Thursday, June 28, 2012

Military Tatoo at Colonial Williamsburg's Drummer's Call Part

Saturday night was grand with evening events around the Drummers Call Fife and Drum Corps. Whereas in past years many of the fife and drum groups had to leave town after the Grand Review, this year I think that all of them stayed for the Tatoo.

The purpose of the fife and drum corps, throughout history, was to beat out communication signals for the military as early as 15th century Switzerland. Most famous for battlefield calls, the corps also beat out calls in camp, where fife and drum corps signals announced the next stage in the day: wake up, breakfast, sick call, assembly, lunch, duty calls, dinner, evening retreat, lights out. Before evening retreat was called, the fife and drum corps would march past the taverns, beating out the signal to "turn off the taps." The origin of the word tatoo is die den tap toe, from the Dutch. So this signal came to be called Taptoe...which eventually assimilated (changed in pronunciation for ease of speech) to Tatoo.

Saturday night there was a program called "Salute to the Nation" which ended with the Senior Fife and Drum Corps marching, drumming and fifing up the street to the Palace (the other Fife and Drum Corps were already in place in front of the palace). Then there was a grand fireworks show!

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After the last explosion of lights above, the torches were lit. My son, who had my camera, found my "burning of Atlanta setting." Not to fear, the Palace was perfectly safe. This is merely an exposure setting.

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Each of those torches represents a fife and drum corps unit. (Same scence, different exposure setting.)

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Led by a torch bearer, each fife and drum corps unit took a turn marching down the street from the Governor's Palace, making a left onto Duke of Gloucester Street, marching past Chownings Tavern, Weatherburn Tavern, Raleigh Tavern, Kings Arms Tavern, and Shields Tavern. We followed the last group, the Colonial Williamsburg Senior Fife and Drum Corps.

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Cressets burn in front of Shields Tavern.

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Then the jam session breaks out! I love how the drummers from different units work together! I am not normally a drum person, unless they are part of the timpani in an orchestra. But I think the drums and the fifes of the Fife and Drum Corps units are the best! I can listen to them all day! (From where we were my son couldn't get a great picture, so this one is from 2009.)

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Editor's Note: My profound apologies, for putting the wrong pictures on the previous Drummers Call post, Grand Review. Those in the know, who saw, will know! My son caught it so now the story I wasn't going to tell I might as well tell. I was in extreme pain during Drummers Call weekend. Somehow I had severely pulled my shoulder muscle so I couldn't carry my tote bag as usual. I had my husband carry my lunch in his backpack and I carried my own water and book to read (in the other arm) when standing caused too much pain for my back. My son enthusiastically took charge of my fancy camera, played with all the settings, and used up my batteries every day! Every night the camera had to be recharged and memory cards had to be downloaded. So I sadly missed seeing all of the Grand Review event, because my shoulder was killing me after standing and walking through the Grand March, but the fun was worth the pain knowing I could sit under a shady tree near the Peyton Randolph House, read my book on the French Revolution and listen to every tune of the Fife and Drum Corps while my shoulder regrouped. However I did stick around to watch the opening with the Senior and Junior Corps and the Old Guard. When I downloaded the pictures, for some reason they downloaded out of sequence so it's been confusing and time consuming to figure it all out...then it's a month later and I forgot the parade sequence (I'm sorry) but my son did not! The Grand Review post has been fixed. I am so sorry for that mistake.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sewing for the Contitnental Troops...My Son's Linen Breeches

To Governor George Clinton
Head Quarters, Valley Forge, February 16, 1778
Dear Sir: It is with great reluctance, I trouble you on a subject, which does not fall within your province; but it is a subject that occasions me more distress, than I have felt, since the commencement of the war; and which loudly demands the most zealous exertions of every person of weight and authority, who is interested in the success of our affairs. I mean the present dreadful situation of the army for want of provisions, and the miserable prospects before us, with respect to futurity. It is more alarming than you will probably conceive, for, to form a just idea, it were necessary to be on the spot. For some days past, there has been little less, than a famine in camp. A part of the army has been a week, without any kind of flesh, and the rest for three or four days. Naked and starving as they are, we cannot enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery, that they have not been ere this excited by their sufferings, to a general mutiny or dispersion. Strong symptoms, however, discontent have appeared in particular instances; and nothing but the most acitive efforts every where can long avert so shocking a catastrophe.-General George Washington
“Our circumstances are peculiar- our clothing more ragged than usual.”-attributed to General Lafayette, April 1781, (Source: Daughters of the American Revolution)

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Encampment, Virginia, 1781

Dearest Mother,



Quite a journey this war has been

Battling, marching, camping miles upon miles

From Long Island to Trenton

Outfoxing the British with the Master of Wiles



Advancing...holding...retreating...

