Sunday, July 30, 2017

Making the Ligonier Shoepack

Bespoke shoepacks.  One of the many messes on my workbench a few weeks ago.

The original of this moccasin/shoe hybrid can be found at Fort Ligonier.  I have found it to be a good winter moc, with a sturdier sole and thicker lining than the typical pucker-toe moccasin. 

My first pair of shoepacks. 
Kept my feet warm and dry in a Virginia snowstorm.

That being said, we only have one example in the mid-Atlantic states (Fort Ligonier), so I will leave it up to the individual as to its appropriateness outside that area.  There are examples of winter moccasins (unsoled) throughout the Great Lakes region, that may be more appropriate. 

I started by drafting a diagram based on the measurements of the foot and then transferred the lines to a paper pattern.  These shoepacks were made using 6-8 ounce oak tanned leather, the same I would use for shoes.

Liners made from a scrap of Wilde Weavery blanket.  Most of the
time I use white British Army blanket scraps.

I always sew the lining to be removable to promote drying.  The linings are sewn first as they are quite thick (2-3 layers) and I want to ensure that my leather is a little larger to accommodate that and not crowd the feet.  Tight shoes are the worst thing for keeping feet warm, as they restrict the circulation.

I sew the uppers first while wetted, using hemp thread.  Some trimming of the uppers may be needed to fit the soles.  Be sure to use a pencil to mark where your holes will be on the uppers and then soles, to ensure you don't have one extra, and that they all line up properly. 

 The shoepacks also need to be well wetted when lacing the uppers to the soles.  For finishing, I will water down dye (I prefer a greyish color to imitate brain tan, but some of my past customers have preferred a darker, more aged look). 

Soaked with my waterproofing mixture.  I have found that a hot application
in the sun works best to keep them soft outside and dry inside.

To soften them up, I'll apply a hot mixture of beeswax and neetsfoot oil and let them site in the hot sun to get it to permeate the leather and fill the seams. 

The finished shoepack.  Like any shoe or hiking boot,
don't wear them on a  long movement without breaking them in.

Insert the liner and you are ready to go.  I recommend wearing them wet for a day (allowing them to dry out on your foot) around the home, in order to get the leather to conform to the shape of your foot.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

"Rancid Beef and Wormy Biscuit": Notes on "Improving" 18th c Cooking, Messing and Kitchens

Virginians of Bibb's Company, Prince Edward County Militia, pause to
cook rations on the march to Guilford CH, 1781. Note the use of sticks in place of fire
irons and iron trammel hooks.  We can infer that iron fire implements
were not in use from extant art and regimental orders that wagons were to be used for
the company tentage only with kettles to be carried by the men.

Recently a question was posted on an online group I follow asking about 18th c cooking.  There were the usual snarky remarks, but very little information from folks who were "in the know".  Sadly, in living history, particularly among mainstream organizations, we seem not to base our cooking on any historical research, but rather the Southern Dutch Oven Cookbook from Barnes and Noble (an admirable tome, to be sure, but not accurate to the 18th c).

I would submit several recommendations for improving upon cooking at living history events (by improving, I mean from and authenticity standpoint, of course).

1.  Rations. 

In 1775 Washington and his officers agreed on ration requirements that were seldom, if ever met throughout the war:

                "By order of his Excellency General Washington,
              a Board of General Officers
              sat yesterday in Cambridge, and unanimously recommended
              the following Rations to be delivered in the manner hereby directed.

             Corn'd Beef and Pork, four days in a week.

             Salt Fish one day, and fresh Beef two days.

             As Milk cannot be procured during the Winter Season,
             the Men are to have one pound and a half of Beef,
             or eighteen Ounces of Pork Pr day.2

            Half pint of Rice, or a pint of Indian Meal Pr Week.

            One Quart of Spruce Beer Pr day, or nine Gallons of Molasses
            to one hundred Men per week. 
            Six pounds of Candles to one hundred Men Pr week, for guards.3

            Six Ounces of Butter, or nine Ounces of Hogs-Lard Pr week.4
             Three pints of Pease, or Beans Pr Man Pr Week,
             or Vegetables equivalent, allowing Six Shillings Pr Bushel for Beans,
             or Pease-two and eight pence Pr Bushel for Onions-One
             and four pence Pr Bushel for Potatoes and Turnips.

