2008 "I Am Come Home!" Labor Day Weekend Event at Fort Ontario, Oswego, NY
The repeat performance of the Labor Day weekend 2007 "I Am Come Home!" re-enactment event, hosted again by the NY Sept of the Clann of the Wolf, was even better than last year's event. Participants must have gotten the word about the wonderful time had by all re-enactors last year, because their ranks were about triple last year's, making all activities that much better with enough personnel on both sides for more realistic battle scenarios and more talent for civilian life portrayals. The weather once again was top-notch, and having that happen two years in a row is an extremely rare experience in Oswego, NY in late summer. Days were comfortably warm for our activities, and nights were cool enough for getting a good night's rest. Once again there were no misfortunes or injuries, and other than some scrambling for last-minute substitutions of some very important elements of the weekend's activites, the whole event went off with incredible smoothness.
Paul Lear, Fort Ontario's Site Director, must have done a bang-up job of publicizing the event, because the public attendance was about double last year's event, which was the best weekend gate receipts that Paul could remember ever having to date. He and his staff were once again pleased with how accommodating and easy to work with our fine group of re-enactors are, and made sure we understood that Labor Day weekend 2009 is reserved for us at Fort Ontario. All hands were on deck at the Fort and fit right in again participating in the wide variety of civilian and military scenarios we like to pack into our weekend events. Paul and his staff have our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for their hospitality and enthusiasm for our events, and the Fort is among the finest locations at which we have ever been privileged to hold one of our re-enactments.
The second ever North American re-enactment of the July 1745 landing of HRH Prince Charles Edward Stuart at Glenfinnan, Scotland, on the eastern shore of Loch Shiel utilizing a sailing vessel went off without a hitch on Saturday morning. The captain and owner, Susan Peterson Gateley, and the crew of the Sara B, a 47-foot wooden Tancook schooner out of Fair Haven, NY looking every bit the 18th century fresh water loch sailboat with Edgar Denton's 14-foot lapstrake skiff with 2 oarsmen positions to ferry the Prince and the Duke of Athol from ship to shore, were once again on hand to provide the central props and personnel for the re-enactment. They were dressed in the period-correct sailor's slops and shirts with which they were supplied for last year's landing re-enactment courtesy of Clann of the Wolf Chief and Barkertown Sutlers proprietor Missy Clark. No harassment from enemy vessels made for a smoother and swifter re-enactment this year. Our deepest gratitude to Captain Gateley and crew for once again very ably filling in for the OMF Ontario, stuck in mud and low water last year, and in dry dock for re-plating of her badly pitted hull this year.
This year's event was another history-making weekend that exceeded the expectations of event co-coordinators Chris Timm and Bill Jeffery. Some of that history-making was the need to find a capable replacement for Chris Timm as HRH Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the central character in our activities. Chris, pastor of Guelph Bible Chapel in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, had to make the very hard decision to miss the event (the first one he has missed since beginning our events about twelve years ago) two days before it was to take place due to the urgent need of his presence for comfort and encouragement after a tragic death in the family of one of the members of his congregation. Paul Lear came to our rescue with an insightful recommendation of one of the members of his staff to fill the role, a 19 year-old young man named Ian Mumpton with acting experience and a flare for impromptu spontaneity. Ian was able to convey the air of nobility, authority, and even threw in a fine French accent for good measure. Even the likes of Malcolm MacWilliams with his usual flare for surprises could not ruffle Ian's feathers, finding him more than a match for on-the-spot challenges to his portrayal.
Saturday afternoon's tactical re-enactment was a repeat performance of last year's re-creation of the failed Jacobite attack on Ruthven Barracks which took place in August of 1745. After a disastrous attempt to scale the ramparts, the Jacobites withdrew after seeking and gaining safe retrieval of their dead. This historic event was a dubious beginning to the Jacobite campaign to take control of Scotland from the forces of the Hanoverian usurper, George II, and then to take England and the throne of the British Isles.
After the afternoon's tactical, the 18th century Highland Games were once again run by Captain of the Army of King James, Charlie Fuller. They were as big a hit with the public as they were last year, and equally well-enjoyed by participants.
The Saturday evening activity was a ceileadh during which we were all regaled with Highland dancing, Celtic humor and traditional songs featuring our usual excellent supply of talented musicians and vocalists, and a tavern was opened in the Clan Cameron dining tent with a half keg of a fine ale courtesy of the microbrewery that is part of the King Arthur pub and restaurant in Oswego. Next year we hope to sample some of their Scottish ale!
The 18th century Presbyterian Lord's Day morning worship service was open to the public and well attended by re-enactors and public alike. We met outdoors under the second floor balcony of the Soldiers' Barracks inside the Fort.
Sunday afternoon's activities included the rallying of the Highland clans to the Stuart Royal standard, and the pledge of their loyalty and arms to HRH Prince Charles Edward Stuart, his father, King James III and VIII, and the Army of King James. The tactical event of the afternoon was the re-enactment of the successful August, 1745 Jacobite assault on Fort Inversnaid. Women of the English troops inside the Fort once again utilized the "chamber pot strategy," trying to dampen the spirits of the Jacobites who first entered the Fort through the sallyport. Thankfully, especially for those who may received that "baptism," the chamber pots contained only clean water.
Parting company late Sunday afternoon was as hard as usual, saying goodbye to friends old and new, hoping to see all again at next year's events. Any 18th century Scottish or English historical re-enactors not able to make it to this year's event were missed, and should give serious consideration to being at next year's "I Am Come Home!" event.
Hoping to see you there, I am