Who are you guys?
We’re a group of men and women from many walks of life who share an interest in bringing history to life. As members of our parent organizations, the Brigade of the American Revolution (BAR) and the British Brigade, we work to accomplish their joint purpose: to keep alive the life and times of the common soldier of the American War for Independence. To that end, we have recreated, as accurately as our research has allowed, a composite company of the three regiments of Foot Guards serving in the 18th century British Army and deployed to fight in the American conflict from 1776 to 1781: the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards (now the Grenadier Guards), the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, and the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards (now the Scots Guards).
What do you do?
We portray the military life and customs of the period in all its aspects. Far from being the mindless automaton represented in popular mythology, the British soldier was a formidable adversary who won the vast majority of the battles during the Revolution. We present “living history” demonstrations consisting of field tactics, drill, and camp life. We present shows and talks to schools, as well as interested civic and fraternal groups. We travel to take part in re-enactments of Revolutionary War battles with other members of the BAR and the British Brigade. Members have appeared as extras in several major motion pictures and historical documentaries. All our members are volunteers, and bear the cost of procuring their own uniforms, equipment, and travel. Our activities are devoid of 20th Century anachronisms, to the extent that we do not wear jewelry (watches, earrings, rings, etc.) nor allow facial hair on our soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers. This is in keeping with the recognized practices of the 18th Century British Army.
How much does it cost?
Unfortunately, it is not a cheap hobby. The basic required uniform, arms, and equipment can run close to US $3500. Musician’s (drummers and fifers) can usually acquire their uniform and equipment for considerably less as units occasionally provide both the instrument and the elaborate regimental coat. Purchasing used or second-hand uniforms and equipment can significantly reduce costs. We also have programs in place to significantly reduce the cost of uniforms and equipment for new members.
The good news is that the initial investment usually lasts a lifetime. All costs associated with the procurement of uniforms and equipment are tax-deductible owing to the unit’s status as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, tax-exempt educational organization chartered in the state of North Carolina. Travel expenses are deferred to a great deal by car-pooling to events and staying in the Brigade’s encampment. (Yes, we sleep in period-accurate tents and eat period-appropriate meals prepared by our members in the unit’s period-correct kitchen.)
Why are you depicting a British unit? Aren’t you patriotic?
The Brigade of the American Revolution is made up of units representing all the nations that took part in the American War for Independence. In order to tell the entire story of the times, all sides must be represented. By depicting the British soldier as he was – tough, capable, and courageous, we educate the public, debunking many inaccurate ideas about the British that have been handed down for generations. Being part of the 4th Company certainly does not mean that any of our members think our Founding Fathers were wrong to fight for our freedom. We believe that an accurate portrayal of the infamous Redcoat will bring increased respect for the hardships the Founding Fathers had to overcome to create this great nation. Recreating a British unit is also much more difficult. The standards of drill, discipline, and dress are much higher than for the rebel side. Knowing this, many of our members relish the challenge.
Who can join?
In order to take the field as a uniformed member of the 4th Company, you must be a male of at least sixteen years of age, and physically able to handle a flintlock musket. Musicians can apply for membership at the age of fourteen, but require parental permission. Children may participate as long as their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) is an active member of the Company. Women are encouraged to join and accurately portray "camp followers". There is no upper age limit.
What about women and children, what can they do?
The armies of the time had a large number of women and children attached. As living history is definitely a family oriented hobby, wives, children, and sweethearts of our modern day soldiers can take part by depicting their 18th century counterparts. They portray women and children of the period, in all of the various roles that women and children held. They enact their roles as officer’s ladies, wives of soldiers, or camp followers. The ladies and wives also do many of the crafts and daily chores that would have been done in the camp. Without the women, the 18th century armies would have had a more difficult time than they did; women were an integral part of armies of the period. Clothing patterns, which observe the same standard of accuracy as the men’s, are available.