Letters

How to Survey Land with 18th Century Tools – The Artificial Horizon

When taking a sight with a celestial object, the observer uses the natural or sea horizon as the line of departure.  When, however, that horizon is obscured by darkness or inclement weather such as fog, an instrument known as an “artificial horizon” is used to serve as an alternative to obtain accurate altitude readings.  Just…

US Marines in the American Revolution

Flag Raising at New Providence 28 January 1778 Shortly after his arrival at Georgetown, South Carolina, Captain John Peck Rathbun of the sloop Providence was informed by a merchant captain who had just returned from the Bahamas that the Mary had put into Nassau for repairs. The news immediately brought back memories of his brief…

Supply Chain Issues?  — The Bread Famine in 18th-century France.

Yesterday, I was dismayed at the lack of stocking in my local Giant supermarket.  Voltaire once remarked that Parisians required only “the comic opera and white bread.” But bread has also played a dark role in French history and, namely, the French Revolution. The storming of the medieval fortress of Bastille on July 14, 1789…

Either Fly the Flag or Don’t

Okay, this is a rant but I’ve had enough.  First, under the guise of “honor” the right-wing extremist mutilated our flag with selective discoloration and even the pictures of hate mongers.  Then they took the Betsy Ross Flag and imbued it with connotations of hate (alluding to a time when slavery was legal), then those…

Second Annual Cast Iron Chef at Fort Mifflin

On January 28th, Fort Mifflin on the Delaware (www.fortmifflin.us) and the Regimental Brewmeister (www.colonialbrewer.com) will be conducting a very unique program at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia.  This is our second annual Cast Iron Chef program and it promises to be spectacular.  Cast Iron Chef is an opportunity our guest to gain hands on experience working…

Making Copies in the 18th Century

Today when we want to make a copy of a letter or a map all we do is strike a few keys on a computer or place the document on a Xerox Copier screen and within a few seconds, we have a near perfect duplicate.  A few decades ago, the process was a bit more…

So You Think RENEWABLE Energy is a New Thing?

When George Washington was elected president in 1790, he chose Alexander Hamilton to be the first Secretary of the Treasury.  Hamilton served in this capacity until 1795 and during this time he set our modern banking system, establishing the federal budget process, and established the Bank of the United States. At the time, there were…

“Beer” Recipe — Whiskey Rebellion Corn Beer

Okay, TECHNICALLY this is not a beer. According to Reinheitsgebot, beer must be made with malted BARLEY and this beer uses corn but AMERICAN beer is often made with whatever grain is available. I have dedicated this to the Whiskey Rebellion. During the American Revolution, individual states incurred significant debt. In 1790 Treasury Secretary Alexander…

THE BILL OF RIGHTS: A BRIEF HISTORY #1

Insurrections often are propagated upon misinformation.   So too are the most recent band of domestic terrorist who like to hide behind our most sacred American institutions.  In this series, I want to explore the Bill of Rights and why some of the hype and hyperbole thrown around by the extremist is not just wrong but…

Basic Colonial Brewing #2 — Brewing in the 18th Century

Beer was once considered the most health drink to give to children and vital to survival. To understand this, you must first understand that centuries of dense urban living had left the water in Europe unsafe to drink. People of the 18th Century did not understand why but they did observe that people who drank…

The original “Doctor Death”

During the 1700’s, executions in France were public events where entire towns gathered to watch. A common execution method for a poor criminal was quartering, where the prisoner’s limbs were tied to four oxen, then the animals were driven in four different directions ripping the person apart. Upper-class criminals could buy their way into a…

Historical Tidbits — Louis XVI Guillotined

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. January 21, 1793               Louis XVI Guillotined In October 1789, a mob marched on Versailles and forced the royal couple to move to Tuileries; in June 1791, opposition to the…

Historical Tidbits — Pompton Mutiny

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. January 20, 1781               Pompton Mutiny — revolt of New Jersey troops On January 20, about 200-300 of the soldiers at Pompton mutinied. According to eyewitness accounts, they were also…

