In short: we enjoyed it, and yet we didn’t. Battle Road is the kind of event where those of us who come from Rhode Island and are on the fringes of the organization are not fully integrated into the event. Mr S fielded in the morning, but the Young Mr could not, again, though he had been told at inspection that something would be found for him to do. He recovered pretty well, but there is a lot of waiting.
I was very grateful to have friends, new members of the Regiment, to chat with while we waited and watched the action. When you can’t participate, it’s fun to pick out your friends in the columns marching past. Sorry, no photos: authenticity standards.
Afterwards, we had lunch, and saw more friends. That gown is a copy of one in the Newport Historical Society. It has robings and front lacing–what an amazing artifact! I would love to get my fingers on the original’s front to find out how many layers there are.
At this point, though, my claustrophobia began to kick in. In the photo of my friend and her daughter you can see tourists taking photos of the Young Mr (by his buttons you shall know him) and Brian Jean of the 2nd Helpings.
The line to see Hartwell Tavern snaked through the yard, and the road was getting full of people, and dogs, and bicycles. We fled.
We slipped up to the MMNHP Visitors Center (flush toilets!) and watched the presentation on April 19, 1775. When we walked out of the theatre, the ranger said, “Welcome to chaos.” The Center was packed full of people, all talking, many pushing: we found a way through the crowd and snuck up to the National Heritage Museum (more flush toilets and a Coke machine!), which had a nice map exhibit. I had some ideas at the time about mixing maps and objects in a thematic exhibition, and vaguely, they remain.
Here’s where the not-so-great part started for me. At Tower Park, I got left alone on the public side of the rope line. (We rode up with Brian, so my ‘getting around and doing things’ options were pretty limited.) To be a living exhibition with one other person is good; to be a living exhibition with a normally-dressed companion is bearable; to be alone is annoying.
Hands to yourselves, people, please. Also, those are my friends and family out there on the field, and I would like to see them, too.
I had a moment at Tower Park where I thought, Really, the hell with the public. This kind of reenacting is not for me; I’ll stick to something more personal, something for reenactors/living historians alone. But what I think I really wanted was a friend or a larger zone of personal space–you’d think petticoats and a cloak would help, but they don’t–a way for people to understand No Touching. Also, I like to be able to keep My Kid in view to manage my anxiety levels. Superstitious Mother Tricks…
I was a lot crankier about it last night, which was probably the result of being rather tired (getting up at 5 to lace yourself into a new gown after a week of insomniac-style sleep and intense work is not how most folks start “vacation”), hungry, and cold (it settled inside my stays mid-morning and I will feel it for a while to come).
Will I do it all again? Yes. Will I try to make better afternoon plans? Yes…though I’m not sure yet what they will be.