Under the Redcoat 2006 After Action Report
In a year filled with significant 225ths, Colonial Williamsburg's Under the Redcoat program stood out as a unique opportunity to spend an entire weekend on the actual historic ground, exactly 225 years later! We returned to the Provost Guard scenario for the fourth time, but this year added in an army-wide Church Parade on Sunday morning. We had a splendid turn-out of soldiers, sailors, and civilians. The pre-registration figures had 29 officers, 256 muskets (including artillery), 11 drummers, 104 Ration Strength Women, 15 Ration Strength Children, and 84 other civilians (including our opposition force; the German Regiment), for a total of 501. Official attendance figures of those who actually picked up their registration packets totaled out to 364. Within that figure are 28 walk-on late registrations from invited units, plus one poor fellow who showed up in period clothing (carrying an original fowler!), who came to UTR because one of his buddies told him it was a terrific event. Fortunately, a unit took pity on him and allowed him to register with them. If you are interested in participating at Under the Redcoat, please remember that you must be a member of an invited unit and unit registration is by invitation only!
The Friday events started out with heavy early registration as dozens of troops showed up in time for the "Town is Taken" scenario. Friday's off and on rain forced us to move Registration deep into the Fife and Drum Practice room. The Town is Taken was moved to 12:30 p.m. from its familiar Noon placement to accomodate the programming needs of CW's "Revolutionary City" programming.
In 2006 Colonial Williamsburg instituted a new program; Revolutionary City. CW freely acknowleges that Rev City was inspired in part by the street theater and scenarios which enliven the CW reenactor events such as UTR and Prelude to Victory.
At Rev City, a portion of Duke of Gloucester Street is closed off; open only to ticketed visitors. There, the visitors can see a number of people doing street theater interpretations of daily life in Williamsburg, themed around "Collapse of the Royal Government", or "Citizens at War".
For Under the Redcoat, one of our principal tasks was to avoid Revolutionary City! It was up to the visitors to wrench their minds around the concept that over by the Raleigh Tavern it was OK to have a Continental Army recruiting party while there were hundreds of Redcoats just over in Market Square.
On the days that Rev City runs "Citizens at War", the last scenario is "The Town is Taken". This is just like at UTR, only with a couple of CW interpreters instead of dozens of eager Redcoats. Running Rev City for a couple of months gave CW experience with starting events on time using CW personnel. Ordinarily, this is fine, but at UTR the CW programmers sent the troops off for the Town is Taken scenario too early. They forgot to figure that the Redcoats were straining at the leash - all fired up to go! It was all the Adjutant could do to catch up with the departing column.
Then of course there was the bizarre experience of Taking the Town all over again on Sunday afternoon - but I'm getting ahead of myself.UTR/225 featured a very welcome guest speaker. Katarina Eriksson, head gardener at the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, CA, was invited to do presentations on 18th Century herbs. Kat's interest in 18th Century herbs follows on to her enthusastic support with finding and growing some of the heirloom herbs used at the Provost Guard Officer's Mess.
The rain which had held off for the Town is Taken came back in full force shortly after the March In at 3:00. One person characterised it as "a real duck drowner". Troops which had planned to set up their tents could only watch in wonder as a torrential downpour soaked Market Square. The accompanying weather effects added a dramatic accent, especially when a tree by the Governor's Palace was exploded by lightning! The re-enactors stayed under cover at the Guard House and in Chownings (big thanks to the management who let us crowd in there!) Your Humble Correspondent was caught out in the rain pulling a tarp over the newly made bake oven - trying to keep the fresh coating from being rinsed off.
When the rain quit we got to see the advantage of being hosted at a well organized corporate venue. The pre-positioned straw had been soaked. CW immediately saw to the delivery of fresh, dry straw for the troops. They know how many of us depend on sleeping under canvas, and did every thing they could to make us comfortable.
With rain still threatening, the reading of the Proclamation of Martial Law was cancelled. Even so, it was amazing to see troops setting up their tents in a soggy field. The rain held off for most of the evening, so much of the camp got set up over Friday night.
Despite that Friday evening's Proclamation of Martial Law was cancelled, the defining scenario of the weekend was still in full effect. Below are the Sealed Orders given to The German Regiment:
1. 1. Spy identification: the spy must have concealed on his (or her) person a map of the Historic Area, with military information noted. This information will include the composition of the Provost Guard, the units, numbers of troops per unit, location of principal military sites, a description of the guard posts, their location, and the number of soldiers at each one with their frequency of relief. The spy may prepare the map in advance, but he must make the notations during the event. No fair copying the unit names from the unit commander's letter! The spy need not confess unless this paper is discovered.