A Short History of Mapmaking in the Americas

Maps of land surfaces and charts of the sea coasts are scaled down representations of the earth’s surface. They are ideal documents to prove that a discovery has taken place and provide the means for the exploration to be repeated by others.  They are tremendous assets to the military and are a great aid to…

The Health Benefits of Beer

So, I went to this lecture at a synagogue downtown (Rodeph Shalom) and the rabbi pulled a dozen or so Talmudic[i] references on beer and brewing for the group to consider.  Now I will not bore my non-Jewish readers with the esoterica of rabbinic debate but the selection we discussed was who follow this blog…

Second Annual Cast Iron Chef at Fort Mifflin

On January 28th, Fort Mifflin on the Delaware (www.fortmifflin.us) and the Regimental Brewmeister (www.colonialbrewer.com) will be conducting a very unique program at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia.  This is our second annual Cast Iron Chef program and it promises to be spectacular.  Cast Iron Chef is an opportunity our guest to gain hands on experience working…

Dirty Business and Politics are Often Bedfellows

We all think of Benjamin Franklin as a grandfatherly type who invented and published things, sort of that eccentric neighbor who was everyone’s friend, but there was a ruthless side to Franklin.  In 1728, a printer named Samuel Keimer founded the Pennsylvania Gazette, the second newspaper ever printed in the colony. It did not do…

Historical Tidbits — Battle of Golden Hill

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. The Battle of Golden Hill was a clash between British soldiers and the Sons of Liberty in the American colonies that occurred on January 19, 1770, in New York City. Along with the Boston Massacre and the Gaspée Affair, the event…

Making Gunpowder

Gunpowder that was of vital to the success of the American soldiers in the American Revolution.  Bunker Hill was lost not because of overwhelming British superiority but rather because the militia entrenched on Breeds Hill ran out of ammunition.  In all of England, including the colonies, making black powder was legally a Crown monopoly. While…

Making Matchcord

Despite what you may have learned watching Saturday Morning Cartoons, cannon are not fired by lighting a fuse like you see on a firecracker which slowly burns down to the charge.  Well, they are but the fuse is generally a pile of loose gunpowder or a gunpowder impregnated quil that burns very rapidly to fire…

“Beer” Recipe — Black Cider

One of the biggest atrocities of the Revolutionary War was committed not by our enemies the British or even the Hessians, it was committed within our hallowed halls and ultimately enshrined in the Constitution and that atrocity was slavery.  Eighteenth Century white men all felt that they were morally and intellectually superior to men of…

Lords a Leaping…

Social Stratification in English Society Under English Common Law, you are entitled (in some situations) to a “Jury of your Peers.”  As Americans, we frequently misinterpret “peers” to mean people like us.  This is because with the adoption of the US Constitution in 1787, we officially renounced all references to “peerage” and titles of nobility…

Historical Tidbits — Treaty of Paris

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. January 14, 1784 – Congress formally accepts the terms of the Treaty of Paris, ending American participation in the Revolutionary War.  George III will not sign this treaty for…

Historical Tidbits — Battle of Cowpens

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. January 17, 1780               Battle of Cowpens Shortly after sunrise, the American rifleman encountered the lead elements of Colonel Balastre Tarleton’s British Legion, the 7th Regiment of Foot, 71st Regiment…

Historical Tidbits — Cook Crosses Antarctic Circle

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. January 17, 1773 – HMS Resolution, under the command of James Cook, became the first vessel to cross the Antarctic Circle. The Royal Society and the government were eager…

I’m Planning my 2023 Season

I am beginning to set my schedule for next year and wanted to take the time to remind you that if you want to book the Regimental Brewmeister for an event, now is the time to reach out! I offer many programs, though the most popular are brewing, tavern keeping, and surveying.   Calendars always fills…

