July 24, 2015

The Battle of Red Horse Tavern - 2014

The Wayside Tavern - Photo from The Boston Globe
My next event after Bennington was on November 1st of 2014.  Each year the Sudbury Minutemen host a fictional battle at Longfellow's Wayside Tavern in Sudbury, MA.  Titled "The Battle of Red Horse Tavern", the one day event has rebels and those loyal to King George fighting for control of a tavern along the Boston Post Road.

The night before being Halloween, and therefore filled with family kid activities at home, I drove down the morning of the battle.  Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn at some point, and ended up arriving late.  In fact, I arrived just as the morning battle was starting.  As I made may way from the parking area, British regulars were pushing militia troops across a small foot bridge, away from the tavern, making it impossible to pass.  The main fighting would be taking place near a restored grist mill just up the road.  I stopped next to the path to the tavern and watched the battle.  A small bit of rain started to fall just as the first shots were fired.

After the action passed by where I stood watching, I made my way from the parking area to the tavern, hoping to find my regiment.  They, however, were already out in the field.  Since I needed to borrow gear to participate, I tucked myself back into my car to keep myself, and my firelock, dry until I could meet up with the others.  As I sat, I listened to the sound of the battle up the road.  Though I was in my car, it wasn't hard to imagine what it must have been like for people of the time to hide themselves away as combatants battled it out just outside of their homes.

After some time, the sound of musketry stopped and men started marching back in toward the tavern.  I made my way that way as well, and soon met up with the others from Warner's.  Most of them had come down the night before, spending the night at another 18th century tavern before coming to the Wayside for the event.  Our quartermaster was holding a sleeved waistcoat for me, which I gladly put on.  A late autumn rain isn't a lot of fun to stand in wearing just a linen shirt.

Between the morning battle and the afternoon battle, the tavern served lunch to the participants from both sides.  We lined up with our bowls, each of us taking a nice helping of warm stew.  We stood under a nearby tree while we ate, keeping some of the rain off.  With lunch finished, we took a look inside the tavern.  Stepping inside, we were introduced to men and women, most dressed in 18th century clothing, drinking, eating, talking and laughing.  I had one of "those moments" when I was briefly transported back in time.  It was a very cool feeling.

After a bit, some of us wandered back outside to check out the sutlers tents, and generally wait around for orders for the afternoon.  The rain seemed to ebb and flow, making us a bit damp, but no one seemed to be in low spirits because of it.  Unfortunately, after a meeting of the officers, it was decided that the afternoon battle would be called off.  The rain apparently was not only going to continue, but was forecast to become worse, with the addition of wind on top of it.

That night, after returning home, I wrote the following for my Facebook status:

"After Action Report of the Battle of Red Horse Tavern:

The flowery version:

1st Nov., along the Boston Post Road -
The day was somewhat lowering as I approached. Our orders were to rally at the tavern to join our units. His Majesty's troops had discovered the muster area. In the instance that I arrived, both Heaven and the Enemy opened up. Steady rain fell as They pushed our men across the bridge and away from the Tavern. Having neither ball nor powder, I secreted myself away, keeping my lock dry in hopes of finding my unit once the enemy passed. The fight continued, moving West past the village Church toward the grist mill. I listened to the musketry sounding hot for near an hour. Presently our troops returned triumphant and I was able to join the men. The tavern filled with joyous laughter. The rain fell. Much food and spirits were shared. The enemy was still near, but Nature forced both sides to hunker down, keeping powder and feet dry.

 The modern version:

I missed the first fight, the stew was good, then we got rained out."

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