Letters

“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 …

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 …

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 …

The Elephant in the Room

Okay, unless you are not paying attention you should be concerned about COVID-19 and the upcoming events at Fort Mifflin. We have not reached the point where canceling or rescheduling this event is necessary but we are taking certain safety precautions and will appreciate your compliance with the following: If you are ill, stay home. …

Consider becoming an Apprentice Cook at Fort Mifflin on January 22, 2022

Consider becoming an Apprentice Cook at Fort Mifflin On January 22, 2022; Fort Mifflin is running our Cast Iron Chef & Colonial Brewing.  The Regimental Brewmeister and our team of hearth cooks is creating a unique hands-on experience in early 19th century foodways.  Normally, I would be pushing for you to join me, the Regimental …

Bright and Early

For those of you who are interested, I just learned that FOX29 will be doing a segment at 7:45 tomorrow (1/21) previewing the Cast Iron Chef and Curious Case of Lt Boddy. You can watch this on your television (local Philly) or online at https://www.fox29.com/live

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. 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 …

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

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 …

Benjamin Franklin was born on 17 Milk Street in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, on January 17, 1706.

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in the city of Boston in a small house on 17 Milk Street, across the street from the Old Meeting House.  His father was Josiah Franklin, a chandler (soap and candle maker).  Josiah Franklin, emigrated from England in 1682. He had seven children with his first wife, …

Consider becoming an Apprentice Cook at Fort Mifflin on January 22, 2022

Consider becoming an Apprentice Cook at Fort Mifflin On January 22, 2022; Fort Mifflin is running our Cast Iron Chef & Colonial Brewing.  The Regimental Brewmeister and our team of hearth cooks is creating a unique hands-on experience in early 19th century foodways.  Normally, I would be pushing for you to join me, the Regimental …

The Kieve

On January 22 at the Cast Iron Chef event at Fort Mifflin, I will debut the Regimental Brewmeister’s new 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 …

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 …

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 …

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. 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

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 …

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 …

The Elephant in the Room

Okay, unless you are not paying attention you should be concerned about COVID-19 and the upcoming events at Fort Mifflin. We have not reached the point where canceling or rescheduling this event is necessary but we are taking certain safety precautions and will appreciate your compliance with the following: If you are ill, stay home. …

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 …

Importance of Beer in the 1700’s Colonial America

Today we think of beer as a luxury item, something to enjoy during our leisure times and beverage known and imbibed for its intoxicating properties. This was not always true. In fact, beer was once considered the most healthy drink to give to children and vital to survival.  To understand this, you must first understand …

Basic Colonial Brewing #1 — The Importance of Beer in the 1700’s Colonial America

Today we think of beer as a luxury item, something to enjoy during our leisure times and beverage known and imbibed for its intoxicating properties. This was not always true. In fact, beer was once considered the most healthy drink to give to children and vital to survival.  To understand this, you must first understand …

There’s been a Murder at Fort Mifflin — THE CURIOUS CASE OF LIEUTENANT BODDY

Saturday, February 5, 2022 Lieutenant Boddy, a generally disrespectable and disrespected, bad bargain of an officer was found shot dead on the Parade Ground, presumably on his way back after carousing in town. While no one, except perhaps his tavern keeper, will mourn the loss of Lt. Boddy we cannot allow vigilante justice within our …

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

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 …

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. 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 …

“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 …

Why is the First Amendment now Optional?

Amendment #1:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”   AND YET we allow other governments agencies, like …

Consider becoming an Apprentice Cook at Fort Mifflin on January 22, 2022

Consider becoming an Apprentice Cook at Fort Mifflin On January 22, 2022; Fort Mifflin is running our Cast Iron Chef & Colonial Brewing.  The Regimental Brewmeister and our team of hearth cooks is creating a unique hands-on experience in early 19th century foodways.  Normally, I would be pushing for you to join me, the Regimental …

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. January 17, 1773 – HMS Resolution, under the command of James Cook, became the first vessel to cross the Antarctic Circle. Want to Buy Beer from the Colonial Brewmeister? …

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

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 …

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. 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 …

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. 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 …