             One pound of Flour Pr Man each day-
             Hard Bread to be dealt out one day in a week, in lieu of Flour." (1)

Throughout his narrative, Connecticut soldier Joseph Plump Martin records rations only on a few occasions and when he does, it is monotony; southern salt pork and sea bread, pork and bread, corned beef and hard bread in a borrowed pot, one pound each of beef and flour, salt shad on two separate occasions, beef and flour and finally, fresh pork and hard bread (2)

    For more on Continental Army rations, see my previous article, "18th c Military Rations and the Lack Thereof"

Rations for British army units also varied from garrison to campaign and from geographical location.  In one American garrision, soldiers were to receive:

                          "1 lb good Salt Beef per Man per Day
                            1 lb Flour per Man per Day
                            6 oz Butter per Man per Week
                            1 1/2 [lb] Rice per Man per Week
                            1 Pint Teneriffe or other Strong wine per Man per day."
Elsewhere in North America, soldiers would receive at Trois Rivieres:  

                          "A compleat Ration for one Man for one day in every Species

                          Flour or Bread. . . . . . . . . 1 1/2 Pounds
                         Beef . . . . . . ... . . 1 Pound
                         or Pork. . . . . . . . . 1/2 Pound
                        Pease. . . . . . . . . 1/4 Pint
                        Butter. . . . . . . . . 1 Ounce
                        Rice . . . . . . . . . . 1 Ounce"

The reality of rations on the march:  Hard bread, salt pork and boiled oatmeal.
The flagon contains switchel, an anti-scorbutic concoction of water, vinegar,
molasses and rum.

In 1776, the British Army Contract stipulated: 

the weekly ration contained "7 Pounds of Flour, or in lieu thereof 7 Pounds of Bread; 4 Pounds of Pork, or in lieu thereof 7 Pounds of Beef; 6 Ounces of Butter; 3 Pints of Pease; 1/2 Pound of Rice, or in lieu thereof 1/2 Pound of Oatmeal." 48  Mid-war, prior to his advance on the Hudson, Burgoyne's commissary also wrote from Montreal or in-kind substitutions in the daily ration:                                            "1 lb Broad or Flour

                                           1 lb Beef or 9 1/7 oz. pork

                                          3/7 pints pease

                                          6/7 oz. Butter or in lieu 1 1/7 oz. Cheese

                                          2 2/7 oz,. flour or in lieu 1 1/7 oz. Rice or 1 1/7 oz. Oatmeal." (4)

To these, soldiers were to augment with potatoes, parsnips, carrots, turnips, cabbages, and onions, sauerkraut, porter, various wines, spruce beer, malt, vinegar, generally intended as anti-scorbutics. (5)
While vegetables and anti-scorbutics were theoretically provided by the commissary, it seems that acquisition of fruits and vegetables was generally left to sutlers and soldiers' wives, who then made a profit in selling them to the messes (6).

2.  Messing Arrangements

Messes were ordinarily organized in 6-8 men (based on the number of men assigned to a tent), according to Lochee (7).  It follows that the soldiers were conducting the cooking rather than the wives of soldiers. 

Preparing a soup for the mess, "A Private Soldier and
Militiaman's Friend", (1786).

The cooks for a Mess of six.  Soups and stews were easily created from issued
rations and could be cooked for a few hours in the afternoon.  They were not overly
complicated and other tasks could be completed by the mess men, such as sewing,
cleaning of weapons or even diversions such as gaming.

Again, the SgtMaj recommends soup to the messes,
"A Private Solder and Militiaman's Friend" (1786).

