Under the Redcoat 2011 After Action Report
UTR 2011 was one of the best ever!
The 2011 edition of Under the Redcoat showcased how interested, motivated units are able to work together with Colonial Williamsburg interpreters to present a mature, polished program.
Returning for 2011 were:
There were additional participants; some Royal Welch Fusiliers, several members of the 55th, 71st, and 76th Regiments, as well as HM Marines. The 55th and 22nd joined forces to be a composite unit, as did the 71st and 76th. As both are white faced units, HM Marines fell in with the 43rd, although not without a certain amount of friction (about more which later!) Regiment von Huyn hosted a number of soldaten from different German units.
We also enjoyed the wily efforts of a famliar Opposition Force:
Sprinkled throughout this report are photos from various albums; many of which were originally posted on Facebook. There are links to the full albums at the end of this AAR. In addition, there are several videos embedded from YouTube and Facebook. If you are the owner or copyright holder of any of these images or videos, please contact me for proper credit.
Friday arrived "bright and dry"; the occasional sunshine belying the predicted thunderstorms. In fact, threatening dark clouds and crashing thunder did pass to the south of town, but all in all the Historic Area was spared. We probably had twenty drops of rain on us all weekend!
Revolutionary City has long incoporated a "Taking the Town" scenario in their regular programming, but Taking the Town takes on a whole new aspect when it is accompanied by several dozens of Redcoats as opposed to the usual handful of Colonial Williamsburg interpreters.
We did this one without benefit of a rope line, the crowd being held back solely by the press of Redcoats with fixed bayonets. Considering the number of King's troops present to re-establish Royal authority, the crowd displayed a daring amount of Rebel fervour, although there was a gratifyingly warm reply to the admonition: "God Save the King!", including a hearty response from a gentleman in sporting clothing, carrying a fowling piece and a pheasant!
The town thus secured, the advance party proceeded to Market Square to keep a watchful eye on the inhabitants, and make ready for the arrrival of the main force.
The camp was laid out by Sjt.-major Savage, along with Pioneer Jenks of the 33rd, with the welcome assistance of Sub-Engineer and Lt. Lynch; who used his transit to keep the lines square. The camp was planned according to the canvas count derived from the registration forms; the numbers of tents determining the layout of the Company streets rather than a strict order of Regimental precedence. We tried something different than the more ususal grid of garden stakes and twine: we staked out the corners of the streets with hand lettered signs, figuring that experienced 18th Century soldiers would have had no difficulty understanding that you line up your tents between the two stakes with your Company letter on them. It seemed perfectly simple, and yet…
At 3:00 p.m., the main body of the Provost Guard marched in. It was magnificent, as these videos will attest:
The March In is one of the scenarios that best shows the benfits of co-ooperation between Colonial Williamsburg's departments and the re-eanactors. The troops came in, tired and battle worn, with their military dependents following behind, along with Colonial Williamsburg's ox-drawn Virginia Wagon loaded down with soldier's tentage.
The camp went up with surprising speed - perhaps not surprising considering the numbers of troops available. The layout of the Company streets was evident to most, and if there were any questions an overall map was available. Sjt.-major Savage would love to have seen the whole process through, but he was obliged to repair to the Capitol end of town to partipcate in the walk-though of Saturday's Review.
Meanwhile, back in Market Square - there was one unit that had difficulty with the concept of lining up your tents between two stakes with the Regimental number on them. Somehow they got it in their minds to line up on one of the stakes delineating the Marquis line, and ended up having their tents angle off through the Company street! Mortification prevents your correspondent from mentioning who they were, but it was observed that they had red facings.
Despite that, the camp eventually went up, especially after 6:00 p.m. when private vehicles were allowed in.
Saturday began UTR in earnest. A gratifying number of Crown forces lined up for the safety inspection.
The security of the town and its inhabitants was paramount. We set out to restore Royal Authority with a firm hand. Our first order of business was for the 43rd and 64th Regiments to start the guard rotation at the Guard House.
In a change to our usual procedure, the German forces operated somewhat independently of the Redcoats. The Germans were responsible for the security of the North end of camp, establishing a sentry post at the barricade on North England Street, doing everything according to German methods and practice.
1. The Hillsborough District Militia will run one official "Spy". Spy identification: the spy must have concealed on his (or her) person a map of the Historic Area, with military information noted. This information will include the composition of the Provost Guard, the units, numbers of troops per unit, location of principal military sites, a description of the guard posts, their location, and the number of soldiers at each one with their frequency of relief. 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. The official Spy Map must mis-spell "Nicholson Street" to "Nickleson Street".
