Letters

Vector Computations without the Benefit of Modern Trigonometry

Navigating from point to point is a relatively simple task for most surveyors or mariners.  You establish a compass bearing from where you are to your intended location then measure out the distance (or in the case of sailing a speed and a time) to the new location giving what we call today a vector.  …

Government Red Tape

Today, “Red Tape” is a derisive term for rigid conformity to formal government regulations that slow or prevent action and decision-making. Usually applied to government and corporate bureaucracies, we associate “red tape” with filling out of seemingly unnecessary paperwork and various low-level rules that make conducting one’s affairs slower and more difficult.  It may surprise …

Will Work for Beer? 

Do you want to be on the crew of the Regimental Brewmeister?  Do you like talking to the public and teaching them about the 18th Century?  If so I need your help.  As the pandemic (slowly) ebbs, there are many locations that have asked for Colonial Brewing demonstrations but like you, I have a day …

Will Work for Beer? 

Do you want to be on the crew of the Regimental Brewmeister?  Do you like talking to the public and teaching them about the 18th Century?  If so I need your help.  As the pandemic (slowly) ebbs, there are many locations that have asked for Colonial Brewing demonstrations but like you, I have a day …

Jewish Pirates in Jamaica

Under Muslim rule in Spain, Jews were largely protected from persecution.  This led to an explosion of Jewish culture and learning in Iberia and a very prosperous merchant class.  With the Reconquista and the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, many Jews began fleeing from Spain because of the persecution of the Spanish Inquisition and, …

Strike the Pose…!

Okay, I’m very much a proponent of protecting copyrights and intellectual property but this is WAY OVER THE LINE. Perhaps Vogue should be sued by Cornwall for usurping the centuries old name of this hamlet. https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/vogue-magazine-threatens-sue-cornish-7072632?utm_source=join1440&utm_medium=email&utm_placement=newsletter Never allow corporations to push the publicans around less you have no more publicans and only corporate “best interests.”

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. May 17, 1792 – Goods, loans and future livestock began to be traded under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street in New York City.  This daily meeting would eventually …

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. May 14, 1796 – Edward Jenner publishes his procedure for smallpox vaccination.  His procedure differed from previous attempts at vaccination in that he injected a milder “attenuated” version 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. May 14, 1787      Constitutional Convention Four years after the United States won its independence from England, 55 state delegates, including George Washington, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, convene in …

Beer Recipe: French Alliance “Myrtile” Lambic

“Myrtille” is French for Blueberry. It is popular in some so-called patriotic circles to make snarky comments about France and the French, We call them “Frogs” and complain about rescuing them from their foreign exploits like Vietnam when they hold us to high moral standards on our adventures. The fact, however, is that the United …

Basic Colonial Brewing #9 — Mashing and Decoction

The first major step in brewing beer is to extract the fermentable sugars and starches from the malt kernels.  This process is called mashing (from the German maisch: to mix).  The basic idea is to harness the enzymes already present in the grain in order to digest the complex inert starches into fermentable simple sugars.  …

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. May 10, 1775      2nd Continental Congress As the first Continental Congress adjourned in December 1774, they agreed that should Parliament not repeal the Coercive Acts by May, they would …

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. May 10, 1773 – TEA ACT The Tea Act of 1773 was one of several measures imposed on the American colonists by the heavily indebted British government in 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. May 10, 1775      Fort Ticonderoga taken by Ethan Allen. When Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, accompanied by Benedict Arnold, silently rowed across Lake Champlain and captured the …

Sugar Cones or Loaves and the Making of Rum

During Antiquity and the Middle Ages, sugar was rare and expensive commodity.  Beginning in the 15th century, however, sugar cane plantations developed in the West Indies, then South America, particularly in Brazil. Sugar was the top colonial commodity. It was at the root of the ‘triangular trade’, where European shipowners exchanged trinkets for African men, who were then sold as slaves …

Fort Mifflin on TV

Okay folks, its about to happen. All of the work we put into making the TV programs for both the Discovery and Travel Channels (highlighting different aspects of Fort Mifflin) are about to come to fruition. May 7 — Portals to Hell — Fort Mifflin Travel Channel The hosts investigate a Fort Mifflin ‘s Revolutionary …