Spy bonus #1.He must steal the map case from the Provost-Marshal's office inside the Court House. The map case is a long tin cylinder similar to a fife case.
Spy bonus #2. He must place a letter inside the Town Major's Marquis. The letter will be addressed to "Major Grenier". The text of the letter will be simply: "You have been spied on. Sincerely, YMH&OS, The Spy". The Spy may either bluff his way by the sentry on duty, or he may wait for an opportune moment.
The Spy Bonuses must happen between the hours of 10:00 and 4:30. The spy must accomplish these tasks himself. He may not use accomplices.
2. Deserters You will provide two British deserters. You will provide deserter descriptions including name (fictitous, unless you want people looking for someone they know already) hair color, height, complexion, and clothing. Please e-mail or hand me the descriptions by Friday afternoon. They must pass through all five Barricades (Duke of Gloucester Street East and West, Nicholson Street East and West, and England Street) at least twice during the day. You are successful if they remain uncaptured by retreat on Sunday. If they are detained or arrested they may be subject to search and/or questioning. They need not confess to being the official deserter unless the following conditions are met (this is to weed out the "self-appointed" deserters): if they are questioned by the Provost-marshal and he asks "Where are you from?", they are to answer either "Newcastle", or "Carlisle". This will certify that he is or they are the official deserter.
3. You are to smuggle as much military equipment as you dare through any of the five street barricades. Official contraband is: pistols, muskets, bayonets, pouches, quantities of cartridges, powder, or ball (nobody gets bragging rights for three cartridges in a pocket - a five pound keg is another story). Periodically during the day, you will give me a count how much (if any) has been successfully smuggled. The guards will tell me how much (if any) has been detected. At the end of the day you will give me a total.
The German Regiment was specially selected as our Opposition Force for UTR/225. In the past, the German Regiment has been the author of some of our most memorable moments at UTR, including the near actual riot which occurred some years back when the German Regiment incited the visitors to a fever pitch. For UTR/225 they took a decidedly low-key approach. Part of this was due to a conscious choice to resist in more subtle ways, and part of it was due to an energetic counterintelligence effort on the part of the Crown Forces.
The German Regiment provided excellent deserter descriptions. Indeed they were so excellent that the first deserter was caught before Noon on Saturday. In my office as Provost-serjeant, I was brought to the Provost-marshal to verify his identity. He matched the description and gave a correct identifying city. I discovered he was a deserter from my own Regiment! I marched him off to the Gaol under armed escort. In fact, we stopped in a side garden shortly after we left Market Square and released him with handshakes and congratulations all around. He was an excellent deserter and a very good sport.
He had to be a very good sport, because he was brought back some time later under suspicion of being the spy! I was brought in to verify his identity and had to let him go. I regret to report that the official spy was not caught at UTR/225, nor was the second deserter. The description of the second deserter follows:
So how did they do versus the Redcoats? Let's look at the official score:
The German Regiment has not furnished a list of contraband that they successfully smuggled past the five barricades, so there is no way to assess that part of their score. However, I was able to piece together a picture of the activity at the Guard House from the receipts and papers left in the writing desk:
Siezed from Albinus Fell, June 29th 1781
Someone named "Terry" yielded up a:
One un-named assailant was described as "caught" "For assault on Loyalist unit":
One person was given a receipt for a:
Charles Beale was a repeat troublemaker. He had two siezed property receipts; one for:
and the other for:
I can't be certain which specific items of seditous papers were siezed from Mr. Beale, for there were a quite a few of them to be seen among the papers in the lap desk:
More openly seditious are the nine "Ladies! Now is the time to be heard" papers which declared the time and location of a meeting of said Ladies.
Of some alarm is the detailed pencil map of the encampment which was recovered from someone who turned out not to be the offical spy. We certainly have no shortage of suspects. The main problem is winnowing them down. One of the spy's main advantages is the sheer number of wannabes who confuse the issue.
Then we have the broadsides: a tirade against the BUTCHER Captain Banastre Tarleton, and a print of the Viginia Convention declaring independence. Somehow a Navy recruiting poster slipped in there.
