French and British battle continues -- in New Hampshire

... second edition of a 250-year old fight for America

by Don Norris

The British forces were regimented, often presenting what seemed to be easy targets.
Meanwhile the French troopers sought cover of the forest, firing at will.

The forest already awash with the smoke of musket-fire, French forces rushed forward
to take advantage of what appeared to be easy targets. In the end, in present
day terms, both sides slapped each on the back, and renewed friendships.

The Vermont blacksmith, at left, and a pioneer trader, teamed up for the attack on
Brits, who were marching formally down the woods road, in cadence.

A British officer commands, "Ready, aim ..." and kaboom! The sound of black powder
echoed through the forest, now permeated with a misty gray smoke. And yes, one
trooper has a ponytail.

Out of sequence, back at camp, the Indian trader confers with the Vermont
blacksmith, while a lady serenades and unseen audience with what appears to
be an early zither.

In the midst of battle, a priest walked calmly down the woods road, is greeted in
French by a trader, and continued on his way -- in spite of the war that is going on
around him.

At the beginning and the end, the crowd of spectators struggle to follow the
undulating line of battle. It lasts for two days (in this re-enactment) and neither
team, French or British, wind up as winners. Not a hundred yards behind those
spectators, on a slight knoll, is the home of Brian and Priscilla Simm, who both
grew up in Melrose. Across the picturesque graded road is the home of the organizer
of the annual project, Abby Rand, who, among other duties, is responsible
for feeding several hundred meals.

This particular version of that five-year war lasted two days, and nobody won, the
dead were resurrected, the wounded took their bandages off. And in the end, soldiers
of both sides embraced, shook hands, and talked to each other as fellow Americans.

As for Ms Ponytail-in-a-British-uniform, likewise the French army recruited at least
one woman shooter. She was as adept at the one-minute musket re-loading as any of
her male counterparts. There were also, among the fighters on both sides, American
Indians, who served mostly as scouts.

The Mirror plans to run a third edition of this Re-enactment
series, based on interviews with Ms. Rand, as well as Priscilla Simm -- in our
January issue. Included in that story will be a few dozen close-ups of the fighters,
their expressions, their wariness and weariness under fire ...

December 2, 2011

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