Spy bonus #1.The Spy must produce a seating chart for the Saturday Provost Guard Officer's Mess, showing the names of the officers and where they are seated.
Spy bonus #2. He must place a letter on the table set up at the Town Major's tent. The letter will be addressed to "Captain Sheffer". The text of the letter will be simply: "Vigilance is the price of Freedom, or, in your case, Tyranny. Sincerely, YMH&OS, The Spy".
Spy Bonus # 3. The Spy must place a letter inside the lap desk at the Guard House. The letter will be addressed to "The Captain of the Guard". The text of the letter will be simply: "You have been spied upon. Sincerely, YMH&OS, The Spy".
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 deserters. You will provide deserter descriptions including hair color, height, complexion, and clothing. One deserter will be named Ethan Maxwell. The other will be named William Harris. Your deserters need not use these names during the day, but the official deserter descriptions will be published with these names on them. The deserters must pass through both Barricades (Duke of Gloucester Street, and England Street) at least three times during each day. You are successful if the deserters remain uncaptured by retreat on Sunday. If they are detained or arrested they may be subject to search and/or questioning. A deserter need not confess to being the official deserter unless the following conditions are met (this is to weed out the "self-appointed" deserters): if he is questioned by the Deputy Provost-Marshal and he asks "Where did you sleep last night?", Harris and/or Maxwell are to answer "at the Burnt Ordinary". If he is asked three times in a row "Are you William Harris?" (or Ethan Maxwell), he must confess.
3. You are to smuggle as much military equipment as you dare through any of the 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 each day, you will give Sjt.-major Savage a count how much (if any) has been successfully smuggled. At the end of each day you will give Sjt.-major Savage a total.
All Deserter, Spy, and smuggling activities are to occur between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday only. All other times are invalid.
The open nature of UTR invites participation by many "guest players" who operate over and above our official opposition force. We capture a great deal more contraband than they smuggle, and apprehend many more "deserters" and "Spies" than are claimed by our official opposition. Let me offer you an example. On Saturday evening, I received a report from our opposition commander:
That's quite an impressive list. As for the five officers which were grenaded, I have to take that personally because one of them was me! There I was, in my tent, minding my own business (changing from my torn Trowsers into Breeches), when there was a shadow at my tent flap. THUMP! A round black object rolled onto my blanket. Fortunately I was able to extinguish the fuse, but with my trowsers around my ankles, I was not in a position to give chase to my would-be assassin.
The scene of a dastardly act. ©American Revolution Photos
However, the Redcoats were not entirely unsuccessful in their own efforts. The "Property Siezed" records book from the Guard House lists:
Not an exhaustive list , perhaps, but the Redcoats were also aggressive about seizing back the passes and paperwork of miscreants; so much so that Todd Dickinson (commander of the Hillsborough District Militia) had to plead with the Redcoats "We have to have some form of ID that is not going to land us in jail on sight. All was confiscated @ afternoon Sat. Need return of cuffs and all papers seized. Lots of work + the basis of our identities. "
That got sorted out by explaining to the troops on guard that taking away the passes and paroles would just generate more work for them, because they would have to keep issuing them over and over. That still left quite an assortment of odd bits of paperwork detained at the Guard House:
Then there were the curious messages passed to me which attempted to implicate members of the 33rd in seditious activities. Several of them had hearts and clubs from playing cards drawn on them as some sort of "code".
McGee of 33rd - tell him we need more passes. 6 would be good.
Meet our guy w/the signatures and passes at the determined location. His name is Lance-cpl McGee, of the 33rd Regt. of Foot. Brown hair, baby face, bad British accent. Retrieve the asset and give it to me.
Private Niles Kynett and Michael have, to the best of my knowledge, has been patrolling & brought seditious materials purported found and returned to him. [signed] Major Robert McLeroth
Msg for Sargeant Major Savage. I have a private message from Josiah Chowning Tavern proprietor regarding his hospitalities liberties and limitations. Your humble servant, Alex Walker
Wait - that last was was legit. Chowning's had such a run on ice that they had to close the machine off until it could make some more ice. I had to give the troops a heads up on that.
Let's continue with Sunday's opposition force report:
Sunday we successfully passed through guard posts going in then out with the following:
Before we move on to Saturday's other activities, let's look at Todd Dickinson's offical UTR AAR from the opposition viewpoint:
Dear Master Sergeant:
I am pleased to report that the OPFOR Unit for 2011 UTR had a ball confounding the British Provost Guard over the weekend, with Saturday being by far our most successful outing. All OPFOR individuals had a wonderful time and are begging me to allow them to come again.
