Thursday, July 28, 2016

Heroine of the Revolution


Would you have the courage to traverse over five miles in the middle of the night crossing a rushing swollen river to save your friends from certain death? If villains held your family at gunpoint, what would you do? Would you step forward and save them? 

Laodicea "Daring Dicey" Langston did just that. "Dicey", who lived during the Revolutionary War, was a patriot who carried messages about the Loyalists to the Patriots. By doing so, she saved many lives and helped to win the fight for freedom.

During the Revolutionary War, fifteen-year-old Dicey Langston overheard that a band of Loyalists known as the "Bloody Scouts"” were going to attack the Elder Settlement at Little Eden, South Carolina at dawn. She set out on foot in the middle of the night, crossed a swollen river, nearly drowned, but made it in time to warn her brother James so that he and his men could warn the settlement. When the Bloody Scouts arrived the next day, the Elder Settlement had been evacuated.

On another occasion, the Bloody Scouts broke into their home and threatened to kill all the Langston men. Only her father was present. He had been crippled during the war and wasn’t able to defend himself as well as he once could have. The Bloody Scouts held him at gunpoint and she stepped in front of her father, shielding him with her own body. She told them they would have to kill her first. One of the Bloody Scouts was so impressed with her bravery, that he stopped the assault and kept the others from killing Dicey or her father.


Interested in 19th Century firearms? Check out my other blog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meriwether’s Run-In with the Blackfoot


After Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific Ocean they began their return journey March 23, 1806. After crossing the worst section of the Rocky Mountains, the expedition split up. Clark took most of the men and explored the Yellowstone River country to the south. Lewis, with nine men, headed west to the Great Falls of the Missouri River where he split the small party still further. Six men remained behind to make the portage around the Great Falls. Lewis took the remaining three and headed north to explore the Marias River country of present-day northwestern Montana.

It was a risky, perhaps even irresponsible, decision. Lewis knew the Marias River country was the home of the Blackfoot Indians, one of the fiercest tribes of the Great Plains. Lewis hoped he could meet peacefully with the Blackfoot and encourage their cooperation with the United States. Yet, if they met a hostile Blackfoot band and a fight began, the four explorers would be badly outnumbered.

On July 26, Lewis encountered a party of eight young Blackfoot braves. At first, the meeting went well, and the Indians seemed pleased with Lewis’ gifts of a medal, flag, and handkerchief. Lulled into a false sense of security, Lewis invited the Indians to camp with them. In the early morning of July 27, Lewis awoke to the shouts of one his men–the Indians were attempting to steal their rifles and horses.
Lewis sped after two Indians who were running off with several of the horses, calling out for them to stop or he would shoot. One Indian, armed with an old British musket, turned toward Lewis. Apparently fearing that the Indian was about to shoot, Lewis fired first and hit him in the stomach. The Indians retreated, and the men quickly gathered their horses. Lewis then learned that one of his men had also fatally stabbed another of the Blackfoot.
Fearing the survivors would soon return with reinforcements, Lewis and his men immediately broke camp. They rode south quickly and managed to escape any retribution from the Blackfoot. 

Lewis’ diplomatic mission, however, had turned into a debacle. By killing at least one Indian, and probably two, Lewis had guaranteed that the already hostile Blackfoot would be unlikely to deal peacefully with Americans in the future”.

Lewis made a complete journal entry describing the event. That entry, as it was written, can be found HERE .

Thursday, July 21, 2016

French Soldier & Militia Issue

French Militia By Frances Back.

This list is from the Bourlamaque Papers, National Archives of Canada (1757).


1 capot; 1 blanket; 1 woolen cap; 2 cotton shirts; 1 pair of leggings (mitasses); 1 breech-cloth; 2 skeins of thread; 6 needles; 1 awl; 1 firesteel; 6 gunflints; 1 butcher knife; 1 comb; 1 gunworm; 1 pair of moccasins every month; 1 tomahawk. 

For The Winter Campaign in Addition To The Summer Equipment: 

1 bearskin; 2 pairs of short stockings (socks); 2 folding knives; 1 pair mittens; 1 vest; 1/2 aune of blanket to make leggings; 2 pairs of deerskin shoes; 1 greased deerskin; 2 portage collars; 1 toboggan; 1 pair of snowshoes.


1 blanket; 1 capot; 1 cap; 2 cotton shirts; 1 pair of breeches; 1 pair of underpants; 1 pair of leggings (mitasses); 2 skeins of thread; six needles; 1 awl; 1 fire steel; 6 gunflints; 1 butcher knife; 1 comb; 1 gunworm; 1 tomahawk; 1 pair of moccasins every month. 