The Kieve

The Regimental Brewmeister uses a 1 barrel brewery set up including a 30-gallon kieve (aka keeve) and a 30 gallon kühlschipp.(AKA koelschip). As we strive for ever increasing levels of authenticity to both the beer and our experience brewing, this new equipment takes us back to the basics of 18th Century zymology. In our previous…

Basic Colonial Brewing — The Koelschip

The Regimental Brewmeister uses a 1 barrel brewery set up including a 30-gallon kieve (aka keeve) and a 30 gallon kühlschipp.(AKA koelschip).  As we strive for ever increasing levels of authenticity to both the beer and our experience brewing, this new equipment takes us back to the basics of 18th Century zymology. Modern breweries make…

How to Survey Land with 18th Century Tools — Using the Sector

The sector and the related proportional compasses (proportional dividers) were developed in the second half of the 16th century. There are several inventors, most of them from Italy but most people attribute its development to Galileo Galilei. The sector consists of two arms connected by a pivot joint. For example, linear, trigonometric, and logarithmic scales…

Healthcare in America

There is a lot of talk during the current pandemic about healthcare and hospitals.  All during the political campaigns of let last dozen or so years, we have argued and fought over how we should manage and administer healthcare in our country.  Lots of ink has been spilled on the merits and problems of public…

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…

Healthcare in America

There is a lot of talk during the current pandemic about healthcare and hospitals.  All during the political campaigns of let last dozen or so years, we have argued and fought over how we should manage and administer healthcare in our country.  Lots of ink has been spilled on the merits and problems of public…

Cast Iron Chef Returns to Fort Mifflin

Want an opportunity to quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger for an immersive history experience this winter. Come to Fort Mifflin for a taste of life in early 19th century Philadelphia! Join the Regimental Brewmeister and our team of hearth cooks for a unique hands-on experience in early 19th century foodways. Take up an…

Second Annual Cast Iron Chef at Fort Mifflin

On January 28th, Fort Mifflin on the Delaware (www.fortmifflin.us) and the Regimental Brewmeister (www.colonialbrewer.com) will be conducting a very unique program at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia.  This is our second annual Cast Iron Chef program and it promises to be spectacular.  Cast Iron Chef is an opportunity our guest to gain hands on experience working…

Fighting the War behind a Desk

History books are filled with glorification of exploits on the battlefield and we have all heard the story of Alexander Hamilton bristling at the role of Aide-du-Camp and demanding his opportunity to prove himself in the field.  The reality of military operations, however, is very different.  Much of the real WORK of a military commander…

The Blacksmith

The blacksmith is a craftsman who fabricates objects out of iron by hot and cold forging on an anvil. The blacksmith’s essential equipment consists of a forge, an open furnace for heating metal ore and metal for working and forming. in which smelted iron is heated so that it can be worked easily; an anvil,…

The Whitesmith

Whitesmithing, or tinsmithing, is a much newer form of metalworking that developed in the late 1600s and gained popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although found worldwide, whitesmithing was popular in mainland Europe and especially Britain. Whitesmiths work with thin sheets of iron or steel that were dipped in molten tin to protect the metal from…

The Admiral of the Blue Apron

In Francis Grose’s A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, first published in 1785, I found an entry that I have adopted as the moniker for my tavern impression — The Admiral of the Blue Apron. The ADMIRAL OF THE BLUE, is a publican wearing a blue apron, as was formerly the custom among gentlemen…

The Secular Argument for the Establishment Clause of Amendment 1

It is great to argue that the first Congress was inspired to adopt the Establishment Clause[i] by stories of Puritans and other separatist fleeing religious persecution in Europe and some mythical ideal that Americans are somehow more tolerant of other religions than their forebears but this is clearly NOT TRUE.  Jews, atheists, Wiccans and Muslims…

