The Big Bang

Colonial Reenactors Bring Fun and Firepower to Newbury 

On June 8 and 9, roughly 300 Revolutionary War reenactors will congregate at the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury to stage a battle that never was. In this alternative history, the year is 1776 and the British have been driven out of Boston. After fleeing by boat to Nova Scotia, the redcoats have reorganized and plan to fight their way down the Atlantic shoreline to the mouth of the Merrimack River. The hypothetical battle, appropriately named the Battle for Newbury, enacts a counterhistorical version of the British invasion strategy during one of the most crucial periods of the Revolutionary War.

Steve Crosby will act as captain of the unit that is hosting the event, the Acton Minutemen. Growing up in Acton, Crosby became very familiar at a young age with his town’s involvement in the Revolutionary War, which spawned his appreciation for local history. In 2001, he and his family joined the Acton Minutemen as a way to immerse themselves in the antiquity they have grown to love.

 

The Continental Army’s artillery division in action from the 2017 “Escape from Boston” reenactment. That year, the battle featured one cannon, but this year’s event will include at least four artillery units. Each unit is comprised of no less than six men, the minimum for operating a Revolutionary War-era cannon. Photo by Cindy Edwards.

Top: Actors stand at attention and are ready to march onto the field of battle. The Continental Army’s uniform varied between colonies, and some soldiers even wore red coats, as shown above. Left: The camp kitchen and dining fly of the Acton Minutemen. Dedicated reenactors fully commit to their roles, relying on mostly bread and a little meat to nourish themselves. Phots by Cindy Edwards.

Finn Jaros (bottom left, top) walks side by side with Steve Crosby (bottom right, top) as they lead a column of colonist soldiers towards the field of battle. Crosby is passionate about promoting diversity within his militia and encourages women and children to join reenactments. Bottom middle: Kimberley Connors and Laurie Gatley portray Colonial ladies. Photos by Matthew Muise (bottom middle and right) and Cindy Edwards (bottom left and top).

Now Crosby is working with the Tenth Regiment of Foot, the “British” hosting unit for the Battle for Newbury, to stage the reenactment, and he is excited about the expected turnout. 

“We had a similar event here two years ago and we had about 500 people per day come to watch,” Crosby says. This year, he hopes to double the Escape From Boston’s attendance numbers. 

A bigger crowd isn’t the only thing Crosby is anticipating. He says the reenactors have built up their firepower, as well. The previous event featured a single cannon, but this one will include at least four artillery units with a cannon each. There will also be more infantry and cavalry units, including upwards of 100 additional muskets in battle. 

Plenty of free parking will be provided by the farm, and the grounds will be open to spectators at 10 a.m. on both days. Admission is $8 for adults,
$7 for seniors and $4 for students.  

Along with the reenactment, “sutlers,” or merchants, will be selling food and memorabilia throughout the event. Spectators will also have an opportunity to interact with the reenactors, asking questions, and witnessing educational demonstrations. For more information, visit the event website at Newbury.redcoat.org.   

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