Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Preparing for Battle, Ironfest 2014

I starting writing this post as soon as I arrived home from Ironfest. Unfortunately, I have only just been able to complete it as I underwent a tonsillectomy on the Friday after arriving home. For those that know me well, it is an operation that I had been waiting for for a number of years now due to chronic tonsillitis and peritonsillar abscesses (also known as quinsy or quinsey). I am now almost recovered and I am very grateful for the love and support of my friends while I have been ill. 


Well it has been a few years, but this year we finally made it back to Ironfest in Lithgow. This is a huge living history event held every year at the Lithgow Showgrounds. We always attend as a part of the Allied army, representing the Black Brunswick Leib Battalion. It was even more special as we rarely ever get to catch up with our fellow Brunswicker's/members of LBA (La Belle Alliance) from Queensland as well as other reenactors from various other states. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of Napoleonic reenactors in our state and all of them are attached to different units on the east coast.

To prepare this year, I had to get my pockets, a new neckerchief and two pairs of gaiters all hand sewn. Thankfully, these turned out to be very easy projects. I was amazed that this was the easiest sewing load I have ever had before an event.

The apron was made using a woven plaid cotton I picked up at a second hand shop for 50 cents. It was made using the 1770-1850 Apron Pattern from 'Fitting and Proper'. the sides use the selvage, so I only had to hand sew the bottom hem and the waist band. The neckerchief is just a simple triangle of an unbleached cotton with grey plaid striped woven through it. I also took advantage of the selvage and rolled hemmed the other seams by hand. 

The gaiters were made by hand using black melton wool left over from Nic's uniforms. The buttons were kindly hand made from leather by Michael Wright (who organises LBA and the Brunswicker's in Australia). Nic hand made and attached the bottom leather support straps. For anyone that does encampments in wet weather, I cannot recommend a pair of wool gaiters enough. They stop mud and water from the ground from rising up your boots and then your petticoats and skirts. I plan to use my pair for Napoleonic through to my 1860s activities. Later I may make another pair for 1860s using nicer buttons for a more upper class impression, but the shape and construction are identical to ladies originals from the 1860s that I have seen in the past (except they did not have the leather buttons). 

Finally I made a pair of pockets. These have been high on my to do list for a long time now. They can carry all my equipment on camp (plate, bowl, knife, fork, spoon, camera, purse and phone) in one side and my handiwork activities in the other. 

 I copied a hole that was created in the top corner of the left hand pocket that was in an original pocket from 1750 in 'Fitting and Proper'. It is small enough to be unnoticeable when not in use, but very useful when knitting.

While they are not of the correct period, I was able to finish another pair of garters while at Ironfest. Please note my the stated of my wooden knitting needles. On the first night at camp Nik supplied a seaming-less endless supply of various homemade alcoholic beverages. We had an amazing night that ended with bed at around 4am. Due to the state that I was in when I went to bed I ended up sleeping with my pockets still on and full, resulting in my knitting needles ending up a lot shorter than they began.

Unfortunately for Nic, they had made my husband an NCO Korporal and he did not appreciate his wife returning to the tent at that time when they had parade at 9am. As a result poor Nic was officially court marshaled and punished for drunkenness and encouraging drunkenness in the NCO's camp follower.

A sad occurance was that a member of one of the gun crews was taken to hospital. As the crew was already short handed, I was asked if I could kindly volunteer to assist with the crew. I am sad for the reason, but very grateful for the experience. I was placed in charge of the ammunition box. It was my responsibilities to carry the box, bring the changers forward for loading and carry the powder-horn.
I now know why many of the images of working women show them with their short gowns off and flashing their shifts and working stays... it can get very warm when working hard. On the Saturday, I did try to keep my short gown on while working, but on the Sunday I only wore it between tasks.

This year we had a full schedule of events. After flag raising, breakfast and parade we had a Mass FirePower Demonstration, Drill, cannons vs. infantry battle, lunch, prep work (making blank cartridges), court marshaling and we ended the day with the big battle. Then we had a chance to rest before dinner.
 The allied forces returning from the Mass Fire Power Display
 Drill Practice
 The Allied Camp from Behind. Our tents were the A Frames on the Left. If you look closely you can see the Brunswick Pennant.
 View of the French Encampment from the entry.
 View of the Allied Encampment from the entry
 Allied Guns and Mess tent behind the officers tent.
A close up of the Allied Kitchen. 
 Allied Forces
 Morning Parade. Notice my handsome husband in his new stripes.
 Nic having a quick break
Nik and Rueben, I love these guys. They are great fun, its a shame that they live on the other side of the country.
On the Sunday, there was a ladies afternoon tea on the program. This gave me the chance to change into more upper class attire and go visiting other period encampments. This year a highlight was a group that reenacted*** Star Gate. They were a fun group to get to know over a few drinks on the Friday.
 I think someone shrunk the Tardis.
 The boys hard at work making blank cartridges.

A comparison between the harder to make period correct charge on the right and the easier/quicker phone book and glue stick version on the right. In the end they both have the same result.
Visiting the French half of LBA.

And all of the French infantry are dead. Unfortunately the Allied Infantry had more luck against the French Cannons. This did however give me a chance to sit on the box and work on my knitting using my broken needles. 
 Some of the Infantry took out the men manning one of the cannons.

I was tired after the battle on the Sunday, so I sat down to watch the men on parade, I wasn't allowed to rest for long as they made me get into line as a part of the cannon crew. I love the chipmunk impression.

Me and Nic relaxing after a long weekend.

Me visiting the French encampment. This year they had a full set up of their own, including a separate kitchen and mess area. I love how much Napoleonic reenactment has grown over the last five years, in Australia.
This year the French Encampment also had its own mini fort and wooden house inside.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is amazing, can't believe this is all going on just "next door" from New Zealand. jealous!