Historical Tidbits — Common Sense

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. January 10, 1776 – Common Sense, a fifty-page pamphlet by Thomas Paine, was published.  It sold over 500,000 copies in America and Europe, influencing both the authors of the…

The Centennial Bell

In 1876, Philadelphia city officials discussed what role the Liberty Bell should play in the nation’s Centennial festivities. Some wanted to repair it so it could sound at the Centennial Exposition being held in Philadelphia, but the idea was not adopted; the bell’s custodians concluded that it was unlikely that the metal could be made…

The OTHER Clock at Independence Hall

When you visit the Philadelphia State House (AKA Independence Hall), you will be told the story of the Liberty Bell and it multiple recastings before being hung in the tower behind the hall. You will no doubt hear the bells (now the Centennial Bell) as it chimes on the hour and of course most photos…

Poor Richard’s Almanack

Poor Richard’s Almanack, which Franklin began publishing at the end of 1732, espoused his greatest life goals: the making of money and the promotion of virtue. It became, in the course of its twenty-five-year run, America’s first great humor classic. The fictional Poor Richard Saunders and his nagging wife, Bridget, helped to define what would…

Winning the War with Beer

More 18th Century soldiers died of malnutrition and disease than by the hands of their enemies. For the British, each soldier was an investment of a nation’s time and resources so keeping them “fit for duty” was not just a humanitarian concern, it was protecting the nations investment. Getting soldiers trained and transported North America…

George Washington Elected as President

On January 7,  1789, the Congress of the United States of America, having recently adopted the Constitution, held its first presidential election. Despite having retired to his Virginia plantation after the war, the Electoral College cast a unanimous vote (69 electoral votes) for George Washington.   Under the original Constitution, the electors each cast two…

Historical Tidbits — 2nd Battle of Trenton

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. January 7, 1777                 2nd Battle of Trenton On New Year’s Day, Washington’s force of 5,000 massed again in Trenton. The next day Cornwallis arrived with an army 5,500. After…

Historical Tidbits — 1st Encampment at Morristown

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. January 6, 1777                 1st Encampment at Morristown Remnants of the American forces (2,000 – 4,000 troops) after the battles of Trenton and Princeton are billeted in homes and structures…

Becoming a Colonial Brewer

In 1994, I became interested in the someone rebellious and definitely an anachronistic hobby of home-brewing.  Brewing beer at home became legal (again) in 1979 so by the time I got involved it was a weird mix of semi-commercial home-brew supply stores that sold malt, yeast, and hops in various forms plus a hodgepodge of…

Historical Tidbits — Battle of Princeton

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. January 5, 1777                 Battle of Princeton Preparing to crush Washington’s Army at Assunpink Creek, Cornwallis ordered reinforcements brought down to his position at Trenton.  This left only a small…

Second Annual Cast Iron Chef at Fort Mifflin

On January 28th, Fort Mifflin on the Delaware (www.fortmifflin.us) and the Regimental Brewmeister (www.colonialbrewer.com) will be conducting a very unique program at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia.  This is our second annual Cast Iron Chef program and it promises to be spectacular.  Cast Iron Chef is an opportunity our guest to gain hands on experience working…

Ask your Tavernkeeper

Perhaps its just that sort of week for me but its definitely 5:00 HERE so here are some terms to take with you to your local watering hole to show you understand the drinking habits of we merry 18th Century barmen… Sláinte…

Freedom From Religion was needed even in the 18th Century.

The wonder of lightning has captivated and intrigued humans throughout history, often sparking mythological interpretations (eg Thor is the Norse god of thunder). These interpretations occurred long before science could answer some of the questions that kept humans in awe. Even in more traditional religions, thunder and lightning have spiritual connotations.  In Judaism, it’s customary…

“Beer” Recipe: Battle of the Bees Mead

Bees played a small role in the Revolutionary War on two notable occasions. The first is “The Battle of the Bees” that occurred Oct. 3, 1780 at McIntyre’s Farm, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.  Loyalists, led by Capt. John Doyle, were traveling down Beattie’s Ford Road with 60 wagons. Their mission: to plunder area farms…

Re-Enactor, Interpreter, or Living Historian?

