Fort Frederick Muster 2009

Posted By on September 5, 2009

Its so nice to have a home like Fort Frederick- a place where your unit is most at home, you have a specific course of actions that are taken, and you just feel like you’re coming to your second home.  While travelling with a tent, a fly, all my medical equipment, and all my various goods and chattle are always fun, its so very nice to only have to fill half the truck with equipment to make it to an event  that is 30 minutes from home, and provides you a roof, a bunk, running water, and many fireplaces.  Fort Frederick does well with this for the Maryland Forces, Beall’s Company, and I have to say I’m grateful for it.  So a great thanks to Steve Robertson, Director of the Fort, and all of his team of Rangers, interpreters, and staff.

I arrived Friday, in the rain, but was loaded in pretty quickly, and not a moment too soon.  The barracks were packed this weekend, so I got a good space on a bottom bunk, and proceeded to relax in song with some of my other mates in Beall’s company.  We also welcomed a couple new reenactors, Josh, and Coffey into our midst.  Josh is on Artillery crew, and I don’t think he really knows what he’s gotten himself into. Coffey is the Father-in-Law to our Fifer, and wanted to cook.  Additionally, I don’t think he knew what he was getting into.

In addition to my playing Surgeon this weekend, I would also be doing multiple roles, as assistant cook, and as my Surgeon’s sister Charlotte, whom you can read letters from on another portion of this blog.  This required me to bring additional supplies, and I had spent the week preparing things as well.  Air out the polonaise, bake 6 dozen scones (one dozen of rice flour scones for a lady with a gluten allergy), a bundt cake of zucchini bread for Saturday morning Breakfast, purchase chickens, garlic, and beer for Saturday’s lunch, and of course, pack my myriad of teacups to allow all the ladies to drink in style. By the time I arrived at the fort, I was beyond ready for the event.

While there were only 2 French units in attendance, I believe the numbers evened out in battle.  I would hope that in the future more French would come, so I’ll do my part to help encourage them to do so.  I was unable to watch any of the skirmishes, however the guys when they came back always looked as if they had fun.  Of course, what’s not fun about shooting black powder muskets! (other than cleaning them!).

Lunch on Saturday was Chicken stewed in Beer with vegetables.  We had about 30 people to feed, so we plopped 6 chickens into 3 dutch ovens, and put the vegetables in in the last 20 minutes.  I think in the future we need more vegetables for that many people, but everyone seemed to greatly enjoy this recipe.  Many thanks to Cookie Brennan, who provided me this recipe as a starving starting reenactor many years ago, and it continuing to be a success!  However, I think in the future I shall only be a cooking consultant- running back in forth from explaining amputation and bloodletting to seeing if the chicken had been cooked thoroughly was nearly my undoing.  I enjoy helping people learn how to do things, but I really need to learn when to just say “hey- you can do this! call me if its an emergency!”

I received a lot of compliments from the public in regards to how I presented my surgery items, as well as the education provided to them and their children.  A couple of people had actually been at Old Bedford Village previously and remembered me- including the family of the nice lady with the cast who let me “amputate”, and who’s Toddler then cried, thinking her arm was truly gone (which there was never any danger of).  They told me how much they enjoyed my presentation there, and asked more questions.  To me, that’s a sign that I’m doing a great job- keep them asking questions!! :)

Saturday evening and Sunday morning the Friends of Fort Frederick provided meals for us, which was a welcome break from having to cook over a hot fire- the heat was rather obvious on Saturday afternoon-, and made it so we didn’t need to heat much water on Sunday.  Both meals were very good, and I think was a great gesture from the Fort to thank us for our coming out to play.

Recently, Stephanie Hanson had mentioned wanting to have a ladies tea in her own blog (http://theteascoop.typepad.com), and so I had suggested doing a Ladies tea at the Fort during the Muster.  A great way to get the ladies all together because many don’t know each other.  Ladies have busy jobs at events to cook and keep the men hydrated,etc, and don’t get a lot of time normally to socialize with women in different units.  Fort Stanwix had recently done a Ladies tea for the ladies who came to visit there previously in the summer, and the ladies I know who attended could not stop talking about its fabulousness, and so thanks again to Steve Robertson, it was made an event as part of the event.  We had about 12 women in attendance, including Charlotte (my female alter ego), and enjoyed rosewater scones, queen cakes, almond tarts, shortbread cookies, molasses cookies, clotted cream, and many more fantastic treats, as well as great tea. Many thanks go to Stephanie, Andrea Bain, and Susan Bortniak, for providing the victuals, as well as to Tom Hoover and Quinn for being our fabulous “man servants”, keeping our tea full of hot water.

At the tea I was gifted with bottles which were hand blown by my friend Kristen.  They are absolutely exquisite- replicas of bottles seen at Louisbourg in her travels there last year.  She provided me with 6 bottles, and I actually did squeal rather loudly in my delight.  Mara also gifted me with freshly dried chamomile, feverfew, and wormwood, which I need to hang on a hanger in my basement soon.  They’re sitting in the garage right now, but I do want to make good use of them.  They are incredibly fragrant.  Tad Miller was also generous in providing me with some sawdust, which I want to put into a small box at my feet at events.  These sawdust boxes were put under operating tables of surgeons, to be kicked where the blood was flowing from to catch it so it didn’t cover the floor,  and make it slippery, and mine will probably also be used in case someone feels ill wen I’m talking about surgical practices.  He also provided me some flax seeds, which will also be used in my interpretation. And Stephanie gave me a small container with her wisdom teeth in it- many of them broken, which will also assist me in my demonstration of the tooth key and goat’s foot elevator.  Its really great to me to have people encouraging me in my presentation of the Surgeon, so I am grateful and thankful for all of these things.

Sunday morning before the public was allowed on site, the soldiers had a woods tactical- not a scripted battle, but much more a “capture the flag” sort of situation, which I believe everyone had a good time with.  I think it gives the people participating a greater sense of what the battles may have actually been like.

Sunday afternoon, after the morning Artillery battle, I was able to organize a Court Martial of Pvt. Ireland, who had taken my bottle of Laudanum while at Niagara.  Unfortunately the tribunal has been left open as we wait for more witnesses, and for the surgeons records to be looked over, but it was a lot of fun regardless.  However, I was reminded that the Maryland Forces weren’t at Niagara- they were only ever sent as far out as Ligonier, but I still found it to be great fun, and we may finish the tribunal at the Fall Ligonier by some way.  I suppose if I want to be successful I need to have a passle of weeping women, my records in my hand, as well as my historical facts correct 😉

The only regret I have about the event was that it went by far too fast.  I look forward to the next event- which should be the Conocogeague Institute, followed by Carlisle.  Carlisle should be a blast- I’ll be teaching tons of school children the wonders of 18th Century medicine.  But before that I need to get up on my studies of the new herbs in my collection, stain my table, and make sure my tent poles are ready.  My job is never done! :)

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