Bladen Militia reforming; needing members
by Erin Smith Staff writer
ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen Militia is looking for a few good men and women who are interested in becoming re-enactors and learning Revolutionary War-period history in Bladen County.
The original Bladen Militia, on which the re-enactment unit is based, existed in Bladen County from 1775 to about 1785, said Butch Adams.
The re-enactment unit was conceived about 10 years ago, said Adams.
“It was a conduct warfare and use it as a vehicle to resurrect history,” said Adams. “In order to have a militia, you have to have members.”
Adams said that is what the group is now currently seeking out: new members.
According to Adams, there are a few requirements to becoming a re-enactor.
“Folks need to understand that you have to have a willingness to learn 18th century history and culture. There is a time commitment involved and eventually there will be a financial commitment. The period clothing and weaponry can be costly,” said Adams.
He added that the other members of the unit do their best to help new members as much as they can with locating weapons and period costumes at reasonable prices. He added that the re-enacting can be a family affair.
“The ladies can learn the practices and teach the skills ladies would have had to perform back then such as candle-making, soap-making, and there is no limit to it,” said Adams.
He added children can also take part and learn about life as a child in the 18th century with everything from games that would have been played to working on the farm or around the house (for older children).
Also, Adams said that Bobby Lewis, who serves as field marshal for Harmony Hall Plantation, has graciously offered to host the Bladen Militia at the White Oak location.
“Most units don’t have a home base,” said Adams.
He said being based at Harmony Hall gives the group the history of the house, there is acreage with which to work for re-enacting unit drills, as well as living history displays and training.
Adams said the vision is to recruit members, train and equip the re-enactors, and then lend themselves out to other historic sites for battle re-enactments, living history demonstrations and other functions.
The Bladen Militia was formed about 10 years ago, said Adams. At its height there were 19 members who were trained and equipped and available to participate in events.
“We were going along and life circumstances came into play … .Some historic sites started changing management and it fell apart,” said Adams.
He said that Lewis became interested in recreating the Bladen Militia at Harmony Hall.
Adams said that there is a lot of 18th century history throughout Bladen County that remains unknown to many folks.
“I wanted to dig up the stories, find the stories and tell those stories (through the re-enactment group),” said Adams of Bladen County’s Revolutionary War heritage. “We want to resurrect the history of what did happen in the revolution.”
Adams said many of the revolutionary period historic sites in the area are, in many cases, neglected.
“History is not being taught in the same way it was when we were growing up,” said Adams. “There doesn’t seem to be an interest. This is an opportunity to teach that.”
Adams said that re-enacting is an experience that one cannot obtain from reading an article in the newspaper, magazine or book nor is it something that can be learned simply sitting in a classroom.
“Bladen’s history goes way back. When you try to discuss pre-Civil War history in Bladen County, it is a black hole,” said Adams.
He added that the Civil War era is very popular with people who are interested in re-enacting. Adams says many folks are not as involved or do not know their Revolutionary War connections as well as they do their Civil War connections.
Adams said that he hopes resurrecting the Bladen Militia will change some of that.
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