By Jim Tortolano
In politics today, many people are claiming to speak for the Founding Fathers. But if they want to talk to the men and women who founded the United States of America, they can skip the time machine and just visit Central Park in Huntington Beach.
This weekend the Huntington Beach Historical Society is hosting “The Revolution,” a living history event focusing on the war that made America an independent nation.
On Saturday, a large contingent of re-enactors greeted hundreds of visitors who wore period costumes portraying a wide array of historical figures from soldiers to printers to statesmen to everyday people. There were several encampments scattered across the northern area of the park, with British redcoats represented along with the Continental Army of George Washington.
The father of our country was present in the form of David Grace of Carson. “I got lucky to portray General Washington,” he said. “Myself and two others we were talking, and saw a need for this time period, so we went ahead to make that leap to make it happen. There have always been British groups running around and we gave them a place to do our history.”
Grace got his start in re-enactment in Civil War endeavors – he’s the captain of the 69th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry – and has been involved in that avocation for over 25 years. But now “we’ve decided to take a different step. It’s really a whole different time period with whole different rules of civility, rules of being, rules of fighting. It’s really quite a challenge.
By a small copse of trees, re-enactors portraying three signatories to the Declaration of Independence – Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Roger Sherman – are speaking about the need for the breaking away from Britain in 1776. Staying in character, of course. They posed with a copy of the Declaration with young Patriots while their parents snapped photos with their smartphones.
A ways up the road, a soldier from the 11th Virginia Rifles was demonstrating the loading and use of his .50-calibre muzzle-loading black powder rifle. Charles Spratley of Yorba Linda spoke of the superior accuracy and range of the rifle over the more common smoothbore muskets. So why didn’t the clever Yankees use the better weapon all the time?
“These are much more expensive than the rifle,” he said. “In today’s terms a musket would cost, say, $300. This rifle would be $3000.”
Admission to Sunday’s events is free, and a wide variety of events are planned, ranging from 18th century dancing to a re-enactment of the Battle of Cowpens, a decisive struggle which helped drive the British Army to move north of Yorktown, where American and British forces defeated Gen. Cornwallis and won the war.
The field is open to the public starting at 9 a.m. and the event is scheduled to close at 4 p.m.
Categories: Huntington Beach