3.  Kitchens

How differently the camp kitchens look that we see at reenactments and living history events.  Braziers, Dutch ovens, grilles, iron spits and trammels as well as cooking utensils abound in the recreated camp...yet we have no evidence of their use outside of the home or garrison.  Certainly we see iron trammels, ovens and cranes in the fireplaces of forts, however to think that these were carried on campaign in wagons meant for tentage seems impossible, given that men were to carry their mess equipment on their persons.

We find that the kitchen on campaign was much more simple than our modern recreations.  Below are some examples from period art:

"Soldiers Cooking", Rowlandson, 1798.  Here we do see the use of a chain
as a trammel, a copper or brass kettle and the use of branches to
make a frame for suspension of the pot.  Interestingly, Rowlandson has chosen to
depict all six of the mess-mates in this engraving.

Detail from "Encampment on Black Heath", Sandby, 1786. 
Black Heath was located just outside London, and according to
correspondence from Abigail to John Adams, was full of highwaymen and rogues.
A simple tin kettle resting on the ground.

Soldiers and Camp Followers Resting from a March, Jean-Baptiste Pater, 1730.
Here in this early 18th c depiction of French camp life, we do see a woman doing the
cooking for the mess.  The iron pot appears to be suspended on a line between two trees.

"Escorte d'Equipage", Painting by Car after Jean-Antoine Watteau, 1760.  A kettle suspended
from a tree stump and some plates and a pitcher in the foreground are all the
impedimenta of this French mess...even with the baggage train escort.

Detail from "A Perspective of a View of an Encampment",
Bowles and Carver, 1780.   Note the use of the sticks to make a tripod and the
simple design of the four tin pails.

...and the most impedimenta in a kitchen, I could possibly find, this at Hyde Park,
in London, presumably using existing structures or those erected for the Royal
Review.  "A Camp Kitchen in Hyde Park", Sandby, 1780.
While the previous illustrations show simple fires on the ground, it was also the practice in the British and Continental Armies to build field kitchens in the form of a round ditch with small fireboxes dug into the central mound.  This keeps the danger of fire from the tents, however, according to Reid, kettles were to be brought back to the company street for the officer of the day to inspect their contents and presumably to be consumed by the mess (9).

An earth camp Kitchen from Plate 3 in Grose, as reproduced in Neumann and Kravic.
Such kitchens would have been dug for each company, with one firebox to a mess.

Plate from Lochee's "Essay on Castremetation" depicting the
layout of a regimental camp.  The camp kitchens are represented
by the circles above the sutler's tents and officers' tents. Lochee does note
that the kitchens for the flank companies would be located on the perimeter, nearer
their post with the outer guard.
A recreated camp kitchen at Endview Plantation.  Queen's Own Loyal Virginia
Regiment member, Luke Fryer tends to the pan and kettle over the mess's
firebox.  As all the heat is directed towards the pan and kettle, the kitchen is far more
efficient than an open fire.
According to Simes, the kitchen had a diameter of 16 feet, with a three foot trench surrounding, the earth from the trench being thrown up in the center of the kitchen (10), as you see in the photo above.

4.  Cooking Equipment

If we are not to use Dutch ovens and such, what then can we use in keeping with the meagre equipment of the 18th c mess?  Period memoirs and correspondence generally only mention frying pans and kettles, and even these were scarce, although the intent was for one to belong to each mess.  Martin's memoir only mention the use or borrowing of kettles.  Just keeping this in mind (and leaving
the lodge cast iron materials at home) will go a long way towards improving the kitchen and cutting
down on weight.

The author's recreation of a repurposed shovel.  The original shovel/frying pan
is depicted in the upper left. (Neumann and Kravic).

For large kettles, I recommend Hot Dipped Tin or Carl Giordano.  Their products are heavy gauge tin and based on original designs and extant artifacts. 

On campaign in 1781.  Without wagons, the Queen's Rangers erect brush huts and
rely on a simple tin kettle for hot rations.   As the rangers operated from boats and
conducted multiple raids along the James, Elizabeth and Appomattox, we expect most
equipment of the mess was carried on the soldiers' persons.
I was able to "de-farb" a small one quart kettle I purchased on sutler row a few years back.  The small kettle had ears more suited to the 19th c.  I merely ground down the rivets that held on the anachronistic ears and fashioned brass ears appropriate to the 18thc.

