Letters

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 22, 1776 – Nathanial Hale is executed as a spy on Long Island without trial.  “My only regret is that I have but one life to give to …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 21, 1776 — Great Fire of New York erupted destroying 10 to 25 percent of buildings in the city.  The British Army accused revolutionaries of deliberately setting the …

Is This the Way it Was Really Done?  My Policies on Historical Accuracy.

Okay, we are not LARPing.  I know there are some out there who are gung-ho for the fantasy or mythical reality of the American Revolution but we are trying to teach history so historical accuracy is a must.  At my events, I strive to be as accurate as possible with the following caveats: When being …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 20, 1777        Massacre at Paoli On the evening of September 20, 1777, near Paoli, Pennsylvania, General Charles Grey and nearly 5,000 British soldiers launch a surprise attack …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 20, 1777 – PAOLI MASSACRE:  Major General Charles Grey launched a surprise attack on General Anthony Wayne’s camp, near the General Paoli Tavern.  To ensure that the Americans …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. Medical Ketchup During the 1800’s ketchup was used for medicinal purposes. Want to Buy Beer from the Colonial Brewmeister? Help us build a Tavern and Brewery. Visit our GoFundMe …

Making Whiskey

Whiskey’s origin lies somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 AD when traveling monks migrating across Europe, introduced the distillation practice into Scotland and Ireland.  Because of the lack of vineyards in these countries, the monasteries turned to fermenting grain mashes and then distilling them into whiskey.  For the next 400 years, whiskey spread throughout the Celtic countries.  …

Early Meteorology — Predicting the Weather 18th Century Style: old wives tales and superstitions

In the 18th century, families relied on almanacs to help them make many weather and seasonal decisions, such as when they should plant their crops or travel. However, almanacs only gave a long-term idea of what the weather might be based on weather in the past. Furthermore, in an age where all travel, especially by …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 16, 1779        Failed Siege of Savannah The Siege of Savannah was also known as the Second Battle of Savannah. The year before, the city had been captured by …

MEXICAN Independence Day

Mexico was a colony of Spain for over 300 years. The native population was oppressed, farmland and personal wealth were confiscated and only Spaniards were allowed to hold political posts. On September 16, 1810, a Catholic priest in the town of Dolores named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang his church’s bell and delivered a speech …

What Language is that written in? Understanding 18th Century Handwriting

Several years ago, I was giving tours at Independence Hall when one of the guests approached me outside Congress Hall to ask questions about the Articles of Confederations (BTW, volunteers love to be asked questions, that’s why we do this so don’t hold back.  If you ask us a question that we don’t know the …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 13, 1788 – The US Congress chooses New York City as the Federal Capital under the new US Constitution.  Through the American Revolution the Continental Congress met in …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 13, 1759 — Battle of Quebec, also called Battle of the Plains of Abraham, was decisive defeat of the French commanded by Marquis de Montcalm by a British …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 12, 1777         Liberty Bell Leaves Philadelphia Following the Battle of Brandywine, all the bells other scrap metal in Philadelphia was hauled away so that the bronze in …

“And the Rockets’ Red Glare” – Rockets were originally used AGAINST the British in the 18th Century!

Missiles and missile rocket technology is a mainstay in the modern military.  In fact, most modern fighter aircraft have dispensed entirely with guns and typically are armed with various offensive and defensive rocket powered munitions.  While we are all familiar with the Chinese invention of fireworks, it was actually the INDIANS who turned these interesting …

Basic Colonial Brewing #17 — Make an 18th Century Toast

 “To drink at a table without drinking to the health of someone special, should be considered drinking on the sly, and as an act of incivility.” Throughout history, toasting began after a meal and could last for hours.  Toasts would solidify the bonds of groups, not only through the competitive element of drinking, but by …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 11, 1777        Battle of Brandywine The eleventh of September was greeted with a heavy fog.  Washington received reports of different contents about the movements of the British troops. …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 11, 1786 — Meeting of Commissioners to Remedy Defects of the Federal Government (AKA the Annapolis Convention) convened at Mann’s Tavern in Annapolis, Maryland.  Twelve delegates from five …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 11, 1777 — BATTLE OF BRANDYWINE: General Sir William Howe and General Charles Cornwallis launch a full-scale British attack on the Patriot outpost at Brandywine Creek near Chadds …

Hoisting the Blue Flag

CFHS September 11th Battle at Chadds FordSaturday, September 11, 2021, 10:00am – 5:00pm The Chadds Ford Historical Society will be hosting a battle reenactment and encampment on September 11th, 2020 to commermorate the 1777 British invasion and subsequent engagement with George Washington’s troops at Chadds’ Ford and Brandywine. There will be military skirmishes between 1st …

Benedict Arnold was not Alone in his Treason

Colonel Rudolphus Ritzema was an American officer in the New York Line during the American Revolutionary War, and later changed sides, serving as a lieutenant colonel in a British regiment. On June 30, 1775, Ritzema was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 1st New York Regiment. In July he seized British armaments in New York City. On November 28, 1775 he was …

Does Anybody Know what Day it Really is? 1752 was a really Bizarre Year.

