Woods Battle: Pennsic 47

Hey everyone!  I wrote this right after Pennsic and then got busy packing and moving and never posted it.  Enjoy!

Back when I was pregnant, my husband promised me that our first Pennsic back, I would get to fight in the woods battle. Since my son was born I have only been in armor twice. I really didn’t have have much of a desire to fight at all. In fact, throughout peace week, I even described myself as “a former fighter”. I didn’t know where I was going with my SCA identity and goals, but I did know it wasn’t going to be related to fighting. I took classes, volunteered, made new friends, and reconnected with old ones.

At the beginning of the second week, I decided to attend the female fighters roundtable. I don’t know why I wanted to go. I had already decided to give up fighting for the time being. Nonetheless, after a lot of debate, I decided to go. It was nice to have a chance to chat with other female fighters. It lit enough of a fire in me to decide to attempt the woods battle.

The next morning I woke up early, put on all my armor, and got to inspection point not long after they opened. Thankfully, my weapons had already been inspected because my husband had considered using them himself. I passed the inspection with no issues. I walked back up to the B blocks, then down again, across the battlefield, up the road, and to the woods. I was already pouring with sweat by the time I arrived. After walking uphill to get to our resurrection point, I was huffing and puffing. Thankfully, there was plenty of time before the battle started. I looked around for some people I knew, thinking to say ‘hi’ and decided against it. I spotted a man sitting on a rock not far away. There was another rock nearby, so I sat on that. I ended up chatting with him a little bit as we waited, but only in passing. A few people came across me and said hi, but mostly I sat in silence. I was okay with that. It seemed like everyone else was spending the time blustering and boasting (I doubt that EVERYONE was doing it, it just seemed that way at the time), so I was enjoying keeping my silence.
During one of my few conversations, people asked me who I was fighting with. I said I was fighting for myself. Then I was pleased to realize that it was true. The woods battle is really the best battle for being an army of one, since it’s easy to lose your group and end up fighting with someone else anyway. Fighting for myself meant I could go where I want and do what I want. In the past, fighting alone felt scary. Now, it felt like I was free.
After being told it was going to be 10 minutes or 5 minutes before the battle begins at least 5 times, I didn’t even have my helmet on when the cannon went off. I quickly remedied that. I quickly went off the path and found a section where there was fighting. Since I had a pole arm, I really couldn’t do much when there were spears opposing us. When they all got taken out and there were just people fighting with sword and shield, I realized that I had the tactical advantage. I ran in, killed 3, and made a hole. I kept going down the line and killing off people until a spear spotted me and took me out. As I walked away, I saw that nobody knew what to do with the hole I made. Some people were yelling at everyone to stay the line since getting too far ahead meant that they could flank around us. However, we could have used the hole I made to wrap around them on both sides and nobody took advantage of it.

When I returned, I was told they needed help on the road. I usually like to stay off of the road, but since they asked for help, I went there. There were a few Tuchux there. I usually liked fighting Tuchux in the past. However, none of them acknowledged any of my shots, even though two rocked their heads, and one shot caused the person to fall. Eventually, I was killed by a spear.

I decided to return to the woods. I realized that we were on the far left flank and we were thinning out way too much. Most of the time all I really did was stand there and help be a “show of force” since the other side had a lot of spears. My pole arm didn’t have the reach on them. After a while, some of my old habits returned. I found myself repeating orders. Then I found myself shouting new things. I figured it was stupid for me to order people, but I seemed to notice things that other people didn’t. I saw where the line was thinnest. I saw when they started to flank us. I saw when one guy with a white belt drew off five people that should have stayed with our line. I just yelled to point out the things I noticed. People rarely did anything about it, but that was their choice.
I realized that a little to the left of me was one of the flags. While it was fun killing people, this was really what the battle was all about. This would allow us to win or lose. Many people enjoy the fight without seeing the bigger picture — the flag. There were very few people near the flag. I got killed several times protecting it. Each time, it became more and more difficult to hike back up the hill and return to the flag. Each time, I spent a little bit longer standing back and catching my breath before joining the line. I suppose the important thing was that I kept returning, even if it took me a while. We lost the flag at the end of the battle, but at least we tried.

Over the course of the battle I had seen several people I knew. Duke Darius (Omega?) said it was good to see me out there. Some folks I knew from Locac said something similar. Probably my favorite moment was when Duke Edward of Eldemere gave me a fist bump. Maybe it sounds silly, but being acknowledged for doing something well by such a great pole arm fighter meant a lot to me!

~ by Gunnvor on March 17, 2019.

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