Colonel Jonathan Bagley’s 3rd Massachusetts Regiment
Brenton C. Kemmer
In 1990, I had been participating in living history for over a dozen years. I had started out portraying a fur trader of the 1830s and had moved into the colonial period portraying a French militiaman, Rogers’ Rangers and a grenadier and light infantryman of the 42 Regiment of Foot. I was not satisfied in my reenacting and was looking for something that for myself and my son as he would grow up would be more gratifying for us and something that was not being portrayed; something new and exciting.
In looking to my own ancestry, I came to the conclusion that there were very few provincial soldiers at reenactments. My ancestors go back to the 17th Century in Massachusetts-Bay Colony. I was working on my M.A. degree and had finished a paper that I hoped to some day turn into a book (Freemen, Freeholders and Citizen Soldiers, Heritage Books, Inc. 1997) and it all fell together. I would start my own unit, Colonel Jonathan Bagley’s 3rd Massachusetts Regiment. That first year 1990, my son Brent II and I showed up at events sometimes by ourselves dressed in our first blue red faced uniforms. It wasn’t long and we had recruited two friends Doug Swartz and Ed Bundshuh who became our first NCOs. They were charged with recruiting for our unit. I also got the help of a number of friends in reenacting who said they would fall out with us at a couple of events to make a show of it at some local events to help with the recruiting.
We grew fast and it wasn’t long and we had members. I remember in the early years people called us the kids brigade because we had so many young kids with us. This was true, Brent II recruited many of his friends and it was not uncommon for me to show up at events with 5 boys from 11-14 and set up two marques, two wedge tents and two flies. It was like a circus! And then the rest of the regiment set up…
Every year we continued to do more research and about eight years ago we found documentation that we should all be issued the blue red faced uniform. Since then we have added a very distinctive look to the battle fields of French and Indian War reenactments, attending most of the local Michigan events as well as other regional encampments and lots of the major national sites. I guess one of the reasons we have held together so long is the push for good communication in our unit and always making an effort to have a couple of fun things for members annually too, like modern campouts, site seeing trips, dinners and holiday parties. Camaraderie has always been a must.
Through the years Bagley’s as our unit became known made friends with several other units. In 2003 A decision was made. Several units were very small and Bagley’s was doing quite well. I offered the commanders to join with us and form a battalion of Massachusetts soldiers. We took the British model and as research has continued to show us, the Massachusetts army model, and formed at our center Colonel Bagley’s 3rd Massachusetts Regiment, our hat company. For our flank and elite companies we have Colonel Oliver Partridge’s Light Infantry or Rangers and Captain Blake’s Grenadiers, who was one of Bagley’s company commanders. We have also attached to enhance our battalion Captain Young’s Rangers, who was one of Bagley’s other Captains. For a more rounded unit we have a provincial train of artillery and a militia from Amesbury, Massachusetts, the Amesbury Alarm List Company.
We now have fifty-five members with an additional fifteen number of followers. My son Brent II is now 28 and is my adjutant, Capt. Lt. and commander of Bagley’s and the Grenadiers. We have our five companies, a light 3 pounder and two brass swivel guns and our own fort, Fort Bagley. Our members hale from eight states and we take part in 13-15 events a year. Our membership specifically is composed of one Major, one Capt. Lieutenant, 6 lieutenants, two Sgt. Majors, 3 Corporals, two Surgeons, 5 Martros, 35 Centinels (pvt.), 15 Molley-Goodwives-Followers!
Our mottos are: OUR EXPECTATIONS ARE HIGH, BUT WE’LL HELP OTHERS ACHIEVE THEM!!! THE BEST IN BATTLE REENACTING!!!
We are now 20, does that mean we are finally adults, NOT!
Interested? Contact Major Kemmer: email@example.com