McCONNELLS -- Even the nails that hold together Sam Jones's colonial-style sitting bench are fashioned from the 1750s. Flipped upside-down, the stool becomes a carrying tray for his wife's iron Dutch oven, which she'll use to make biscuits from scratch this weekend for a yard of tent dwellers in McConnells.
Jones and his wife, Sandra, settled at Historic Brattonsville on Friday as volunteer Revolutionary War re-enactors. Dozens of locals and out-of-town hobbyists will suit up today to re-enact the Battle of Huck's Defeat and will finish Sunday afternoon with the Battle of Blackstocks, playing with real, handcrafted guns and knee britches.
The public is invited to watch: $10 for adults, $5 for youth and free for children 3 and under. Many colonists setting up Friday promised it will be addicting.
They'll use rifles and muskets (guns known to kill from 300 yards away) with paper cartridge blanks. Everything, down to the threadcount of their stockings, will be authentically colonial.
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Ballintine began re-enacting 10 years ago after hanging out around similar barracks; he joined the British forces because that's where his friends were.
But camaraderie blurs the lines between Ballentine and the Joneses, who are Whigs, or supporters of the American Revolution. Ballentine said he'd camp with any troupe of re-enactors if it meant a good time.
"You could say we go both ways," he joked Friday, shirtless on another handmade bench across Brattonsville Road.
Ballentine's background is in computer programming, an office job. He said he began re-enacting because he's a tree hugger at heart, he said.
Many other colonists share his sentiment.
Jones, who hails from West Columbia, draws buildings for a living as an architectural draftsman. This weekend, he's living in a canvas tent, sleeping on a cot smaller than a twin mattress.
"The idea of colonizing is what gets me," he said. "That a man can find land, cut down trees for lumber, pick berries, hunt and make his own living is incredible."
Some people like the guns, and some people like the people, said Jonathan Failor, a living history farm interpreter who works full-time at Brattonsville. But one thing is certain: they'll all flock to the vendor area, he said, and drool over fabric and supplies that will manufacture the costumes they'll wear next year.
"You can't just go to Hancock Fabric and buy this stuff," Failor said. "Craftsmanship is a big thing around here."
Kenny Ketchum of Charlotte rumbled through the handmade costume stash in the trunk of his gold sedan nearby. He pulled out a pair of French-fly, brass-buttoned trousers and held them to his waist.
The pants, called knee britches, would hit just above the knee if he'd been wearing them -- a fashion statement in the 1700s that showed off a man's muscular calves.
"Not bad for a 68-year-old," Ketchum said of his own legs. Women of the 1700s were considered nude if they showed their elbows or ankles, he continued.
Ketchum started out wanting to be a mountain man. He'll eat cornmeal mush this weekend with his comrades, and he brought a chunk of tenderloin for himself. He's been re-enacting on the road for 17 years.
"If it's weird, I like it," Ketchum said. "I like to just relax and listen to the gunfire."
Brattonsville will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Both battles -- the Battle of Huck's Defeat on Saturday and the Battle of Blackstocks on Sunday -- will begin at 2 p.m.