10th Massachusetts, Cambridge, common people, common soldier, Events, living history, Massachusetts, Revolutionary War
Cambridge. We’ve been there before to cause some mild lawn-based havoc and this year was much the same. We were on our own on the lower level, with just the six-plus-me of some abbreviated form of Soper’s company. Longfellow House is a very lovely site, and the lawn is large enough for a wall tent, drilling, eating, and general mischief.
I packed our lunch in a series of linen bags in the wallet, and stuffed a gown skirt and sewing box in the other end, with a bowl and a mug. I brought the small pitcher and a glass, with the intent of selling ‘gin’ to the militia, but had only one taker. They got into enough trouble themselves with filthy faces, pilfering, and stealing the captain’s books.
It’s no immersion event, what with traffic on the street and tourists dressing in Mr Townsend’s best* but there are moments at any gathering when you become so engrossed in what you are doing that you forget where you are. This time was no different: I don’t recall how it started, but we took off down Brattle Street with Sergeant Cooke crossing the yard in hot pursuit– only to be stopped by the wall. He turned the stone barricade into a large and angry goose, neaatly solving solving the problem of not being able to scale the wall.
I don’t think I’ve ever bolted that fast in stays before, and it wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had, but who cares? It can be done, running in stays, at least for short bursts.
There was much discussion of the filth of the troops, and their need to bathe; despite our best efforts, we could not quite get a satisfactory rise out of the officers, though some soldiers had clearly rolled in dirt. (It’s of a much better quality in Cambridge, you know, where you can wear the Harvard Yard.) There was an attempt at bathing at the Great Bridge, but in the end, one private’s face was washed with an apron corner dipped in ‘gin.’
Satisfying all around, really, from the recitation of Mr Pickering’s manual with its endless repetition of ‘butt,’ meaning musket, entertaining the simpler, uncivil soldiers, to the meal of bread, cheese and cherries, to the chasing. The audience was small, but well entertained if they were paying any attention.
*Oh, NPS, what were you thinking?