A recreated unit of the American War of Independence
In the immediate aftermath of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress raised 27 regiments as a provincial army. These units were adopted into the Continental Army in June 1775 and were generally referred to by the names of their colonels. "Thomas's Regiment" was raised on April 23, 1775, under Colonel John Thomas outside of Boston. The commanding officer for much of its existence was Colonel John Bailey, and the unit became known as "Bailey's Regiment".
It served in the Siege of Boston, and was designated the 23rd Continental Regiment in the 1776 organization of infantry units within the Continental Army. The 2nd Massachusetts Regiment was formed from the remnants of several continental regiments during another reorganization of the army in 1777.
The Regiment served in Glover's Brigade at Princeton and was then ordered to the Northern Department. Upon assignment to the 4th Massachusetts Brigade, the Regiment retreated toward Saratoga after the American evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga in July of 1777.
Following the Saratoga campaign, the Regiment marched south to join General Washington, served in the Philadelphia campaign, and wintered at Valley Forge. In 1778 it served at Monmouth, and later served at Yorktown. The regiment was disbanded at West Point, New York, on November 3, 1783.
1974 - PRESENT
In 1974, the Town Fathers of Wakefield, MA granted permission to several Middlesex County history buffs to reconstitute the original Wakefield company of militia. Officially designated as the Reading 1st Parish Company of Militia, this group was authorized and empowered to represent the town of Wakefield at various Bicentennial activities in the years to come.
During the unit’s first battle re-enactment, five members of the company marched from Crown Point to Hubbardton and subsequently took part in the Battle of Hubbardton. The decision was made to portray a local Plymouth County unit of the Continental Line as opposed to a company of militia. The unit chosen was the “2nd Massachusetts Regiment.” Being originally commanded by Colonel John Bailey, the unit name was renamed “Colonel Bailey’s 2nd Massachusetts Regiment,” with a uniform coat of brown faced red.
The Regiment completed its application to the Brigade of the American Revolution (BAR) in 1985.
By 1988, the unit was officially incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a non-profit, educational organization. That year, the 2nd Mass also joined several other living history organizations in founding The Continental Line.
Like any other non-profit organization, the 2nd Mass is led by a Board of Directors who - along with the membership - manages a budget, determines event participation, and the like. In the 2nd Mass, however, the board President is also the Captain of the Regiment.
Current Captain Eric Chetwynd (2017-present) has been involved in living history for over 30 years. He is a program manager at a technology company, and he is married with a family.
Q: How did you get involved in this reenacting hobby?
A: My father became very interested in the American Revolution during the Bicentennial. As a young boy, I joined my family on many trips with the 2nd Mass to celebrate the history of the American Revolution. I think this truly sparked my interest in history which I still have today. It also gave me the opportunity to make many friends from across the country which is another aspect of the Hobby I still enjoy today.
Q: Were you involved in the hobby previous to joining the 2nd Mass?
A: I was not. My family and I did go camping quite often which may have helped prepare me for some of the more “interesting” experiences with the 2nd Mass. While I have had the chance to serve with other units, the 2nd Mass has always been my home unit.
Q: What was it about the 2nd Mass that drew to join this particular unit?
A: My family joined when I was a young boy, but one of the reasons I have remained active with the 2nd Mass is that is a great group of people. I continue to enjoy many aspects about it especially that it is such a family-oriented unit both in the sense that the entire family can participate and that we all are truly a family together. I am also lucky to be part of a group where the members of the unit continue to contribute both to the unit as well as to the Hobby with new civilian and military impressions, historical research, events, and authenticity.
Q: What is your most memorable reenacting moment to date?
A: I have had the opportunity to see so many great moments, that they are difficult to the recount. They have included the 200th anniversaries of Yorktown and Savannah, sleeping in a brush Hut at Upper Canada Village, the final volley at Pound Ridge, assaulting Quebec City from the Plains of Abraham, watching the British column come apart at Battle Road 2000, surviving the hurricane on Constitution Island in “soldiers” huts, and begging on the streets of Williamsburg to name a few. This Hobby continues to have many great moments because of the great people it attracts.
Q: What background helped you in the command of such a large group of people?
A: I have had the privilege to command the Regiment both on and off the field in the past. This has included my previous experience as Captain in the early 90's, as well as many command positions at events like Quebec, Pound Ridge, North Andover, Yorktown, Fort 4, and St. Jean among others. I believe this background along with the support of the membership and the Board will enable me to succeed in leading the Regiment forward
Q: Does your family also participate?
A: My wife Erin, and my children (Rachel, Jacob, and Sam) have all participated in the Regiment as well as my parents. The Regiment is a great opportunity for our kids to experience history in a way unlike any other as well as make friends they would not have otherwise. Our daughter Rachel truly demonstrates this with a group of girls known as the Coven. Erin and I enjoy playing music together, the history, camping, and visiting all our friends. For us, the 2nd Mass and the Hobby are a large part of our family and we are both excited to be able to take on leadership roles with the group.
Q: Finally, ARE YOU NUTS?!?!
A: Do you have to ask?