War of 1812 Reenactment: Lang Pioneer Village

seen at LPV
In our previous post on things todo at Summers End, Lang Pioneer Village promised a War of 1812 Reenactment. The Village turns out to be a perfect place for a great historical show and reenactment. The Village provides the historical context with some of the dwellings like Fife Cabin stretching back to just after the War which ended in 1815. Some of the War of 1812 battles occurred  around Kingston and Quinte.  And Lang Pioneer Village maintains a wondeful historical veracity – dress, implements, decorations, and styles of each cabin and shop properly reflect its era of origin.

And the LPV was ready for the War of 1812. The visitor’s center had a display of the uniforms and clothing of the era. And just outside the Center, writer Edith Brommel provided reading and commentary from her recent book on the the War of 1812. Finally, the Village’s open field, nearby river mill  and other open spaces provided the perfect backdrop for the Reenactment. And just as the Village is a piece of living history, so too the Reenactment provided true arms, uniforms, and basic discipline and tactics of the War.

But first a quick summary of the war from Wikipedia –

The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The United States declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions brought about by Britain’s ongoing war with France, the impressment of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy, British support of American Indian tribes against American expansion, outrage over insults to national honour after humiliations on the high seas, and Americans desire to annex parts of Canada.

As well several historians have cited the fact that the British were heavily involved in the Napoleonic Wars in Europe so the Americans thought they could take advantage of this.

Note also the British alliance with the Indians and their great natural leaders, Tecumseh. Hence the Indian reinforcements you see in this Reenactment is true to history for many of the skirmishes in Southern Ontario. When Tecumseh was killed in the battle of Moraviatown near Chatham in 1813; Indian support dwindled thereafter. This death and Andrew Jackson’s victory in the South over the British and Indians signalled the demise of the Indians east of the Mississippi river.

The Reenactment

It starts with a series of distant skirmishes as opposite leaders jockey for position on the battlefield. Each side is seeking the best cover, height and protected lines of re-inforcement.

Suddenly that skirmish blossom into a full firefight as the British advance on the American  position. Fortunately for the soldiers, the muskets they used were inherently inaccurate. Here is wikipedia again on the accuracy of musket fire:

The ball in smoothbore firearms was quite loose in the barrel. The last contact with the barrel gave the ball a spin at right angles to the direction of flight. The aerodynamics meant that the ball veered off in a random direction from the aiming point. Rifling, grooves put in the barrel of the weapon which cause the projectile to spin on the same axis as the line of flight, prevented this veering off from the aiming point. Rifles started as sporting weapons and had little use on the battlefield. From around 1750 rifles began to be used by skirmishers (Frederick the Great raised a Jager unit in 1744, from game-keepers and foresters, armed with rifles) but the very slow rate of fire of muzzle-loading rifles restricted their use until the invention of the Minié ball.

But close quarters fighting could invoke mayhem with soft lead bullets exploding on contact. Fortunately for the Reenactment spectators there was close quarters fighting but no simulation of the bloody gore of musket battle.

Another aspect well shown at the Reenactment was the tide of battle. Both sides are shown to use strategically reinforcements. First, the Indians arrive by canoe to shore up the British:

And quickly the British and indians press their advantage.

But the Americans also have their reserves – and so just as the battle reaches close quarters, American reinforcements arrive.

This situation forces a British and Indian retreat. And so the battle rages on as seen in summary presentation below:

  • War of 1812 ReenactmentUniforms, arms, and basic tactics are true to era
  • War UniformsPart of display at Lang Visitor Center
  • Skirmish FireFirst signs of attack forming
  • American PositionSeeking height and cover advantage
  • Advancing Advancing on the Yank battle line
  • Indian ReinforcementsArriving by canoe to aid the British
  • Close Quarters Where mayhem occurred on battlefield
  • Yank ReinforcementsTurns the tide on the British+Indian advance
  • Open Field AdvanceAs forces converge, carnage would mount
  • Yanks Battle LineClose quarter musketry was bloody
  • Reinforcement SquadReinforcement troops held in arrears
  • War MapsMap of the major land and lake battles
  • British Encampment6 married women to each 100 troopers
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But what makes the Reenactment so compelling is the extra touches. There is a commander’s tent where the British  officers review the results of the day. In addition, there is an encampment of troops where with tents, firepit and stores where the troopers women reside. These are 6 women each married to one of the troopers and assigned to a bvouac of 100 men. These women do many of the domestic tasks such as preparing the meals, treating the wounded, and other chores.

Another historical touch, is the Regimental colors and the extensive map of the conflict in the Weaver Shop. One can see the broad nature of the conflict – not confined to Souther Ontario but reaching to the Maritimes and deep into the US as well [Washington DC  was torched by the British].

In sum, Lang Pioneer Village did a superb recreation of the conditions and events of the War of 1812. And if you enjoyed this, there are a number of Special Events upcoming in the late Summer and Fall.

Pioneer Corn Roast and Events – Sunday September 2 from 10AM to 4PM
Adults – $10, Seniors & Students – $9, Youth (ages 5 – 14) – $6, Under 5 free, Family Pass (2 adults and 4 youth) – $30
Heritage Celebration in Story and Song – Friday & Saturday, September 14, 15 … 21, & 22 at 7PM
Advance Tickets: Adults – $18, Seniors and Students – $16, Youth (5 – 14) – $10
At the Door: Adults – $20, Seniors and Students – $18,  Youth (5 – 14) – $12
Applefest – Sunday September 30th from 10AM to 4PM
Adults – $10, Seniors & Students – $9, Youth (ages 5 – 14) – $6, Under 5 free, Family Pass (2 adults and 4 youth) – $30
Spooky Halloween – October 19, 20, 26, 27 from 6 to 9PM each night
Adults – $10, Seniors & Students – $9, Youth (ages 5 – 14) – $6, Under 2 free, Family Pass (2 adults and 4 youth) – $30
Christmas By Candle Light – December 8, 9 from 5 to 9PM each night
Adults – $10, Seniors & Students – $9, Youth (ages 5 – 14) – $6, Under 5 free, Family Pass (2 adults and 4 youth) – $30

With the War of 1812 Reenactment  as a guideline, these events should be great entertainments as well.

  3 comments for “War of 1812 Reenactment: Lang Pioneer Village

  1. Joe Corrigan
    August 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Dear Editor,

    We are very appreciative of the PICSOFCANADA website’s excellent profile of our recent War of 1812 Bicentennial and 45th Anniversary Celebration event. There is an incorrect reference in the text which I must advise you of. Please note, the Heritage Celebration in Story and Song play entitled “Without the Shedding of Blood” will be performed on Friday & Saturday, September 14, 15, 21, & 22, 2012 with gates opening at 7:00 pm each night. Thank you once again for your thorough snd illustrative coverage of our event.
    Sincerely,
    Joe Corrigan
    Manager,
    Lang Pioneer Village Museum

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    • admin
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