When we stopped at the Kittery Point town dock a very strange looking vessel was pulling away from the wharf. It was a replica of a “Jolly boat”. It had four rowers and a sail! Its was flying a plain white flag…the flag of the naval ensign of France in 1754.
They were sailing to Fort McClary over on the right side of the harbor where a small encampment of white tents could be seen on the grass above the rocky shingle beach…
3×4 watercolor Rives BFK
The fog was rolling in off the open ocean, obscuring the forest behind the fort’s block house. On the water visibility was fine for the invaders. The boat landed on the shingle beach. Cannons blazed away. The harbor was filled with a volley of “booms”! It was quite exciting.
By the time we arrived at the fort the battle was almost over. Maybe that was OK as the cannons are really loud ! As we walked down from the fort a very official looking commander was lining up the troops for the audience to inspect.
He was an impressive looking colonial officer with an elegant uniform, a huge sword and polished knee high leather boots…
He invited the ladies in the audience to come in closer to inspect the troops; announcing loudly that some of these fine looking men were single…
These officers and soldiers were wonderful models! When they weren’t in a battle of some sort they were sitting around their encampments, relaxing or preparing meals. They were reenacting what live was like in the 1700’s …life then was very slow.
Colonist. 8×11 watercolor on Rives BFK
Sketching these actors in their period costumes was great! Several of the French sailors had their wives traveling with them. This delightful French colonial woman explained everything she was doing as she set about preparing dinner, a stew cooked in a dutch oven over an open fire.
The sailors had a nice dinning tent with wooden furniture, hand carved wooden dishes, goblets and utensils. Everything they used was a custom made replica from the 1700s.
A new recruit was learning how to present arms. These rifles are working replicas of guns used during the French and Indian War.
I found a wonderful sketching spot with excellent views of the fort and the sailors’ camp.
I did a quick sketch of the block house and put in some color notes.
6×12 watercolor on Rives BFK
The weather changed rapidly. Sunny blue sky one minute and low clouds of cold, damp fog a few minutes later….
After sketching for a while my models wanted to see what I was doing…
Their costumes are custom made, historically accurate, colorful and very interesting.
French Sailor. 6×12 watercolor on Rives BFK
The conversation was fascinating. I learned a lot about colonial life in the 1700’s, the nature of the Seven Years’ War and why these participants love doing these historical reenactments.
Enactors camp out over night in beautiful locations and live like colonists did in the 1700’s, with no electricity, no TV, no internet. Evenings are spent with interesting people, wonderful conversation, great food, and stories of other historic encampments. Slow living! What fun!
6×7 French Sailor. watercolor on Rives BFK
The block house at Ft McClary.
6×12 watercolor on Rives BFK
As we walked to another French and Indian camp on the other side of the fort we passed an old cannon sitting above the harbor on the ramparts.
The French soldiers were cleaning their firearms. Everything must be ready for the next battle. They have to prepare all the gun powder packets by hand.
The view of the harbor was intermittently obscured by fog.
Fort William and Mary in New Castle, New Hampshire sits across the mouth of the Piscataqua River from Fort McClary. These two forts were active in colonial times.
The French sailors gathered for dinner as the tide rolled in and the fog came with it.
Kittery Point harbor as the fog rolls in.
3×7 watercolor on Rives BFK