Defarbing a sutler-row kettle.  Tools required:  Screwdriver, drill, pliers, tin snips,
jeweler's hammer.  This took about 30 mins to complete.

The author's inaugural use of what would be christened,
"The Pungo Mess Bacon Shovel" at a drill at Sully Plantation. 
Note the use of a forked stick in place of an iron trammel and the
use of sticks for suspension of the tin pail.  Easily constructed on the march.

This certainly doesn't mean that we are opposed to the thought of carrying a few extra impedimenta.  We do carry a blown glass bottle of rum, an 18th c tin coffee pot as well as a pewter flagon for mixing switchel and flip. Guilty...we are still a work in progress.  Oh yes, and earthen jar with a leather cover for carrying pickles.  I'm sorry, my kids like pickles.

For further reading, I would recommend the research of John Rees on the subjects of messing and kitchens and rations, found at: and the 2d NJ Mess Guide:

(1).  G.O., 24 Dec 1775, retrieved from:

(2) Martin, Joseph. "Memoir of Revolutionary War Soldier." Courier, NY, ed., 2012, pp. 55, 60, 81, 108, 110, 113, 141.

(3).  T. 64:201, Robinson to Navy Board, 4 Apr. 1781

(4) T. 29:45.
(5)  T. 64:103.
(6) . 64:106, Robinson to Gage, 9 Sept. 1775; More, Son, & Atkinson to Howe, 25 Sept. 1775; ibid.,

(7) Lochee, Lewis.  "An Essay on Castremetation".

(8) 64:103, Day to Robinson, 22 Aug. 1777; Report on Army Extras, 1778, as quoted in "The Organization of the British Army in the Revolution", retrieved from:

(9) Reid, Thomas, "A Treatise on the Military Duties of Infantry Officers, Walter and Egerton, 1795 (25).
(10) Simes, Thomas, "A Treatise on the Military Science." London, 1780. (11)
(11 ) Simes (174)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Recreating a Virginia Shot Pouch and the Jacob Thomson Powder Horn

With my oldest son's birthday coming up, I wanted to give him something other than video games.  Hopefully this will energize him to save his money up for a firelock (thereby not borrowing mine any longer).

I wanted something for his impression that would bridge the gap from the Seven Years War through the revolution, so turned to Jim Mullins' excellent book, Of Sorts for Provincials.

Virginia Shot Pouch, Gusler collection (Jim Mullins, Of Sorts for Provincials)

The Virginia pouch depicted in this book is from the Wallace Gusler collection and is dated to the mid 18th c.  Its simplicity works, for AWI, I think, since many of the accoutrements used by Virginia forces in the 1760s were returned to the public armory and store at Williamsburg.

Thomson Horn, circa 1760 (Jim Mullins, Of Sorts for Provincials)

The horn I chose to recreate (though not in the same busy detail) is that of Jacob Thomson and is dated to the 1760's.

I drafted a pattern of the small Virginia bag (approx. 7.5" wide by 6.5" high) and used 3-4 oz leather for the body, and 7-8 oz leather for the strap.

On cutting it out, I burnished the edges and punched out the stitch holes using an awl, with two rows on the bag opening and flap, so the leather could be turned over the liner as in the original.

The liner is just scrap linen (Burnley and Trowbridge) from other projects, and I added a small internal pocket for a turnscrew, flints and an oil bottle.  The main bag will hold balls and some tow or linen scraps for cleaning.

I then dyed the bag and sewed in the linen lining, completing the front with a pewter button.  The lining is also whip stitched around the interior of the button hole.

The strap (missing on the original) is one inch in width, tooled and burnished before dying.  The left end is stitched to the rear of the bag and the right is attached by a pewter button (that is sewn to a bone button on the interior to take some of the stress.

The whisk I made from horsehair, brass wire and then used an old coathanger and a few strokes on the anvil for the pick. 

The horn, has less scrimshaw than the original, but I kept the fish, ship and the quote. 