Compliments are due to the Guard Units, who eventually performed admirably on Sunday after their shaky Saturday efforts. Saturday was a field day for our smugglers, with vast quantities of war material being carried through the check points. A sweep of our camp Sunday morning and the summary imprisonment of 7 troublemakers rounded up in that illegal attack slowed our Sunday morning activities, especially as some were wrongly imprisoned for up to 2 hours (!) - A practice I ended with the concurrence and assistance of Mr. Najecki as soon as I was able to meet with him. Seems the 43rd needs a review of the rules…they tended to run amuck…but played well as they did so. We tested the smuggling defenses by passing through innocently at first and found security so tightened on Sunday, that we needed to invent more cunning methods to get the job done.
Enclosed you will please find one (1) MAP of the Historic District, CW, which was carried throughout the weekend by our designated SPY on his/or her person (not on the private Right side, but available for discovery during a proper search) as he/she passed numerous times through check points and spent most of the weekend within the Brit Camp, discovering what have you. The SPY qualified for only one Bonus, #2.) Placing a letter as designated on the Town Major's (David Gobel's) Table, at about 3 PM Sunday. The SPY, being a civilian person, knowing no Soldiers or Camp Followers and not familiar with anything in the military way, managed to do a very credible job, and has been retired with a small pension.
Of our Deserters, both were successful in evading His Majesty's Forces while entering and leaving Camp through the checkpoints all day Saturday. One deserter, William Harris, completely deserted his duty Sunday morning and was never seen again… Saturday night may have killed him (?). The other deserter, Ethan Maxwell was formally charged and correctly identified at approximately 3:30 Sunday afternoon after leading the Guard on some merry chases and being stopped, imprisoned and interrogated numerous times throughout the day.
You have our formal smuggling returns for the very successful effort we made Saturday. Weaponry smuggled ranged from the movement of 9 pistols, 7 blunderbusses, 20 swords, 15 bayonets and 2 fowlers, to a gross of musket balls, 5 lbs of powder, 9 daggers, 5 cannonballs, 12 grenades, and a gross of 75 cal bullets, etc etc. Sunday was an entirely different story, as Guards were much more wary and scrupulous in denying us any further run of the camp barriers. Smuggled totals for Sunday were roughly 25% of Saturday's successes, mostly limited to smaller parcels, although the blunder buss did make it through twice, in and out. Much intricate and ingenious salacious paperwork passed through both days. A card playing gambler in the thrall of freedom gleaned the trust and knowledge of several British officers as he plied his trade after hours.
Various antics were attempted over the course of the weekend, some were shut down by roving patrols before they could commence, a few were successful: We were able to kidnap one Redcoat Soldier, leaving him cuffed to a fence, then later, kidnap a high ranking officer off the street - only to be foiled by the dread "Queen Charlotte" release code, here used in reverse for a change. We blew up some 7 soldiers and officers with grenades, you, Sergeant Savage, being our favorite "kill." Several more Brits were stalked, but not apprehended. The patrols gave us fits. We posted some signage, carried many illegal tracts and seditious communications, and confounded the Guards with our complicated playing card codes. Chalk was used to write numerous nasty diatribes against our occupiers, and aid in intra OPFOR communications.
One interesting facet of the weekend play involved the attempted suborning of two of my younger Rebels by the offering and acceptance of $20. US modern money(!) bribes each for intel into our operation and our use of the ubiquitous playing cards. I am proud to report that both youths kept their bribes, turned double agent, and duped their captors wonderfully. Our fellow after pocketing his new Jackson, managed to gradually, over the course of the day, frame, implicate and cause the arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment of a young British soldier who had troubled us with his compilation of authentic Brit Officers' signatures to match against our forgeries (the list itself, we also obtained, removing it from the authority's hands and adding it to our tools of skullduggery). [Details of this amazing coup, related over beers while we swam and relaxed Sunday evening, provided us with our best, most hilarious AAR story. We about drowned at the telling!] Of the cards, I shall reveal nothing… but compliment the young woman for her poise and cunning. Nah nah…
I thank you, Sergeant Savage and The British Provost Guard, on behalf of my merry band of some 28 men, women and children for the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful weekend of period correct excitement and intrigue. Congratulations to the Guard for picking themselves up and giving us a good run on Sunday once we were freed from the oppressive round up. They performed very professionally and gave us an excellent background against which to act up and act out. Such excellent Street Theater; such hi-jinks!
