A re-enactor, dressed in period clothing, relaxes at a picnic table during Margaretta Days in Machias. The annual festival that commemorates the American Revolution Downeast is set for June 14-15. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY JOHANNA S. BILLINGS

Machias to celebrate heritage as “hotbed of rebels”

MACHIAS — There will be fighting in Machias later this month.

But, don’t worry. No one is going to get hurt. The fighting won’t be real. It’s part of a historical re-enactment that will take place during Margaretta Days in Machias June 14-15.

The festival celebrates the American Revolution Downeast, said Carlene Holmes, who chairs the event. On June 12, 1776, local patriots boarded a British ship, the Margaretta, killing its captain and lowering the British flag.

“[The British] wanted our lumber,” Holmes said. “We stood up to them.”

The U.S. Navy considers the Battle of the Margaretta to be the first naval battle of the American Revolution, she said. Tied to the Battle of the Margaretta is the Battle of the Rim, which took place in Machias in August 1776. The British had sent a ship to burn down the town, which they described as “a hotbed of rebels,” Holmes said.

The British fled after one of the rebels’ Native American allies shot and killed the leader of a British scout ship.

Battle re-enactments are set to take place at 7:30 p.m. June 14 on the University of Maine at Machias campus. Two additional skirmishes are set for 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. June 15.

“I’m really excited about this year,” Holmes said. “Many of the re-enactors are actually descendents of the people who were in the Battle of the Margaretta or the Battle of the Rim.”

The re-enactors will set up tents and do demonstrations of activities related to colonial life such as cooking and making tools and equipment. In addition, re-enactors dressed as British soldiers will mingle with and “harass” the crowd in fun, Holmes said.

“They’re really having fun playing the dark side,” she quipped.

The event will feature a number of activities to celebrate not only the battles but also the resulting friendship between the settlers and their allies from the Penobscot, Malaseet and Passamaquoddy tribes.

“We united and fought against [the British] and that’s how we won those battles,” Holmes said.

Other events include a pancake breakfast at the American Legion Post 9 in Machias, a parade and food. Crafters and representatives of area historical societies will be set up all day.

The heart of the event, however, is a series of presentations starting at 11:30 a.m. June 15 with a performance by the Piscataqua Rangers Junior Fife and Drum Corps.

At noon, event organizers will welcome everyone with some short talks about the historic battles. At 12:30, the featured speaker, Dwayne Tomah, will discuss recently discovered early recordings of Passamaquoddy drumming. A musical performance by From Away Downeast will begin at 2 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Margaretta Days Festival page on Facebook.

Johanna S. Billings

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Johanna S. Billings covers eastern Hancock County and western Washington County. An avid photographer, she lives in Steuben with her husband and several cats. She welcomes tips and story ideas. Email her at [email protected]

Latest posts by Johanna S. Billings (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *