Under the Redcoat 2005 After Action Report
Under the Redcoat 2005 was by many standards the best edition of UTR in its twelve year history. Even Colonial Williamsburg (aware of the cliché) states "It just keeps getting better!" We returned to the Provost Guard scenario for the third time. The difference this year was that we had a lot of Redcoats! Registrations came in from eleven line units, two dragoon units, two artillery units, the Detached Hospital, and our wily opponents Wayne's Light Infantry. With two dozen officers, over 150 muskets, two cannon, a dozen horses, and over 120 civilians participating, the town was truly under occupation by Lord Cornwallis. The big surprise was the turnout of Naval forces. Fielding nearly twice as many as any one of the line units, the combination of several ships' companies under the able leadership of Lt. Condrick of HMS SOMERSET resulted in what was described as the largest AWI period Naval event ever held!
The Friday events started out splendidly! We used to be concerned that there might not be be enough troops available at Noon on Friday to hold back the thousands of visitors who come to jeer as the Continental Grand Union colors are hauled down and replaced with His Majesty's Union flag. That was certainly not a problem this year! With both the 17th Light and British Legion Dragoons mounted and backed up by two companies of troops bristling with bayonets, the crowd was well under control. Starting at 3:00, the main body of the Provost Guard continued to march in all afternoon accompanied by loaded baggage carts. A good portion of the camp was in place by the time cars were allowed in to continue unloading and setting up. Although the weather was mild by UTR standards, we did have a heat casualty taken away Friday evening.
As usual, Friday evening's Proclamation of Martial Law was the defining scenario which set the stage for the interaction between the Redcoats and Wayne's Light Infantry. Below are the Sealed Orders given to Wayne's.
1. Spy identification: the spy must have concealed on his (or her) person a map of the Historic Area, with military information noted. 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 dispatch case from the Provost-martial's office inside the Court House.
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 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 both of the Duke of Gloucester Street Barricades at least twice during the day. You are successful if they remain uncaptured by retreat on Sunday.
3. You are to smuggle as much military equipment as you dare through either of the Duke of Gloucester 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.
Several things conspired to make to difficult to meet with the opposition commander (John DiCarlo) during the weekend. As often as not, he was under arrest in the Guard House at the appointed times! Many of you will remember the "merchant" in the green waistcoat and breeches whose sacks of grains, oats, corns, and rice suffered tremendously during the weekend.
I will let him tell his own tale:
John Di Carlo reporting for Wayne's:
While unloading supplies from our van on the side street, my crew from the Mushroom, were stopped and the supplies were taken.
1 five-pound bag of Navy beans 1 five-pound bag of Split peas 1 five-pound bag of Black eye peas 1 five-pound bag of Black powder 5 ten-pound bags of corn 11 five-pound bags of Oats 3 six-pound bags of Peanuts 2 ten-pound bags of Rice 1 five-pound bag of Salt 4 Horseshoes 20 Dishes and bowls
I was taken to the guardhouse to get my things back. I could hear talk from outside and permission was granted to use the guard's cart to bring my supplies to the guardhouse. The soldier was told to make sure it was returned as soon as possible; as it was the only cart they had to use. When I was released I looked around and loaded my things onto the cart to take back to my lot on Dog St. I was not made to get a pass or a loyalty oath. I was even escorted through the barricade so I wouldn't be stopped again. Of course, I stole the cart and we used it all weekend out in the open.
On Friday night we hung a life size effigy in the gallows behind the jail. It hung there till mid day Saturday when I told a officer, in a unit on street patrol, That I heard through the grape vine that one of their lads was hanging in the gallows and they should go and cut him down. When he gave me a "What" look, I said, "You really need to go cut him down." He asked what he looked like. I replied that he had a red coat. By the time I was done He had retrieved his unit and was rushing off to the jail.
The officer came back with the life size effigy. Holding it up he said, "This is what we found!"
I held up my index finger and thumb about two inches apart and said, "You know, in every rumor there is that much truth. One of his own men, even laughed. Now this had hung there all morning in plain view from the street. I couldn't believe that none of the patrols had come across it. I guess none of them went down that street. -- Keep a sharper eye out lads and patrol every street.
I had sent letters out to different people to sell supplies. I sent one to the British and it was never answered. I could not believe that the army did not need supplies after marching across the south.
Our camp was raided four times and they never looked at the papers that were laying on top of the table for them to find. There was a pistol on the shelf under the table, under the fly all weekend, and it was never found.
Our camp was raided Saturday night. As I arose Sunday morning, to get ready for the officer's meeting, I came out of my tent to find that about five squirrels were having a party under our fly. One of the bags of peanuts was on the table and they had chewed a hole it. There was a large pile of shells by the table.
