Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

History Comes Alive

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

History Comes Alive

Article excerpt

RIVER EDGE -- The Redcoats once again fought valiantly, but not enough to change their eventual fate.

On Saturday, a group of history buffs, military vets and their families reenacted a Revolutionary War battle on the same soil at New Bridge Landing where the original took place 234 years ago.

As then, by the end of the day, Colonial soldiers on Saturday had stopped an advance of British troops and loyalists and forced them across the Hackensack River. Armed with reproduction muskets and an artillery unit's ear-popping cannon, the latter-day Yankees won handily.

"Liberty!" a soldier shouted as they marched to victory.

The reenactment was part of a two-day event organized by the Bergen County Historical Society that aims to bring local history to life. Today, the two sides will meet again to re-create a separate encounter in the "War of the Outposts" battle that happened a few weeks later in 1780.

"When you look around Bergen County today, you see malls, apartments, urban blight," said Todd Braisted, a past president of the group. "However, this area used to be all battlefields. We are lucky today to not know war. It was not always like that."

Saturday's regiments hailed from across the region, mostly diehards who have been reenacting American battles for decades. They trade war stories and challenge textbook versions of historical events.

But there were some newbies, including Victoria Romo, 20, of North Bergen, who pulled her family into a reenactor unit of Hessians allied with the British after taking a greater interest in early American history last year. Romo, who has autism, said that in the war reenactment crowd, she's found acceptance and a friendly culture.

Her mother, Christina, 46, said she resisted her recruitment at first but is now a proud German nurse in Von Prueschenk's Feldjaegers -- who, by the way, were not mercenaries as some accounts suggest, she maintains. This hobby, she said, has allowed for real bonding. "We're sitting and talking, not Facebooking."

For some of the actors, the decision about which side to fight on is a matter of conviction.

"I believe what the loyalists said, to be honest," said Daniel Lessin, 27, of Englewood. …

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