Penultimately we have the four Paroles and six Loyalty Oaths which were confiscated from those deemed no longer deserving of them. Of these, two Loyalty Oaths and one Parole were torn to shreds in the process.And last, my favorite paper of the whole collection is the Pass signed by George Washington and countersigned by Bartholomew von Heer granting passage though all the Lines and Pickets of the U. States Army at Annapolis. Even this also was not from the official spy, I would have had him summarily executed just for form's sake.
Once again, it looks like the Redcoats maintained the security of the town. One hidden facet of this were the Counter Intellingence operations mounted by Jay Callaham and his operatives. For more on this I refer you to the UTR/225 List AAR's. This is a compilation of After Action reports posted on various Internet mailing lists. Patrick J. O'Kelley was deeply involved, and has a few personal insights.
Credit also goes to the Royal Navy, who turned out in force. Several ships' companies participated under HMS SOMERSET. They were organized in sets of watches, each under command of their own officers. There were so many of them that they were assigned the entire North side of the Historic Area as their security zone. The Navy camped on the Palace Green, and manned three barricades with notable zeal - except for the odd times when the Nicholson Street East barricade went completely abandoned.
There was one other notable lapse in Guard Duty procedure. During one Relief, Your Humble Correspondent was gob-smacked to see squads of soldiers fan out to relieve separate guard posts, rather than the time tested and historically correct method of going around the reliefs. Of course, the succeeding relief was utterly confused by this.
Otherwise the Guard Duty ran splendidly! Our plan to cut down on the number of Guard House "tourists" (people who got arrested for the fun of hanging out in the Guard House, or escaping out the back window) was realised by the fortutitous presence of a fenced in yard set up for the manufacture of new Cheval des frise. Spending time out in the hot sun dampened the ardor of the casual detainee, and allowed the soldiers to stay in the shade!
The Provost Guard Officer's Mess' on both Saturday and Sunday were astonishing examples of 18th Century dining! Months of menu planning by Judy Polinsky and Emily Cline (33rd Foot, Col's Coy), and Holly Winchell (North Carolina Volunteers) resulted in a pair of meals that were a rare treat for the officers who enjoyed them. Emily and Holly were the chief cooks, leading a team of helpers who were "contracted" as the subscription fee for the meals.
Most of the helpers far exceeded their required hours of work, as they were caught up in the challenge and fascination of preparing meals fit for the tastes of officers and gentlemen using ingredients that came from many parts of the country. My words of praise pale beside Jay Callaham's review, so I have copied it here from the UTR/225 List AAR's section.
ARR (After Repast Report)- UTR 2006 Officers' Mess Menus
After bragging on the officers mess at UTR last year, here is what we were stuffed with THIS year. All had excellent flavour. In all candor, I was pretty thoroughly turned off by the Sea Fish on Saturday because my serving was full of bones and I really, really get disgusted by getting a mouthful of fish bones! I don't know what it is, but something about fish bones really grosses me out (and I'm not one who grosses out easily). Therefore, I didn't even try the Planked Salmon - even though I love Salmon. The crab had a lot more shell than I'm willing to tolerate so after a couple of tastes, I left it alone. Yuck!
Those are the ONLY negative comments I can make, and had nothing to do with flavor. Everything tasted great.
The forcemeats were excellent as were all the venison dishes. The rice puddings were quite tasty. I'm allergic to cucumbers, so I stayed away from the watermelon rind and any salleting that had cucumber in it, but all the commentary around me was most positive. The stewed duck with onions was very good - never had duck that way before (***AFLAC!!***). The "hedgehog" and macaroons were exceptional even in an exceptional meal.
Sunday's repast was about as good as it gets. We were rather rushed due to time constraints and duty calls, but it was an enjoyable experience. Again, all the venison dishes were outstanding. One had a Madeira jelly that was really different and quite good. In hot, sticky weather, the macerated strawberries were most refreshing. I'm usually not a big fan of cooked carrots, but the spiced mashed carrots on Sunday were exceptional. I'd gotten over my "gross-out" from Saturday's fish bones and thoroughly enjoyed the planked Salmon. Again, I stayed away from anything with cucumber in it but heard favorable comments all around me. The candied orange and lemon peels were fabulous. All the dessert items that I tried were wonderful. Watching the young lady whisking away at the whipped crèmes was enough to make me want to try them - - that work deserved enjoyment of the result! Someone asked me what I liked the best - - very difficult to answer. I'd have to say the forced meats were probably my favorite of the entrées and the macaroons were top of the list for desserts. I liked all the fresh fruit and berry dishes, but have a thing for strawberries so have to give them the nod.
