Redcoats seize hamlet

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:15

    WEST MILFORD-What's it like to live in an enemy-occupied town? Visitors will find out on Sept. 11-12 when the Friends of Long Pond Ironworks hosts its annual 18th Century Living History Weekend at historic Long Pond Ironworks. Attendees will see what a British-occupied town in the strategic North Jersey Highlands would have been like during the War for Independence. During the weekend, re-enactors portraying local Patriot militia will attempt to liberate the village from British control. This year's event is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Militia, Heard's Brigade, and Shreve's Light Horse. In addition, the reenactment features demonstrations of 18th century civilian and military activities, including camp life, drills, and crafts. A battle scenario will be fought each day around 2 p.m. The event is opto the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Last year, Revolutionary War buffs demonstrated civilian and military lifestyle of the 18th Century. The group of men and women from Joseph Board's Company of Erskine's Militia is a re-enactment group based in Ringwood, New Jersey. Friends of Long Pond Iron Works, a 600-member volunteer group committed to preservation of the historic site on the eastern side of this 80-square-mile community. Last year's Revolutionary battle recreated the April 14, 1780, British raid on Hopperstown (Ho-Ho-Kus) in Bergen County. Although the first day of "battle," Sept. 13, was fought between rain storms the deluge abated for the second day's 14 events. Robert Erskine a Scottish scientist and inventor became the ironworks manager in 1771. When the Revolutionary War started Erskine took up the American cause keeping the ironworks in operation supplying the Continental Army with iron products. He also first formed a militia group mainly to protect the ironworks and was commissioned as captain in August of 1775 and in the Revolutionary War. Joseph Board's men were the farmers, landowners and some of the ironworkers who did their part till the very end of the war. There actually was once a small town named after Captain Board, called Boardville where he was buried in 1831. Less than 100 years later, in May, 1922, his remains were moved to the Pompton Reformed Church Yard by the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission for the site of the Wanaque Reservoir. Among the depictions of colonial life was re-enactor Bill Hibbie who prepared sausages, eggs, corn cake, and coffee for the troops' breakfast, after they camped out Saturday night. Hibbie, of Branchville, has been doing reenactments for 30 years. "This kind of event really helps the young and the old understand what it was like for folks in the past." Hibbie played Major Byles a colonist, who was shot when surrendering to the British during one of the attacks on Hopperstown. Duncan Berry of Ringwood showed the hundreds who attended how to whittle wood into toys. It was a hobby that kept the troops entertained during slow periods between battles. Another activity included a mule named Chada pulling a cart driven by Wayne Schmied of Clifton. Schmied explained "this clearly demonstrates how the teamsters of that era used this means of transport to move necessary personnel and equipment for the Army." Volunteers from the Friends of Long Pond Ironworks will be on hand to give guided tours of the historic district. The Friends of Long Pond Ironworks is a nonprofit volunteer corporation working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry, to preserve and interpret the Long Pond Ironworks Historic District. The Long Pond Ironworks Historic District, located within Long Pond Ironworks State Park here is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places and is part of a National Landmark District with Ringwood Manor. For information about the 18th Century Living History Weekend at Long Pond Ironworks, contact FOLPI by leaving a message at (973) 657-1688 or contact us at