In accordance with a 1750 act of Parliament, England and its colonies changed calendars in 1752. By that time, the discrepancy between a solar year and the Julian Calendar had grown by an additional day, so that the calendar used in England and its colonies was 11 days out-of-sync with the Gregorian Calendar in use in …

A New Name for the New Nation

On September 9, 1776, the Second Continental Congress formally renamed our nation the United States of America. This replaced the term United Colonies, which had been in general use. In a declaration dated September 9, 1776, the delegates wrote: “That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the …

“Run Away!” – Revolutionary Deserters

One of the fundamental problems with the Continental Army was that the State Legislatures were reluctant to establish a European-style professional army with long-term enlistments for fear of a strong military leader seizing the government. Without a professional attitude, soldiers were much more likely to be casual about remaining in ranks for the full term …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 8, 1780           Battle of Eutaw After receiving reinforcements, Major General Nathanael Greene of the Continental Army resumes offensive action against Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart and the British soldiers …

Upcoming Event

September 12, 2021  Young Patriots DayPrinceton Battlefield Bring a picnic basket and camera and enjoy the Princeton Battlefield for a day of living history replete with Continental Soldiers, tours of the Thomas Clarke House, and yours truly as the Spymaster demonstrating codes and cyphers. You may even get to meet General Washington. Come learn about …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 6, 1780           New London Burnt and Fort Griswold taken In September 1781, one of the British Army’s newest generals — Benedict Arnold — was eager to prove himself …

Upcoming Event

Battle at Chadds Ford Saturday, September 11, 2021, 10:00am – 5:00pm The Chadds Ford Historical Society will be hosting a battle for the Battle fo Brandywine at the Barns Brinton House on September 11, 2021. There will be both military reenactment as well as living history presentations. Join us for a historical journey back to …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 5, 1778           Grey’s Raid — British incursion into New Bedford and Fair Haven As part of British operations in the American Revolutionary War, Major General Charles Grey raided …

Making Rum

Rum’s origin lies in the 17th century Caribbean Islands.  The first distillation of rum took place on the sugarcane plantations, located on the island of Barbados.  Slaves from the plantations discovered that by fermenting molasses, a byproduct of refining sugarcane, they could create alcohol.  Then by distilling this alcoholic drink, they could create a concentrated …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 5, 1781           DeGrasse enters the Chesapeake with the French Fleet When Adm. François-Joseph-Paul, comte de Grasse, arrived in the West Indies from France in April 1781, he had …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 4, 1774           1st Continental Congress The First Continental Congress, which was comprised of delegates from the colonies, met at Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia in 1774 to devise an …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 3, 1783 – The Treaty of Paris was signed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay formally accepting the British capitulation and ending the American Revolutionary War. …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 3, 1783           Peace proclaimed – Treaty of Versailles Following the disastrous defeat at Yorktown and subsequent sequestering of British Forces in New York City, the British peace commissioner …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 2, 1752 (sort of) – The British Empire ended their use of the Julian Calendar, switching to the Gregorian resulting in a 12-day shift.  The next day on …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 1, 1764 — Currency Act The colonies suffered a constant shortage of currency with which to conduct trade. There were no gold or silver mines and currency could …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. August 31, 1786 – SHAY’S REBELLION:  Enraged by high debts and Massachusetts increased efforts to collect taxes, Captain Daniel Shay (Continental Army) led an armed mob to disrupt the …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. August 27, 1776                Battle of Long Island After the British evacuation from Boston in March, the British general Lord William Howe moved to occupy New York City under the …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. August 27, 1776 – BATTLE OF BROOKLYN – Following the evacuation of Boston by the British, General Washington relocated the Continental Army to New York City.  The British landed …