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, …

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. 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 …

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

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 – 2400 Continental Soldiers, having crossed the Delaware the night before, marched to Trenton and engaged 1400 Hessian soldiers under the command of Col Johann Rhall.  …

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. 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 …

Apple Jack

Applejack is a uniquely American type of apple brandy which was widely produced during the 1700’s in North America.  It was made by placing hard cider in wooden barrels and exposing them to freezing temperatures during winter.  The water in the hard cider froze in the top of the barrel and could easily be removed.  …

Antifederalist No. 85 — Concluding Remarks: Evils under Confederation Exaggerated; Constitution must Be Drastically Revised Before Adoption

By Melancthon Smith (a “Plebeian”). . . . . It is agreed, the plan is defective — that some of the powers granted are dangerous — others not well defined — and amendments are necessary why then not amend it? Why not remove the cause of danger, and, possible, even the apprehension of it? 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. December 25, 1776          Washington crosses Delaware (offensive) On blustery Christmas Day in late 1776, George Washington led a daring attack on the Hessian garrison in Trenton.  After a series …

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 …

Antifederalist No. 84 — On the Lack of a Bill of Rights

By “Brutus.” When a building is to be erected which is intended to stand for ages, the foundation should be firmly laid. The Constitution proposed to your acceptance is designed, not for yourselves alone, but for generations yet unborn. The principles, therefore, upon which the social compact is founded, ought to have been clearly and …

FEDERALIST No. 84: Certain General and Miscellaneous Objections to the Constitution Considered and Answered.

We are on the eve of a very important election.  Much has been said about the Constitution and what is Constitutional so let’s take a few weeks and look at the foundational letters written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay arguing for the creation of the US Constitution.  The comment tab is open.  Please share your …

No, He’s Not Carrying the Wrong Flag!

At last year’s “First Crossing” at Washington’s Crossing, I got into a conversation with a reporter from Malibu California who was trying to reconcile what he was with the well-known Washington Crossing the Delaware painting by Emanuel Leutze.  I am amazed at the number of people who see things like this famous painting and fail to understand …

Antifederalist No. 83 — The Federal Judiciary and the Issue of Trial by Jury

By Luther Martin of Maryland. . . . . in all those cases, where the general government has jurisdiction in civil questions, the proposed Constitution not only makes no provision for the trial by jury in the first instance, but, by its appellate jurisdiction, absolutely takes away that inestimable privilege, since it expressly declares the …

FEDERALIST No. 83: The Judiciary in Relation to Trial by Jury

We are on the eve of a very important election.  Much has been said about the Constitution and what is Constitutional so let’s take a few weeks and look at the foundational letters written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay arguing for the creation of the US Constitution.  The comment tab is open.  Please share your …

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. 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 …

Rules of the House

This year, I posted a set of sayings and rules in our field pub and many have asked for copies of these witticisms.  Well, I’m not going to print them but here they are for your entertainment. If you have to ask if it’s too early to have a beer, you are clearly an amateur …

Antifederalist No. 82 — The Power of the Judiciary. (Part 4)

Part 1: Part 2 of “Brutus” 14th essay (from the March 6, 1788, New-York Journal). Part 2: The final segment of the 15th essay (March 20, 1788 New York Journal). It may still be insisted that this clause [on appellate jurisdiction] does not take away the trial by jury on appals, but that this may …

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 …

Antifederalist No. 81 — The Power of the Judiciary. (Part 3)

Part 1: from the 12th essay by “Brutus” from the February 7th & 14th (1788) issues of The New-York Journal. Part 2: Taken from the first half of the 14th essay February 28, 1788. In my last, I showed, that the judicial power of the United States under the first clause of the second section of …

FEDERALIST No. 81: The Judiciary, and the Distribution of the Judicial Authority.

