us at Gunston Hall
this weekend to recreate a 1774 militia muster of the Fairfax County Independent
By all accounts it was a smashing success. Twenty five of my high school
students dressed out this weekend and another 25 visited the site. The staff at
Gunston was very impressed with the conduct and willingness of all the
reenactors to engage the public, and have already asked that we return next year.
Everyone was simply awesome and a huge help and I really, really appreciate all
the hard work and generosity people showed this weekend.
The history teacher in me is thrilled that so many of my students were able
to witness and experience a bit of colonial life. I'm sure my classroom will
be abuzz with talk about it.
So once again I want to say thank you to all the people who made this event a
great experience for my students, and the many visitors to Gunston Hall this
weekend. ( And that goes for me too.... I had a great time ! )
- I had not been back to Gunston Hall since the big event held there years ago
and almost forgot what a beautiful site it is.As Mike said, the weather was
perfect ,cool enough to fight in and warm enough to sleep out comfortably.We
had a good group of music ,which made it fun for us and some of us musicians
also went out and shot for a change.The naval group really added to the
weekend, we don't get to fight off men in ships too often! The site was well
supplied, scenerios unique and long lasting - I think I can safely say we
all had a great and safe time.
Thanks Mike for your efforts and to the site for hosting us.I know I hope we
get to back again next year.
- Dear List,
Yes, it is true that the weather this weekend at Gunston Hall was nearly ideal and the site is fantastic, but as with all such events, the work that occurred prior to the weekend was essential to the event's success. So thanks go to the following people:
Jim McGaughey for first contacting Gunston Hall and getting the planning well under way, Geoff Sheffer, my counterpart with the crown forces who helped plan the event and scenarios and recruited and led pillaging raiders, Tom Vogley and Greg Fisher, who attended a number of meetings and offered their steady support and advice, Dan McMahon, who helped with Friday's school program (with Greg) AND the battle scenarios, and Jane Pease and Lyn Padgett who recruited the musicians and shared dance calling duties on Saturday night.
I also want to thank the members of the 7th Virginia, many who showed up early to make the school program a success, dealt with check in on Friday night and Saturday morning, and sprung into action to move hay bales and set up and tear down for the dance. Finally, the folks at Gunston Hall deserve praise for welcoming us for the weekend and providing not only the usual amenities, but also free ice all weekend.
Now for the report:
We assembled in the shadow of Gunston Hall, numbering 60 troops from the 1st VA, 1st MD, 1st PA, 1st NJ, 1st Continentals, 5th PA, 7th VA, the Fluvanna Militia, and the German Regiment, with two cannon manned by the 7th VA and a combined crew of Spanish Regt. and Locke's Militia.
For Saturday our force of militia was formed into two line companies, commanded by Captains Marshall Smith and Tom Vogley, and a detachment of riflemen under Lt. Warren Deal, along with one of the cannon. The scenario was tied to events that occurred along the Potomac in the spring of 1781. A British raiding force had sailed up the river and landed beneath Gunston Hall. The local militia was called to defend the grounds, using a deep ravine as a barrier. The riflemen ( 15 strong ) were posted near a woodline and covered the right of the militia line while Captain Vogley's company covered the left. The one good crossing point of the ravine was to the left of the American line, and Captain Vogley made an effort to block the enemy advance, but their mixed force of British, German, and loyalist troops, numbering about 60 men and accompanied by two dragoons and a cannon, forced their way through the pass.
As the crown forces began to turn the American left flank, Captain Marshall Smith's company appeared on the field and hit the enemy right flank. Both sides were now approximately equal in size, but the enemy held the advantage in the experience and discipline of the troops, and the militia, who did fight uncommonly well ( for militia ) was gradually forced back. Pressed hard on our right flank ( in the woods ) I eventually ordered a withdrawal from the field, using Captain Smith's company to screen our withdrawal.
We melted away while the crown forces marched up the road to the house to pillage the estate and issue a proclamation. Apparently there was a heck of a confrontation between some local ladies and British troops who robbed them.
On Saturday night we enjoyed a large dance in the "shadow" of the mansion house, and on Sunday morning, select troops from each force engaged in a fierce morning woods tactical that was both challenging and a ton of fun. My plan for the tactical was to ambush the enemy as they advanced up a trail, but like all plans after first contact, we had to adjust and the detachment commanders on the American side did so brilliantly. It was a great fight over challenging and enjoyable terrain and I saw a lot of smiles at the end of it.
Our last fight completed the story with the Crown forces marching back to the river. We set up an ambush for them with our riflemen, who were directed to hit their rear guard. Then Captain Smith's company double timed it out of the woods and struck the enemy rear guard in the rear / right flank, while Capt. Vogley's company with two cannon raced from another road to cut off the rear guard from the main enemy body. I can't report on what happened with Captain Vogley's efforts at this point as I remained between the rifles and Smith's company, but from my vantage point we seemed to have the crown forces in a vice and the fight was intense. They had a large number of camp followers with them who became tangled in the fight and more than once I thought of the ambush scene in Last of the Mohicans. Eventually, the crown forces were forces ( or withdrew of their own volition if you listen to them ) to a trail into the woods that led to the river.
Again, everyone seemed to enjoy the intensity of the fight ( which appeared to last only 20 minutes but seemed much longer than that ). When we first met to organize the event Jim M. wanted to make sure to get everyone on the road quickly, and most folks were packed and leaving by 3:00 p.m. ( Sunday's battle having started at 1:30 ).
From my perspective, ( and from what I have heard from spectators, some of whom were students of mine ) the battles were "awesome", and there was a degree of intensity and movement that I really enjoyed. I found myself pining to join the riflemen in the woods and the volleys and movements of both musket companies were superb. I'm hoping that some of those students actually taped the battles so I can see it from their viewpoint on the hill.
Once again, many thanks to everyone who helped make this event a big success.
Now on to Monmouth, where we will chase the crown forces away again!
All the Best,
Mike Cecere 7th VA
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