My So-Called Pilgrim Life

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A chronicle of daily life in the 1627 English village at Plimoth Plantation from both a modern and historical perspective.

Pilgrim Muster

November 15th, 2010 by admin

Well met, dear readers. Veterans Day and the military muster have come and gone. Here at the Plant, we costumed interpreters hope that the military drill will come in handy with the approach of the Thanksgiving season and the influx of countless hordes of people, dreaming of black buckled hats and tame, easily catch-able chickens.

The muster was attended by six musketeers and six pike-men, who drilled in separate companies under the auspices of Captain Myles Standish. After some instruction in the art of marching and military drill, the musketeers conducted a mock firing demonstration while the pike-men trained in field exercises. The whole company of militia then gathered in the newly cleared hayfield north of the town to demonstrate the basics of pike/shot combat, with the musketeers firing on the flanks while the pike-men charged home with cold steel.

My character, Edward Doty, served as a musketeer, so I found myself shouldering a piece and lurching along more or less in unison with my fellow townsmen. Stripped of the grandeur and majesty inherent in the images of soldiering and the great battles of this period, you start to notice things that prints and paintings don’t show you. Your heavy weapon pains your shoulder. Your fingers are cold, but mittens are too cumbersome to wear. Wind threatens to blow your hat away and muffles the sergeant’s commands. The slow-burning match in your left hand interferes with your drill movements and promises bodily harm. Imagine tolerating all of these hardships while marching away from New Plimoth into a vast, uncharted country where few Englishmen dwell.

Why did these men put themselves through this kind of ordeal? Because they were in the middle of a great and sometimes hostile wilderness, and they were protecting their families, friends, and their vulnerable little settlement against numerous potential enemies, none of whom would likely announce their hostility before attacking. I’m glad that we still have men like that today, who make all sorts of sacrifices for the sake of those loved ones at home.

Thanksgiving approaches, dear readers, and we will speak on that subject later on. For now, I approach the end of this post, so you are all dismissed. God save King Charles!

(Pictures to Follow)

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