Battle of Longwoods re-enactors to bring War of 1812 back to life

Musket-toting re-enactors in period uniform gathered to recreate the Battle of Longwoods and offer visitors a taste of life during the War of 1812.

Musket-toting re-enactors in period uniform will gather next month to recreate the Battle of Longwoods and offer visitors a taste of life during the War of 1812.

The Upper Thames Military Re-enactment Society and Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority hosted the event at Longwoods Road Conservation Area on May 4 and 5.

Mark Dickerson, a society organizer and longtime re-enactor, said there’s renewed interest in the re-enacting hobby after COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

“In 2022, some events were revived. In 2023, almost all the events were back up and running,” he said. “It feels like starting an event from scratch. Some people who were involved before the pandemic have retired and many events have a lot of new faces who are less experienced.

It does take an enormous effort to organize an event when it hasn’t operated for two years. Fortunately, a new younger generation of re-enactors have grown up and are starting to enter the hobby.”

About 200 re-enactors, including men, women and children, are expected for the Longwoods event. They’re to arrive Friday, May 3, and camp in period canvas tents until Sunday night.

Visitors are invited to experience life as a soldier, camp follower, Indigenous member and merchant, while walking through an authentically recreated camp.

The event included:

  • Tactical and artillery demonstrations, including an afternoon battle.
  • Period music.
  • A military medicine presentation. demonstrating procedures available in 1812.
  • Tours of a historical military encampment.
  • Mini militia offering children a taste of life as a 19th-century soldier, including simple arms drills and marching.
  • Children’s games and rope making.
  • Merchants and artisans selling items.
  • Self-guided tours of Ska-Nah-Doht Village and conservation area nature trails.
  • Food for sale by local service club members.

In this day and age, Dickerson notices a “certain segment of the population,” young and old, with a keen interest in history. He credited the internet for helping to spread awareness.

Many younger people had their interest sparked because they grew up in the hobby or from online videos and various channels streaming on TV,” he said. “The bicentennial 10 years ago was great for generating . . . these videos and movies which the younger generation has easy access to.”

The society has various activities to get kids involved, he added, believing the interactive experience can go a long way.

This is a living history event where people can see a small slice of life during the War of 1812,” he said. “Learning from a book or video is one thing, but actually seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting an experience teaches quite a bit more.

At this event, we host an education day for schools. Classes of students arrive Friday and we have a series of presentations such as the life of a soldier, how the Indigenous people were affected by the war, 1812 surgery, and firing a musket.”

There will be uniforms that all ages can try on to see how a woolen coat feels.

Some re-enactors volunteer to do presentations in local classrooms, he added. Online lectures are also available on YouTube.

Others War of 1812 re-enactments are planned this year for Stoney Creek and Fort Erie, Ont., Sackets Harbor, N.Y., and Mississinewa, Ind.

“In 2025, we are planning to travel to Waterloo, Belgium to recreate the Battle of Waterloo,” Dickerson said. “There are usually 4,000 to 5,000 participants and around 80,000 to 110,000 spectators.”

For more on the Battle of Longwoods event, visit or

Admission is $10 per person. Kids 12 and younger and uniformed military personnel get in free.

LTVCA’s parking pass is not applicable for this event.

Longwoods Road Conservation Area is at 8348 Longwoods Rd. (Middlesex Rd. 2) in Mt. Brydges, roughly 30-minute west of London and an hour east of Chatham.

The conservation area will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day of the event.

Author of the article: Trevor Terfloth