I participated in my first re-enactment this past weekend during the Fall Festival here at the fort. I was working outside the stockade, gleaning the field for the last few ears of corn and gourds. Some distance away, a young woman from the fort was collecting buckwheat kernels into a basket. It was hot, and I had been working for some hours. Suddenly the girl screamed and I looked up in horror to see a half-naked Shawnee brave dragging her forcibly toward the trees. Like a fool I had left my musket, powderhorn and pouch leaning against an apple tree some twenty or thirty yards distant. I threw down the corn and ran towards the tree. At that instant there was a loud CRACK of musketfire from the woods and, pierced by a platonic musketball through my chest, I fell sprawling to the ground, dead as a doornail.
Afterwards I was congratulated on the realistic act I had put on. As it happened, by pure serendipity, just as the Indian fired from the woods, I slipped on a rotten apple (an easy thing to do in moccasins). My feet flew out from under me and I fell very hard, flat on my back, cracking my head. The wind was knocked out of me and if I convincingly resembled a corpse it was because I was winded and dazed. I couldn’t have moved if I had wanted to.
At least not until the ants started in on me. It seems I had landed on a hill of the angry little beasties and in no time at all they were crawling up my legs, down my mocassins and up under my shirt, a horde of them biting me all at once. Nonetheless, as I was on public display, moving was not an option.
The battle seemed to last forever, with a great deal of whooping from the woods and loud musket retorts. At one point I heard my compadre Tom Carson shouting something, followed by the sound of hand-to-hand fighting as he grappled with a Shawnee brave just a few yards from where I lay. There was a final grunt and the sound a body thudding to the ground. Sometime afterwards, after the musketfire had died down, Tom walked over and nudged me with his toe. “Arise, my son,” he said. I got up stiffly and shook the ants out of my shirt. “Heard you died pretty well,” he said, “though I didn’t see it myself”. “Slipped and fell,” I explained. “Well,” said Tom, “from what I hear, anytime they need a casualty from now on, they’ll be coming to you.” Hmmm. I suppose I should be pleased. It can’t hurt in these difficult times to have an extra marketable skill in reserve.