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. May 7, 1763Pontiac’s Rebellion begins when Ottawa Indians attach Fort Detroit. After the conclusion of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), Chief Pontiac (Ottawa) led a loosely united group …

Fort Mifflin on TV

Okay folks, its about to happen. The wounds are not all healed and the beer is not yet ready to drink but all of the work we put into making the TV programs for both the Discovery and Travel Channels (highlighting different aspects of Fort Mifflin) are about to come to fruition. May 4 — …

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. May 4, 1776                        Rhode Island declares independence. Rhode Island, the colony founded by the most radical religious dissenters from the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony, becomes the first North …

Vive la France

Today we celebrated the French Alliance with our new nation. Born of difficult negotiation by Benjamin Franklin with King Louis and his court, the US alliance with France is one of the oldest relationships between our country and another nation. In fact, it is hard to imagine how the underarmed, undermanned, and frequently defeated Continental …

Peace or War? What ARE we talking about?

Almost all of the Abrahamic religions have a huge focus on the idea of peace.  In fact, common greetings in Hebrew (שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם‎ — shalom aleichem) and in Arabic (ٱلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ‎ — as-salamu alaykum) quite literally mean “peace be upon you.”  In the Anglican Church ceremony celebrating the French Alliance yesterday they opened their proceedings with …

“Beer” Recipe: John Adams — Breakfast Cider

Apple juice was fermented because before we had refrigeration, it was hard to stop that from happening — apples would just ferment naturally. When English colonists first arrived in North America, they enthusiastically embraced the wide range of wild fruits they found growing, from grapes to berries and of course, begam to make wines and …

There was no SPCA in the 18th Century – Fox Tossing

Der Vollkommene Deutsche Jäger (The perfect German hunter) describes a game called Fuchsprellen or “fox tossing.” Fox Tossing was a competitive sport mostly practiced by members of the upper classes. The sport was held on a closed patch of land where people threw live foxes and other animals up high using slings, with a person …

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. May 1, 1778                        Battle of Crooked Billet The Battle of Crooked Billet was fought near the Crooked Billet Tavern (present-day Hatboro, Pennsylvania). In the skirmish action, British forces under …

HANDS-ON BREWING WITH THE REGIMENTAL BREWMEISTER

QUENCH YOUR THIRST FOR HISTORY!May 7th — 11:00 – 4:00Fort Mifflin 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 …

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. April 30, 1789Washington sworn in as 1st President of the United States under the US Constitution On April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City, the first …

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. April 28, 1789    Mutiny on the HMS Bounty The HMS Bounty had left England in 1787 on a mission to collect and transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti 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. April 28, 1777                     Sybil Ludington’s night ride On April 26, 1777, Colonel Ludington received word from a rider that the nearby town of Danbury was under attack by British …

Fort Mifflin on TV

Okay folks, its about to happen. The wounds are not all healed and the beer is not yet ready to drink but all of the work we put into making the TV programs for both the Discovery and Travel Channels (highlighting different aspects of Fort Mifflin) are about to come to fruition. May 4 — …

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. April 24, 1800The Library of Congress is formally established in the new US Capitol Building.  The Library of Congress was established as the fledgling legislature of the new Republic …

HANDS-ON BREWING WITH THE REGIMENTAL BREWMEISTER

QUENCH YOUR THIRST FOR HISTORY!May 7th — 11:00 – 4:00Fort Mifflin 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 …

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. April 19, 1775     Shot heard round the world.  About 700 British Army regulars were given secret orders to capture and destroy Colonial military supplies stored by the Massachusetts militia …

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. April 18, 1775     The Midnight Ride of William Dawes and Paul Revere. Thanks to Longfellow, hardly a scholar or school child alive does not know the name of Paul …

Freedom Means NOTHING Unless You Also Embrace Tolerance

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others. John F Kennedy As Americans we focus a lot on our Constitutional Freedoms.  Frankly, we are far more enthralled with these than most of the rest of the world for in the time since our Revolution, …

Basic Colonial Brewing #7 — Adapting Historic Recipes to your Brewery

When we find actual recipes from the 18th Century, whether they are for food, beer, or even chemical substances like gunpowder and soap, the recipes are vague and ambiguous by modern sensibilities. These instructions were clearly written for experts.  Below you will find an example of George Washington’s Small Beer recipe, and unless you are …

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. April 14, 1775 The Society for the Relief of the Free Negros Unlawfully Held in Bondage first meets in Philadelphia.  The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully …

Sale of Chametz

Well we’ve reached Pesach and, of course, the dilemma that creates for all Jewish brewers. I could go the route of destroying all my chametz as we are instructed. The problem with that is that beer really doesn’t burn so i would have to have one hell of a party… I had eighteen bottles of whiskey …

Why Char Barrels?

