Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ambush at Welbourne Farm : An Account of my First Immersion Event

The Only Picture I was Able to Get

We arrived in the dark and I quickly got out of the vehicle, dressed and threw my gear on and trudged off into the dark to find the camp of the Augusta County Militia that I was told was only just down the hill. It was my first immersion event and I was wide eyed and ready for action. I was met by dark figures huddled around some candle light. I was introduced to Alan Kraus, the ACM's fearless leader and others. After everyone seemed present and accounted for, plans were made to take a hike overland to a creek where we were sure the Crown Forces would cross the next morning. 6 hours in a car and now I was about to take a walk that seemed to last forever. We hiked through the fields and woods as the rumblings of the retired horses that roamed there went barreling past us in the dark. Arriving at the creek we made plans for our ambush of the redcoats the following morning. Four of us would take the bank and fire first. Behind us was a short field and then a wooded hill. The rest of our boys would be on the hill while 3 men would be off on our far left flank and would fire a warning if the British crossed further down the creek. After the plans were made, we made our way back to camp for a restless and cold night of sleep. I only brought a single blanket and suffered for it.

 Before dawn I was awoken by stirring men and we threw on our gear and made the same hike to the creek. We got ourselves in position and began to wait. Myself and 3 others including Alan, hunkered down behind some fallen trees and before I knew it, I had fallen asleep. I awoke to Alan pointing and saying "Psst...Jake. Pssst!" I looked up to see several Tory militia men moving slowly on the other side of creek. Alan said "Take the shot when you can." I leveled my musket as one of them walked right into the open. "BANG!" He fell back with a start and the rest of our boys opened up. They returned fire. We sat tight, exchanging shots for about 15 minutes. Suddenly, on our left flank, we heard our boys fire a shot. As we looked, we could see a line of red streaming into the field and skirting up the bank towards us. That was our signal to get out of there. We fell back to our right and up the far side of the hill. The Redcoats began to engage our men up in the woods. We didn't wait. We ran back to our rally point, an old stone bridge about a half mile from where we laid the ambush. We waited as several men began to trickle in. We were sure that some of them had been captured on the hill. I was sent back to camp to camp in hope that some more reinforcement's had arrived. I will never forget as I ran back, looking across the field and seeing a small company of American Dragoons loping towards me. They looked so impressive. I briefed their Captain on what had happened and they rode towards the fray to get a closer look.

 We all ended up making it safely back to camp and had a little down time.

 Our second engagement was fairly successful. With the help of the Dragoons shielding our movements we were able to move quickly and reposition ourselves. We did this with much success but the numbers were in their favor and we gave ground. They never seemed that interested in attacking us or trying to find us. They kept up their mission of securing an area and holding it.

 Finally that evening we decided to go out one last time before it got dark. Will Gore lead our little column and I was near the front. After some hiking, we came across two Torrie's standing in a field. They didn't see us at first and Will thought we could run them down and capture them. He and I took off running as fast as we could. They saw us, fired and retreated across the field, into the woods and down a hill. We stopped and waited for our boys to catch up. We looked to our right and suddenly saw our Dragoons opening fire on the Kings 8th Regiment. It was such a majestic sight. Spits of fire against the dead foliage of the Virginia countryside in November, with a pink sunset looming over head. We quickly moved down the hill and were suddenly engaged with the 40th of Foot, the 17th and a company of Highlanders. We were able to drive off the 40th and 17th. As we pushed forward, Alan's dog, a terrier, rushed at the 40th barking. One of the men said, "Grab that dog!' Alan replied, "Go ahead, grab him! He'll bight the hell out of you!"

 We looked down below us and the Highlanders were trapped by the creek to their rear as we came rushing down the hill completely enveloping them. They formed a square and as we moved in a Torrie ran up from behind and fired at me. I ducked down and when his firearm discharged, myself and another rushed him and captured him! Unfortunately he was not our prisoner for long as the 40th and 17th had returned and began pushing us out. We were all nearly captured and truly ran for our lives through the thickets back to camp. We kept watch that night, but they never came near our camp.

 It was one of the greatest experiences of my reenacting career and I am very thankful for it.


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