Under the Redcoat 2004 After Action Report

I'd like to thank everyone for their participation in Under the Redcoat 2004. To quote from the July 2004 issue of THE GORGET (newsletter of the British Brigade) , "All agreed that it was a very successful event". Colonial Williamsburg was very pleased with the level of public interaction. Everywhere you looked there were visitors engaged with the Redcoats, whether it was watching drills and exercise, or the camp life and domestic chores so well rounded out by the participants in the Women on Campaign programs.

The Friday events started out well. There were a gratifying number of troops to help hold back the crowd of several thousand who watched the advance party strike the rebel flag and replace it with the King's. Unfortunately, by mid-afternoon the light rain turned into a heavy downpour. The troops were huddled out of the rain at Fife and Drum waiting out the possibility of a 3:00 March In. We were receiving minute-by-minute weather updates but by 3:30 it was clear that we were not going to make it so the March In was cancelled. Of course the rain stopped at 3:35, just after most of the waiting troops had dispersed. After twenty minutes of clearing skies the remaining troops and civilians (from the 33rd and 64th) took the initiative to pack their canvas on a hand cart and march in singing. As they approached the camp they were met by the 4th Coy. Brigade of Guards, who escorted them into camp. Happily, the rain held off so the remaining Friday programs went off on time, and the troops were able to get in and set up camp.

This was our second try with the "Provost Guard" scenario, but our first experience at doing it with so many troops. There were enough soldiers to fully staff each guard mount. The town was alive with roving patrols, yet it is fair to say that we got our cocked hats handed to us by the opposition. Below are the Sealed Orders given to the Hillsborough District Militia.

Sealed Instructions for the Hillsborough District Militia Under the Redcoat - 2004

1. You are to smuggle as much military equipment as you dare through the 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.

2. Spy identification: the spy must have concealed on his (or her) person a hand drawn map of the Historic Area, with military information noted. The spy need not confess unless this paper is discovered.

Spy bonus #1. He must steal the map from the Town Major's marquis with Yorktown marked in red.

Spy bonus #2. He must steal from the Town Major's Marquis the letter addressed to O. Delancey.

Spy bonus #3. Guard House Handoff. The Spy must pass either item from Bonus 1 or 2 to a different person inside the Guard House. Both people must be inside the Guard House; the item may not be handed through the window.

3. At some point during the day Saturday, a messenger with a Despatch case will arrive. He will come from the East side of the Capitol, proceed down Duke of Gloucester Street, stop at the Duke of Gloucester St. barricade, and request an escort to the Town Major's marquis. Your task is to intercept the messenger, non-violently* relieve him of his Despatches, and determine which is the critical message. If you do not intercept the messenger, your spy is to determine what the important message was.

4. Repeat # 3 on Sunday

The messenger will surrender with a token struggle if the messenger is intercepted by three or more people.

5. Plant a rumor in the British camp: you must convince the Redcoats that sometime between 3 and 4 o'clock on Saturday afternoon there is going to be a raid on the Gaol to free the American prisoners there. Of course no raid happens. You have succeeded if you provoke a reaction from the Redcoats. The reaction must include sending a detachment of troops from the camp (not just the town patrol) to ambush the raid.

6. Deserters. You will provide two British deserters. You will provide deserter descriptions including hair color, height, complexion, and clothing. Each deserter will have a token on him to prove he is the real deserter. I will provide the tokens (regimental buttons). They must remain in the Historic Area, occasionally visible to the troops. They must pass through the Duke of Gloucester Street Barricade at least twice during the day. You are successful if they remain uncaptured by retreat on Sunday.

Several times each day I met with Chris Hughes (the opposition force commander) to get a report on the success (or hopefully lack of it) of the Hillsborough District Militia with their goals. I delivered my reports to each new guard commander, to let him know what had happened on the previous guard mount.

My first report for Saturday was fairly mild; the two deserters had passed the Duke of Gloucester Street Barricade twice. However, the report for the second guard mount was dismaying. The spy reported that he had passed the Duke of Gloucester St. barricade 8 times (both first and second guard mounts), the smuggling total was five pistols, four bayonets, five swords, and a 25 pound cask containing 300 musket balls. By the end of the day Saturday an additional two 25 pound casks of musket balls had passed, as well as two muskets, one of which was a Long Land! The Spy lost count of how many times he passed through the Duke of Gloucester St. barricade, and the O. Delancey letter was stolen from the Town Major's Marquis!

As a result of this, at retreat on Saturday Serjeant-major Savage had a few choice "inspirational" words for the assembled NCO's.

Sunday's smuggling was less successful. A mere ten pistols, one sword, and one pair of hand cuffs were smuggled through the Duke of Gloucester St. barricade. This was in part due to increased vigilance on the part of the troops, and in large part due to the Royal Navy's discovery of the opposition forces arms cache. This splendid coup on the part of the Crown Forces took the arms out of action most of the day. In addition, last guard mount successfully confiscated two pistols. One omission I must apologize for, there is no total of the other items successfully confiscated (this will be done for future editions of UTR).

