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. June 17, 1775 – BATTLE OF BREED’S HILL (AKA Bunker Hill):  200 colonial troops under the command of William Prescott occupied Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill constructing a strong …

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. June 17, 1775     Battle of Bunker Hill. Well actually, Breed’s Hill…  On June 13, 1775, the leaders of the colonial forces besieging Boston learned that the British were planning to send …

Better Late than Never

This week Congress passed and the President signed into law a bill makes June 19th (aka Juneteenth) a federal holiday.  Forget that its 156 years too late.  This is a move to recognize not just the injustice of slavery in America but also the significant contribution that African Americans have made to the democratic and …

Save your Shillings!

Okay folks, this is a one time great deal. I just got this from Fort Mifflin regarding next week’s Tavern Night. The Cannonball Tavern lives! Now an indoor/outdoor event with Les and Jobie Ford’s authentic 18th century punch, beer from the Regimental Brewmeister and craft brewery 2SP! Hearty snacks available for purchase or BYO picnic …

Upcoming Event

June 18, 2021 — 5:00pm – 8:00 pmJEFFERSONIAN PICNIC:Did Jefferson ever believe “All men are created equal …?” We all know Jefferson owned slaves. We also know that in 1803, he purchased Louisiana from Bonaparte setting the stage for future displacements, genocides, and other crimes against America’s First Nations. Were “all men” only white Protestant …

The Cordwainer

The English term cordwainer first appears in 1100. Since this date the term cordouan, or cordovan leather, has been applied to several varieties of leather. Today cordovan leather is a vegetable tanned horse “shell,” and like the Medieval cordwain is used only for the highest quality shoes. Since the Middle Ages the title of cordwainer …

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. June 14, 1775 – The Second Continental Congress creates the Continental Army.  Six companies of riflemen are then dispatched to Boston. When the American Revolutionary War broke out in …

Burn Baby Burn

On flag day, we should address the elephant in the room.  Some of these elephants get really upset when our national symbol is publicly burned.  They are fools! When our flag is retired, it should be cremated.  Yes – burned; never thrown out like garbage.  Sure, its just a piece of cloth but this simple …

Flag Day

Nothing is quite so awe inspiring as to be on a military installation when Call to Colors is played.  EVERTYHING STOPS!  EVERYONE turns to the colors and most people salute.  This event happens twice each day to remind us of WHY we are there.  We are there not for some political agenda in Washington, not …

Upcoming Event

June 18, 2021 — 5:00pm – 8:00 pmJEFFERSONIAN PICNIC:Did Jefferson ever believe “All men are created equal …?” We all know Jefferson owned slaves. We also know that in 1803, he purchased Louisiana from Bonaparte setting the stage for future displacements, genocides, and other crimes against America’s First Nations. Were “all men” only white Protestant …

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. June 10, 1752 – Benjamin Franklin demonstrates that lightning is a form of electricity.  This kite experiment will make Mr. Franklin one of the most famous men 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. June 9, 1772 – The HMS Gaspee, a British customs ship that ran aground in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island.  The Gaspee, commanded by Lieutenant Dudingston, was engaged in a …

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. June 8, 1775        Lord Dunmore retires to British shipping.    Dunmore and his family fled the Governor’s Palace in the middle of the night and took up residence aboard the Fowey. Want …

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. June 5, 1767 The New York Restraining Act — forbade the New York Assembly and the governor of New York from passing any new bills until they agreed 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. June 4, 1738 – King George III is born.  He will rule England from 1760 to 1820. George III (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich) was born on 4 June 1738 in …

The Colonial Chandler

Candles were made by either dipping a wick in molten wax or pouring that wax into a mold around the wick.  By the late 1700s, many of the candles used in the American colonies were produced by commercial chandlers. Soap is a natural by-product of candle making, so many chandleries also sold soap.   To make …

Memorial Day 2021

“I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, …

Colonial Surveyor – Determining your Position using Celestial Navigation

A sextant is an intimidating complex instrument.  It consists of an A-shaped frame with an apex of 60° on a sextant or 45° on an octant.  Along the rounded lower edge of the frame is an arc, the limb, that is marked with numbers for the degree of the angles that the sextant can measure. An index …

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 30, 1783 – The Pennsylvania Evening Post became America’s first daily newspaper. Benjamin Towne published the first issue of the Post on January 24, 1775. The paper was supportive 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 29, 1790 — Rhode Island became the last of the 13 States to ratify the US Constitution. Rhode Island became the 13th state to enter the Union after …

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 29, 1787 – At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the Virginia Plan calling for a bicameral legislature, an executive, and a judiciary branch of government was proposed by …

Upcoming Event

“Hands on”  18th Century Surveyor class  May 29, 2021 — 11:00 am & 2:00pm (two sessions) 11:00 – 12:00             Mapping the Fort (urban surveying) Military survey of grounds inside the fort Preparation of plat plan for use by military architect 1:00 – 2:00                  Wilderness Survey (beyond fort’s walls) Military survey of trail and paths to …

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 …

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 …

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 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 …

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 …

Economic Warfare

Okay, so today I have been on a rant about the Grossly Obsolete Party (the DNC is ALSO BAD) but what do we do about it.  Well, lets look to history.  If like me, you likely get several messages like this every week: The only way to really stop the abuse of the two major …

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 …

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 – BATTLE OF FORT TICONDEROGA:  Benedict Arnold joined Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys in a dawn attack on the fort, surprising and capturing 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 …

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      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 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

“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 …

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 …

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. 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, 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 …

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 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 …

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 20, 1775     Williamsburg Gunpowder Incident.  On the night of April 20, Royal Navy sailors went to the Williamsburg powder magazine, loaded fifteen half barrels of powder into 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 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 …

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 …

Upcoming Event

April 17, 2021Tavern Night and “School of the Soldier” Thornbury Farms During the day, the 43rd Rgmt of Foot will practice and drill, perfecting our presentation for 2021 events. In the evening, likely beginning around 5pm, we will open the tavern to both the soldiers and the public. Expect music, games, food, drinks and, 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. 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 …

“He waged cruel War against Nature itself, …"

While the Continental Congress made over 86 changes to Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence, one major change stands out.  Jefferson enumerated 28 abuses and usurpations by King George and Parliament but the Congress kept only 27.  They debated and ultimately deleted the following paragraph entirely: “[He] waged cruel War against Nature …

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 …

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 …

Basic Colonial Brewing #6 –Role of the Tavern in Colonial America

We all know of taverns as places to enjoy a drink, play some games, or have a nice meal but in Colonial America, the tavern’s role in public life was much more central than it is today.  Taverns were used as meeting places for political assemblies (like the militia or the courts), they were necessary …

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 …

Upcoming Event

April 3, 2021 — 10:00am – 3:00pm Gentleman Scientist at Fort Mifflin Discussion of Transit of Venus and the measurement of the Astronomical Unit Discussion of critical role of astronomy in 18th Century and a reference to the Vernal Equinox Discussion of Enlightenment Science vs “exact sciences” of Aristotle Field trip to riverbank and exploration of …

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 eduacted and even then, they recieved far …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. 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 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 …

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 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 …

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 …

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 …


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