Brown Bess musket
Camps Open To The Public
Creating Interesting Conversation with the General Public
Discussing Period Firelocks with Adults & Children
One of the most rewarding aspects of reenacting is speaking with interested members of the public as they meander through camp. Sometimes, however, our visitors may be unsure of how to approach us, or even apprehensive - not wanting to ask a "silly" question. In cases like this, it is our responsibility to break the ice. This column is designed to provide some suggestions on how to do that, and recommend topics of conversation.
At almost every event, I have heard a parent say to their child, "Look at the soldier's rifle, Johnny," as they point toward my musket. What a perfect opportunity to jump in and educate not only the child, but the parent too.
American volley at Constitution Island in the Hudson Highlands
As you begin to explain the parent's error in terminology, be careful not to sound condescending, and be sure to smile. Try a response like, "You're right that rifles were used by some Americans during the War for Independence, however, this is not a rifle. Do you know what it is?" At this point, hold the musket up for them to examine it. "This is a musket."
Then proceed to explain the differences between muskets and rifles, including smooth vs. rifled barrels, ability to be fixed with bayonets, cartridges vs. greased patches, and visual cues to identify them as they walk around camp. You will very shortly have a crowd gather about you.
Continue with more in-depth explanations about the workings of your musket.. Explain how the ignition system of a firelock works. Pull a cartridge out and explain how to load the weapon as you walk through the steps. Talk about modern cliches that relate to the musket like, "lock, stock, & barrel," "a flash in the pan," or "going off half-cocked."
"You're right that rifles were used by some Americans during the War for Independence, however, this is not a rifle.
Do you know what it is?"
That is generally sufficient explanation for the general public. However. these events often draw people that are familiar with firearms, frequently black powder arms. To have a meaningful conversation with them, get to know the differences between the various firelocks used during our conflict. Some of these differences are outlined in the table below.
|Bayonet type||triangular socket||triangular socket||triangular socket||none|
|Loading method||Paper Cartridge||Paper Cartridge||Paper Cartridge||Powder, patch and ball|
|Flint size||1"||1"||1"||5/8" - 3/4"|
|Loads per minute||3 to 4||3 to 4||3 to 4||1|
|Effective Range||80-100 yards||80-100 yards||80-100 yards||300 yards|
|Pre-1740||1763 to 1777||varies|
|Visual Clues to Identity||Heavy stock, Brass furniture , Gooseneck Cock||Heavy stock, Brass furniture , Gooseneck Cock and longer barrel||Lighter stock, Steel barrel bands, Reinforced Cock||Thin stock, Octagonal barrel, Patch box, stock carvings|
CALAMANCO: a worsted in a satin weave that has
been glazed. Sometimes with figured designs, reminiscent of silk
CALICO: brightly colored, printed cottons imported from India during the 17th &18th centuries. "Calico" comes from "callicut-cloth" produced in Callicut, India.
CAMBRIC: a fine linen that has been bleached.
CAMLET: a plain weave worsted that has not been glazed.
CHEYNEY or CHINA: a worsted similar to harateen and moreen. It was typically dyed red, green, blue, yellow, or purple.
CHINTZ: a glazed, printed cotton first produced in India, a misspelling of chints, a Hindu word.
DAMASK: a fabric in which the woven design contrasts glossy and dull surfaces. Damask can be woven of any fabric. Worsted damasks were most common in America before the Revolution.
DIMITY: woven cotton cloth with a striped or ribbed pattern.
FUSTIAN: a linen and cotton fabric that has a herringbone, ribbed, or diaper (Diamond-shaped) pattern. Sometimes woven in all cotton.
HARATEEN: a watered worsted.
LINSEY-WOOLSEY: a woven fabric, with a linen warp and a woolen weft.
MOREEN: a wavy patterned worsted of a coarser yarn than harateen. Typically used for bed and window hangings.
PALAMPORE: a large cotton panel imported from India, featuring a large scale pattern such as the tree of life.
RESIST: Cotton block printed with large-scale fruit and flower motifs in deep indigo on bleached cloth.
TOILE: a monochromatic copperplate-printed cotton or linen. "Toile" is French for "cotton."
WARP: the yarns stretched lengthwise in a loom.
WEFT: the crosswise yarns interwoven with the warp.
WORSTED: a woven woolen whose fibers were combed rather than carded before spinning. Worsteds were often pressed to resemble glossy silks.
Being an opinion of 18th century recorded music
The World Turned Upside Down: Instrumental Arrangements Of Music From The Time Of The American Revolution Barry Phillips & Friends, Gourd Music
Reviewed by Mike Connolly
Released in 1992, and widely available at museums and historic sites, The World Turned Upside Down is a varied collection of 18th century country dances, hornpipes, street songs, and even lullabies, performed instrumentally by a group of talented musicians, led by Barry Phillips.