In my tagline, I use the two terms that are sometimes seen as synonyms and just as often as antonyms by the Living History community:  Re-enactor and Interpreter.  So, are you a re-enactor, an interpreter, or a living historian?  Are you part of the exhibit, the staff, a visitor, or something else altogether?  These are…

Are you a Yankee Doodle Dandy?

We all know the song … “Yankee Doodle went to town.” They teach it to our children. Well, thankfully not! The British sang Yankee Doodle to berate the Americans during the Revolutionary War. It not the nice little dittle we all sang as kids, when you get to the later verses, it quite profane. A…

US Marines in the American Revolution

Marines with Washington at Princeton 3 January 1777 Encouraged by his success against the Hessian garrison at Trenton on Christmas night 1776, General George Washington determined upon a further stroke. Crossing the Delaware River again on 30 December, he reoccupied Trenton. General Charles Cornwallis, who commanded a large British force occupying the town of Princeton,…

Beer is Good for You

Okay this is weird but as the Regimental Brewmeister I feel compelled to inform you that the Mayo Clinic has suggested (not proved but only suggested) that may be preventative for Alzheimer’s Disease.  For those of you who may have forgotten (pun intended), Alzheimer’s often causes memory loss and personality changes.  It generally afflicts the…

We Reopened the Smithy at Fort Mifflin

This week, the Regimental Brewmeister added a new skill to his repertoire — Blacksmithing. When Fort Mifflin was reconstructed in 1798, the first permanent structure built was the smithy and this was because no real work could begin on the structure without the hardware and tools produced in this shop. All the nails, bolts, hinges,…

“Beer” Recipe: Battle of the Bees Mead

Bees played a small role in the Revolutionary War on two notable occasions. The first is “The Battle of the Bees” that occurred Oct. 3, 1780 at McIntyre’s Farm, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.  Loyalists, led by Capt. John Doyle, were traveling down Beattie’s Ford Road with 60 wagons. Their mission: to plunder area farms…

“Seven Rations” for the 18th Century Soldier

For regiments of the British Army, each mess (five or six men) was issued one bowl, one platter, one ladle, one cooking kettle, six trenchers (a plate on one side and a bowl on the other), and spoons. Using this equipment, the men were to prepare, cook, and eat their “seven rations” of food. Each…

Man does Not Live on Beer Alone — Punch

Okay, so “Punch” has been around much longer than the 18th Century.  In fact, the idea of punch is, well, old, really old.   The word can be traced back to the 15th Century and it’s all tied to the reason sailors wanted a shorter route to Asia – Nutmeg.  At its peak, nutmeg bought at…

How to Survey Land with 18th Century Tools — Using the Gunter’s Rule

Using the Gunter’s Rule So how was multiplication done in the 18th Century.  Sure, you could and people did do long-hand multiplication just like you were taught in elementary school.  For example, we can multiply 384×56. The number with more digits is usually selected as the multiplicand: The long multiplication algorithm starts with multiplying the…

Historical Tidbits — Revolt of Pennsylvania Line

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. January 1, 1781                 Revolt of Pennsylvania Line On January 1, 1781, the Pennsylvania Line held a raucous New Year’s Day celebration. That evening, soldiers from several regiments armed themselves…

How to Survey Land with 18th Century Tools — Using the Gunter’s Rule

Using the Gunter’s Rule So how was multiplication done in the 18th Century.  Sure, you could and people did do long-hand multiplication just like you were taught in elementary school.  For example, we can multiply 384×56. The number with more digits is usually selected as the multiplicand: The long multiplication algorithm starts with multiplying the…

Historical Tidbits — 1st Bank of North America established

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. December 31, 1781          1st Bank of North America established Chartered May 26, 1781, by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, this enterprise was the first national and truly…