All was served by lovely ladies (well - we did have a couple of rather less-than-beautiful sailors serving on Sunday - but they were efficient). We had fine musick provided by Brian Lewis.
The preparation and presentation of all of it reflected a HUGE amount of planning and effort which I greatly appreciated, as did my fellow lucky officers. These meals have become a highlight of the event for us and for a lot of the visitors.
UNDER THE REDCOAT 2006 OFFICER'S MESS
Roast Chicken dressed with Forcemeat balls Poached Sea Fish Venison Dressed in Collops Planked Salmon and Blue fish Rice Spring Peas Pickled Watermelon Rind Rice Pudding with Raisins Stewed Pears Bread
Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Drippings Stewed Duck with Spring Onions Dressed Crabs Potato-Pudding Pickled Asparagus Glazed Carrots Stewed Spinach and Eggs Apple Compote Bread Pudding with Rum-butter sauce Bread
Third Course: Dessert
Hedge Hog Raspberry Cream Orange Cream Almond Macaroons Candied Peels Pound Cake with Preserved Cherries Fresh fruit and cheese Blackberry Pudding with Fresh Raspberry Garnish Apple Bread
Sorrel Soup Chicken Pudding and Cold Sliced Chicken Creamed Crab and Gooseberry Preserves Planked Salmon and Rice Spiced Mashed Carrots Mascerated Strawberries Salad with Burnet and Lovage Current Dressing Potato Parsnip Puff Hot Bread and Preserved Figs
Venison Pie with Madeira Jelly Hashed Beef with cold Beef Collops Onion, Potato, and Apple Pie Stewed Mushrooms and Venison Bacon Medallions Summer Squash Apple Raisin Pudding Cucumber Salad Rice Pudding with Apples and Currants Bread and Stewed Cherries
Third Course: Dessert
Fresh fruit and cheeses Rose Pound Cake Whipped Cream Fresh Raspberries in Cream Caraway Cakes Almond Macaroons Candied Peels Apple Tansy Apple Bread
This extensive menu required a lot of labor, but a minimal amount of cook gear. One L shaped fire pit had a wood stick tripod at one end and wood and wought iron stands at the other. The food preparation area consisted of a double ended wedge tent for shade, a closed cavalry tent for cold and bulk storage, several prep tables and a (regrettable) cube of hay bales used for washing up. Some cold dishes were prepared in advance, but the cooked foods were prepared in camp over an open fire.
Preparation for the meal starts months earlier with menu planning which determines which herbs will be planted at the Huntington Library and Gardens. Refining the menu continues though the Spring. As UTR approaches, some long lasting desserts and savories are prepared. In the days before UTR, the head cooks go shopping, bringing some choice local delicacies up from North Carolina, while other perishables are bought at Williamsburg area markets.
Safe food handling is of prime importance. Before actual meal preparation begins, the head cooks go over food safety with the volunteers. Cleanliness is important! Small containers of hand steriliser are hidden in pockets and aprons, ready to clean hands between handling meat, fish, and poultry. Cutting boards are marked as meat, fish, or poultry so raw meats are not mixed. The storage tent has coolers in it to keep perishable items at a safe temperature. As eager as we are to re-create the life and times of the 18th Century, re-creating botulism and food poisoning is something we avoid!
One problem we have had in the past is interpreting the meals to the public. It would break the mood to have a speaker narrate or announce the meal, yet there are many fascinating and exotic dishes that deserve a fuller explanation. We tried something new this year. On Saturday, one of head cooks (Holly) stood at the North end of the table and interpreted the meal to the viewing public, while at the South end of the table, one of the Redcoats gnawed on a crust of fresh-baked camp bread while sourly contrasting between the Officer's fare and his own. I had fun with this! I also got to see the Provost Guard Officer's Mess close up for the first time. I was deeply impressed with the way the meal was organised, laid out, and served. The volunteer "subscription" service was terrfiifc! Several of the officers held up their end of table conversation approproate to Officers and Gentlemen of His Majesty's Armed Forces. It was an amazing presentation, all the more so due to the open air conditions under which it was done.
I'm sorry to say I could not observe Sunday's PGOM, becasue I was called away to identify the man who turned out not to be the spy. As you read in Jay's ARR, Sunday's meal was as enjoyable as Saturdays' This is a testament to the improvisational abilities of the cooks because sometime during the night on Saturday, someone got into the storage tent and helped himself to cold cooked food that was being held over to serve at Sunday's meal. Not only that, but whoever it was managed to dump some of the remaining food into the ice melt, thus contaminating it. Whoever you were, if you read this, understand that your selfish, clumsy greed un-did hours of work by volunteers standing in the sun over a hot fire.