Supplies and food low for our men,

Memorable days of mustering, marching, drilling,

At Valley Forge with General von Steubon.



Now riding to Virginia with General Lafayette,

because of that turncoat, we'll catch him yet.



Through each hazzard, adventure, opportunity and gloom

I fear my expiring breeches have finally met their doom,
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It began with sunlight showing through threads
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It ended with a rip and a tear,
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I've tried my best to mend them, to patch them,
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each night by the campfire, with all my might.
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Yet each day new patches of sunlight became new rips.
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A touch of your hand, dear mother, would set all things right.



Your most humble and obedient,

Son

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Home, Virginia, 1781

My dear Son,

Your news brings glad tidings that fill my heart

Filling the void in our home while from us you are apart.

For months I've gathered provisions from where I could

for our supplies too are dwindling,
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in town, in the country, I gathered all I could.
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Glady I've cut linen fabric to fit your frame,
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Found buttons to shine on the same,
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Soberly I've put needle and thread to fabric day by day,
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Weaving my prayers through each stitch for your way.
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Your loving Mother

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21st Century Translation

Parts of this story are true. The Continental Army indeed was often in need of new clothing, their old being tattered and torn as documented in various writings, most notable being that of General Washington from Valley Forge.

Last autumn my son's breeches RIPPED at the opening of Colonial Williamsburg's Prelude to Victory programming. We hastened to a bench where I pulled out needle and thread to try to repair the rip above his knee. For each successive visit to CW through last autumn, each day brought new tears and rips. Each night we sat and patched in the hotel with one low light while everyone else slept. Come winter I sewed a new pair of woolen breeches but being summer, a new pair of linen were needed. These new breeches incorporate many of the 18th century hand sewing techniques I learned at the Burnley and Trowbridge breeches class I took last autumn with the Colonial Williamsburg tailors. I even pounded out the buttonholes
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with reproduction 18th century buttonhole chisels.
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I often teased, much to my son's chagrin, that his breeches looked like they had been through the American Revolution. As I stitched the new pair, this silly poem formed in my head. Today we can have fun with it. In reality, during the American Revolution, the soldiers were dependent on those willing to take up needle and thread to handsew and donate new shirts and breeches for the men. (In the meantime I stumbled upon a great new Lafayette story, which is little documented so I am further researching.) Congress did not have power to tax the independent states to pay and provide the men with supplies, food and clothing. All Congress could do was write the states to ask them to support their units. Some women dedicated their resources to help clothe the Continental Soldiers, yet supply could never keep up with demand. Our soldiers suffered much so we could have much.

(Editor's Note: My apologies, obviously I'm not much of a poet, yet I couldn't resist an attempt to make light with my son's breeches. My original vision was far different...perhaps that will be for the future. )

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Grand Review Drummer's Call Part IV at Colonial Williamsburg

The Grand March of the various Fife and Drum Corps units led the crowds who followed them to Market Square for the "Grand Review," all in celebration of Armed Forces Day. The Colonial Williamsburg Junior Fife and Drum Corps opened the program with their beautiful version of the "Star Spangled Banner."

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Then each of the Fife and Drum Corps units showcased their fifing and drumming and marching formations on the field. This group, the Old Guard, did an especially great choreography with their drumsticks!

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Each group was wonderful and left us with wanting more. Not a problem. Stay tuned for part V with the night time program with fireworks, torches and the Tatoo!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Grand March Drummer's Call at Colonial Williamsburg Part III

Saturday's Drummers Call began with the "Grand March" where all 12 fife and drum corps units from America and Canada. Patrick Henry gave them a rousing introduction. Leading off the march from the Capitol to Market Square was Colonial Williamsburg's Junior Fife and Drum Corps!

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Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, 3rd US Infantry Regiment, Washington DC

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Grand Republic Fife and Drum Corps, Southbury, Connecticut

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John Marshall Fife and Drum Corps, Marshall University, West Virginia

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Fifes and Drums of York Town, Yorktown, Virginia

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Field Music of the American Revolution, United States of America

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Central York Middle School Fife and Drum Corps, York, Pennsylvania

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Colonial Williamsburg Alumni Fife and Drum Corps

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2nd Rhode Island Infantry Fifes and Drums, Uxbridge, Massachusetts

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Tryon Palace Fife and Drum Corps, New Bern, North Carolina

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41st Regiment of Foot Fife and Drum Corps, Fort George, Ontario

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Colonial Williamsburg Senior Fife and Drum Corps

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After marching past crowds of people watching, we all followed them to Market Square for the Grand Review. Stay tuned...