The horn was dyed to age it and has a poplar for the plug in the spout and the butt end (fastened with wooden pegs). 

The strap is 7-8 oz leather and I used hemp twist to attach it, as well as the shot cup and spout plug. 

Not an exact replica, but close enough for a teenager's first bag and horn.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Notes on the use of Wall Guns and Amusettes

Rappahannock Forge wall gun

In period documents from the late 18th c in the Americas, we find large caliber firearms referred to as rampart arms, walls guns, and amusettes.  They were used by the Royal Artillery, Provincial Forces (Queen's Rangers), German troops, and even manufactured by American foundries for use as light guns in state navies and at fixed fortifications.  The following are a few selections on their existence and employment:

Statement of Arms and Men in Service, [29 January 1781]

Statement of Arms and Men in Service

[29 January 1781]

1. How many arms have we in the state fit for service, bayonets &c.
Muskets in good repair
Muskets out of repair
Beyonets fitted
Cartouch boxes
In the magazines
In the hands of the troops embodd. (to be retd to magazine)
Dispersed in counties much exposed
2. How many have we lent N. Carolina since the war. How many since the invasion of S. Carolina
This shall be answered under Qu. 4. because we consider What have been sent Southwardly as sent into Continental service.
3. What stock ammunition & military stores of all kinds have we in hand?.
With what has N. Carolina been furnished?
Return of powder in the States magazines Nov. 20. 1780.
Incertain which
Fit for use
Destroyed by the enemy, as nearly as we
can find & to be deducted 1779, Sept. 25. lent
to Congress 22,960. powder of which
perhaps 10,000. was their own
1780. June. 30. delivered to Colo.
Finnie for the Southern service
The accounts of other ammunition sent to N. Carolina from the state magazines are among the papers lost. The Fixed ammunition is remembered to have been somewhat Short of 100,000 cartridges. How much more loose ammunition is not remembered.

4. How many arms had we from Congress? Were they complete stands? How many have been furnished Congress since the war?
Arms (most of them complete stands) carried into Continental service by
3d Virginia regiment
2d. state regiment
Colo. Porterfeild’s detamt. sent to S.C. 1780
Harrison’s artillery
2d. 10th. & 12th. none.
2d. 10th. & 12th. none. The 1st. 7th. 8th. 9th. 11th. 13th. 14th. 15th. & 1st. State from which I have no returns (forming an average from the 3d. 4th. 5th. 6th. 2d. State, & the 2d. 10th. & 12th. from which I have returns) may be supposed
Sent to S. Carola with Colo. David Mason in 1779
Sent to S. Carola with Genl. Scott’s new levies in 1779.
Sent to N. Carolina in 1780. 2200 rampart arms & 1775 muskets & bayonets
We received of Continental arms in 1779, one half of which were rampart arms

5. How many tents, or tent-cloth & other camp necessaries have we?
We had 230 tents in November last. They were delivered for the use of the militia & state troops during that invasion. After the invasion 75 were sent on with Cob. Green’s corps; some were reserved for the troops at Chesterfd. C. H. and the rest are in use with the state troops & militia now in the feud in this state. We have not at present a sufficient number of camp-kettles, but very shortly shall have. We were disfurnished of our canteens by the militia which went to the Southward, and now have very few.
6. What prospect have we of supplies of the above? Also blankets & cloth for Souldier’s clothes?
We have no prospect of any supply of tent cloth. Campkettles we have it in our power to procure from Hunter’s works. There are provided for the men at Chesterfeild C. house 400 suits of clothes, 400 pr. stockings, 200 pr. shoes, 800 shirts, & 200 blankets. The deficiency we have no means of providing, nor yet a single article for Colo. Buford’s corps. Colo. Taylor’s regiment is unclothed and no prospect of our cloathing them. Our Captives in Charlestown are in extreme distress, which nothing will enable us to relieve unless we could get permission to send tobacco to them.

