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thedrifter
08-20-07, 07:11 AM
Rain adds to realism of Revolutionary War

August 20, 2007
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent

HIGHLAND -- Rainy days are always the most fun as far as re-enacting the Revolutionary War goes, to hear Rob Hannen tell it.

The crowds are usually much smaller, so that usually means the cast will let its hair down as it did Sunday afternoon during the Battle of the Ridge at Main Square Park.

And when the cast relaxes, the results are always comical, even if they do involve large amounts of gun powder.

When the 3-pound cannon fired during the artillery demonstration, Continental Marines troops that were guarding the "Fort Highland" gazebo fell over backward -- legs akimbo at the waist as if they'd been knocked over by the blast.

Hannen laughed when smoke started climbing up from the makeshift bunker.

"Look! They're dead!" he shouted as the 2nd Virginia Regiment loaded the cannon again.

The Northwest Territory Alliance, which sponsored the re-enactment, hadn't decided whether it would perform another battle due to the grass being too wet, but members always try to do two battles from different time periods within the Revolutionary War, said John Breslin of Highland. Breslin was dressed as a "congressional minister" and would've led his troops into battle had there been one.

When the group stages the battles, the "officers" always know the general plan of how the battle is going to play out, but the "rank and file" normally don't, he said.

"We just show techniques and style," Breslin said. "Today, we would've re-enacted a battle closer to the end of the war."

As a congressional minister, Breslin would've carried the title of "major" in his regiment and would've been entitled to a nice chunk of land if they won, even though he wouldn't be responsible for making any battle decisions, according to Breslin. And surgeons would've been ranked as "captains."

The history of re-enacting is always the "right" answer to give when asked why he does it, said Hannen of Winfield, Ill. That's just part of it for him, though.

"It's the camaraderie and sheer happiness of doing it," he said. "We always have a good time."

Ellie