The Broadside


Outwater's Militia Newsletter

#11, March, 2011

    1)    Letter to Governor Livingston from Peter Wilson and John Outwater
    2)    Canteens, by James Smith
    3)    Some Period terms, cant and slang by Vi Prevete
    4)    Apple Custard
    5)    The Fit of Men's clothes by Matt Skic
Captain Outwater's desk
    7)    News


Petition of Peter Wilson and Note Attached of John Outwater

[New Barbadoes, September 8, 1781 ]

 May it please your Excellency

    The perilous Situation of the frontiers of this County has induced me to make this Application to your Excellency at the Request of the Inhabitants, that a part of the Militia of the State should be called out to the Assistance of the twelve Months Men stationed here for the defence of the County. This Measure has become the more necessary as the few Men who were raised for a Year are reduced in Number by Enlistments into the Continental Army. One hundred & twenty Men were designed for the Protection of this Frontier, not above one fourth Part of which are now on duty here, while Closter which is also very much exposed, is entirely open to the Depredations of the Refugees, who are indefatigable in making nocturnal Expeditions for Horses, Cattle, & Prisoners.(1) On the 9th. of August they carried off fourteen Prisoners & a very considerable Number of Cattle & Horses-the greater Part of the Stock they were obliged to quit, but the Prisoners were safely lodged in
the Sugar House, and on the 30th. ult. they made another Attempt upon this Quarter but were forced to leave all the Cattle & Horses they had taken, & in Spite of the Fire of their Gun-Boat, & Grape Shot to make a precipitate Retreat with the Loss of three men killed, & 6 or 7 wounded two of whom, one of them the Capt. of the Gun Boat, are since dead, some of the Others dangerously wounded, and one taken prisoner. Capt. Outwatcr who commandcd the Year'.s Men & Militia of the Vicinity who turned out On the Instant, had one man wounded thro' the Thigh, & two others slightly scratched. A small party of them succceded better at Closter last Wednesday night the 4th. Instant having carried off 10 head of Cattle & 4 Horses, & taken five white Men & a Negro prisoners. One Cole,(2) of the Militia of that Neighbourhood, who had deserted to the Enemy a few days before was their Conductor.
 The Militia of this County have done so great a Surplus of Military Duty that I could wish, if the Governor's Ideas coincide with mine, to have one Class from one of the Regiments of the County of Somerset, & one Class from this  County called to our assistance, to be Stationed at this Place & at Closter. I am with the greatest Respect your Excellency's very humble Servant

PETER WILSON [Bergen County, September 10, 1781 ]

I am Parsaonelly Acquainted With the General Desire of the Publick, In Regard to An Augmentation of the Guard, On this frontier, Your Excelency I Am Convinced, Wants No Information, In Regard to the Situation of this County from Your Parshaonel knowledge of the Strength of the De[ . . . ] under my Command, & Capt. Demarests (3) at the Bridges, You take the mater In Your Serius Consideration & Grant the Above Request. I Am With the Gratest Respect Your Excellency's most Obedient & Very Humble Servt.



I. For a report of earlier Loyalist raids into Bergen County see Petition of the Inhabitants of Bergen County, June 26, 1781. British regulars, Loyalists, and refugees not only attacked and looted Bergen County towns through the spring and summer of 1781, but in May had established a blockhouse at Fort Lee. The Bergen County militia, under thc command of Capt. John Outwater, had reduced the blockhouse even before receiving George Washington's orders to do so (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 22: 94-95).

2 Probably Benjamin Cole, a private in Col. John Lambs Artillery of the Continental Army, who had deserted prior to Sept. 4th, 1781 (NJA, Newspaper Extracts, 5:294)
3 David Demerest


The Canteen

The canteen would have been a vital piece of equipment for a solider during the American Revolution.  Without water and proper hydration, a soldier would have been stopped dead in their tracks. As re-enactors, it is important that you carry water on you at all times to ensure that dehydration does not occur. Even when it comes to hydration, it is important to continue to look the part. Appropriate canteens would be made or wood, tin or glass wrapped in leather.

Wooden Canteen – A wooden canteen is constructed much like a stout barrel with a strap. They are generally lined with pitch to make them water tight. However, since they are wood, they are known to expand and contract. They would be very practical to a militia man as they would be fairly easy to make from natural material that would be quit abundant, trees.

Wooden Rumlet – A Wooden Rumlet is usually made from a log hollowed out and the end pieces inserted. It would have been lined with pitch to make the piece water tight and held about a half-pint. As the name suggests, these were originally crafted to store rum, which was given out as rations to soldiers.

Wooden Barrel Canteen – A Wooden Barrel Canteen is similar in construction to the Wooden Rumlet, but it has a larger capacity and was used to store water.

