The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 23, 2004


The Redcoats are coming?

Yes, two companies of British Redcoats were in town on the Towle Field early Sunday morning, April 18. They were here for the filming of the opening action of the 1775 Battle of Lexington and Concord at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The Smithsonian Institution, which is planning a military exhibition of American wars up to Desert Storm, hired Boston Productions to produce a video of the battle as seen through the eyes of a Minuteman.

Because the original site in Lexington is so built-up, the company looked for property that had no signs of modern living. This brought them to Carlisle and contact with Carlisle Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard. Willard suggested they first look at Foss Farm, the site of reenacted colonial musters during Bicentennial days. When that proved not to be what they were looking for, she directed them to Towle Field, which had just the look they were afteropen fields, stone walls and spring foliage in the background.

Redcoats raise their muskets as filming resumes on the Towle Field, Sunday morning, April 18. (Photo by Lois d'Annunzio)

The exhibit at the Smithsonian will be interactive. The video that was filmed on Sunday will be seen through the eyes of a Minuteman; all the firing of muskets and saber-pointing was done directly into the camera. The visitor to the exhibit will become a Minuteman who might fire his own musket at on-coming Redcoats. The goal is to put visitors into the action. As a Minuteman, he or she will be in the middle of a slow charge with bayonets to force Minutemen off the Green. The hope is to make a visitor feel the excitement of the moment, a bit of the fear, but not to feel terrorized.

The 50 Redcoats used in the filming on Sunday came from Eastern Massachusetts and as far away as Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Two Carlisle police officers were hired to oversee all the activity and cars on Westford Street. Ferns Country Store provided early morning breakfast and lunch for "all our guests," Redcoats and filmmakers alike, reported proprietor Larry Bearfield. As a way of saying thank you to the town, Boston Productions has donated $1,000 to the Carlisle Conservation Gift Fund.

Ready, aim, fire! (Photo by Lois d'Annunzio)

Those that stopped by on Westford Street to watch the action included the Veitch family from Pheasant Hill Lane. As abutters to Towle Field, they had received a letter from Boston Productions warning of early morning musket shots and drum rolls. On Sunday morning, not hearing any shots, they had come around to the Westford Street side of the field to watch what was happening. As Tommy and Julia and their parents waited, at 10 a.m. the first muskets were fired, and a commander on horseback came forward to lead his troops into battle. Those observers on hand agreed it was a spectacle worth waiting for.

The film crew readies the soldiers for the next shot. (Photo by Lois d'Annunzio)

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito