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Patriots Diary

D-Day for Revolutionary War reenactors is April 19, the Massachusetts state holiday known as Patriots Day (since 1969, it has been observed on the third Monday in April). Early that morning, minute men and redcoats will clash on the Lexington town green, re-creating the famous events of April 19, 1775.

What are the reenactors doing now to get ready? How do they juggle their 18th-century roles with their 21st-century lives? Read these diary entries, updated weekly, from two participants.

Paul O'Shaughnessy
Commanding Officer, His Majesty's Tenth Regiment of Foot


Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Home stretch. I fixed the mainspring on a musket on Sunday, but I still have a ram rod to fix, my taxes to finish, and a house closing on Friday, all while juggling four projects at work.

Monday, I gave a lecture to the Varnum Continentals, who operate a museum and armory in Rhode Island. Tonight it was French class. Tomorrow, it's more leather work, then fix the rammer and that should do it.

Saturday, we spend the day at Minute Man National Park in Lincoln. In past years, we've tended to blast our way through and the public never got a chance to stop and talk to a British soldier. This time, we and the Minutemen stay in one place where everyone can find us. Sunday, we re-create the fight at the Jason Russell house in Arlington, and Monday, it's up at 4 am for the Battle of Lexington at 6 am, the North Bridge at 9, and the Lexington Parade at 2. (Then we all stay up as long as we can to watch Patriots Day!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2004
A Regimental staff meeting is scheduled for tonight and I've got to get the agenda together to ensure we touch on all of the events happening in April. We have invitations to various civic events, an encampment at the Minute Man National Park on April 17, requests for film appearances, the Battle on Lexington Green, parades, and a big reunion dinner.

All the while this is balanced with 8- to 10-hour days at work, French classes (un officier Britannique doit parler quelque français), and vet appointments for our fine cat Clara. I'm probably averaging five hours of sleep each night.

I'm also examining a replica musket built by a new manufacturer. I'm taking it apart bit by bit to judge the quality of materials and manufacture. It's a complicated job and will likely take the next few weeks to do properly.

Monday, March 29, 2004
A very full weekend. Saturday, the local Light Infantry companies got together up at the Hartwell Tavern in Lincoln to practice tactics and work off some of the winter fat. Several of our new recruits turned out and we spent some quality time working the details of poise, advance, and order firelocks.

Then, it was back to the workshop in Lexington to try on some spare uniform parts and some well deserved beers.

It's all down to chasing after a missing buckle here, a new bayonet belt there, and we'll be ready for the Lexington Green rehearsal on April 3rd.

Of course, there is that day job, too, and my bills, and spring cleaning..

Saturday, March 13, 2004
Inquiries for the upcoming season are heating up. There is a battle planned for Sutton, Massachusetts in May and another for Falmouth later that month. We've just been approached by a film company and a convention for some paid appearances. These are necessary because we've got to pay for the unit insurance for the year (that's all set), black powder, as well as lay in supplies of cloth, leather, brass, and spare parts. At the same time, there's a scramble to get two new recruits ready, but we've got the best Quartermaster on the planet and a workshop, so I'm sure all will be well.

Just now, however, I'm spending the morning playing with our fabulous cat, Clara.

Friday, February 27, 2004
A day of balancing the real (paid) job with some urgent Regimental business. Our insurance must be renewed in March and I've got to get a signed application to our Paymaster so the check can get in the mail. Three consecutive meetings at work ensured that the insurance application and check will leave on Saturday instead of today.

Also managed to fit in a personal letter of recommendation for one of our Sergeants. He's applying for a position with a local historical society.

A colleague from the Footlight Club in Jamaica Plain emailed asking how to obtain riding boots. He's seen mine and needs similar ones for a part he is playing. I can't give up mine (they wouldn't fit anyway) but gave some leads on where to purchase cheap costume versions.

And I got most everything done at work, too!

Also must get ready this evening for a workshop day tomorrow (Saturday) in Lexington. We've got plenty of muskets and leather to work on and I need to clear a bit more clutter from the basement so people have effective workspaces.

Just in case that wasn't enough, we have scheduled our financial audit for tomorrow (it's the members' money so we lay it all out for them) and are going to raid a cheese shop in Concord where they have some Lincolnshire cheese (the home county of the original Tenth Regiment for many years). We're going in uniform and will make a great show of demanding our cheese. All in fun and hope to get some publicity (the local paper will have someone there).

Wayne McCarthy
Captain, Lexington Minute Men


Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Preparations today for the upcoming holiday included conversations with Musket Lieutenant Carlo Bertazzoni about those who have — and have not — qualified to receive powder on Patriots' Day. We hold safety drills, and if a member is unable to attend a minimum of two drills, they cannot receive powder for the re-enactment. It is terribly disappointing for them, I am sure, but safety is paramount when firing muskets at such close quarters.

