This past weekend I had company who was not familiar with the area. During our mini tour of Cumberland Valley highlights, we stopped by the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center's 1-mile long Army Heritage Trail. As expected, my guest loved the full-scale exhibits which included several tanks, a helicopter, WWII Mess Hall, 18th Century Cabins and more, but we were both surprised by what we found in the French and Indian War era of the trail.
Rounding the corner of the trail we were met with about 20 re-enactors demonstrating different aspects of soldier and civilian life during the time period of the French and Indian War. A very enthusiastic and charming "soldier" welcomed us into the cabin and gave us a brief overview of what was happening in the world around us during this time frame and what his job would have been as a soldier. He showed us bowls of strange looking rations (not appetizing at all!), equipment, sleeping and living conditions and even games that would have been played to pass the time.
Next, we talked to a Camp Follower, a woman with some relation to a soldier (wife, daughter, sister) who followed the men from camp to camp. She talked to us about her duties, why she would have chosen to follow the men and showed us how to weave ties that were used for purposes like holding up socks (no elastic!) or closing bags.
We went outside to a little tent and found a civilian carpenter who would have been paid to follow the army and repair tools, weapons and wagons. He showed us a variety of his enormous, mostly-original tool collection, and we were astonished at how similar all of the tools looked to items we still use today.
When we left the carpenter we saw a boy scout troop that had been recruited by the soldiers and were being marched through numerous drills with wooden infantry models. They looked like they loved it!
I've walked the Army Heritage Trail many times, but being there with the re-renactors is a totally different experience. I would definitely recommend keeping an eye on their event schedule and attending living history events!
Living History Surprise at U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center
September 26, 2013