Re-living the Revolution, at Jockey Hollow

Camden, 6, of Middle River, MD, with his musket at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Camden, 6, of Middle River, MD, with his musket at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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By Jeff Sovelove

The annual Grand Encampment got off to a rousing start Saturday with a family theme at Jockey Hollow in the Morristown National Historical Park.

Many re-enactors of the 2nd New Jersey regiment, Helms Company, brought their children, in period dress, to entertain children in the appreciative crowd (not in period dress) on a picture-perfect spring day.

Video by Jeff Sovelove for MorristownGreen.com:

The kids played period games including a version of ring toss called Game of Graces, as visitors experienced a slice of camp life from the Revolutionary War.  They saw cooking over open fires, sewing, weaving, garment mending, as well as carpentry, musket firing and military drills.

The regiment also brought a reproduction bronze cannon, a three-pound, British-style light infantry weapon. It was capable of firing a three-pound ball, hence the name.

Slideshow photos by Jeff Sovelove. Click / hover on images for captions:

Camden, 6, of Middle River, MD, with his musket at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Muskets firing at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
A bayonet charge, at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Inspection at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Noah, 10, of Jersey City, places his thumb over the touch hole to help create a vacuum in the cannon tube. He's working on his archaeology merit badge, at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The business end of the three pound cannonat the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Three-pound cannon at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Deborah, 8, of Budd Lake, uses a hand loom to weave cloth at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Carding wool at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Kids playing Game of Graces at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
David Skorka, the commanding officer of the 2nd New Jersey, with his spontoon at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Guarding the camp, at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Enough tools to build a house, at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Nooning, or lunchtime, at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Scott Lance of Johnsonberg in Warren County makes a table leg on his shaving horseat the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Frank Cecala of Denville explains the function of the worm at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Marching at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Eric Olsen, the park's historian inspecting muskets for safety, at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Musket drill at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Drilling at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Eric Olsen, the park's historian, at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The cannon arrives, not exactly as it did in 1779, at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The army handbook, at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The Grand Union flag used before 1776, at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
A period wheelbarrow at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
A period drum at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Drilling at the annual Jockey Hollow encampment, April 6, 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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Heavier cannons were used against fortified positions, so the three-pounder primarily blasted opposing infantry. The weapon could fire a solid ball, a hollow ball that fragmented into shrapnel on impact, or grapeshot– one-inch-diameter iron balls that transformed the cannon into a huge shotgun, often with devastating effects on charging soldiers.

Visitors wandering the encampment observed how the men lived, six to a tent.  In such close quarters, it was advantageous to be friends with your tent mates. Some units dressed as scouts and rangers, considered the elite of the Continental Army, while others wore hunting shirts, their summer uniform.

Video by Jeff Sovelove for MorristownGreen.com:

“At the beginning of the war officers were issued muskets. But by 1777, George Washington felt they were spending too much time reloading their weapons and too little commanding their troops,” said David Skorka, the commanding officer of the 2nd New Jersey.

“Then they began to carry a long pole arm called a spontoon. It was a badge of rank, easy to see at a distance, and could be used against charging enemies,” he said.  “At times soldiers wore red coats if that was all that was available. They put a green ribbon or square of paper on their hats to identify themselves.”

Eric Olsen, the park’s historian, explained the various drills and inspected each musket for safety before giving re-enactors the okay to commence gunpowder-only firing exhibitions.

The demonstration ended with a terrifying bayonet charge — making visitors glad they weren’t redcoats — followed by a rousing shout of “Hip hip huzzah!”

Huzzah!

Video by Jeff Sovelove for MorristownGreen.com:

The encampment continues today, Sunday, April 7, 2019, from 10:30 am to 4 pm. Admission is free.  At 600 Tempe Wick Road, Harding, 973-539-2016 x-210.  Schedule:

  • 10:30 am Children’s Drill
  • 12:30 pm Inspection of the Troops
  • 1 pm Firing Demonstration and Drill
  • 1:30 pm Children’s Drill
  • 2 pm Camp Competition – Trap Ball and Three Men’s Morris
  • 3 pm Firing Demonstration and Drill
  • 4 pm Regimental Assembly Retreat for the Evening

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