Huzza for UTR weekend, and thank you, Radford, for your outstanding efforts to put on a great show. I think this was a good one.
Pres, Hillsborough District Militia, Commander 2011 OPFOR
The Official Spy Map, front and back:
So how did they do versus the Redcoats? The official score:
At a score of 10 to 5 it looks like the Hillsborough District Militia had a thoroughly successful weekend!
However, before we leave Guard Duty and move on to other pleasures, I would like to offer my compliments to the mid-day Guard change; where the Guard Mount consisting of the 4th Company, Brigade of Guards, the 40th, the 76th, and the Maryland Loyalists was relieved by the Guard Mount of the 7th Royal Fusiliers, and the combined 22nd/23rd/33rd/55th (133rd Foot?). This was the best executed Changing of the Guard I have ever seen at UTR!
The UTR troops were integrated with Colonial Williamsburg's Revolutionary City programming for both the the Declaration of Martial Law at 11:00 a.m., and the Phillipsburg Proclamation at 11:30 a.m.
Declaring martial law works better:
When you have a company of Light Infantry to pacify the crowd.
As part of Revolutionary City Colonial Williamsburg's own Tarleton's Legion did a stirring display of horsemanship:
The Maryland Loyalists provide security for the reading of the Phillipsbugh Proclamation.
In addition, the 7th RF and 22nd/23rd/55th performed a "Cornwallis Review" at the Capitol, as the last Revolutionary City event for Saturday.
The 7th Royal Fusiliers at the Review:
The troops exiting the Review:
After the Review, Sjt.-major Savage confers with his Company, Regimental, and Army commander, Lord Cornwallis:
The Review completed the Revoutionary City programming, but the event schedule continued with a terrific firing demonstration by the 43rd and Companies C and W of the Royal Artillery. We asked for a demonstration of fire and movement, sohwing how infantry and artillery could advance in mutual support. What we got was a graphic refutation of the old myth that Redcoats just stood in long lines and blasted away at the clever Rebels who hid behind rocks and trees. I defy you to be on the receiving end of this and imagine that your tree is going to be any comfort to you at all!
The military activities were enhanced by the presence of as many civilians as we have troops! The Following the Army programming showcases the army's invaluable civilian support. No one is too young to work!
Never mess with the washer women!
Saturday's Provost Guard Officer's Mess' was an astonishing example of 18th Century dining! Months of menu planning by Judy Polinsky and Emily Cline (33rd Foot, Col's Coy), resulted in a meal that was a welcome treat for the officers who enjoyed it. As Head Cook, Mistress Emily was ably assisted by a small army of helpers.
Spinning the copper sabatier to make iced cream.
All of the slicing, dicing, cutting, baking, broiling and spinning was in the service of this menu:
UNDER THE REDCOAT 2011 OFFICER'S MESS
(Bread and cheese to pass with each course)
This extensive menu required a lot of labor, but a minimal amount of cook gear. One L shaped fire pit had a lashed wood stick kettle stand and wought iron stands at the other. The food preparation area consisted of a double ended wedge tent for shade, a closed cavalry tent for cold and bulk storage, several prep tables and a cunningly concealed stack of hay bales used for washing up. Some cold dishes were prepared in advance, but the cooked foods were prepared in camp over an open fire.
Preparation for the meal starts months earlier with menu planning which determines which heirloom herbs will be cultivated at Judy's and Emily's gardens, as well as the Huntington Library and Gardens. Refining the menu continues though the Spring. As UTR approaches, some long lasting desserts and savories are prepared. In the days before UTR, the head cooks go shopping, bringing some choice local delicacies up from North Carolina, while other perishables are bought at Williamsburg area markets.
Safe food handling is of prime importance. Before actual meal preparation begins, the head cooks go over food safety with the volunteers. Cleanliness is important! Small containers of hand steriliser are hidden in pockets and aprons, ready to clean hands between handling meat, fish, and poultry. Cutting boards are marked as meat, fish, or poultry so raw meats are not mixed. The storage tent has coolers in it to keep perishable items at a safe temperature. As eager as we are to re-create the life and times of the 18th Century, re-creating botulism and food poisoning is something we'd like to avoid!
Service of the meal was accomplished with great style. The courses were brought out, announced, and served by volunteers, many of which who have years of experience serving the Officers at UTR! Several of the officers held up their end of table conversation approproate to Officers and Gentlemen of His Majesty's Armed Forces. It was an amazing presentation, all the more so due to the open air conditions under which it was done.
