Wethersfield, Conn. (May 1, 2015) – Strange, yet true: In the early days of the Revolutionary War, American soldiers used the bayonet mostly as a cooking skewer or tool rather than a fighting instrument.
Thankfully,Wethersfield’s best-known patriot, Silas Deane, and his friend and colleague Benjamin Franklin (America’s ambassadors to France), helped make it possible for Prussian-born Baron von Steuben to provide badly needed training to the decidedly unsavvy Continental soldiers, including drills on how to use the deadly, three-sided bayonet. It worked.
It was Deane and Franklin’s awareness of the need for well-trained soldiers that helped win the country’s freedom, according to Sal Carmosino, Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum guide and organizer of the 5thConnecticut Regiment. Carmosino says Steuben’s introduction of effective bayonet charges at Valley Forge wascrucial. Later, during the battle of Stony Point (NY), American soldiers attacked with unloaded muskets and won the battle solely on Steuben’s bayonet training. It was a huge victory for the Continental Army in terms of morale, and the key site was later used for the famous crossing of the Hudson River and victory over the British.
Carmosino and several other members of the 5th Connecticut Regiment will give a demonstration of the proper use of the bayonet, likely the same techniques learned by our Founding Fathers more than 200 years ago, during the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum Revolutionary War Encampment, May 23, 2015, at 10:30 a.m.
At the encampment, visitors interact closely with the 5th Connecticut Regiment, in full colonial dress, and enjoy entertaining demonstrations of 18th-century medicine, horsemanship, open-fire cookery, marching and musket firing and music. Shortly after the regiment’s midday meal, children are invited to learn to march and perform drills with wooden “muskets.” The encampment also includes members of the 54th Regiment of Foot, a dashing band of British redcoats whose safety is uncertain once they commence their attack on the Continental soldiers at 1 p.m.
At 2 p.m., 18th-century horseman David Loda demonstrates his dynamic sword-and-pistol skills on horseback. Visitors can easily grasp the level of discomfort their forbears may have felt when faced with a charging, sword-wielding horseman, as Loda slices through a “soldier” portrayed by a melon perched atop a post. He makes a dashing figure in Continental uniform and tri-corn hat, astride his gleaming Morgan horse, Huckleberry, as they lead the charge against the British.
At 2 p.m., 18th-century horseman Hugh Francis demonstrates his dynamic sword-and-pistol skills on horseback. Visitors can easily grasp the level of discomfort their forbears may have felt when faced with a charging, sword-wielding horseman, as Francis slices through a “soldier” portrayed by a melon perched atop a post. He makes a dashing figure in Continental uniform and tri-corn hat as he leads the charge against the British.
About the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
Located in the heart of Connecticut’s largest historic district, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum consists of three authentically restored 18th-century homes and provides the quintessential New England experience – from the American Revolution to the early 20th century. Tours include the 1752 Joseph Webb House, where General George Washington met with French General Rochambeau and planned the military campaign leading to the end of the Revolutionary War, the 1770 Silas Deane House, built for America’s first diplomat to France, and the 1788 Isaac Stevens House – depicting life in the 18th and 19th centuries through original family objects and a fascinating children’s exhibit. For rates and hours visit www.webb-deane-stevens.org or call (860) 529-0612.