Nippy Keen: Revolutionary War Veteran
Nippy says his many greated grandfather fought with General Nathanael Greene in the southern campaign of the American Revolution. According to Nippy, his grandfather and the Quaker general were such great friends the common soldiers called them Keen & Greene, or Greene & Keen, but I don’t know about that. Nippy knows more about the American Revolution than anyone I’ve ever known but he likes stretchers too, especially when it concerns his family, which he’s terribly proud of.
About 25 years ago Nippy decided to organize a reenactment group, known as The Sons of the Battle of Little Beaver, in recognition of what some historians consider the last skirmish of the American Revolution. Recruitment was somewhat sluggish at the start: two months into the organization Curly Dowd was the only other member.
Nippy was at Sotty’s one night not long after, attempting to drum up recruits, and the subject turned to drink as is wont to happen in pubs. When he began explaining what prodigious amounts of alcohol the founders drank folks began to get interested. When he said they’d need someone to research “period beer” and “period whiskey,” all eyes were on Nippy. As it turned out, 23 members signed up within a week, admittedly more interested in period drunkenness than historical accuracy but Nippy figured he’d bring them along to the joy of history by and by, which was pretty much what happened. They meet at Sotty’s twice every month to discuss strategy, tactics, proper dress, and drink. At one meeting last year Otto Hopp said he’d been doing a bit of reading about 18th Century beverages and had whipped up several different concoctions for sampling, which garnered another eleven members in one night. Happy Fohl said the lot of them sampled until three AM, when he finally tossed them out. Ever since then, the group averages about thirty members who travel to various events in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania for festivals and rendezvous’ and such, taking turns staying sober, the club rules dictating that at least six members “abstain from spirits” at all times. The big event of the year is the reenactment of the Battle of Little Beaver each October during the Carrie Sanderling Festival but on account of a lack of Indians, the battle is usually rather one-sided, Nippy and his fellows in arms having no recourse but to fire into the bushes, pretending Indians are lurking thereabouts. Still, they march pretty well for drunks and if you squint your eyes to make things fuzzy you can almost believe they are what they pretend to be.
1. The fort, which was attacked by Shawnee Indians led by Chief Bleu, and a British Colonel serving as adviser, was located somewhere near the Imaginactory, though no one knows the exact spot. I am trying to interest several archaeologists in excavating the area.
2. The preceding video was from a reenactment in north-west Ohio which, due to the time of day, every attending member was sober, making it something of a rarity. That same night an inebriated Curly and three or four others raided the British camp at midnight and the resulting fracas more resembled a battle than anything on the schedule. A drummer boy from the Queen’s Own Regiment was injured, thankfully not seriously, when Curly and his cohorts, snatching the petrified youngster from his tent with the intention of tarring and feathering him, drug him over a period tent peg, cutting his ankle. The Sons of the Battle of Little Beaver were thereafter requested not to attend future events, and receive an “univitation” each year assuring they won’t forget not to go.
3. Several citizens have approached John Bleu, our town gardener and a direct descendant of Chief Bleu, about beginning a sister organization of Native Americans but he refuses, citing as his reason that he’s busy enough trying to keep the Sons of the Battle, or SOBs, as most folks in town call them, from tramping all the peonies during their mock battle.