Winter Equipment In Addition To The Summer One: 

2 pairs of short stockings (socks); 1 pair of mittens; 1 vest; 2 folding knives; 1/2 aune of blanket to make leggings; 2 pair of deerskin shoes; 1 greased deerskin; 2 portage collars; 1 toboggan; 1 pair of snowshoes; 1 bearskin


1 blanket; 1 capot or bougrine (capot or a loose blouse or cape?); 2 cotton shirts; 1 breech cloth; 1 pair of leggings (mitasses); 2 skeins of thread; 6 needles; 1 awl; 1 firesteel; 6 gunflints; 1 butcher knife; 1 comb; 1 gunworm; 1 tomahawk; 1 pair moccasins every month.

For The Winter Equipment In Addition To The Summer One: 

2 pairs of short stockings (socks); 1 pair of mittens; 1 vest; 2 folding knives; 1/2 aune of blanket to make leggings (mitasses); 2 pair of deerskin shoes; 1 greased deerskin; 2 portage collars; 1 toboggan; 1 pair of snowshoes; 1 bearskin


1/2 pound (livre) of gunpowder; 1 pound (livre) of balls; 1 pound (livre) of tobacco; 1 axe for 2 men; 1 tarpaulin and 1 cooking boiler for every 4 men.


NOTE; This post is copied directly, with his permission, from Keith Burgess'  "The Woodsrunner's Diary" blog and is just a sample of the great information to be found HERE.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Heroine of the Revolution

Betsey Hagar.jpg

Elizabeth “Betsy” Hagar. This woman definitely deserves a bit of credit. In 1759, after being orphaned at the age of nine, Betsy Hagar became a “bound girl,” migrating around the homes of colonists who gave her shelter in exchange for her servitude. Somehow, in the mix of this, she cultivated a unique skill set for her age and gender: a handiness with machinery and tools. When the Revolutionary War broke out, Betsy collaborated with a local blacksmith to refurbish old firearms for use against the British. Because it was (and still is) illegal to make weapons to use against the government, this work had to be done in secret, in a small room attached to the smith’s shop."Betsy the Blacksmith" is known to have refitted a number of cannons, matchlocks, and muskets, as well as forging the corresponding ammunition for these firearms. She also spent much of her time healing the battlefield wounded, gaining bedside experience and sharpening her medical skills. She carried this expertise into her golden years, where she continued to practice medicine and was one of the pioneers of the smallpox inoculation.

Interested in 19th Century firearms? Check out my other blog.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Battle of Huck’s Defeat

"Huck's Defeat" by Don Troiani

On July 12, 1780, Loyalist Philadelphia lawyer Captain Christian Huck and 130 Loyalist cavalry, belonging to British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s legion, suffer defeat at the hands of 500 Patriot militiamen at Williamson’s Plantation in South Carolina. The plantation was in South Carolina’s New Acquisition District along the border with North Carolina.
Huck and his Loyalists arrived at the Bratton plantation on the evening of July 11 to find only Martha Bratton at home, while her husband, Patriot William Bratton, was leading raids against Tory gatherings with his militia. While Martha was questioned by the Loyalists, a slave named Watt, notified Bratton of Huck’s presence near his home. Bratton, in turn, brought his Patriot militia back to the plantation and launched a surprise attack at dawn on July 12 on the Loyalist encampment at neighboring Williamson’s plantation. The Patriots surrounded Huck’s camp under cover of darkness and then opened fire as the soldiers emerged from their blankets at dawn, scoring a total defeat of the Loyalist forces, and killing Huck. The British lost between 25 and 50 men killed, including Huck, at least twice as many wounded and 29 captured. Only one Patriot died, and Continental morale received a significant a boost.

In the aftermath of the Patriot success, Martha earned recognition for her refusal to divulge her husband’s whereabouts under extreme duress. In addition, Watt’s endeavor to notify Bratton that Huck was in the area won him a place in local history. Both have markers in their honor. Historic Brattonsville is now a living history museum, which reenacts the battle for two days each July. Its historic buildings appear in the film The Patriot (2000), starting Mel Gibson.


Interested in 19th Century firearms? Check out my other blog.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pre-1900 Logistics

Having problems deciding what food stuffs to pack for the upcoming reenactment event? What rifle or smoothbore to take? "Oh what the heck, plenty room in the truck I'll take extra".

Was not that smiple in the 18th Century.

Historian Scott Stephenson writes in “Forbes Trail”: “An 18th century artillery train was a formidable sight. One hundred and twenty wagons, pulled by five hundred horses, were required to move the 1758 Forbes Expedition’s artillery, ammunition, and equipment.”