The other notable item which escaped the soldiers' attention was the hand grenade, which passed the Duke of Gloucester Street barricade by the simple expedient of its owner tossing it from hand to hand claiming it was a Rounders ball. [note to troops: Rounders balls don't have fuses] On Sunday afternoon, this grenade was "lit" and rolled at Lord Cornwallis and his escort. A quick-thinking Pte. Jenks of the 33rd kicked it aside before it reached His Lordship.

As for the rest of the opposition goals:

Goal # 2 - the Spy was never detected. The spy himself kept a very high profile during the weekend (you can read his report here - scroll down to "Headquatrters, Hillsboruough District Militia"). He used a network of agents to help him in his goals. Spy Bonus # 2 (stealing the O. Delancey letter) was accomplished late on Saturday, and Spy Bonus # 3 (passing the letter in the Guard House) happened during the first guard mount on Sunday. The official spy map was handled at least nine times by the Crown forces.

Goals # 3 and # 4 - the Despatch Case. The opposition force kept a careful lookout for the case. Saturday's messenger was a sailor who successfully resisted capture by the simple expedient of whipping out a pistol and holding the rest of his assailants at bay with his stick. As the opposition were not armed with pistols themselves, they withdrew. Sunday's messenger was a German. His first trip down Duke of Gloucester St. was uninterrupted, so he decided to do it again. On his second trip he was stopped, at which point he resisted vigorously - so much so that he was knocked down. His assailant took the Despatch Case and ran, but as he was jumping over a fence during his escape he dropped the case, which was promptly picked up and returned by a CW employee (fumble and recovery by an ineligible receiver?). In all of these cases it is clear the messenger put up more than a token struggle - but at the same time the opposition did not present sufficient force to overpower the messenger. In the future we will more clearly define the rules of engagement.

Goal # 5 - the Gaolbreak. On Saturday, the opposition force constructed a very clever scheme of handbills with a coded message about a plan to free the prisoners. Unfortunately it was too clever (I had to have it explained to me), and the Redcoats didn't respond. They tried it again on Sunday using a more direct method. The British bought it hook, line, and sinker. It was all I could do to retain my composure when I was invited to go along with the patrol sent to the Gaol. It is worth noting this is the first time any opposition unit has succeeded with this deception.

Goal # 6 - the deserters. Although for the most part the deserters enjoyed the freedom of the town, I am gratified to report that one of the deserters was caught by the last guard mount on Sunday. You can read about it here (scroll down to "from Chris Hughes").

While all this was going on the rest of the weekend proceeded splendidly. The troops favor the Provost Guard scenario. Not having the large parades and Reviews gave the soldiers more time to interpret the business of being soldiers. There was a gratifying amount of drill going on as units prepared themselves for the firing competition. Saturday's competition was won by an amalgamated company of the 64th (working together as a unit for the first time - a testament to the training and principles laid down by Sjt.-major Sardeson). Sunday's competition was won by the Grenadiers of the 42nd - a testament to Serjeant Malcom Angus MacWilliam. The prize for each firing competition was a splendid redware jug - still damp from being used at the Officer's Meal.

UTR 2004 expanded the Women on Campaign programs as a look into the various ways in which the civilian followers of the army supported themselves and the troops. These programs were well supported by the civilian women and men of the army who enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their work. A number of laundries were set up, and there was a vigorous amount of interpretation in the Hospital, where not only were the traditional medical roles of doctor, surgeon, apothecary, and nurse interpreted, but there was a hornsmith making medical implements. A cauldron of lye soap bubbled away merrily. In camp, an artificer worked on copper and wooden utensils near where a fascinated crowd watched as rare 18th Century herbs (imported from the Huntington Library's world famous gardens) were laid out and prepared for use either in cooking the Officer's Mess or as bundled sachets and aromatics.

A highlight of the Women on Campaign program was the preparation and service of the Officer's Mess. The visitors got to watch as a multi-course meal was prepared with minimal cookware over an open fire. Colonial Williamsburg supplied an awning, tables, and benches, sufficient to seat over 20 officers as they ate and drank their way through an exquisitely prepared repast featuring some of the rare 18th Century herbs and vegetables. Sunday's Officer's Mess was served cold, but was every bit as splendid as Saturday's.

The Tat-too on Saturday evening was the best in years, and that's not because I was in the unusual position of leading it. We had a gratifying number of fifers and drummers march down Duke of Gloucester Street, accompanied by torch bearers supplied by CW. As we stopped at each Tavern and Public House we acquired a following of troops (in various states of inebriation) until by Market Square we had a raucous procession with hundreds of visitors marching along. My thanks to the fifers who knew the 33rd Regiment Quick Step!

Sunday's Army - Navy Tug of War was won (not surprisingly) by the Army. Sunday also had an un-scheduled bonus: Battery H Royal Artillery registered too late to be included in the official schedule, but volunteered to do a firing demonstration which they accomplished with vigor. They also fired the Evening Gun on Sunday, which echoed through the town and let those of us at the end of the March Out know that it was safe to drive into the Historic Area.

Thus the weekend ended with a bang. Once again I want 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 Women on Campaign programs and hosting the Officer's Mess.

Additional comments and After Action Reports collected from the Internet can be found here.

Web photo pages of UTR 2004 (please let me know if you would like to add a link):

42nd Foot Grenadier Company

33rd Foot Colonel's Company

with thanks,

I remain,

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)