Plans were discussed for re-forming the Company after the re-enactment ends, for the march to Ye Olde Burying Ground for the ceremonies at the graves of Captain Parker and a British Regular buried there. We will be conducting a brief wreath-laying, and musket volley at the graves, while musicians Mark Poirier and Carmin Calabrese play fife.

Discussion also included the upcoming activities at Minute Man Historical Park on Saturday, the 17th. There is a planned recreation of the Siege of Boston, with Regulars stationed as though in 1775 Boston, and militia and minute companies drilling and practicing in the countryside. This should be an exciting event, with the Training Band scheduled to participate in both field maneuvers and a small tactical engagement.

Sergeant Larry Conley will assist Lieutenant Bertazzoni with the logistics, and try to improve the precision of the Training Band.

Speaking with Adjutant Bill Poole, discussion was made with regard to the rehearsal for the Concord Players' production of 1776. We are to send 10 of our Company to Concord to provide a tableau at the opening of their show, scheduled for May 1. The rehearsal for that is Wednesday the 14th. We have 9 committed right now, and are trying to convince a few more to volunteer. With all that is going on right now, almost everyone is occupied at one event or another.

Bill also is coordinating the attendees scheduled for the Old North Church Lantern lighting ceremony on the 18th. That takes place at 7:30 pm. We are sending 10-12 members to that event. At 3:00 pm on Sunday, a number of our members are planning to attend a screening of Marian Marzynski's Patriots Day at the Museum of Fine Arts. Hopefully those attempting to attend both with have time to change and make it to the Old North Church by 7:00.

Add to all that a few members planning to participate at the re-enactment on Sunday of the Jason Russell House in Arlington, and it becomes obvious how busy it can get. In the past two days I have been interviewed by no less than three media representatives, all of whom were trying to meet deadlines.

At the same time all this is transpiring, preparations must be made for our Annual Buckman Tavern meeting. This is the meeting immediately preceding the re-enactment. We all gather at Buckman Tavern on the edge of the Common, wearing our colonial kit, and conduct the April business meeting. Agendas must be finalized, as well as prepare a special presentation for this year's recipient of the Buckman Tavern Flag. Each year, First Lieutenant Henry Liu donates a new Betsy Ross flag to the Historical Society, to be hung over the door of the Tavern. It is changed on Patriots' Day weekend, with the retired flag encased and presented to a person who has made a contribution towards furthering the ideals spoken in our Oath.

Not to be ignored are the coordination of the Commissary for the weekend. Sergeants Bill Delay and Bill Gundling have arranged to have donuts ready for our guests, courtesy of Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme. Sergeant Gundling is well prepared for the colonial era parade participants to join us for hot dogs following the afternoon parade.

After speaking with Chief of Staff Jim Roberts, I am confident the Company is ready for the big day. A few email exchanges with Sean Kelleher about media credentialing, and we should be set. With Sean, Jim, and Joe O'Leary with the Police Department working on it, things should be in place on Monday. Now, if only the weather cooperates!

We have recently learned that we will be welcoming home from Iraq one of our members, who has been on duty there for nearly a year. Ian Edmonston is scheduled to arrive in Boston on Thursday, and we are making every effort to get him onto the Common for the re-enactment, and in the afternoon parade. Either way, we will be most pleased to see him again.

Tonight I have received confirmation that the Nominating Committee has been formed, and will be meeting and taking nominations beginning on Thursday. The Audit and Finance Committee will be commencing their work following the meeting, as well.

I don't know what I've managed to forget, but with the strong support of so many of our members, I am confident they will make up for it.

These diary entries are very helpful. It truly helps me keep things fresh, with a desire to avoid missing something important.

Now, I must make a call to Past Captain Commanding Charlie Price to finalize details for the presentation of the Cecil Harris Award and Scholarship Bond. Charlie has for years been instrumental in acquiring the name of the recipient, as well as overseeing the production of the plaque. The Award, named in memory of a much-loved Company musician, is made on Patriots' Day morning, following the Children's Parade, to the member of the Lexington High School Band who has made the most improvement over the past year.

I've just received a phone call requesting my presence at a wreath-laying ceremony in Waltham at 1:00 pm on Sunday the 18th. The ceremony is put on by the Massachusetts National Guard Veterans organization, and, as the Co-President of the Waltham Historical Society, one of the original sponsors of the monument to the Minute Men of Waltham, I will attend to represent the Society.

Well, gotta go!

Wednesday, April 7, 2004
Today wasn't quite as busy as it's been. School, home to arrange the agenda for tonight's Minute Men Executive Board meeting, return a few phone calls about questions regarding the Re-enactment, compiling grades for my students (marks close tomorrow!), packaging the display materials for use in our debut on the Concord Stage in a performance of "1776" to be held on May 1st, and trying to figure out how to pull together enough Minute Men in uniform to fill the Color Guard at the Old North Church on April 18th. This is a new opportunity for us, and we want to look great.