Historical Tidbits — General Montgomery killed

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. December 31, 1775          General Montgomery killed General Richard Montgomery launched a courageous attack on the lower city of Quebec (along the river beneath the walls) in the middle of…

Historical Tidbits — Arnold Attacks Quebec City

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. December 31, 1775 — Patriot forces under Colonel Benedict Arnold and General Richard Montgomery attempted to capture the British-occupied city of Quebec and with it win support for the…

The ULITMATE Role Model for the Regimental Brewmeister — Arthur Guinness

Arthur Guinness was born on September 28, 1725. His father Richard, who was land steward to the archbishop of Cashel, brewed beer for workers on the estate taught Arthur the craft of brewing.  When the archbishop died in 1752, he left 100 pounds each to “his servant” Arthur and his father. Using this initial investment,…

I’m Planning my 2023 Season

I am beginning to set my schedule for next year and wanted to take the time to remind you that if you want to book the Regimental Brewmeister for an event, now is the time to reach out! I offer many programs, though the most popular are brewing, tavern keeping, and surveying.   Calendars always fills…

Soldiers at “Rest”

Only a tiny fraction of any soldier’s time was spent in combat. The vast majority of the time, the army was in camp.  Camp life was exactly a time of rest and idleness.  Uniforms and arms required daily attention, food had to be cooked, firewood collected, shelters built and the near endless work that caring…

Auld Lang Syne

At midnight on December 31st, throughout the English-speaking world, the song “Auld Lang Syne” is sung practically everywhere.  This song — actually a poem by Robert Burns — is indelibly linked to New Year’s celebrations, but what does it mean?  You’ve all seen Billy Crystal in Harry met Sally: “Does that mean that we should…

We’re Reopening the Blacksmith Shop at Fort Mifflin

In 1776 the Committee of Safety of the Delaware River ordered a “Smith Shop and Forge” to be built on Mud Island. That building was likely demolished during the siege of 1777 but we have the rebuild (new and improved) blacksmith shop from 1798   The only thing missing is a blacksmith is on duty managing…

Cast Iron Chef Returns to Fort Mifflin

Want an opportunity to quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger for an immersive history experience this winter. Come to Fort Mifflin for a taste of life in early 19th century Philadelphia! Join the Regimental Brewmeister and our team of hearth cooks for a unique hands-on experience in early 19th century foodways. Take up an…

The Other East India Companies

When we talk about 18th Century trade monopolies, the big three (British East India Company, Hudson Bay Company, and the Dutch East India Company).  The era of Spanish hegemony in trade was well in the decline by 1700 but what about the other imperial powers.  Let’s not forget that France, Austria, Demark, Sweden, and Portugal…

The British East India Company

Founded in 1600 by royal charter, the East India Company was established as a joint-stock trading company to exploit opportunities east of the Cape of Good Hope where it was granted a trade monopoly. Crucially, to conduct this trade, the EIC was permitted to ‘wage war’. Although the EIC did not hold sovereignty in its…

Prussian Blue

Considered the first artificial pigment, Prussian Blue was created at the turn of the eighteenth century, rather ironically by an artist seeking to create a new source for red paint.  There are varying accounts as to the exact story behind the color, but the most interesting is from German physician Georg Ernst Stahl (1659–1734). He…

What’s with the BLUE MUSKET? 

