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Revolutionary War Event Launches Piscataway “Village” Back in Time

Middlesex County Presents Immersive Showcase of American History
Drummer Marching
Drummers march in a battlefield reenactment Benjamin Clapp

PISCATAWAY, NJ—The historic East Jersey Old Town Village came to life during during the weekend of October 7-8, bringing spectators back in time to the American Revolution.

Located adjacent to Johnson Park, the "village" is actually a "collection of original, replica and reconstructed 18th and 19th century structures," according to the county's website.

A complete reenactment of 18th-century life was showcased throughout the space, allowing visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in the setting, take part in hands-on activities, and engage with the knowledgable reenactors.

The two-day event marked the first immersive exposition of its kind at the East Jersey Old Town Village - but not the last.

Middlesex County's Office of Arts and History's organized the unique event, and plans to bring the experience back again in the future as it expands on its agenda of free public events. 

Showcases of Revolutionary War era blacksmithing, cooking, pottery, and fashion were on hand throughout the encampment, as women, children, and men turned the location into a living portrayal of the historical era. 

In the afternoon, soldiers in authentic uniforms marched to the rallying sound of fifers and drummers, as a full blown battlefield skirmish was recreated on the field adjacent to the village. 

Rifles and cannons blasted shots across the sprawling field, demonstrating what a day in the life on the battlefront may have actually looked like in New Brunswick, as local residents defended themselves against the invading British troops in the 1770's. 

The battlefield and military encampment featured throughout the weekend were recreated by a non-profit living history association called "The Brigade of the American Revolution."

The group of enthusiasts have been celebrating and recreating historical 18th-century happenings for 55 years now. 

According to the Brigade's website:

Since 1962, the Brigade has been recreating a broad spectrum of the 18th Century. It’s activities include military encampments, tactical exercises, firelock shooting competitions, craft demonstrations and social activities. The Brigade also conducts annual schools and educational seminars featuring experts from several fields of 18th Century study.

Regarding the weaponry, uniforms, clothing, and equipment used by members of the Brigade at their events, their site goes on to describe the level of detail involved:

Each unit is as nearly an exact recreation of the original Revolutionary War unit as present study and research will permit. All cloth, leather, fastenings, etc., are accurate copies. Patterns for uniforms are made from surviving examples in museums, and from contemporary sources such as prints, paintings, and books. No modern, man-made fabrics, no plastic, no zippers are used. Weapons are exact reproductions of British and French muskets, American long rifles, cannon and edged weapons of all types: bayonets, halberds, pikes, spontoons, swords and tomahawks. Cartridge boxes, canteens, belts and buckles, and other accouterments are all copies of the originals. All members personally own their uniforms, weapons and equipment; either making it themselves, or purchasing it from craftsmen members.

On Saturday, Mark Hurwitz, a former Commander and longtime member of "The Brigade of the American Revolution," narrated the battle scene portrayal over loudspeaker to a large crowd of spectators watching the impressive historical showcase. 

After the battlefield reenactment, soldiers visited with audience members - answering questions and giving them a closer look at their weapons and uniforms.

More information about The Brigade of the American Revolution can be found at
www.brigade.org