History rewinds to 1811

Written by David Weaver, program developer for Vincennes State Historic Sites

muster_wabash_01On Nov. 7 and 8, Fort Knox II was transported back to 1811. The cannon and muskets are now silent, but to many it was a small look inside the everyday life of the men and women who would play a significant role in history. Fort Knox II was the staging point for then Indiana Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison’s army that marched on Prophetstown and fought the Battle of Tippecanoe.

muster_wabash_05For 11 years now, the Vincennes State Historic Sites have hosted a reenactment event to commemorate these men and women. There were plenty of skits and demonstration to suit many interests: Native American culture, a demonstration of 1812 weaponry, including cannons, a first person demonstration of a washerwoman, demonstrations of spinning and weaving, a battle each day, demonstrations of cavalry tactics by the Indiana Mounted Rangers, a gentleman’s duel and a ladies tea. 

For many, the highlight of each day was the patrol with Harrison’s troops, an interactive experience where the public is in the middle of a skirmish between the army and Native Americans. But this year, the icing on the cake was the beautiful weather — 70 degrees in November helped make Muster on the Wabash better than ever.

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More Than Just a Cup of Tea

Written by Angela Lucas, program developer at Vincennes State Historic Sites

vincennes_lydia_baconPart of preparing for a living history event like Muster on the Wabash, is seeing the world through the eyes of those you are portraying. I represent the women’s view of military life in 1812. My alter ego, Lydia Bacon, traveled with her husband Josiah from Boston to Vincennes in 1811. The journey took five months! She was 25 and more than 1,000 miles away from her family. Her only form of communication was the old-fashioned kind — snail mail! In our high-tech world, it is hard to imagine waiting four to six weeks to receive a letter from a friend or family member. With the push of a button we are connected in an instant to people around the globe. Not only were these ladies separated from their families, often they did not know if their husbands were alive or dead.

vincennes_fort_knox_teacupThe tea cup uncovered during a 2006 archaeological dig at Fort Knox II gives us a glimpse of life at the fort. In the midst of uncertainty, Lydia’s “social network,” Mrs. Ambrose Whitlock and others, centered around a simple cup of tea. It is certainly a privilege to pay tribute to these brave ladies from the past!

The 11th Annual Muster on the Wabash at Vincennes State Historic Sites is on Nov. 7 – 8. Admission is free; parking is $5.

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