If you are like most reenactors, you consume all the popular media on the 18th Century no matter how well done it is. We look at the costumes, the misrepresentations of history, and criticize the portrayal of people whose lives and customers we are much more immersed in that the TV or movie producers. Occasionally,…

Texas and the American Revolution

In discussions on the American Revolutionary War, the contributions of Texas are seldom brought up.[1] But in the 1770s, Texas, inhabited by Spaniards and Native Americans, was a hub of activity. While the signing of the Declaration of Independence occurred on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, Tejanos (Texans) manned outposts, guarded New Spain’s claims, and reconnoitered neighboring…

Historical Tidbits — Savannah taken by the British

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. December 29, 1778          Savannah taken by the British In 1778, British policymakers and strategists decided to refocus their efforts on the southern colonies, where they believed the crown would…

We’re Reopening the Blacksmith Shop at Fort Mifflin

In 1776 the Committee of Safety of the Delaware River ordered a “Smith Shop and Forge” to be built on Mud Island. That building was likely demolished during the siege of 1777 but we have the rebuild (new and improved) blacksmith shop from 1798   The only thing missing is a blacksmith is on duty managing…

Historical Tidbits — 1st Battle of Trenton

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. December 26, 1776          1st Battle of Trenton Having successfully crossed the Delaware on Christmas day, the Continental Army attacked a Hessian garrison at Trenton on December 26, 1776.  Although…

Historical Tidbits — Washington crosses Delaware

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. December 25, 1776          Washington crosses Delaware On blustery Christmas Day in late 1776, George Washington led a daring attack on the Hessian garrison in Trenton.  After a series of…

Edmund Halley’s Famous Prediction

The first known observation of Halley’s Comet, or Comet Halley, took place in 239 BCE., when Chinese astronomers recorded its passage in the Shih Chi and Wen Hsien Thung Khao chronicles. When Halley’s returned in 164 BCE. and again in 87 BCE, it was noted in Babylonian records.  It’s also thought that another appearance of…

Historical Tidbits — Washington resigns as Commander in Chief

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. December 23, 1783          Washington resigns as Commander in Chief “Having now finished the work assigned to me, I retire from the great theatre of action; and bidding an affectionate…

SinterKlaas

During the American War of Independence, the inhabitants of New York City, formerly New Amsterdam), celebrated the tradition of Sinterklaas as symbol of the city’s non-English past.  In the 1770s the New York Gazetteer noted that the feast day of “St. a Claus” was celebrated “by the descendants of the ancient Dutch families, with their usual festivities.” Sinterklaas is…

How Cartridge Paper almost killed King George

In order to facilitate rapid loading during battle, 18th Century musket cartridges were made from rolled brownish-white paper.  This paper tube held both the powder and the ball was its own self contained wadding.  For training, reviews and firing a “feu de joie” or celebratory musket salute, however, blank rounds were needed. Numerous accidents were reported…

Did Jews Participate in the American Revolution? Well here are a few stories. (David Salisbury Franks and Solomon Bush)

Yesterday we discussed Mordecai Sheftall’s career during the Revolution.  There were two other Jewish soldiers that became staff officers in the Continental Army – David Salisbury Franks and Solomon Bush. When General Richard Montgomery took Montreal from the English, David Salisbury Franks (then a Canadian civilian) lent the American Army money and sold them supplies,…

Best Real Estate Deal in History!

On December 20, 1803, The Louisiana Purchase, a land deal between the United States and France in which the U.S. acquired approximately 827,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River for $15 million, was finalized. In 1802 Spain lost the vast territory of Louisiana, which had been its spoils for assistance in the…

Debtors’ Prison

Well, Tis the Season when many of you are in a Dickens of a mood so let’s talk about 18th Century debtors in England.  Prior to the Bankruptcy Act (1869), missing even a small debt payment could lead to decades of imprisonment.  If you are familiar with Charles Dickens’ novel Little Dorrit, originally published as…

Historical Tidbits — Benjamin Franklin first published Poor Richard’s Almanac

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. December 19, 1732 – Benjamin Franklin first published Poor Richard’s Almanac. Poor Richard’s Almanack was a yearly almanac published by Benjamin Franklin, who adopted the pseudonym of “Poor Richard”…

Historical Tidbits — Encampment at Valley Forge

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. December 19, 1777          Encampment at Valley Forge With the campaign season ending and cold weather rapidly approaching, Washington moved his army into winter quarters. For his winter encampment, Washington…

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…


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