Five times on Saturday and four times on Sunday one of the deserters was in jail. The other one was in jail two times Saturday and one time on Sunday.
I was in jail four times on Saturday and never was made to get any papers. The last time I was in jail on Saturday, Paul Loane, 43ed Regt., came to me with my papers; accidentally in my papers was a paper that had sample letters on it. It had been read over several times through out the day. It wasn't until Paul brought it to my attention that it had the sample letter for the payroll. Give him points for that.
The pay roll went through camp two times over the weekend. The first time it made it all the way through with no problems.
The second time I was walking beside the person carrying it. We walked down Nickelson Street behind the British camp. Finally we were stopped. They asked me if I was the grain merchant. (I had switched hats.) I told them I was. They searched me and called a guard over to search the other person. The guard looked at the side of the mushroom but didn't look any farther as all the excitement was around me. They let the other person, with the payroll, go and took me to the guardhouse. After searching through my things, they looked at every paper and they let me go. They were so close to the payroll we thought they had found it.
We did get 12 bags of grain through the guard posts during the weekend.
The five-pounds of powder made it through 3 roadblocks.
Marshall and Gary both snuck through 7.5lbs of musket balls through checkpoints.
A cartridge box made it through two checkpoints.
Twelve small effigies were hung.
It was reported to me that while in jail, our people passed a rumor on to the guard Numan. He was told that one of our Camp followers had a sword cane. Judging by Lisa's report the rumor took wings and flew.
Lisa reported, "In addition, several times they thought I had a sword cane and almost broke the cane. I had to either show them my knee brace or let them feel my knee to get them to understand that I actually need to use the cane to walk any distance.
I was in jail nine times over the weekend. I was finally caught as the spy on the ninth time.
When they did catch me, they took the button.
I was arrested 3 times. Each time I was arrested, I was searched and the button was never found.
One of those times I was thought to be the deserter. They searched me thoroughly two times, but they still never found the button.
I made it through the checkpoints three times, again without being identified as the deserter.
I was arrested two times carrying gain and merchant goods, searched both times. I had the spy map on my person both times.
The first time I was arrested, they let me go without having to sign loyalty papers. The second time they made me sign loyalty papers.
While standing in line, I stole a paper that contained their duty roster and unit assignments from the desk in front of the jail.
Sunday morning, while sitting in camp, I showed Lynn the map that they were looking so hard to find, when a British Navy man approached us. We were searched and I had the map in my hand. The sailor ordered me to give him what was in my hand. I grabbed by haversack and pulled out my loyalty papers and showed him that instead of the map. Somehow the British officer who signed my loyalty papers forgot to sign his name and the sailor found a pencil in my haversack so he arrested me for being a forger. I was searched again at the jail where a British officer found my map. I told him it was the distribution route for goods from the Mushroom. He gave it back to me. I signed new loyalty papers and was released.
Later that afternoon I was arrested for breaking plates and spilling grain. They searched me again, making me take off most of my clothes. He never found it and I was released soon after.
There are a few things in John's report that need a fuller explanation. One is the button used to identify the deserter. I had intended the button for use as a token of identity to distinguish the official deserters from those who might just be playing at deserter. As I feared, it turned into a button hunt - which the Redcoats didn't even know they were looking for. In the future, the deserters will be identified a different way. Another is, immediately prior to the weekend, a scrap of intelligence made its way to the Crown Forces: "The Continental Army's pay will be coming through town. It will be a large sum of money inside a mushroom. There may be two shipments." All weekend Wayne's dropped references to every kind of mushroom you can think of. Their ship was the MUSHROOM. They had mushroom shaped objects, mushroom character names (Elizabella Portobello) &c. Since the Continental Army Pay was never discovered but light enough to carry I will assume that it was in Continental scrip (to which the Continental Army is heartily welcome!). It still shows the effort that Wayne's put into the weekend.
One of the reasons UTR was so successful this year was the way Wayne's applied themselves to the task of being our opposition. Rather than using brute force to smuggle contraband and disrupt the British activities as much as possible, they took a more relaxed and interpretive approach. Some of them established the character and aspect of merchants who had quite legitimate reasons to pass the barricades with merchandise and sacks of goods. Other were ordinary townspeople going about their business. Of course there was the official spy and deserters, but they also set up their own scenarios such as the Continental pay and the sword cane. Rather than try to run the Redcoats ragged they took a step back and used character and interpretation to fulfill their role. It was highly successful. There was a lot of very visible interaction which kept both the Redcoats and the visitors interested.
