Haverhill, MA 5-6 Oct `02
by Brian Carpenter
Haverhill is a small city located north of Boston, and the castle - built by a wealthy doctor in the 1870's - sits atop a hill within a large lakeside park. The site is a reenactor's ideal setting, with acres of woods and meadows crisscrossed by trails and unsurfaced roads. The castle itself occupies a large open space, which could accommodate a large number of tents and participants.
This initial event saw a small turnout of Jacobite Highlanders, with contingents from Clan Donnachaidh, the MacGregors of Glencarnoch, Clan of the Wolf, and Clan MacLeod, to the number of about ten fighting men with accompanying wives and family members. The clanfolk occupied a camp in the meadow, while a determined squad of Redcoats of about equal number defended the castle. The scenario was determined on the spot, and involved a post-Culloden setup, with a local British garrison struggling to disarm and subdue a small band of defiant Jacobites.
The small crowd of spectators on Saturday grew considerably on Sunday due to a fine write-up with photos appearing in the local Sunday morning paper. They were treated to an ongoing conflict between the opposing sides as the Jacobites taunted and sniped at the British from the woods, while the exasperated Redcoats made repeated incursions into the clan camp to search for and confiscate weapons. The clan women were active participants as they strove to support their menfolk and resist the insulting attentions of the dastardly British, at times forced to fall upon them with knives and cooking utensils while the clansmen were restrained or skulked in the forest!
At one point, during an uneasy truce, men from both sides participated in a traditional Highland feat of strength, the throwing for distance of a heavy stone. The contest was clearly won by a brawny clansman, whereupon the commander of the Redcoats cried foul with accusations of cheating. He was promptly dirked by the Jacobite leader, and the scene dissolved into a general melee.
Interspersed with the fighting and squabbling, the visitors were treated to examples of period cookery, displays of Highland swordsmanship, and talks on the 1745 rebellion and historic clan life in general.
All told, this was a small but quite enjoyable event, which shows a great deal of promise for the future. The site is excellent, and with better support from the various groups, especially those in the Northeast, this could grow into a high point of the `45 reenactment season. Thanks should go out to Pete Plunkett of Clan MacLeod who organized this effort practically single-handedly.