The wooden barrel was created around 300 BCE. To understand why brewers, vintners, and distillers use barrels; you have to look back to the Celts, those northern Europeans who lived around the Alps or what is current France and Germany before conquest by the Roman Empire.  Northern Europe had timber in abundance and as these …

Fort Mifflin on TV

Okay folks, its about to happen. The wounds are not all healed and the beer is not yet ready to drink but all of the work we put into making the TV programs for both the Discovery and Travel Channels (highlighting different aspects of Fort Mifflin) are about to come to fruition. May 4 — …

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. April 5, 1764 – SUGAR ACT Sugar Act, also called Molasses Act, the Plantation Act or the Revenue Act, was passed by Parliament in an attempted to curb 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. April 2, 1792       Congress establishes the US Mint in Philadelphia. On April 2, 1792 Congress passed the Coinage Act, establishing the first national mint in the United States. In …

Leather Goods

Okay, I am making a few period hammerstalls (don’t worry there will be some rebel versions for all you antidisestablishmentarians) at Fort Mifflin’s Gift Shop soon. These will be $10 and proceeds will go to Fort Programming. I will also be putting portmanteau on consignment in the giftshop as well. These are much more involved …

April Fools — Part 2

In my last post, I picked on Boston because, well its Boston.  But stupid laws are not a Massachusetts thing.  Let’s look a little closer to home. Here are a few from Pennsylvania: It is illegal to catch a fish by any body part other than the mouth. There’s also a law forbidding the use …

April Fools

The origins behind April Fool’s Day are a little sketchy but it is generally understood that it started back in 1582. That was the year that France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian but communication was slow and unreliable so, not everyone switched at the same time.  As a consequence, many priests didn’t …

An 18th Century Laptop?

In the 21st Century, I carry a laptop computer everywhere I go. You see, as an educated person, I generally work with my mind and for that to have any meaning whatsoever, I must communicate those thoughts, ideas, analyses, and such to others. While far fewer people were educated in the 18th Century and even …

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. March 29, 1780 – SIEGE OF CHARLESTON:  After approximately six weeks of siege, Major General Benjamin Lincoln, commanding the Charleston garrison, surrendered his forces to the British. It was …

Son’s of the American Revolution Drilled at Fort Mifflin on March 27

It was a cold day but 9 compatriots of the PHILADELPHIA CONTINENTAL CHAPTER of the SONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION COLOR GUARD came to Fort Mifflin to learn and improve their ceremonial drill. Unlike a reenacting unit that drills regularly, the Color Guard primarily performs at significant civic events and many of our members needed …

Bring Documents to your Reenactments!

Today Americans boast a whoppingly deplorable literacy rate of about 86% depending on how you measure literacy.  Compare this to Colonial New England where, discounting slaves, women, indentured servants, and indians, in a time when books, newpapers, and magazines were largely unobtainable, the literacy rate was almost 60%*.  Today with telephones, television, radio, and various …

Could one of our Founding Fathers have been a Jew?

While writing the blog on Chanukah in Colonial America, I came across some lectures and articles by Andrew Porwancher, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, who has an interesting hypothesis.  It seems that while researching the early life of Alexander Hamilton, Porwancher uncovered some interesting facts. Alexander Hamilton is the son of Rachel Faucette …

Unfiltered Beer is Good for You!