7. How many men have we in the feud? and how many that cannot act for want of necessaries? & what are their principal wants?
for less terms,
or terms not
Gibson’s regiment at Fort Pitt Sep. 22. 1780
Capt. Heath’s company at F. Pitt, No return beleivd about
Taylor’s regiment of guards. Dec. 1. 1780
Taylor’s regiment of guards. Dec. 1. 1780
Colo. Buford’s command (cannot act for want of clothing)
Colo. Green’s command
At Chesterfd. C. house
Gibson’s State regiment (including Brent’s 30. men) Jan. 22. 1781
White’s & Washington’s horse. no return, but said to be about
Majr. Nelson’s horse
In captivity at Charlestown. May. 12. 1780
Militia in service in Carolina. Jan. 13. 1781
Militia in service in Virginia, to be reduced to
Summary view of this.

In the Feild.
In Captivity
8. What stock of provision. What are our resources, & expectations as to them.
I hope we shall be able to purchase about 3000 hogs. The act of assembly will furnish 3000 beeves. We have engaged 10,000 barrels of flour &can engage more if necessary. The returns of short forage under the specific tax the last year amounted to about 100,000 bushels, and I suppose may be reckoned the same this year. Whatever more may be wanting, can be procured under the provision law. We shall be very far short of the Continental demand in spirits & salt. The pork, beef, & flour abovementioned excludes what we are now consuming.
How far are you
advised as to the wants of N. Carolina?
I have not the least information.

American manufactured wall gun in Rock Island Arsenal Collection

Virginia Delegates to Thomas Jefferson, 27 April 1781

Virginia Delegates to Thomas Jefferson

RC (Historical Society of Pennsylvania). Written by Theodorick Bland and signed by Bland, JM, and Meriwether Smith. Docketed, “Virga. Delegates Letter April 27th.—AD.”

Philadelphia April 27th 1781


Having discovered that there were a considerable number of Rampart Arms belonging to the U. S. at this place, which have long lain dormant, (having been supposed useless for the Field,) we have found on enquiry that with a small alteration, and fixing Bayonettes to them they are capable of being renderd exceeding good Field Arms; & knowing the necessity of the State for a Supply of that article we have been extreemely desireous to have them alterd and Sent on with all possible dispatch; we flatterd ourselves that this might have been done expeditiously by the Intervention of some Virginia Merchants who had money in this City which they offerd to dispose of for the purchase of the Arms from the Continent; to have them fitted and transported at their own expence, and on their arrival in Virginia giving the State the offer of them upon terms yeilding them a reasonable Profit for their trouble and expence in so doing; but when they gave in their proposals to us in writing, we were extreemely sorry to find that what would yield them a profit, (far short as they informed us of what might be obtaind by vesting their money in other Articles of Commerce,) greatly exceeded any allowance we thought ourselves Justifiable in agreeing they shd. receive, especially when we considerd the low1 condition of the treasury of the State, and that we must engage the faith of the State for the Immediate advance of one half the Money, and the payment of the other half on the delivery of the Arms.2 This determined us to embrace an Alternative, which we hope in the End will prove more Eligible; we have in consequence of that determination procured an Order of Congress to the board of War to have two thousand Stand immediately alterd and fitted up for field Service, to be forwarded with all possible expedition to Virginia and the remainder to be sent to Maryland and North Carolina.3 In order to accelerate this operation, we must entreat your Excellency to devise some means of furnishing to the amount of 1,300 Pounds hard money or its Value in Paper,4 such as will Circulate in this State; without which we find it will absolutely be impracticable to carry into execution a measure which will be productive of the greatest advantage to the Southern States, for want of some fund in this City we have often found ourselves greatly embarrassed, and frequently absolutely prevented from expediting Succours of whose consequences we are fully apprized to the Southward, and are extremely mortified to find frequently that a very small Sum which would, by being advanced to Waggoners &.c. set them at work; it is neither in our power to advance nor procure, either on our own or the States Credit—it being absolutely impracticable to5 negotiate a Bill we cannot but think it highly proper to fix an Agent for the State in this City, to be furnished with remittances for such purposes, and to transact many other usefull pieces of Business for the State which not only lays greatly out of the line of the delegates duty, but frequently prevents them from bestowing the necessary attention to the more important interests of the State and of the Union in General. Your Excellency will be at no loss to concieve why a remittance of the above Sum for the present occasion is highly necessary and expedient when we inform you that from the tardiness of the States in general to pay in their arrearages of taxes, from the impediments to the Issuing the money according to the Resolution of the 18th of March 1780,6 and from the daily expenditures for carrying on the war the Public treasury is at this moment left destitute of a Single Shilling and has large demands on it which have anticipated what will probably come into it for some months.7

