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Keeping American history alive for this generation

Robert Hamm’s keen interest in genealogy led to the discovery of his fourth great-grandfather, one Andrew Edmisten, who died in 1780 during the Revolutionary War at the Battle of King’s Mountain in North Carolina. The battle was the first major victory for the Patriots after the British invaded Charleston, South Carolina in 1780. Hamm, who lives in Shady Valley, is now a member of various historical organizations, including the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia, Friends of Sycamore Shoals, Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail and the Sons of the American Revolution.
The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia meets at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park several times a year and provides educational programs for school groups. According to Hamm, their motto is keep history alive. The group participates in Civil War and the War of 1812 battle reenactment events, but their main focus is on the Revolutionary War time period. According to Ronny Lail, who is also with the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Regiment, one of the group’s activities is a Christmas with the Carters presentation each year at the Carter house in Elizabethton. Full of interesting, historical tidbits about this area of the country, Lail explained that the home of John Carter was the first frame house built west of the mountains in the area. “We total about ten events a year,” said Lail. Since her retirement, Lail’s wife now joins in on the group’s adventures. One of their yearly activities is to work with fourth graders from various schools in the area in an effort to bring history to life. “We’re a very active group,” he said.
Earlier this month, Hamm and 29 others from his militia were asked by the National Park Service to participate in the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, the last major battle of the War of 1812. The battle raged once again at Chalmette Battlefield where participants dressed as soldiers from the battle of 1815 and civilians camped nearby. Visitors were able to see cannon and musket firings, period crafts and cooking, military drills and tactics, along with a reenactment of one of the skirmishes that led up to the Battle of New Orleans. Activities also included British music from the war era, Choctaw Indian dancers, Congo Square dancers and patriotic music. “We do it for the children,” Hamm said. There were approximately 3,000 children who came to watch the re-enactment with 1,500 showing up on Saturday alone.
Hamm and the other members of the militia actually did not participate in the reenactment of the battle but were there to represent the State of Tennessee. Acting as bodyguards for Andrew Jackson, the men made a line for Jackson to walk through. “Andrew Jackson thought a lot of Tennessee men,” said Hamm.
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