WESTVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – Cannons and muskets could be heard in Vermilion County Sunday afternoon. Members of the North West Territory Alliance (NWTA) reenacted a Revolutionary War battle in the Forest Glen Preserve.
“We have fortifications to fight over. We have terrain to maneuver through. Just as they would’ve had in the 18th century,” NWTA member and battle narrator David Phipps said.
The group travels across the midwest to demonstrate the battle techniques and lifestyles of soldiers from centuries ago.
“The revolutionary war period was complicated. It was not real simple – red on this side, blue on that side and it’s over,” Phipps said.
That’s why the NWTA has spent years recreating the Revolutionary War.
“If you don’t know your history, you’re going to repeat it,” member Brain Hassinger said.
They hope to give audiences a historically-accurate snapshot of 18th century military life.
“That’s camp life, that’s battles, that’s formations – it’s everything that goes into living in the 18th century,” Phipps said.
He also said it’s not easy. Members have to step over 200 years back in time. They spend the weekend in tents just like the ones revoluntionary soldiers used – and chop wood, make fires and ration food.
“When the sun goes down, it’s dark. There’s no electricity,” Phipps said.
Members say it’s important to keep history alive. And even though they do it to teach others, they learn new lessons from the experience too.
“My father was a high school teacher and brought me in when I was 8 years old. It taught me respect for firearms, and weapons. It taught me self-sufficiency – we’re our here camping of course so you need to provide for yourself,” Hassinger said.
Phipps said he hopes people walk away with an appreciation for their ancestors who lived through hard times.
“You had to survive bad food, bad water, bad doctors, bad everything. Because we didn’t know about germs, we didn’t know about good surgery. We didn’t know about vaccines. We didn’t know about preserving food. We were just lucky,” he said.
No revolutionary battlefield would be complete without cannons.
“They were loud,” audience member Zadoc said with a smile.
Even non-members got into character.
“We just had this costume, and then when we heard about this, mom said: ‘you’re going to wear that,’” Zadoc said.
When the battle ends, members take what they learned into their modern lives.
“It was a very rough time to live in. The fact that they survived – it’s a miracle,” Phipps said.