This past weekend, our family pitched our tent in the Adirondack woods by a pond named for a Captain in Rogers' Rangers and attended the largest French and Indian War reenactment ever held, anywhere. The Grand Encampment at Ticonderoga this year was the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Carillon, and reenactors came from as far away as Australia to participate.
The size of the thing was truly amazing. This shot taken from the newly restored northern bastion of Fort Ticonderoga shows only the British camp and sutlers tents: the French and civilians each had camps of their own and there were thousands of these in attendance. There were, in fact, more than 500 British, Provincial, French and Indian combatants engaged in the opening skirmish at La Chute on Friday (above) and more than 2000 the next day at the reenactment of the British debacle before the French redoubt and abatis at what was then called Fort Carillon.
We drove up in modern mufti, for I have not yet made the...my wife assures me "investment" is not the right word...commitment to this hobby, much as it appeals to my lifelong love of living history. F & I is a family friendly time period, with many families coming in garb and staying in character. I saw a girl younger than Elias bowing a reel on a tiny fiddle, and many women blending into the ranks ala Deborah Samson as well as in 18th century gender roles.
There were a colonial doctor and his lady, who walked serenely through the brutal heat and later downpour on Saturday, as well as a good number of barelegged painted savages. Truth be told, though the full kit can run you into thousands of dollars, there were plenty of folks just wandering around in hunting shirts and loin cloths. I would also observe that at least on the British side, there was a preference for representing the various ranging companies disproportionate to their historic numbers in the King's forces. The British regulars, while impressive, constituted perhaps 40% of the total forces available on Saturday to assault the French.
As in the actual battle, when British commander General Abercromby left his artillery train with the boats at the North end of Lake George, only the French had cannon. They also had the advantage of an extensive log breastwork and abatis on which Abercromby sacrificed over 2,000 of the 8,000 troops he sent in frontal assaults all afternoon on July 8th, 1758. The heaviest casualties were taken by the 42nd Highland Regiment, which loss half of those it sent into action. There were four reenacting companies of the Black Watch present for the 250th, including grenadiers in bearskins. We stopped in Fort Edward on the way home to pay our respects at the grave of one of these Scots, the fabled Duncan Campbell of Inverawe about whom I have written before. Here's just a taste...