we are with the greatest respect Yr. Excy’s most obedt. Srts

James Madison Junr.

Theok. Bland

Virginia Delegates’ Agreement with Ebenezer Cowell, 27 April 1781

Virginia Delegates’ Agreement with Ebenezer Cowell

FC (Colonial Williamsburg, Inc.). Not in Cowell’s hand nor in that of any of the Virginia delegates, but signed by all of them. Endorsed, “Articles Between the Delegates of Virginia & Ebenezer Cowell about 2000 Ramport Muskets.” A copy made for Governor Jefferson by Theodorick Bland is in the Executive Papers of the Virginia State Library.

Philadelphia April 27th. 1781

Memorandum of an Agreement entered into this 27th of April 1781 Between the Honble The Delegates of the State of Virginia on the one Part, and Ebenezer Cowell of the City of Philadelphia on the other.1

The said Cowell doth hereby undertake to Cut and put in good Repair two Thousand Rampart Muskets, the Property of the Said State,2 in the same Manner, and of the same length as those now Shewn in the War Office, at the rate of Seven Shillings and Six Pence Hard Money, or the value thereof in Paper Money at the Time of Payment.

And the said Cowell doth hereby engage to finish Twelve Hundred of the said Muskets in Fourteen Days from this Time, and deliver the same to the orders3 of the said Delegates to be transported to the said State of Virginia—and the Residue before the day of Payment.

And the said Delegates do hereby engage to Pay the said Cowell or order the said Sum of Seven Shillings and Six Pence Hard Money or the real value thereof in Paper m[oney] for each Musket, in Sixty days from the day of the Date of these Presents; and they hereby agree that if it is not paid at that Day, that the Eight Hundred Muskets or so many thereof as shall be sufficient for the [pu]rpose shall be immediately sold to satisfy the said Cowell his demand according to this agreement.

James Madison Junr

Theok: Bland

M. Smith

Ebenezer Cowell

Ocr. 10th. 1781.4

It appears to Me by a Certificate given by Mr. George Nicolson5 unto the above Mr Ebenezer Cowell that this Contract has been on his part duly, and fully complied with, as will appear by the said Certificate in My possession.

Thomas Pleasants jr

C. A for the State of

Virga.6 in Philadelphia

1. The Bland copy (see headnote) has “of the one part” and “of the other.” Ebenezer Cowell was a flintlock musket maker at Allentown, Pa., from 1775 to 1779, and a gunsmith at Philadelphia from 1779 to 1782. On 3 September 1778 he had become an armorer for the Pennsylvania militia. He was still living in Philadelphia in 1790 (A. Merwyn Carey, American Firearms Makers … [New York, 1953], p. 24; Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790. Pennsylvania [Washington, 1908], p. 238).

2. “Rampart muskets” were firearms, ranging from caliber 0.75 to 1.25, designed for use in defensive works and were seldom borne in the field because of their weight (sometimes exceeding twenty pounds) and their severe recoil (Edward S. Farrow, Farrow’s Military Encyclopedia: A Dictionary of Military Knowledge [3 vols.; New York, 1885], II, 633; Charles Winthrop Sawyer, Firearms in American History [3 vols.; Boston, 1910–20], III, 132–33). It is obvious, therefore, why Cowell should have been engaged “to Cut” the pieces. Apparently on 31 May the two thousand arms which might be purchased from the “Public Magazines” had become the property of Virginia (George Nicolson to Virginia Delegates, 28 May 1781, n. 3). On 26 April, Congress had directed:

“That the Board of War cause the rampart muskets in their possession to be repaired; and forward, with all possible despatch, to the executives of the States of Virginia and North Carolina, a quantity not exceeding two thousand, to each state, charging to the said states respectively, the value of the muskets, with the expence of repairing and transporting them” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 450; XXI, 923–25; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 204–5). For a significant modification of this resolution on 31 August 1781, with the unanimous consent of the Virginia delegates, see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 923–25.