So how did they do versus the Redcoats? Let's look at the official score:
Going by these totals it looks like Wayne's did very well against the Redcoats, but a glance at the Property Siezed reports from the Guard House tells another story:
Considering the number of maps, amount of arms, and sheer quantity of materiel seized it is plain to see that the Redcoats were keeping tight control of the town. Although I say Redcoats I must pay all due credit to the Navy, whose energetic patrolling and sheer weight of numbers helped keep a lid on things.
Credit also goes to Jay Callaham who conducted a spirited response to the threat of a deliberate smallpox infestation. There was a report that there would be an attempt to infect the troops by a "Rag Man". Capt. Callaham had each unit note which of its members had already been exposed to smallpox, in order to have a pool of immune soldiers to deal with any people who displayed symptoms. Although the Rag Man himself was often seen about camp, no soldiers seem to have been affected. If the Rag Man shows up at UTR again it is recommended that he be stripped and his clothing and kit be burned in order to help prevent the spread of smallpox.
It is difficult to assign a point value to the clear success the Redcoats had in keeping order in the town. Indeed, the most disorderly moment was the "Riot" on Sunday afternoon. Easily the best Riot of the last three years, it was noisy and rambunctious. Soldiers, Sailors, and Highlanders mixed it up with choreographed ferocity, into which wandered John DiCarlo with sacks of provisions which ended up spilled out onto Duke of Gloucester Street. It looked truly riotous, but was safely conducted by the core "rioters" of the 5th Foot and HMS SOMERSET who worked together to ensure that it was under control at all times. Of course the Riot led to the Army/NavyTug of War. This year the Tug of War was strictly military, with no visitor participation. A Best of Three competition, the first two bouts were rigged so that each team won one each. The third bout was for real, with a genuine victor to be determined. The Navy had the weight of experience pulling line, and, it must be said the sheer weight of, well, weight on their side. The Army had strength, health, aptitude, zeal -- and hobnails on their shoes. The hobnails had purchase in the wet grass whereas the smooth soled shoes of the tars slipped!
Speaking of wet grass, it did rain on Sunday, At times a drizzle, at times what they call in Ireland a "soft" rain, it did little to dampen the martial ardor of the troops. The lads on the barricades took shelter under the adjacent trees, the troops huddled under canvas or in shops, and the tireless team working the Officer's Mess who kept preparing the meal though it all, ably assisted by the 33rd Regiment's Peter Farquahr, who somehow managed to keep the fire going.
The Officer's Mess' on both Saturday and Sunday were astonishing examples of 18th Century dining! Months of menu planning by Judy Polinsky (33rd Foot, Col's Coy) , Emily Cline, and Holly Winchell (33rd Foot, Salvin's Coy.) 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 invite you to read it in the Comments section.
Tempting as it is to bring "Williamsburg on Wheels" to Williamsburg, I must comment on the gratifying lack of ironwork and creature comforts around camp. Certainly, the officer's tents were suitably furnished, and the kitchen line had a few fire pits with a tripod or two, but I am proud to note that the entire Officer's Mess was cooked over an eight foot "L" shaped fire pit with one iron tripod and two cross bars. The prize for minimalist camping goes to the North Carolina Volunteers, who had a tripod made of three branches, and no canvas whatsoever.
Last years's "Women on Campaign" was re-named "Following the Army" in order not to exclude the many male 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 (Christina Neitz of the 55th had several washtubs going) and other distaff duties, we also had Jane Manzano (4th Coy. Bde. Gds.) teach writing to a handful of children (and a couple of soldiers who wanted to improve their lot). She also offered to write "letters home" for soldiers. Joe Davis (British Brigade Secretary) suggested in the staff meeting that active duty unit members that were currently serving overseas would welcome a letter from the field. CW generously offered to post the letters. Let's try to have those APO addresses ready for next time!
Another scenario which worked better than it ever had was the Pay Parade. This year the Pay Parade was done strictly as an interpretive scenario. Captain Trevor's Company of the 55th Foot lined up in good order, and for almost 45 minutes went through a hilarious recital of stoppages for lost equipment, owed money, medical treatments, and "extracurricular" activities. Hardly any two men received the same amount, and a few hapless victims walked away with nothing. Much credit accrues to Sjt. Baule who came up with a highly detailed Pay Roster. Credit also goes to Town Major Grenier who recognized among the ranks of the 55th a Highwaymen who had relieved him of certain of his possessions a few years back!
With all of this going on it is no easy task to assign Points to one side or another, but it's easy to see that the clear winners at UTR 2005 were the visitors, who had a fascinating, educational, interactive experience. 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 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 2005 (please let me know if you would like to add a link):
42nd Foot Grenadier Company
33rd Foot Colonel's Company
17th Foot Clayton's Company
4th Company Brigade of Guards
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)