Upcoming Event

August 28, 2021  Encampment at Moland House George Washington & 11,000 troops camped during the summer of 1777 while figuring out the British Army’s next move.  Come join us as we demostrate what camp life would have been like for some of these soldiers and their camp followers. I will be there as the Colonial …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. August 26, 1776              British take possession of New York City Having defeated the Continental Army on Long Island and pursuing them into upstate New York, General Howe established a …

Hoisting the Blue Flag

CFHS September 11th Battle at Chadds FordSaturday, September 11, 2021, 10:00am – 5:00pm The Chadds Ford Historical Society will be hosting a battle reenactment and encampment on September 11th, 2020 to commermorate the 1777 British invasion and subsequent engagement with George Washington’s troops at Chadds’ Ford and Brandywine. There will be military skirmishes between 1st …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. August 21, 1777                General Howe enters Chesapeake and lands 16000 men The largest armada ever assembled in America set sail off of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. It was carrying …

Upcoming Event

August 22, 2021 — 10:00 am – 4:00 pmAvoiding both the Cheval d’Frise and Shoals — Piloting the DelawareFort Mifflin Explore the challenges of piloting an 18th century vessel up the narrow and shallow Delaware River. Michael Carver will discuss and demonstrate how large vessels navigated around known obstacles in these challenging waters.. In addition …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. August 16, 1777                Battle of Bennington The Battle of Bennington took place in Walloomsac, New York, about 10 miles from its namesake Bennington, Vermont. The American force was primarily …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. August 16, 1787 – BATTLE OF CAMDEN:  Despite the proliferation of dysentery among his men, General Horatio Gates engaged General Charles Cornwallis’s army at Camden, SC.  The American Army …

Basic Colonial Brewing #15 — Necessary Anachronisms in Colonial Brewing

One question I frequently get asked at reenactments is “is that the really the way beer was made in the 1770’s?”  For the most part, the answer is “yes” but there are some very necessary exceptions.  Not all “Colonial Beers” are good and some of the methods used in the 18th Century were unsafe by …

Upcoming Event

August 22, 2021 — 10:00 am – 4:00 pmAvoiding both the Cheval d’Frise and Shoals — Piloting the DelawareFort Mifflin Explore the challenges of piloting an 18th century vessel up the narrow and shallow Delaware River. Michael Carver will discuss and demonstrate how large vessels navigated around known obstacles in these challenging waters.. In addition …

Executive Order to take the Vaccine

This week President Biden’s mandated that all members of the US Armed Forces (military and civilian) be vaccinated against COVID-19.  While mandatory civilian vaccination is a political landmine subject to religious and other objections (even if some of those objections are unfounded), Biden as commander-in-chief, has the authority to order mandatory military vaccination.  Currently, active-duty …

Beer Recipe: Nightingale on a Stone Wall

The British army punished its soldiers mercilessly. The purpose was to inspire terror by setting an example. Soldiers were frequently whipped leading to the derisive moniker “bloody backs” by which Redcoat soldiers were frequently known. The most common offence was drunkenness, which could merit 100 lashes. The sentence was carried out in front of the …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. August 6, 1777                   Battle of Oriskany and St. Leger The Battle of Oriskany occurred on August 6, 1777, when the local Tryon County Militia attempted to come to the …

The Eye of the Storm

As we go into wave FOUR of the Corona Virus pandemic, or as I like to call it “the Trump Virus,” many people seem very blasé about basic precautions. Some, like the People’s Republic of New York City, have gone overboard in being over protective; while others, like fascist Texas have gone to the other …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. On August 4, 1790, President Washington signed the “Tariff Act,” a bill that had been written and sponsored by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. The bill authorized the …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. August 2, 1776 – Fifty-five members of the second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to formally sign the Declaration of Independence.  Benjamin Franklin is oft quoted as having said …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. Robbing the First Bank of the United States In 1789, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton hammered out a great compromise that would create our nations first federal bank.  Under …

Phlogiston and Fire — The Isolation of Oxygen

In the mid-18th century, the most pressing issue in chemistry and physics was to determine what exactly happens when something burns. The prevailing theory was that flammable materials contained a substance called “phlogiston” (from the Greek word for burn) that was released during combustion.  The theory held that when a candle burned, for example, phlogiston …

The Yeast Ring

This year, I am adding a somewhat archaic bit of brewing equipment to the gear brought out by the Regimental Brewmiester.  The yeast ring or gjarkrans is a piece of traditional brewing gear from medieval Sweden and Denmark.  This tool resembles a complicated wreath of small pieces of whittled wood.  Yeast harvested from one batch …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. July 31, 1776 – Francis Salvador became the first Jew to die in combat during the American Revolution in the Ninety-Six district of North Carolina.  “Here, Mr. Salvador received …

