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Redcoat and Minutemen put Patriot’s Day in perspective

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TOWNSEND — The past is often thought of as a simpler time.

But at the West Townsend Reading Room on Sunday, a red-coated British soldier dispelled that rumor — at least as it applied to the 18th century and the years of the American Revolution.

Draped in wool and metal, re-enactor Guy Morin was dressed and equipped as a British soldier that could have faced the Continental Army. Morin seemed relaxed as he gave his “British Opinion,” but stressed that no soldier, on either side, took the Revolutionary War lightly.

During the Townsend Historical Society program, Morin explained the methods of battle and why wars of this era had rules and standards.

“The essential reality of combat was that linear warfare is practical even if the guns are not,” he said.

He explained that the time it took to dress, march and load weapons affected the length of battles. These jobs took up much of the daylight and once night arrived, the battles ceased. If the soldiers could not tell friend from foe, they could not fight well.

But throughout the fighting, the soldiers paid attention to fashion, Morin said. Long hair, being the fashion, led to wigs, and properly displayed regimental coats, shoes and weaponry, all a must.

This member of King George III’s army was not the only person taking part in the Historical Society’s Revolutionary War display. A member of the local militia — a Minuteman — stood up to tell about the roles local men and woman played in winning freedom.

John Barrett, Townsend Historical Society president and acting captain in the Townsend Minuteman Company, added validity and depth to the American side of the lecture.

The militia had to fight with what they could find and what they already had in their homes. The guns used were often inherited or captured and in some cases purchased when the money was available. They relied on the help of other colonists in their communities to donate time, food and weapons.

Barrett said that although there is no record of British troops in Townsend at the time of the war, patriotic Townsendites did not look kindly upon the loyalists (those who were loyal to the crown.) The loyalists were jailed in houses near Townsend Harbor but their families were allowed to bring the prisoners food.

Barrett spoke of a particular loyalist who, when the patriots came to arrest him, had his brother knock boards out of the wall to distract the patriots. It worked and the loyalist escaped.

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