For thousands of years beer served as food and medicine; it had antiseptic, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.  The health benefits of beer not only come from the grains and yeast but also the hops. Hops contain a flavonoid called xanthohumol that strongly suppresses CYP1A2 (suppressing is good), a liver enzyme that metabolizes various environmental procarcinogens …

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. March 23, 1775 – Patrick Henry addressed the Virginia Legislature with a rousing speech – “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, Give me …

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. March 22, 1765                 STAMP ACT  The Stamp Act of 1765 was the first internal tax levied directly on American colonists by the British Parliament. The act, which imposed …

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. Why are Marines often called “Leathernecks?” Leather neck stocks were part of the standard uniform of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps at the time of the American Revolution. …

Libation Menu for Colonial Tavern

Don’t let anyone tell you making Colonial Punch is easy — its complicated. This year the Cannonball Tavern at Fort Mifflin will feature: Colonial Mead (Battle of the Bees and Edenton Tea Party) Spruce Beer Fish House Punch Black Tea Punch Lemonade Switchel

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. March 17, 1776 British evacuate Boston.  British forces are forced to evacuate Boston following General George Washington’s successful placement of fortifications and cannons on Dorchester Heights, which overlooks the city …

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. March 17, 1776 – EVACUATION DAY:  Following a protracted siege by the Continental Army, and the emplacement of artillery upon Dorchester Heights, the British retreat from Boston. On March …

Tavern Night at Fort Mifflin is March 26 at 6:00pm

Experience the ambiance of a colonial-era tavern in Philadelphia when Fort Mifflin transforms the Soldier’s Barracks into the Cannonball Tavern, complete with authentic beverages and hearty tavern fare. Enjoy tavern games, the warm glow of a cozy fire and the company of civilians and soldiers of the era. Outdoor fire pit and cannon demonstrations complete …

Origin of the Tricorned Hat

Well its Purim and many of us taught that we eat hamantaschen because Haman, the villain of the Megillah, wore a tri-cornered hat but there is no evidence that Haman wore a triangular hat.  You might also be surprise to learn that Swedes have a suspiciously similar cookie, called Napoleon’s Hats or Napoleonhattar, which are traditionally filled with …

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. March 16, 1780                 Battle of Guilford Courthouse The Battle of Guilford Court House was fought at a site which is now in Greensboro, North Carolina. A 2,100-man 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. March 15, 1783                 Newburgh Address General George Washington, having learned that his officers planned to meet to discuss a fiery petition to mutiny if Congress failed to provide them …

Beer Recipe: Air and Exercise — Rattleskull

“Air and Exercise” = being whipped with a Cat-o-Nine-Tails. Prior to the arrival of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, American officers often imitated their British peers. In a rather startling example, George Washington once lobbied congress for permission to allow 500 lashes — “Air and Exercise”– as punishment to maintain discipline the Continental soldiers! Congress …

Eli Whitney Patented the Cotton Gin on March 14, 1794

In 1794, U.S.-born inventor Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin, a machine that revolutionized the production of cotton by greatly speeding up the process of removing seeds from cotton fiber. By the mid-19th century, cotton had become America’s leading export. Despite its success, the gin made little money for Whitney due to patent-infringement issues. Also, …

Happy π Day

Pi (often represented by the lower-case Greek letter π), one of the most well-known mathematical constants, is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.  For any circle, the distance around the edge is a little more than three times the distance across. Pi has interested people around the world for over 4,000 years.  …

Basic Colonial Brewing #18 — Proof your Whiskey, Sir

When it comes to arcane historical terms for spirits and other alcohol, proof is one of the frustrating ones.  In our modern vernacular, with the blessing of modern analytical chemistry as support, we simply think of “proof” as two times the alcohol by volume (ABV).  But why is this measure even a thing?  After all, …

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. March 7, 1778Frigate Randolph (32 guns) blown up in an engagement at sea The Randolph engaged the British 64-gun ship-of-the-line HMS Yarmouth. Rather than trying to flee from 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. March 5, 1770                    Boston Massacre In 1767, in an attempt to recoup the considerable treasure expended in the defense of its North American colonies during the French and Indian …

Sons of the American Revolution — School of the Color Guard

The PCC color guard uniform is in the style of The Commander in Chief’s Guard. These men were hand picked out of the continental regiments to guard Washington, his papers, and his baggage. They were also a fighting unit. At Valley Forge the CIC guard was personally trained by Von Steuben and then detached 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. March 4, 1797    John Adams inaugurated President At the time of the founding of our republic, monarchs led nearly every other nation. Even as democratic systems began to spread, …


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