Phillips, a Californian and veteran folk performer, ably handles harpsichord, clavichord, cello, bowed psaltery, and percussion. Other musicians round out the ensemble with guitars, fiddle, hammered and mountain dulcimers, flutes, whistles, mandolin, harp, oboe, and recorders. The result is a nicely arranged, thoughtful though sometimes subdued, collection of period tunes. The melodies are familiar to many reenactors, if not the arrangements themselves.
Besides the title track, highlights include "Young Widow," a flute and fiddle melody which segues into the lively "Black Joke" as guitar and mandolin join in. "New German Spa" is a spirited fife tune with the melody introduced on flute and soon echoed by guitar, oboe, and cello. It may be me Celtic blood, but my personal favorite piece is the popular "Fisher's Hornpipe/Patterson's Hornpipe." It is easily the most animated of all the selections. It is dominated by a bouncy fiddle melody, helped along by the percussive hammered dulcimer. It quickly evokes images of country dancing on an autumn evening.
Overall, the album is well recorded, with a very "live" quality. It will transport you to an earlier time - if you're willing to go.
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Scald 1 pint of milk and put 3 pints of Indian meal, and half pint of flour - bake before the fire. Or scald with milk two thirds of the Indian meal, or wet two thirds with boiling water, add salt, molasses, and shortening, work up with cold water pretty stiff, and bake as above.
BEETLE-HEADED: Dull, Stupid.
BROWN BESS: A soldier's firelock. "To hug Brown Bess" is to carry a firelock, or serve as a private soldier.
CHICKEN-HEARTED: Fearful, cowardly.
CUR: A cut or curtailed dog, disabled from chasing game. Figuratively used to signify a surly fellow.
ENGLISH BURGUNDY: Porter.
FLIP: Small beer, brandy, and sugar.
GROG: Rum and water. "Groggy" or "Groggified" is to be drunk.
HUZZA: Said to have been originally the cry of the huzzars or Hungarian light horse; but now the national shout of the English, both civil and military; to give three cheers being to huzza thrice.
JACK TAR: A sailor.
LOBSTER(BACK): A soldier, from the color of his clothes.
LOGGERHEAD: A blockhead or stupid fellow, also a double-headed, or bar-shot of iron.
NECK WEED: Hemp.
SCALY: Mean, sordid.
TATTOO: A beat of the drum, or signal for soldiers to go to their quarters, and a direction to the sutlers to close the tap , and
7th June 1780: Had an alarm and the enemy came out as far as
Springfield Bridge. The Militia colected fast and joining Maxwells
brigade stopt the enemy and after sum fire at long shot the enemy
retired to a breast work they had threw up on an advantagious
pice of ground on this side the farm meeting hous. About 3 this
aftarnoon they set fire to about 30 buildings, one of which is
the meeting hous. We have had about 15 killed and 40 wounded,
among the latter my brother Saml, slightly. I had orders and marched
my regiment to Thompsons Mills whare we lay all night.
8th : This morning about 1/2 after 12 the rear of the enemy left the ground. About 8 o'clock received orders to follow them and on ower march receive[d] inteligence that the enemy are going, but when we got to town find a guard in the woods back of Decon Ogdens hous and at the forks of the road. Aftar sum time here and being joined by Lord Stirlings troopes he orders us to advance in three colloms, one on the main road, the Continental troops of Col. Cortland on the left, myself in the centor. We advanced, and the troop under my command behaved exceading well, altho at a certain time one platoon fell back a little, but after being ordered to com up came up and stood thare ground well. We took about 20 prisoners and advance through the woods whare the enemy open upon us with a number of field pieces, and finding they ware true [too] heavy for us General Hand ordered a retreat, which was performed in good order. I had one man killed and three wounded. After retiring about half a mile we lay on ower armes untill evening and then returned to the north end of town and staid all night.
22d. [23d]: This day the enemy came out and burnt Springfield and returned about 3 o'clock P.M., pursewed by ower people. The enemies loss this day is thought to be considerable. Owers is about 15 killed and 40 wounded. I got home about 10 at night.
- from the Spirit of Seventy Six - The Story of the American
Revolution as Told By Participants, Ed. by Commager & Morris
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A Day Book for the Goile Guard & also to Guard the Presioners at Courts at the Request of the high Sheriff of the County of Bergen, Began the fifteenth of March and Ended the tenth of April, 1779
First Name Last Name Rank
John Outwater -Capt
Abraham Post -Lt
Henry Vanwinkel -Srt
Isaac Laback -Drm
Selvester Morriss -Corl
John Bardan -Sart
David Ritzaino Bogert
? Brass -Corl
Luke Vanwinkel -Sargt
John A. Ackraman
Cornelius Hopper -Corp
Jacob Vanderbeeck -Corpl
Doc John Vanburen
L 'Gerret Vanwaginen
Cornelyus D. Ackraman
Henderick Dennic -Fifes
Annual Meeting of Outwater's Company
Sunday, February 17, 2002
New Castle, DE
1pm lucheon at "the Arsenal" restaurant, with the characters of the esteemed George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjimen Franklin on hand!
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Newsletter vol. 5
© 2002 By Outwater's Militia. All rights reserved.