‘The British are coming’ — 250 years later
On a clear Saturday morning, a green wooden ship carrying 40 British soldiers dressed in traditional red uniforms sailed toward Boston Harbor. With muskets in hand, the soldiers stood at attention, chanting “Huzzah! Huzzah!” as the Liberty Star brought them closer to shore.
It was a scene straight out of history books, as the redcoat reenactors re-created the arrival of British troops to Boston to kick off Revolution 250, a commemoration of America’s independence from Britain.
The troupe was met at Long Wharf by about 100 more redcoat reenactors, who had arrived in longboats from Fort Point. Rebellious Colonists and fervent loyalists to the king lined the shore.
“Soldiers of the crown,” bellowed Bob Fallotico, a colonel of His Majesty’s Tenth Regiment of Foot. “It is our duty to seize this rebel town and restore order under the law of his majesty King George. Although we have traveled hundreds of miles from home, this is England, and we shall protect her to the very end.”
The redcoats were met with hisses and boos from angry Colonists wearing waistcoats, breeches, and tri-cornered hats. The spectacle drew as many as 200 onlookers who watched along the city’s wide brick sidewalks. Once ashore, the reenactors marched into downtown Boston to the sound of Colonial fife and drums.
They traveled up State Street to the old State House. They continued on to Downtown Crossing, before marching to Boston Common, where they pitched their tents for the night.
The march, called “Boston Occupied: An Insolent Parade,” is one of several events planned for Saturday and Sunday organized by Revolution 250, a group of 50 organizations that plans to commemorate other historical events over the next eight years, including the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, leading up to the 250th anniversary of American independence.
“We’re hoping over the next eight years really to focus on the events that happened here in Boston where the revolution began,” Bob Allison, the chair of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, said to the crowd at Downtown Crossing. “We trace the origins of the American republic to events that happened here in the streets of Boston 250 years ago.”
For some reenactors, the ceremony was a chance to see history come alive.
Callie Hershey, 49, and her 14-year-old daughter, Wren Werner, dressed in traditional garb — such as a tan-and-white wool gown and a red cape — to portray a British officer’s wife and daughter.
“You study history in textbooks or books or even movies, but it’s so much more fun to be able to wear the clothing and walk the walk,” said Hershey.
Eric Niehaus, 70, said he had a special appreciation for reenacting the actions of America’s revolutionary foes.
“I’ve always looked at history from the other side, so aside from the sharp uniforms, I like the other perspective,” Niehaus, a private in the 10th Regiment, said. “History has two sides, but the winner writes the books.”