by Joe Wagner
The town of Niagara on the Lake, in Canada, just across the Niagara River from Fort Niagara (NOTL for short) was a hotbed of English loyalist sentiments (it was home to Col. John “Beast” Butler and Col. John Graves Simcoe), and finding myself there as part of a First Virginia Regiment event, I visited several museums in the town (including Butler Barracks and Fort George) which highlighted British Revolutionary War experiences. A third museum that might have been missed by many was the Niagara Historical Museum. This is the local town historical center, and in it, I found a piece of very interesting history – with ties to another reenactment held in recent years, that of Oriskany, NY.
I went to the museum because I saw an ad for a War of 1812 military display, which would last only through the summer. Sure enough, they had half-dozen original British uniforms and some weapons from the War. But on the way to the 1812 room, I passed another uniform display that brought me to a stop. It was not 1812, but clearly (to a reenactor anyway) a uniform coat from the Rev War period.
Many members of the Regiment, interested in the clothing and equipment of our period, are always looking for original garments that provide a glimpse into the styles, materials and sewing techniques of the Revolutionary period that we try to emulate. As most of us know, there are not many original garments around to look at or examine. You can imagine my great surprise when I saw this coat in absolutely wonderful condition.