Tin Canteens – These were used by the British and were either kidney or crescent shaped and carried on a hemp or linen cord. One thing to consider when looking at this style of canteen is the back story behind it. How would a member of the militia come across this canteen?

Blown Glass Bottle -could be wrapped with leather to make a serviceable but not as rugged canteen.

Bottle Gourds – a natural alternative, one of the things we know about the Dutch that inhabited New Jersey at this time is that they were resourceful and not a wasteful lot. A Gourd Canteen would be cost effective to make though they are fragile.

This first step is to procure a dried bottle gourd. You can either grow your own from seed or look for them at the farm stand in the fall. Your gourd must then be placed in a dry location and be allowed to thoroughly dry out. Once you can hear the seeds rattle inside, clean the outside of the gourd with soap and water so the mold that is on the outside comes off. Next, you want to make sure you are outside and have some sort of breathing mask on. Drill a hole on the top of the gourd (The dried gourd particles inside are not good to breath in, thus why it’s important that this is done outside, along with wearing protection over your mouth), this whole will be used as your opening to dispense water as well. You can then put a few rocks into the gourd, shake them around and this will help to loosen any other objects inside the gourd. To water proof your canteen, some recommend a natural material, like bees wax. Working with bees wax is very hot so be careful. Melt the wax and pour it into the gourd. Shake the gourd around to have even coverage and drain the wax before it dries. Your gourd bottle is now water proof, you just need a cork for the top and you have a very authentic canteen. The fun part of Bottle Gourds is that if you break it, you can always grow more.

Period terms, cant and slang

Sneaksmen - those who plunder by means or stealth, for example

Drag Sneaks - steal goods or luggage from carts or coaches
Snoozers - "sleep" and decamp with objects
Star-Gazers - cut the panes out of shop windows
Till Friskers - empty the till during the inattention of the shopkeeper

Sawney Hunters - purloin bacon from cheese monger chops
Noisy rocket - steal china and glass from shops and houses
Area Sneaks - steal from houses by going down the area steps (Alleyways)
Dead Lurkers - steal coats from passages at dusk
snow gathers - steal clean clothes off the hedges
Skinners - women who entice children and sailors to go with them and then strip them of their goods

Bluey Hunters - steal lead from the roofs and leads of houses
Cat & Kitten hunters - steal pewter quart and pint pots from the top of area railings.

Other "callings" - Low trades
Thieves - sons of St. Peter, with every finger a fish hook.
Files and buzz-gloaks - pick pockets
Buffer - steal and kills dogs for the glove maker
On the question lie - a woman who pretends to be a delivery girl for a shop, but who
steals while waiting for the house servant to call the lady of the house to see her
Cant the Dobbin - a women stealing rolls of ribbon from shops
Fogle Hunting - pickpocketing expensive handerchiefs
Bung diving - purse stealing in general also called rum-hustle

Chiving the Froe - nipping off women's pockets. Little razor clips fit over the fingers
Curl Snatcher - not a wig snatcher, but one who steals human teeth for the dentist.
Pricking the wicker - stealing from the baker's basket.

High Trades:
The Gentlemen - smugglers
Gentlemen of the Road or Gallopers - highwaymen.
Drawing the King's Picture - Forgers
Bit smasher or bit cull - to clip coins for the silver and gold
Priggers of Prancers, also Pradnappers - horse thieves.

Not all of this cant or slang was current at the same time. However, it would all have been understood.

Apple Custard

New Jersey has always been famous for its bountiful soil. When the British and Hessians first invaded the colony of New Jersey, we read of the pleasantries of the Jersey farm and the bounty that they produced.  Apples were a big part of New Jersey farming, with countless varieties produced that would dwarf the options one finds in a supermarket today. The apple could be stored and made into cider or prepared in numerous ways. One popular recipe that would have graced the tables of 18th Century Hackensack during the fall and winter months was Apple Custard.  Below you will find a recipe taken from “Food, Drink and Celebrations of the Hudson Valley Dutch” by Peter Rose.
Apple Custard
2 ¼ pounds Golden Delicious apples
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs without crust, made from a good peasant-style white bread
5 egg yolks
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2-4 tablespoons sugar to taste
Peel the apples, quarter and core. Cut each quarter in three slices lengthwise and then cut the slices across into small pieces. In a large saucepan, combine the wine, water, butter and apple pieces. Cook until the apples are very soft. Mash the apples and stir in the bread crumbs and then mash the crumbs as well. Whisk in the egg yolks, ginger and sugar and cook over low heat, stirring constantly about three to four minutes, and the custard thickens. Pour into a pretty bowl and serve at room temperature or chilled. The custard can also be service with plain butter cookies.