We are on the eve of a very important election.  Much has been said about the Constitution and what is Constitutional so let’s take a few weeks and look at the foundational letters written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay arguing for the creation of the US Constitution.  The comment tab is open.  Please share your …

Antifederalist No. 80 — The Power of the Judiciary. (Part 2)

From the 11th essay of “Brutus” taken from The New-York Journal, January 31, 1788. The nature and extent of the judicial power of the United States, proposed to be granted by the constitution, claims our particular attention. Much has been said and written upon the subject of this new system on both sides, but I …

Louisiana Purchase finalized 12/20/1803

On December 12, 1803 the United States completed the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from Frans for $15 million.  This territory encompassed 530,000,000 acres of territory. As the United States spread across the Appalachians, the Mississippi River became an increasingly important conduit for the produce of America’s West (which at that time referred to 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. 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 …

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. 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” …

Antifederalist Nos. 78-79 — The Power of the Judiciary. (Part 1)

Part one is taken from the first part of the “Brutus’s” 15th essay of The New-York Journal on March 20, 1788; Part two is part one of his 16th of the New York Journal of April 10, 1788. The supreme court under this constitution would be exalted above all other power in the government, 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. December 18, 1801          XYZ Affair The XYZ Affair was a diplomatic incident between French and United States diplomats that resulted in a limited, undeclared war known as the Quasi-War. …

How to Survey Land with 18th Century Tools – Measuring Elevations

Measuring how high a hill rises or whether a field is level involves the following equipment: A Jacobs Staff — a stick or pole with length markings. A set of chaining pins – markers that can be placed in the ground A Gunter’s Chain – a steel chain of 100 links exactly 66 feet long …

There’s been a Murder at Fort Mifflin — THE CURIOUS CASE OF LIEUTENANT BODDY

Saturday, February 5, 2022 Lieutenant Boddy, a generally disrespectable and disrespected, bad bargain of an officer was found shot dead on the Parade Ground, presumably on his way back after carousing in town. While no one, except perhaps his tavern keeper, will mourn the loss of Lt. Boddy we cannot allow vigilante justice within our …

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. December 17, 1777 — ENCAMPMENT AT VALLEY FORGE: The third of eight military encampments for the Continental Army.  Following defeats at Brandywine and Germantown and with the British Occupation …

FEDERALIST No. 77: The Appointing Power Continued and Other Powers of the Executive Considered.

We are on the eve of a very important election.  Much has been said about the Constitution and what is Constitutional so let’s take a few weeks and look at the foundational letters written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay arguing for the creation of the US Constitution.  The comment tab is open.  Please share your …

Antifederalist Nos. 76-77 — An Antifederalist View of the Appointing Power under the Constitution

By Richard Henry Lee. . . . . In contemplating the necessary officers of the union, there appear to be six different modes in which, in whole or in part, the appointments may be made. 1. by the legislature; 2. by the president and the senate; 3. by the president and an executive council; 4. …

FEDERALIST No. 76: The Appointing Power of the Executive Federalist #1

We are on the eve of a very important election.  Much has been said about the Constitution and what is Constitutional so let’s take a few weeks and look at the foundational letters written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay arguing for the creation of the US Constitution.  The comment tab is open.  Please share your …

Consider becoming an Apprentice Cook at Fort Mifflin on January 22, 2022

Consider becoming an Apprentice Cook at Fort Mifflin On January 22, 2022; Fort Mifflin is running our Cast Iron Chef & Colonial Brewing.  The Regimental Brewmeister and our team of hearth cooks is creating a unique hands-on experience in early 19th century foodways.  Normally, I would be pushing for you to join me, the Regimental …

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. December 15, 1776          General Lee captured General Charles Lee left his army and rode to Widow White’s Tavern in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, with a minimal guard.  The following …

Antifederalist No. 45 — Powers of National Government Dangerous to State Governments; New York as an Example

Robert Yates, a delegate to the 1787 convention from New York, left on July 10, 1787. He became an Antifederalist leader. Under the nome de plume “Sydney” he wrote in the New York Daily Patriotic Register, June 13 and 14, 1788. Although a variety of objections to the proposed new constitution for the government of …

FEDERALIST No. 75: The Treaty-Making Power of the Executive

We are on the eve of a very important election.  Much has been said about the Constitution and what is Constitutional so let’s take a few weeks and look at the foundational letters written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay arguing for the creation of the US Constitution.  The comment tab is open.  Please share your …


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