Eventually the meal was finished, and the officer's kitchen staff took a well deserved break.
Elswhere in camp, other units were messing in their own way. The 43rd set up a Tavern to see to their troop's nourishment.
The 40th boiled their kettles, and ate sitting on the ground.
A 40th Foot ration dump.
The Germans pooled their resources and ate as well.
No review of the civilian portrayals would be complete without mention of the hard working members of the Detached Hospital. Dr. Mike has collected a wide range of talented individuals who interpret more than just medical topics. As they are in and near the Governor's Place they are a bit out of the way of the main effort in Market Square, but any effort to visit them was well repaid. I observed that a number of the 40th were clever enough to take advantage of the Hospital facilities in the heat of the afternoon. The Consolidated Sick Return shows that several of the troops from other units were treated for a dismaying variety of "ailments".
Saturday afternoon's Drill and Firing Competition was hotly contested by teams from the 40th, 43rd, and 64th. The winners of the leather fire bucket were the 64th, who came in at 71 seconds, followed by the 40th at 77 seconds (76 seconds, plus a one second penalty for one misfire). Third place went to the 43rd at 86 seconds.
Although Saturday evening's Retreat ceremony was the end of the official duty day, the troops and their attached civilians took full advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the unique advantages of encamping in an 18th Century city! The Germans hauled out a surprising array of musical instruments and played to an enthusiastic public. Of course, many people ended up at various establishments about town, Chowning's being a perennial favorite.
A gratifying number of troops staggered out of their various watering holes to march back to camp with the Tat-Too! I wish someone had posted photos of it!!!
Sunday morning broke bright and beautiful! We had a glorious Church Parade at the Capitol.
©American Revolution Photos
©American Revolution Photos
©American Revolution Photos
Regiment von Huyn continued to interpret the German campaign experience in North America by holding their own Church Service in camp.
As you have read in Todd Dickinsons' report, the troops on Sunday were able to cut way down on the smuggling and other illicit activites. This is due to their continued high state of alertness.
Where's he going?
Wait a minute.
What the heck?
Well - as if that wasn't enough, the 43rd found some women selling liquor and decided to drum them out of camp!
Having removed the temptation of demon rum from the troops, the 43rd remained sober enough to give another rousing firing demonstration at 2:30.
However, all was not going smoothly among the officer classes of the white faced units. Paul Loane, commanding the 43rd, took insult with a comment carelessly tossed off by the Marine commander, Jim McGaughey. Despite repeated entreaties to resolve their differences, the two could not be prevailed upon to find common ground. Indeed, the only ground they could agree on was the Field of Honor.
I agreed to be Paul Loane's Second, if only to bend all my powers of persuasion to prevent needless bloodshed. They were to no avail. As the Challenged, Major Loane selected pistols, under the Irish Code Duello. Here, you can see myself and Captain McGaughey's Second inspecting the pistols before the tragic event.
The ground was a quiet glade, away from camp. Captain McGaughey is at his distance as the pistols are loaded by the Seconds.
A last minute attempt at reconcilation was met with no success. The comabatants fired. Both were wide. The first time. And the second.
On the third exchange, Captain McGaughey was not so lucky. A shoulder wound had him down. Major Loane finally declared satisfaction. As of this writing, Captain McGaughey has made a full recovery.
Both Saturday's and Sunday's firing competitions are in this video, but if you watch through to the end you will see the 40th Foot make a critical error! The 40th came back on Sunday to try their hand against the 76th. Both teams had some new men in them, so it was a good match up. The rules say that timing "stops at the fifth shot", but for practicality's sake the troops were told to come to the Recover when they were done firing, at which point I stopped their clock. As the official timekeeper, I was not about to try to count shots and keep time! However, instead of firing five rounds and coming to the Recover, the 40th fired six! This left us with a problem: who won? The 40th did six shots in 98 seconds, while the 76th did five shots in 97. We resolved it this way: the 76th took home the leather fire bucket as the winner's prize, and the 40th took home bragging rights in the form of the red plush worn on their cockade by the winners of the competition.
UTR 2011 was a grand success! If you were there, I hope this report and these photos remind you of all the terrific work you put in to help present one of the best events on any schedule for any re-created time period! You all have my most sincere thanks! I also want to thank again the interpreters and staff at Colonial Williamsburg. UTR comes in like a great lumbering beast, disrupting schedules, and upsetting lives, yet the results are so very much worth it!
Web photo pages of UTR 2011 (please let me know if you would like to add a link):
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)