Forbes commanded between 6,000 and 8,000 men. Rations for the soldiers were a huge undertaking as well as forage and feed for the animals. 
Brigadier General Forbes set the rations for each man for a one week as eight pounds of fresh beef (on the average, a steer weighing 1,000 pounds on the hoof will average around 430 pounds of retail cuts (steaks, roasts, ground beef, stew beef, etc.) or five pounds of salted pork. This was followed by seven pounds of flour or cooked biscuits, one pint of rice in lieu of one pound of flour. Pork would be transported in barrels that could weigh upwards to 233 pounds packed in salt brine. Often barrels would spoil and problem that was ongoing during the campaign. 


In the War of 1812 getting supplies to the army on the western frontier of Indiana, Ohio and Michigan was a difficult business. Heavy barrels, sacks and bales of food and clothing were loaded onto boats that sailed down the Ohio River. Supplies were then transferred to smaller boats or canoes and paddled north to where the army was camped.

The winter weather of 1812 plagued General James Winchester’s left wing of the Northwestern Army as it marched north to recapture Detroit, which had been surrendered to the British on August 16th. First rain flooded the land, then the rivers dried up. Finally, it froze, so that Winchester’s men couldn’t use their boats at all. Soldiers laboriously loaded the provisions onto much slower pack trains of horses and makeshift sleds.

The difficulty moving supplies posed serious problems for the small force of about two thousand soldiers, mostly Kentucky militia, with four hundred regular soldiers from the 17th and 19th U.S. Infantry Regiments. In order to support a large army in the early nineteenth century, commanders had to feed all the men and officers a daily ration. In addition, the army’s horses and cattle consumed large amounts of fodder.

Not only did Winchester have to feed everyone on the trip, but he also needed to build a large stockpile of food and supplies to support his army when he reached Detroit. As most armies of the day did, Winchester’s soldiers drove a herd of cattle along with them on the march. Soldiers assigned to guard the animals were called the “grass guard.” These cattle were slaughtered as needed, and all the parts were used; the hides saved for leather and the fat for making tallow candles.

We need only multiply the army’s regulation daily ration for each soldier to fully grasp the scale of Winchester’s supply problem. Each soldier was supposed to receive the following, each day:
1¼ pounds of beef
1½ pounds of flour
5 ounces of liquor
5 ounces of vinegar

In addition to these basics, soldiers were also issued small amounts of salt, lye soap and candles. When cattle were unavailable, meat was preserved with salt in large wooden barrels. If possible, the flour was baked into bread or hard biscuits. Soldiers banded together in groups of five or six and cooked their rations in a common pot.

For ration information during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars check out this new group on Facebook. "Historic Military Enthusiasts" HERE .

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Revolutionary War: By The Numbers

"The Revolutionary War: By The Numbers", by Tyler Rogoway

Now that we have celebrated the 4th of July let's take a moment to reflect on the enormous cost, in lives and treasure, that it took us to earn our independence.

•8.37 years was how long the war lasted
•80,000 militia and Continental Army soldiers served at the height of the war
•56,000 British soldiers fought at the height of the war
•30,000 German mercenaries known as Hessians fought for Britain during the war
•55,000 Americans served as privateers during the war
•25,000 Revolutionary Soldiers died during the war
•8,000 Revolutionary Soldiers died from wounds inflicted during battle
•17,000 Revolutionary Soldiers died from disease during the war
•25,000 Revolutionary Soldiers were estimated to have been wounded or maimed
•1 in 20 able bodied white free males living in America died during the war
•24,000 British Soldiers were killed during the war
•100,000 Loyalist fled to Canada, the Bahamas and England during the war
•45% of colonists fully supported the war
•20% of colonists were outright loyal to Britain
•3 million is the estimated population of America in 1776
•1 million is the estimated population of London alone during the same period
•$8 is the monthly salary of a teenage drummer in the Continental Army
•5 feet is the length of a standard Continental Army Flintlock Musket
•10lbs is the weight of a standard Continental Army Flintlock Musket
•1oz is the the weight of a standard musket ball
•1,547 known military engagements occured during the Revolutionary War
•10 was the age of the youngest member of the Continental Army
•57 was the age of the oldest member of the Continental Army
•6.5% is the population participation rate during the war, higher than any American war since WWII
•$151 million was the total American cost of the war
•$600 was roughly how much the war cost each American in 1990 dollars
•$0 was the amount George Washington was paid for his military service
•26 original copies of the Declaration of Independence are known to exist

Image credit via AP, for additional metrics please click here, here, here andhere.

Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer that maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address