HISTORY Reenactors are drawn to the hobby through a passion for the past
Text by Tina Firesheets | Photos by Perfecta Visuals
y 8 a.m., most are awake in the camp. Beds are made. Bacon sizzles in an iron skillet in front of the cook’s tent. Folks are getting dressed and finishing their first cup of kettle-brewed coffee. The air smells like campfires. Birds chirp and a rooster crows. On this morning, the scene unfolding at the Alamance Battleground State Historic Site reflects a mix of time periods. Revolutionary War-era soldiers and camp followers are preparing for the day’s reenactment of the Battle of Alamance. They camped overnight in period-accurate tents or in the historic John Allen House, a log cabin there. At the edge of the historic property, there’s a row of colorful pup tents and a group of Boy Scouts in matching yellow t-shirts scattered across the lawn. Their playful shouts can be heard throughout the camp. The battle itself is a few hours away. There’s time to smoke a pipe and sip a second cup of coffee. For now, enemies can be friends. It’s hard to distinguish between the two armies.
The Battle of Alamance
The “Fight for the Backcountry” occurred on May 16, 1771, involving a group of rebellious farmers known as the “Regulators” and a volunteer militia loyal to Royal Governor William Tryon. It was the peak of the Regulator movement, a five-year period in which rural farmers organized and demonstrated for better regulation of corrupt government officials. Peaceful attempts to enact change
yielded to violence. In 1770, Regulators broke into the Hillsborough Superior Court, attacked lawyers and judges and demolished the home of a local leader. The Johnston Riot Act, adopted in 1771, outlawed Regulator leaders and retroactively made the Hillsborough riot an unlawful assembly. In April, Tryon and his army left New Bern, marching west. The Regulators planned to block his advance, hoping to intimidate the Governor into meeting with them to address their grievances.
From Research Analyst to Royal Governor
Reenactors find their way to the hobby through their love of history. David Snyder, who portrayed Governor William Tryon in the Battle of Alamance for the second time, began reenacting in 1976 after seeing a Revolutionary War reenactment of the Battle of Pell’s Point. “I just had to do it. The uniforms, the muskets… the fifes and drums on the battlefield. Seeing the British troops march in formation and firing volleys of musketry. I really wanted to get in on that,” Snyder says. “It’s different to read about it, but to see it in front of you and smell the smoke was so vivid.” He began reenacting as a private with the 64th Regiment of Foot, an infantry regiment of the British Army. He’s now a captain for the same regiment. By profession, Snyder is a research analyst with the
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6/8/17 3:09 PM
Published on Jun 19, 2017