This year's "Following the Army" expanded the civilian portrayals which were interpreted at UTR. Peter Farquahr of the 33rd Foot was tireless in his role as a "displaced Boston silversmith " working as a "contract artificer", and Brian Lewis of the 4th Coy. Bde. of Guards was equally tireless with the endless variety of tunes with which he entertained the Officer's Mess. That does not mean that the women were mere followers! Besides cooking, cleaning, mending, sewing, nursing, washing and other distaff duties (Many thanks go to the volunteers at the Canteen, who poured gallons of tea and lemonade down our parched throats), we also had Jane Manzano (4th Coy. Bde. Gds.) teach writing and tin whistle to a group of children - and a few of soldiers and sailors who wanted to improve their lot.
Another new civilian portrayal was that of baker. Cate Crown brought her tools and expertise down from Trenton Barracks to fire up the new bake oven that was built near the Magazine. The bake oven was proposed at the December organizing meeting, researched over the Spring, and built by CW in the weeks before UTR. The outer coat was still damp when it was fired for the first time! Cate and the bake oven got a very positive reponse from the visitors and the troops alike. I can personally testify that both the bread and the cookies which came from it were a tasty and welcome addition to this soldier's fare.
No review of the civilian portrayals would be complete without mention of the hard working members of the Detached Hospital. Dr. Mike and Mr. Todd have collected a wide range of talented individuals who interpret more than just medical topics. As they are in and near the Governor's Place they are a bit out of the way of the main effort in Market Square, but any effort to visit them was well repaid.
I would like to thank Bruce McNeal and the Maryland Loyalists for their splendid recruiting party on Sunday afternoon. Little did they know that just next to the Capitol a short, brisk skirmish broke out between a patrol from the Fifth Foot and a party from the German Regiment. I was with the patrol as it returned down Duke of Gloucester Street escorting prisoners and wounded. I saw that the surprised Marylanders had gathered a large crowd of interested visitors with them. They had conducted a vigorous effort, with many children clutching enlistment papers, little realizing that they had just pledged their lives to a forlorn cause.
The prisoners and wagon got back to Market Square just after Sunday's firing competition, whose winner had been overturned on a penalty. [Note to troops: in the future it will be stated that the firing competition must be done in your full combat uniform]. The prisoners were released, and the wounded made a remarkable recovery - just in time to re-join the Provost Guard as it prepared to march out of Williamsburg.
It takes the best work by all of us to pull off an event like this, so I wish to thank every participant, soldier or sailor, man, woman, or child. UTR is a very hard working weekend, and I know many people faced long drives home. I appreciate the work that you do and the energy and care with which you show the visitors what it is like to be Under the Redcoat.
I also wish to give special notice and thanks to my partners in this; Michael Grenier (Major 64th Foot), who as Town Major for the event was inestimable help with the planning, preparation, layout and management of the camp and guard duty schedule, and Judy Polinsky (Ensign, 33rd Foot) who was also deeply involved in the planning and preparation including ramrodding the Friday events and working with CW's Coach and Livestock department, as well as managing the Following the Army programs and hosting the Officer's Mess.
I would also like to give thanks to Tim Sutphin and Gina Goad, who as representatives of Colonial Willamsburg have championed this program for over a dozen years. As I read the AAR's of the many 225th events I note a sense of special wonder at the sites where the events happen on the actual ground. Under the Redcoat happens on the actual ground every year. The amount of support and welcome we receive from Colonial Willamsburg is unmatched at any historic venue and I wish to express the thanks of all the reenactors and living historians who are allowed the privilege of helping bring the Occupation of Williamsburg to life.
Additional comments and After Action Reports collected from the Internet can be found here.
Web photo pages of UTR 2006 (please let me know if you would like to add a link):
4th Company Brigade of Guards
4th Company, Brigade of Guards (2)
17th Foot Clayton's Company
33rd Foot Colonel's Company
42nd Foot Grenadier Company
Virginia State Navy
your most Diligent, Sober, and Resolute,
Radford Polinsky Under the Redcoat Event Manager
(Sjt. John Savage, Col's. Coy. HM 33rd Foot) (Sjt.-major Under the Redcoat Crown Forces)