ELIZABETHTOWN — Local farmers, business men and others have already begun to gather, busying themselves with setting up their campsite and making plans to protect the town from the Tories who are hell-bent on squashing any uprising.
The hated Tories had driven the Whigs from their homes and even out of the county. They ravaged the region in every direction, insulting and plundering the most respectable families, burning private dwellings and destroying a great amount of valuable property.
It was August 1781, and history was about to be made in Bladen County.
The 70-or-so Patriots, however, were facing a daunting task — with about 400 Tories preparing to complete their efforts to take over the area in the name of the king.
How did it all turn out?
Visitors to Tory Hole Park today through Sunday will find out, either through discussions with those who will be re-enacting the historic Battle of Elizabethtown, listening to the takls of local historians or by observing the re-enactment itself on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
“The goal of the Bladen County Historical Society and the Harmony Hall Plantation Committee is to renew interest in history in Bladen County,” said Bobby Lewis, an orgaizer of the second annual event and one of the re-enactors. “There is a lot of history in the county.”
Throughout the day today, folks will be setting up their “camp” and visitors to the park are welcome to walk through.
Lewis said those who will be participating include, but are not limited to, the Bladen Militia, the Harmony Hall Backwoods Militia, Jaeger Korps, South Editsto Rangers Colonial Militia and the S.C. Independent Re-enactors Association — as well as Camp Flintlock, which will provide children’s games and programs through the day.
There will be candlemaking demonstrations, gunsmithing, lye soap making, fur trappers and traders and much more to see and do, said Lewis.
On Saturday, things will kick off at 10 a.m. with an opening ceremony and cannon fire in the park. Other highlights will include period music at the amphitheater stage, Scottish pipe and drum music, a tomahawk throwing competition, a program called Revolution’s Roots in the Church, artillery and weapons demonstrations throughout the day. Sally Salter will arrive in camp about 2:30 p.m. and David Fanning will arrive about 3 p.m.
There will also be a history lesson on the Battle of Elizabethtown at the amphitheater stage at 3:30 p.m. Saturday followed by the re-enactment of the battle.
At the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, there will be a craft fair for visitors to wander through. Also, concessions will be available, courtesy of the Elizabethtown Fire Department.
On Sunday, the park will open at 9:30 a.m. and an 18th century church service will be held beginning at 10 a.m. followed by a dutch oven lunch which will cost a donation. At 1:30 p.m. there will be firing of the cannons followed by a history lesson on the Battle of Elizabethtown at 1:30 p.m. followed by the re-enactment of the battle. The park will close to visitors at about 3 p.m. Sunday.
Lewis said there will be commemorative T-shirts available for purchase during the event.