The Proper Fit of Men’s Clothing

By Matthew Skic
Clothing of the 18th century did not fit like modern men’s clothing. Clothing was often very tight and uncomfortable compared to today’s standards of loose pants and t-shirts. The material and style of clothing depended on class and the occupation that the person held. This holds true for the men of Outwater’s Company. Although the material and style varied, the way people wore clothing had to fit certain standards of the time. Bergen County, with its proximity to New York City, was a well civilized place. A mix of farmland and towns characterized the area and would define what the men of Outwater’s Company would wear. As written in the Clothing and Equipment guide, “they did not dress as frontiersmen. They would have been dressed and equipped like an average civilized English or Dutch person.” As living historians we need to more accurately portray the dress of the “average civilized English or Dutch person” of the late 18th century. One aspect that needs improvement is the fit of the clothing that we wear.
Hats and Caps: Head coverings were virtually always worn. Outside they were a requirement. A variety of styles were worn. Hats were worn low on the brow, tipping the tops of the eyebrows and covering the hair on top of your head as shown in the print on the left. They were often tilted on the head. Work caps of linen were very common. Many sketches in Diderot’s Encylopedie depict tradesmen wearing workcaps. Diderot’s depiction of a lathe shop shows this (right). Working men wearing tricorn hats (left).

Neckwear: As seen through 18th century paintings, cravats and neckerchiefs rolled around the neck are the most common types of civilian neckwear when wearing a waistcoat and coat. Stocks of linen and horsehair were also worn, but are more of a military item. Cravats made of superfine white linen and neckerchiefs made of silk or checked or solid linen would probably be most commonly seen in the militia company. These two types of neckwear should be worn covering the shirt collar wrapped tightly around the neck and knotted at the back or front with short tails. They should cover the entire neck. They should not be worn like a modern necktie, hanging down the chest. The men shown wear cravats wrapped around the neck in the proper fashion. One with the top of the collar showing, one without. The image below shows a farmer wearing a smock with a neckerchief, probably of linen, with the tails of the knot left long. This was probably only done when wearing a smock.

Breeches or trousers: Breeches fit snug around the knees and thighs and full in the seat to allow room for sitting down. The knee band extends just below the knee and is fastened with ties, a button, or a buckle. Garters are worn just below the knee band to hold up the stockings, buckles go on the outside. Trousers also fit somewhat tight in the thighs and full in the seat. However, they do not fit as tight as military overalls do (a garment not appropriate for Outwater’s Company). The length of trousers varied in length from just above the ankles to just touching the tops of the shoes. Overalls should not touch the ground like some modern pants.


Waistcoat: Waistcoats fit tight around the chest and reach just long enough to cover the buttons on the top of the breeches or trousers. Some waistcoats had ties in the back to make adjustments.  The sketch shows how the waistcoat contours to the shape of the body. Waistcoats and breeches were commonly cut from the same cloth.
Shirts and Smocks: Shirts are a man’s underwear. Reaching down to the knees, shirts are a loose fitting garment. The collar is buttoned with one or two buttons at the neck and the narrow cuffs have one button. Smocks, worn by farmers, are an oversized shirt made of unbleached linen or other colors. Used to protect clothes while the farmer worked, the smock reached as far down as below the knees or as high as the mid thigh.
Coats and Jackets: Every man in the 18th century wore some kind of coat or jacket. A man in his shirt sleeves was not properly dressed. Coats and jackets fit snug around the shoulders and the arms. Sleeves reached just to the wrist bone, revealing a little bit of the shirt cuff. Coats ranged in length from the mid thigh to the knee. Jackets are basically short coats and sleeved waistcoats are exactly what they sound like: waistcoats with sleeves. The common man to the right wears a tight coat and a properly fitting pair of breeches.

A Selection of Properly Dressed Militiamen


 Captain Outwater's Desk and J.O.P. commission
 offered for sale years ago to the Bergen County Historical Society (which could not afford them).

 His desk

The desk open

 Captain Outwater's commission as a Justice of the Peace

   At the annual meeting we elected the following officers:
Frank Prevete, adjutant
Vi Prevete, paymaster
James Smith, Quartermaster

At Drill day we were told about some fascinating research done on the actually positions units were in at particularly times.  It has not been published yet, but has greatly expanded the certain knowledge of where events of the battle actually happened.   There is a small stone marker along a sunken road leading to the Clark house which has been shown to mark the old Sawmill Rd. which Washington was using to get to Princeton- already abandoned before the Revolution.

Joe Pena has decided to join us on the field with his son, Alex, and will be with us at the Battle of Bound Brook.

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