After several gorgeous days exploring the historic Lake George region of New York's Adirondacks, my wife has decided that maybe I could get back into reenacting if we did it as a family and focused on the 18th century. I can appreciate that depicting a camp follower in the French and Indian War era - rather than being one in actual fact - offers more attraction and possibilities for participation than are available to her should she go in for the American Civil War period, where my prior reenacting experience lies. Plus, she is not a hoop skirt and corset sort of girl. I imagine she'd be handy with a tomahawk, though, and I know what she can do with cast iron and a wood fire. We shall see.
We took in the final encampment of the season at Fort Edward on the 22nd and I certainly had a good case of garb envy going even before the powder smoke started wafting through the air. Reenacting can be an expensive, consuming hobby, but there is a casual nonconformity about homespun colonial militia attire that would work well for the Revolutionary War period as well as the French and Indian War. As for historical interpretation there are a bevy of ancestors to choose from representing both conflicts. Of course, Viv's people were French Canadians, so she could go either way.
I know far less about the service history of my ancestors who served during the French and Indian War than those in later struggles. One of these readers of Walking the Berkshires have met before: Elias Dayton (1737-1807) of New Jersey. He was commissioned a Lieutenant in the "Jersey Blues" March 19, 1756 and was made captain four years later. I know he was at the taking of Fort Ticonderoga (Fort Carillon) in 1759 and served with Wolfe in Quebec the following year, but not whether his service included the disaster that befell many of the Blues based at Fort William Henry on Lake George in 1757. According to an address given at the Annual Meeting of the Sussex County Historical Society, March 26, 2005 by T. G. Cutler;
"No sooner had they arrived at Fort William Henry, at the head of Lake George, than they were ordered to scout the lake in whaleboats. Knowing little or nothing about the terrain, they rowed around Sabbath Day Point and discovered the entire French Army, including hundreds of Indians, making their way toward the Fort. The Jersey Blues were shot to pieces in their boats, some were even eaten, according to a Jesuit priest who accompanied the invading army. A few days later, the French began the famous siege of Fort William Henry which is the centerpiece of James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans."
Another ancestor was at Fort Ticonderoga during Abercrombie's failed attack as well as the taking of the Fort the following year. Reverend Jonathan Ingersoll (1713-1778) of Ridgefield, Connecticut was Chaplain in Colonel Eleazer Fitch's 4th Connecticut regiment in 1758 and then transferred to Colonel David Worcester's 3rd Connecticut in the same capacity in 1759.
John Stearns of Billerica, Mass (1686-1776) fought during King Georges War with Pepperell in 1744-45 in the Louisburg Expedition as Lieutenant in the 6th company of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment commanded by Colonel Samuel Willard and then in 1745 as Captain in the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment under Colonel Samuel Waldo. He then served during indian fighting in 1748. During the French and Indian War, he commanded a company of 74 men in Shirley's ill-fated Expedition against Fort Niagara in 1754-1755.
Lastly, Captain Stearns son Lt. Isaac Stearns (1722-1808) of Billerica, Massachusetts served in 1755 and 1756 in operations against Crown Point. I believe he would have been in Colonel Moses Titcomb's Essex County Regiment and was definately in Major Ebenezer Nichols' Company, which saw heavy service in the Battle of Lake George on September 8th, 1755.
Those are the direct ancestors who fought during the French and Indian War - I haven't made a thorough search of the collaterals. Given that there are many other pressing calls upon my purse, I am unlikely to go looking for an 18th-century era sutler anytime soon, and if I do I am probably not looking for an officer's outfit.