3. This word is “Order” in the copy made by Bland.

4. This certificate is not appended to the Bland copy.

5. George Nicolson (1758–1802) was an assistant of David Ross, commercial agent of the state of Virginia. In a letter of 15 April, Ross asked Governor Jefferson to request the Virginia delegates to help Nicolson, who was about to leave for Philadelphia, “procure some of the Stores wanted for the Army.” Jefferson most probably adopted the suggestion, but his letter, if any, urging the co-operation of the delegates, has not been found. Nicolson in 1790–1791 and again in 1799–1800 served as mayor of Richmond (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——).description ends , V, 458; VI, 27 and n.; Virginia Delegates to Jefferson, 1 May 1781; Madge Goodrich, “The Mayors of Richmond,” typescript in Virginia Historical Society).

6. Thomas Pleasants, Jr. (ca. 1737–1804), of Goochland County was a planter and merchant who was serving as a commercial agent for Virginia (Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (Richmond, 1931——).description ends , II, 471; III, 249).

On 26 April, Congress had directed:

“That the Board of War cause the rampart muskets in their possession to be repaired; and forward, with all possible despatch, to the executives of the States of Virginia and North Carolina, a quantity not exceeding two thousand, to each state, charging to the said states respectively, the value of the muskets, with the expence of repairing and transporting them” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 450; XXI, 923–25; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 204–5). For a significant modification of this resolution on 31 August 1781, with the unanimous consent of the Virginia delegates, see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 923–25.

Original source: The Papers of James Madison, vol. 3, 3 March 178131 December 1781, ed. William T. Hutchinson and William M. E. Rachal. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1963, pp. 86–87.]

From George Washington to John Hancock, 30 August 1777

To John Hancock

Wilmington [Del.] August 30th 1777.


Since I had the Honor of addressing you Yesterday, Nothing of Importance has occurred and the Enemy remain, as they then were. I was reconnoitring the Country and different Roads all Yesterday, and am now setting out on the same business again.1

Sensible of the advantages of Light Troops, I have formed a Corps under the command of a Brigadier, by drafting a Hundred from each Brigade, which is to be constantly near the Enemy and to give ’em every possible annoyance.2 I have the Honor to be with great respect Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

10 OClock. This Minute 24 British prisoners arrived, taken yesterday by Capn Lee of the Light Horse.3

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW franked the addressed cover of the LS. The postscript, which Harrison wrote on the cover of the LS, is not included on the other manuscript copies. Congress read this letter on 1 Sept. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 8:699–700).

"Advance at Thornberry Farm" by Pamela Patrick White

1. Howe’s aide Captain Muenchhausen says in his diary entry for this date: “At noon about 200 dragoons appeared in front of our jaeger picket; many of their officers are said to have observed our positions very closely, but without approaching us. It was possibly Washington or one of his first generals, reconnoitering. The officer of the jaeger picket lobbed a few shots from an amusette at them. They were too far away, but it caused them to withdraw” (Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 26; see also Scull, Montresor Journals description begins G. D. Scull, ed. The Montresor Journals. New York, 1882. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. 14. description ends , 444).

2. For the creation of this corps and the appointment of Gen. William Maxwell to command it, see the General Orders for 28 Aug. and this date.

3. Muenchhausen says in his diary entry for this date that “Again last night some of our men, while pillaging, fell into the hands of the enemy” (Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 26).

“From George Washington to John Hancock, 30 August 1777,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified October 5, 2016, [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 11, 19 August 177725 October 1777, ed. Philander D. Chase and Edward G. Lengel. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001, pp. 93–94.]