Basic Colonial Brewing #14 — Period Correct ways to get Yeast

I know Reinheitsgebot permits only water, hops, and malt as ingredients in beer but if you want to make beer, mead, cider or any other alcoholic brew, you need to add yeast.  In the 21st Century, many homebrewers just rip open an envelope of dried yeast from the local homebrew shop and add it to …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. July 30, 1742       Faneuil Hall erected Built as a gift to the city by Peter Faneuil, Boston’s wealthiest merchant,  Faneuil Hall is a meeting hall and marketplace. Boston was in …

Cyphers and Spycraft in the American Revolution

July 31, 202110:00 am — 4:00 pm Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia Going into the Revolution, Americans were at a huge disadvantage to the European powers when it came to cryptography, many of which had been using secret offices where sensitive letters were opened and deciphered by public officials for centuries. It was not uncommon for the …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. July 28, 1779                       Americans defeated at Penobscot The British sent about 700 men aboard three small warships to land in Penobscot Bay. They intended to establish the province of …

Congress establishes the State Department, July 27, 1789

The Constitution of the United States, drafted in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 and ratified by the states the following year, gave the President responsibility for the conduct of the nation’s foreign relations. It soon became clear, however, that additional resources and formal structures were necessary to support President Washington in the conduct of …

Upcoming Event

July 31, 2021 — 10:00 am – 4:00 pmSpies in Philadelphia: Codes, Cyphers, and SpycraftCARPENTERS’ HALL Going into the Revolution, Americans were at a huge disadvantage to the European powers when it came to cryptography, many of which had been using secret offices where sensitive letters were opened and deciphered by public officials for centuries. …

Beer Recipe: Common Sense Cherry Pils

Although little used today, pamphlets were an important medium for the spread of ideas in the 16th through 19th centuries. Before the era of radio communication and television, when you wished to convey a message to a large audience, you published it. Originally published anonymously, “Common Sense” not only advocates independence but explains how the …

Upcoming Event

July 24, 2021“Hands on”  18th Brewing Class10:00am – 4:00 pm Perhaps you are an accomplished homebrewer and you want to appreciate the challenges faced by brewers in the 18th Century who brewed good beer without all the instrumentation and modern equipment we rely on, perhaps you are a history buff and want to know just …

Upcoming Event

July 24, 2021“Hands on”  18th Brewing Class10:00am – 4:00 pm Perhaps you are an accomplished homebrewer and you want to appreciate the challenges faced by brewers in the 18th Century who brewed good beer without all the instrumentation and modern equipment we rely on, perhaps you are a history buff and want to know just …

Basic Colonial Brewing #13 — Keeping Track of Time

I have a pretty good internal clock but like all brewers, keeping track of time, especially when talking to the public can be a challenge. Boil and mash times are relatively long and it is easy to get distracted. It is, therefore, important to objectively measure not just experience and guess about time. Unfortunately, like …

Upcoming Event

July 24, 2021 — 10:00am – 4:00 pm“Hands on”  18th Brewing Class Perhaps you are an accomplished homebrewer and you want to appreciate the challenges faced by brewers in the 18th Century who brewed good beer without all the instrumentation and modern equipment we rely on, perhaps you are a history buff and want to …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. July 15, 1715 – The Riot Act took effect in Britain.  Assemblies of more than a dozen people could be forcibly dispersed in order to maintain the peace.  The …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. July 15, 1779       Stony Point taken by General Wayne In a well planned and executed nighttime attack, a highly trained select group of Continental Army troops under the command …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. July 14, 1789 – BASTILE DAY:  The crowd gathered outside the Bastille, a medieval armory, fortress, and political prison near the center of Paris, calling for the surrender of …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. July 13, 1787       NORTHWEST ORDINANCE The Northwest Ordinance provided for the settlement and sale of lands acquired from Quebec in the Treaty of Paris.  The ordinance required the land …

Upcoming Event

July 17, 2021 — 10:00 am – 4:00 pmGentleman Scientist visits CARPENTERS’ HALL While we all know the ramification of Enlightenment thinking on politics in the 18th Century, it also had a profound and seminal effect on science. Prior to the Enlightenment, scientific thought, when it could be separated from theology, was dominated by theories …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. July 11, 1789 – The US Congress chartered the US Marine Corps as an independent force from the Navy. These marines would be deployed by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 …


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