For the ninth consecutive year, canons sounded at Fort Morris on Nov. 22 in observance of the annual “Come and Take It!” Revolutionary War encampment in Sunbury, where Col. John McIntosh once refused to surrender to the British. However, for the first time ever, the living-history event highlighted young people this year.
Sons of the American Revolution member Jeff Allmond greeted the crowd seated on three sets of bleachers for the encampment’s opening wreath ceremony. He explained that it was the first year the Children of the American Revolution participated. The CAR made the flags and contributed to the wreaths.
Georgia CAR President Walker Chewning Jr., 16, talked about how much he learned from the flag presentation.
“Learning what happens here, being on the ground, the same battlegrounds — amazing,” Chewning said.
Also decked out in 18th century garb, college student Amberlee Allmond, 19, traveled from Mercer University to participate.
“It means a lot to me because this is my home,” Allmond said. “To see other people come out here and make it bigger and bigger each year, it’s just amazing and means so much.”
The event also served to educate attendees of all ages.
Kareta Mobley brought her 8-year-old son, Daren, after hearing about the encampment from his Boy Scout troop. The family enjoyed their first experience with “Come and Take It!”, and Kareta Mobley said they’d never heard about the encampment at Fort Morris before this year.
“They’re learning stuff, plus they’re playing, so I loved it,” she said. “It was very interesting.”
In addition to an afternoon skirmish re-enactment, festival-goers perused the different stations on the historic site while listening to upbeat melodies played by Jamie Keena on a fife.
Exhibits included an open fire, where women prepared vegetables for a barley soup, stuffed roast and sweet potato pudding, and a doctor’s tent full of medical equipment from centuries past. Richard Moore of Dallas, Texas, portrayed a colonial doctor and talked about the tools used to extract bullets. Medicine was homegrown, so the only anesthesia was opium and rum, according to Moore.
Bill and Cara Elder, of DeLand, Florida, portrayed George and Martha Washington and taught visitors to their station that the Badge of Military Merit was the predecessor to the Purple Heart.
An exhibit of war weapons also proved to be a popular attraction, mostly because it included live cannon firings. On command, an artillery team loaded and fired the cannon as volunteer Dave Swinford explained the process to spectators.
Swinford also later explained a collection of common soldier supplies, including a toothbrush. He said the toothbrush, made of hogshead bristles, was very costly and only available to military officers. The estimated 400 holes in the brush all were cut by hand.
Chad Carpenter, an artillery team demonstrator, thought the “Come and Take It!” encampment so important, he postponed Thanksgiving travel plans in order to attend.
“Living history is rare, whether you’re an adult or whether you have children or grandchildren,” said Carpenter, who spent 15 years showing musket replicas as a demonstrator. “You can’t get that out of any textbook.”
He also accented the importance of the historic event, saying that Col. McIntosh had “overwhelming odds” with 212 men and 24 cannons to go against the British army.
“And still, for him to send that reply in defiance was pretty profound for 1778,” Carpenter said. “People don’t realize how much Southern American Revolutionary War history there is in both Georgia and South Carolina. I think that the text of the period overlooked the Southern campaign because the American Revolution from 1776 to 1779 was mainly fought in the North … but from 1779, 1780 on, the last two years of the war were fought in the South.”
The artillery team demonstrator said he wanted Saturday’s event to make a lasting impression on children and give them a sense of why they should love history.
“We see people that bringing their children that were children when they came here,” Carpenter said.