A pair of historical events that helped pave the way for American independence will be portrayed by reenactors this weekend at the region’s historical sites.
The withdrawal of American troops from Mount Independence in July of 1777 and the subsequent battle at Hubbardton will be relived by local residents at the Mount Independence and Hubbardton State Historic Sites.
“This is obviously a very patriotic time of year, and we thought it would be nice to tie the two sites together and tell the entire story,” said Elsa Gilbertson, regional sites administrator for Chimney Point, Mount Independence and Hubbardton Battlefield.
Guests will be able to relive these historic moments beginning today at the Mount Independence State Historic Site.
On July 5 and 6, 1777, 4,000 American soldiers were ordered to withdraw from Mount Independence as a large force of British soldiers made its way south on Lake Champlain.
Reenactors will portray American military leaders as they decide whether to fight or flee while soldiers waited for their orders.
“They will talk about what the experience would have been for the soldiers as the British were coming down the lake,” Gilbertson said. “It’s an opportunity to get up close to history, ask questions and see what life was like for soldiers.”
The event, which is held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include period music from the Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife and Drum Corps.
On Saturday and Sunday, the culmination of the American withdrawal will be experienced anew as the sights and sounds of the only American Revolutionary War Battle fought on Vermont soil is portrayed on the grounds of the Hubbardton Battle State Historic site.
The weekend will feature living replicas of soldier’s camps, guided tours, tactical military demonstrations, drilling lessons, colonial games and a narrated reenactment of the battle.
Throughout the weekend, visitors will have the opportunity to explore authentic military camps populated by reenactors portraying American, British and Hessian soldiers.
Events and activities will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 6 and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 7.
Gilbertson said there will be 19 American units and 15 British units, including a number of Hessian re-enactors who arrived to the battle at the last moment but played a decisive role in British victory.
“Some have been here before and others are coming for the first time and bring with them new information and knowledge of what military life was like,” she said.
The encampment will illustrate how soldiers lived during the American Revolution.
Guests will smell food cooked in an iron kettle over an open flame, listen to 18th century music and watch as uniforms are made and repaired.
There will be a number of activities geared specifically for children who can learn from Mistress Davenport what school was like in the 18th century. There will also be crafts and games.
“It’s an amazing and colorful pageant of history. You truly experience and visualize what happened,” Gilbertson said.
The highlight of the weekend, however, is the battle reenactment at 8 a.m. on Sunday. The reenactment is held early to replicate the conditions of the battle more than 230 years ago.
Visitors will watch as reenactors converge on the field of battle and will be able to hear the loud “clap” of musket fire and smell the scent of gun powder.
Because the battle was held on a slope, guests will be able to witness the battle from a unique vantage point that Gilbertson compared to watching a football game from above.
The battle, which is considered to this day as one of most successful “rear-guard actions” in American military history played a pivotal role in America’s independence.
Although the British technically won, Colonel Seth Warner and the 1,200 Green Mountain Boys under his command slowed the British advance allowing the bulk of the American force to retreat. Those soldiers later became part of a force that won victories over the British at battles in Bennington and Saratoga, the latter of which is considered to be the turning point of the war.
Admission to each of historic sites, which includes the events, is $5; children under 15 are free.
Mount Independence is located six miles west of the intersections of Vt. Routes 73 and 22A in Orwell. The Hubbardton Battlefield is located at 5696 Monument Hill Road, six miles off Vt. Route 30 in Hubbardton, and seven miles off U.S. Route 4 Exit 5 in Castleton.