The First Foot Guards
We are a Revolutionary War
reenactment group based in Boston MA,
accurately portraying the royal household regiment that is now known as
The Grenadier Guards
Thinking of joining us...
or at least do you need to know more about us?
Your questions answered.
you've a thirst for history, or a thirst for action,
His Majesty's First Foot Guards is the place for you!
We're centered on Boston, but we attend re-enactments in Massachusetts and upstate NY… and less frequently to all of New England, to Canada and the middle east coast, and occasionally abroad.
We drill in Quincy, MA in a convenient location close to the highway.
If you join, you don't have to go to all events, although you should opt for most.
Many encampments occupy the whole of the weekend. For those events that are within driving range of Boston you could attend on a daily basis (some of us do that!)
We do require you to drill with us in the wintertime in Quincy. That way we can polish our drills.
'The Hobby' is what re-enacting is often called. It includes people who portray people or groups from Roman Legionaries to WWII soldiers, from Ben Franklin to Abe Lincoln, and it includes some who are involved in fantasy. It includes groups who have stitched their uniforms from fabric like polyester, and who use Velcro (we won't name names). There is a broad range to suit all tastes, and the hobby is getting more and more popular. At a recent Civil War battle there were as many reenactors as the soldiers who originally fought the battle! Revolutionary War reenactment is not quite as popular in terms of numbers, but given the Boston area in which we operate, there are far more local opportunities, and certainly this is what tourists come to see.
We have to admit we're very picky. When it comes to authenticity, we don't cut corners (and that is true of all the Redcoat groups in this area). When we drill, the Serjeant calls us Private Soldiers all kinds of rude names; we daren't talk to someone as high up as the Serjeant-Major; and as for the Colonel… well, he's a toffee-nosed aristocrat. So you see, we really play the part. After the drill, we're all good buddies.
In truth, there are easier groups to join. The First Foot Guards emulates a crack British regiment: one that you'll see guarding Buckingham Palace today. We have lots of friends among the retired Grenadier Guards, and they like what they see when we drill. We have to practice until we get everything right…and then some. But there's a lot of satisfaction in aiming for perfection.
Colonial reenactment groups don't need to be as perfect, because militias didn't (for the most part) have uniforms, and in real life their drills weren't executed perfectly in concert. That's just the way it was. The Redcoats were drilled to perfection, and the household regiments (including our group) even more so. If spit-and-polish isn't your thing, we might not be the best choice for you. Contact the Web Editor for suggestions of other groups to join (He understands: he belongs to a Rebel group, too.)
Some units dress up and simply appear in parades. The Guards is a fighting unit (reenacted fighting, that is). We fight for our own edification: and for the benefit of onlookers. We do a lot of Encampments, where we interact with the public. And yes we do some parades. You see the unit gets paid for these, and we always like to bring some cash into the regimental strongbox. We also do educational lectures, to spread the word about RevWar history, The Guards, and The Hobby.
We encourage women to join us. If you can dress like a man, you can be a Private Soldier. Long hair is no problem. Otherwise you can be a camp follower. We have both in our group.
Can you play an instrument? We could use you! Musicians get higher pay, too (twice zero is still zero). Our Musick gets to wear the absolute fanciest of uniforms! We have drummers and fifers. If you can't play these, we have talented musicians who can teach you. Our Musick doesn't just play rousing tunes: they play the military commands that the army responds to. They are a very important element, and besides, when we march, we want to announce our presence to the enemy.
Our different people bring different talents. They might only play the part of a Private Soldier, but they bring their own special real-world skill with them… and the Regiment can use your talent.
It's hard to pinpoint what makes someone join The Guards. Our members truly come from all walks of life. Probably the only thing they have in common is their interest in history. You'll find you are constantly learning: when you go to a location, you find out about that place and the real events that took place there. You'll always meet someone who knows more that you, whether they're a mine of information on buttons, period food, weapons, social history or armaments, or whatever. It's all fascinating stuff.
do I have to be?
We'd prefer 18 or older, but we do have some youngsters, in fact we have the position of Ensign, who in real life was an officer, even though he would have been under 18. Contact us. We also have roles for older men.
It will cost you maybe $1200 to get your uniform and musket. But once you've got yourself armed and clothed, that's it. There is of course the cost of getting to a location (although we usually carpool). There's the cost of dining, but we have a regimental Mess. To encourage you to try us out before you make a commitment, we do have some hand-me down uniforms. We encourage you to come to our drills. Unless it’s a dress rehearsal we drill without uniforms (or in partial uniforms). We have a Quartermaster who can help you out.
When you're carrying weapons there certainly is a potential for injury. The unit is well aware of this, because we have been operating for decades. The First Foot Guards is insured. We have a small membership fee that covers this. We belong to The British Brigade which has extensive rules and requirements. We have regular safety inspections, including those that are done on the field of battle (exactly as it would have been done). Some members of our group have been reenacting for decades, and they definitely know an unsafe procedure when they see it about to happen. In battles, we have safety officers who can bring all proceedings to a halt, or eject someone who is not following the rules. In fact, nobody can guarantee that nothing untoward will happen, but The Foot Guards has a perfect safety record that speaks for itself.
will I play?
Probably a private soldier. You won't make officer right away, and besides many who have been with us for years don't even want to be an officer. If you have special skills or knowledge you could be a musician, a cook or a surgeon.
Eight tenths of the Regiment were 'Battalion' or 'Hatt Company', and have their distinctive uniforms. If you're fast and of lighter build you might be asked to join the one tenth that made up The Light Infantry. If you're a big guy, you might become part of the one tenth that were Grenadiers. Come to one of our wintertime drills. The Serjeant will check you out, and you can check us out too.