June 12, 2008
Facing a British invasion
|The Banner - www.weeklybanner.com
By Michael Kane BANNER EDITOR
WEST BOYLSTON — British, French and
“summer soldiers” marched into town Friday. They fired a few rounds
and stayed a few days for what was officially proclaimed as
Revolutionary War Soldier weekend in West Boylston.
The re-enactment weekend, the first major event in the town’s
bicentennial celebration, took place last weekend. Events began
Friday with presentations to students at Major Edwards School.
Saturday, events went until nightfall with a mock battle at Camp
Woodhaven and a Fife and Drum concert on the common.
The beginning of the end came Sunday, with a competition for
re-enactors and a “what if” scenario played out where French
supporters turned on the colonials and gave aid to the “redcoats.”
Although many of the events drew fewer people than hoped for,
Bicentennial Committee members and selectmen Allen Phillips and
Valmore Pruneau said there was heavy competition with youth sports,
high school playoffs, graduation related activities and the first
signs of summer weather, specifically 90 degree heat.
But, as the day wound on and temperatures cooled, the crowd
increased in time for the concert on the common, featuring the
Middlesex County Volunteers.
“It was a good weekend, but it was very hot,” Phillips said after
the concert. “We hoped for more, but we’ll take it. People showed up
“As far as we’re concerned, we put on
the finest product for the town,” Pruneau said. “Those who came got
to enjoy it.”
Pruneau was echoed by Re-enactment Subcommittee Chairwoman Gail
Radcliffe, who said feedback was positive.
“It went excellent,” Radcliffe said. “Everbody who came seemed to
This American drummer was shot
on the Camp Woodhaven battlefield, but a fellow soldier
managed to drag him to the shade before he ‘died’ in the 90
degree heat Saturday. (Banner
Jessica Dwelley, 9, of New
Braintree, a seventh-generation descendent of West Boylston
patriot Joseph Dwelley, lays a wreath on his grave marker
Saturday with William Battles, a member of the Sons of the
American Revolution. (Banner
That included the re-enactors, many of
whom Radcliffe said credited the committee for its organization and
have asked to come back.
That organization began more than a year ago, Radcliffe said, when
she and representatives of the re-enactors’ groups walked the town
and identified locations for separate camps and the battle.
Requirements for the re-enactors included firewood, water and hay
bales, Radcliffe said.
Officially, the Middlesex Volunteers will be back to march in the
September Bicentennial Parade, Pruneau and Radcliffe said.
Battles and showmanship were intertwined with education and
reverence, however, beyond re-enactors teaching the details of
Revolutionary War life at their camps and at Major Edwards.
Saturday’s events began with the rededication of the Revolutionary
War memorial stone on the common, which lists 28 patriots, including
the town’s founder, Ezra Beaman.
Also honored was patriot Joseph Dwelley, whose memorial stone sits
in Mt. Vernon Cemetery. Dwelley’s great-, great- great-grandson,
Wesley Dwelley, of Oakham, reminisced about researching his family’s
history and his first trip to West Boylston, where he found the
white stone sitting by itself.
“It kind of left me with a hollow feeling,” Dwelley said. “Today,
that has all gone away.”