The wool uniforms are hot, the muzzle-loaded muskets heavy, the time in the spotlight exceptionally brief, but West Wyoming resident and Revolutionary War-era re-enactor Terry Salek puffed on his period-piece pipe and looked the epitome of equanimity.
“I love the history,” Salek said as he and others from the 24th Connecticut Militia Regiment waited to fire a tribute volley during the annual commemorative service of the Battle of Wyoming.
“I always hunted with a flintlock, that’s how I met people from the 24th Connecticut local unit. I knew I wanted to be a big part of it.”
The July 4th service, marking the 234th anniversary of what many call the Massacre of Wyoming, began with lively a concert by the Wyoming Valley Band, turned solemn with the presentation of numerous floral tributes laid before the monument by representatives of community groups and descendants of battle survivors, and was topped by a keynote speech by Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commissioner William Lewis.
Through it all, the re-enactors mulled off to the side, generally in the shade of the large trees that dot the monument site – trees that were reduced by three recently, Wyoming Monument Association President Marcella Starr pointed out during a speech she promised would be “Shorter than the novel I gave last year.”
Starr said three grand old trees had been taken down after consultation with urban forester Vinnie Cotrone, who noted the three were at risk of falling on the recently-restored monument. Shortly after they were removed, Starr noted, a storm blew through that felled one tree and broke a branch off another near the back of the monument property.
Salek and fellow re-enactor Frank Prussia of Mt. Cobb talked of the motivation that makes them give up many weekends and usually a small fortune to pursue their hobby. “Everything’s custom made. This gun alone cost $3,000,” he said holding out the 10-pound, 46-inch-barrel-long replica.
Prussia said his great-grandfather fought in the battle of Wyoming. Most re-enactors, he added, have similar connections..
During its long wait, the militia mingled with Standard Guard of the 109th Field Artillery First Battalion, presenting a mix of modern professional soldier in dress uniform toting M-16 rifles, and re-enactors with musket and blunderbuss.
After Lewis spoke about the architect believed to have designed the obelisk monument – Thomas Walker, who went on to design the Capitol dome in Washington, D.C. – the militia had it’s moment, firing a single, smoke-filled volley into the air.