Huntington Militia warmly welcomed the Long Island community Sunday, July 11, to learn about Colonial-era history by recreating and reenacting 18th century civilian and military life on the grounds of the Arsenal museum in the Town of Huntington.
Visitors of all ages were able to enjoy demonstrations of papermaking, sewing, weaving, cooking, horn work, silversmithing, cannon and musket firing, all while receiving an in-depth history lesson about the crafts from the reenactors.
After a year of not being able to host events such as the Colonial Market Faire due to the pandemic, visitors and militia members were excited to be back on the field again.
“It feels good to be back again, and it feels good to have people around to ask questions that I can answer,” said Paul Gasparo, a member of the militia. “We may be reenactors but we’re also an educational unit, so we try to educate people on the time period and what Huntington was really like back then.”
The militia was formed in 1653 by the Town of Huntington and is one of the oldest military units in the country. Originally, the militia defended against the hostile Dutch settlements and practiced recurring public training exercises on the Town Common.
Over the years the militia served honorably in the French and Indian wars and later fought the battles of Long Island, Harlem Heights and White Plains.
In more recent times, the militia now stands as a New York State education corporation.
One of the reenactors who helped present and fire the 18th century cannon and muskets, Marvin Glassman, said he’s always had a passion for history.
“As a kid I was always interested in history,” he said. “I think my favorite part about being in the militia is that I feel more connected with the town and community.”
A feature at every Colonial Market Faire event is the musket drill, where children and adults are given wooden practice muskets and taught to march, drill and fire.
“For me, it’s the personal interactions with visitors,” said Patrick Mantle, commander of the militia. “It was definitely obvious that the vast majority of people who were there this time had not come to one of our events in the past, so it was great to answer their questions and see how captivated and interested they were in being there.”
Due to COVID restrictions, the Arsenal museum was not fully open to the public. However, visitors were allowed to look through the front door to get a glimpse of the living area.
The militia members said they are eagerly awaiting the reopening of the Arsenal so tours to the public can resume.
With a strong focus on the significance of informing youth on 18th-century Colonial-era and military life, Mantle said having the children involved in the demonstrations is something that will stick with them forever.
“It’s extremely important to educate the kids, because these upcoming generations are the ones who will preserve and protect our history,” he said.
Any enthusiasts interested in watching local history come to life while participating in Huntington Militia’s events and reenactments can contact Patrick Mantle at 631-223-8017 for further details.