Thursday, April 1, 2004
I managed to get out to visit Anita Bausk today, and picked up my new outfit. She made me a dark green coat and brown small clothes. This is the first new outfit for me since I joined the Lexington Minute Men nearly 10 years ago. Now, if I can find the right shirt I'll be ready for Patriots' Day.

I spent nearly 45 minutes on the telephone with a reporter from the Metro-West Daily News, discussing the upcoming re-enactment.

Adjutant Bill Poole informed me of a couple of upcoming events to which we've been invited. One is an encampment in July, in Exeter, New Hampshire. It sounds like fun. The last minute details of the Re-enactment Rehearsal are all falling into place, if it stops raining!

Saturday, April 3, 2004
Today was an interesting day.

The final drill for qualifying to participate on Patriots' Day was held at St. Brigid's church, beginning at 9:00 am. It is necessary to get there a bit early to help prepare the hall and set out the refreshments. We are very lucky to have our Commissary Sergeant Bill Gundling and his men, as they always have something to refresh our Company. The first drill went extremely well, with nearly 30 participants making the effort to learn all the details of our Safety Drill.

The Patriots' Day drill was followed at 10:30 by the Training Band drill. There, under the able guidance of our Musket Lieutenant Carlo Bertazzoni and First Sergeant Alex Cain, we learned more field maneuvers and tactics for use in re-enactments like the one we will attend in Quebec this summer. That drill ran until 12:00 pm. Again, Sgt. Gundling was prepared with hot dogs and soft drinks for the soldiers.

At 12:30 pm the Company formed behind the Hancock Church next to the Common. We addressed any questions and reviewed our guidelines and again stressed the importance of safety.

The Company proudly marched onto the Green at precisely 1:00 pm, and took our places to rehearse for the Re-enactment of April 19. It took three runs to get it where Past Captain Commanding and Chief of Staff Jim Roberts felt comfortable. The first was a bit ragged, the second was extremely well done, and the third didn't improve, so we called it a day. The Regulars performed their parts very well, pushing us from the Green with enthusiasm. The women and children performed flawlessly, as usual.

The rehearsal lasted until 2:30, when we broke to distribute the VIP passes to members who were present. Then it was off to the Hancock-Clarke house for the rehearsal of the Paul Revere Ride event. Starting at 3:00 pm, it was completed by 4:00, when I raced home in time to change for an evening out with Roberta. We dined at a local restaurant, and then went to Sanders Theater at Harvard for a concert featuring Solas, a Celtic music group we enjoy.

Evening ended with the changing of the clocks. Long day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2004
School as usual. Then to work. Returned to school for a School Council meeting at 4:00 pm. I had to leave the meeting early in order to meet with other members of the Minute Men, and make it to a wake in Agawam for a dear friend who suffered a terrible loss. Arrived home at 10:30 pm, responded to emails, and went to bed.

Thursday, March 18, 2004
The day was a typical school day, finished at 2:00 and attended a school-wide meeting.

I managed to get in a couple of hours of work at my office before rushing off to a meeting of the new Technology Committee of the Lexington Minute Men. Technology is beginning to have an impact on every aspect of life, and the Company of Minute Men is no exception.

The regular monthly meeting of the Minute Men was held immediately after that (7:30 pm). Many issues were addressed in preparation for Patriots' Day. We also had a wonderful presentation by Sam Forman on medicine in the 18th century.

I made it home by 10:15 pm, responded to emails, prepared for tomorrow's classes, and am going to bed.

Thursday, March 11, 2004
Today was quite busy — beginning at 5:30am as usual. Rise and head to school. Teach two classes in the morning and three more in the afternoon. Attend a meeting of the school's Steering Committee. We are going through an accreditation procedure next fall, and there is much work to be done.

I left that meeting at 3:45 and headed to Lexington to meet Jason Longo, the cinematographer for Patriots Day, and member Jack Cunha.

From there I went to my office and worked until 6:00 pm, when it was time to head to Munroe Tavern for a meeting of the Re-enactment Committee. We discussed the details of the Patriots' Day re-enactment of the Battle of Lexington. All parts were reviewed, safety was addressed, and the roles of women and children more specifically defined.

Arrived home shortly after 9:00 pm, and started to answer emails, which I will do until I go to bed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004
The day started with classes at school at 7:30 am. The students in my graphics class were in deep debate on the subject of censorship. Young people have very definite ideas on the subject.

I had to rush to make it to a class meeting in Wakefield at 5:00 pm. I am finishing up the certification requirements for teaching a graphics course.

The class ended at 7:20 pm. I headed to Lexington for a meeting of the Revere Re-enactment Committee that began at 7:00 pm. I managed to arrive at 7:35, exactly at the moment the reading of my part was being called for. That meeting ended at 8:00 and I headed home.

Before going to bed I will return phone calls — one from a business customer and one from the Lexington Minute Men's Musket Lieutenant.

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