Hundreds attend reenactmentPublished 11:47pm Saturday, July 13, 2013
BATH – Red Coats stormed Bonner’s Point Saturday morning.
The British troops were part of a living history lesson of North Carolina’s connection to the War of 1812. Historic sites across the state have commemorated the 200th birthday of the war with similar reenactments on the anniversaries of the events.
The incident originally happened July 11 and 12, 1813, on Ocracoke Island.
Led by Adm. George Cockburn, a British expeditionary force and fleet stormed Ocracoke and Portsmouth to replenish supplies. Before moving to their Virginia base of operations, said historian John Truelove.
“Four companies of marines and 400 British soldiers pillaged the town. They burned the revenue office and the lighthouse,” Truelove said. “They only stayed about 24 hours and then re-embarked.”
As an American Revolutionary War veteran, complete with a “76” on his hat, David Snyder played a North Carolina volunteer guard.
“It was just a very practical, cheap uniform,” he said.
Unprotected by the full force of the country’s military, the people of Ocracoke quickly surrendered to the British.
The weather did not interrupt the Friday night camp set-up or the morning invasion, but choppy waters kept the re-enactors from invading for afternoon crowds.
Bath residents Dennis and Josie Hookway did not seem to mind.
“It’s wonderful. It’s better this year than it’s ever been. You really feel you’ve been there,” Josie said.
She and her husband joined about 300 visitors at the event.
“They’ve traveled from everywhere just to participate,” Josie said “And you, know, we’ve got to keep history alive and this is a great way to do it.”
Most of the reenactors came to town especially for the event. All were volunteers. Truelove traveled from Raleigh to share his knowledge of the war.
“It’s a chance to educate the public about the bicentennial,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize how important this war was. We get a lot of our national character and symbols came from it.”
The war saw the first use of the eagle as the national bird and full navy blue uniforms. Uncle Sam made his first appearance and the National Anthem started as a poem of the period.
Truelove said schools do not spend a lot of time on the war and people often mistake it as a second revolutionary war.
“It was basically to assert our rights for free trade and sailors’ rights,” Truelove said.
The British often drafted sailors and forced them to serve in the military. They were at war with Napoleon and desperate to replenish troops.
Historic Bath arranged the event as part of its Second Saturdays series. The living historians offered to commemorate the invasion in Bath after a request sent to Ocracoke went unanswered, said Truelove.