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115408Re: Maintenance and Cleanliness on 1776 Campaign

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  • John U. Rees
    Mar 1, 2009
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      Steve,

      First, my reason for including Hale's January 1778 letter was that if
      an officer was in that condition (and they had a servant to assist
      them) you can imagine what British (or American) common soldiers
      looked after a campaign.

      As for cleaning and maintenance, there is much that did not get
      recorded in letters or order books. If you want to see mentions of
      washing and other maintenance on campaign a study of Jeremiah
      Greenman's wonderful (and detailed) journal would be in order, as
      would Lt. Ebenezer Wild's diary for the 1781 campaign.

      I've never seen mention of oil or brick dust, etc. actually being
      carried by soldiers BUT the men were often ordered to clean and
      burnish their arms. Yes, they could use wood ash instead of brick
      dust, but obviously the men carried some necessaries that were not
      mentioned in order books or other documents.

      Unfortunately, we have to fill in some of the blank spaces with
      informed insights gained by wide reading and experience with the
      equipment in the field and what was needed for basic upkeep. Just
      because none of the order books or soldiers' lists of the gear they
      carried mention having oil, do I leave my musket to rust? Did the men
      always wait to be told by written orders to do something?

      Cheers,

      John






      --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "raynersteve" <steverayner@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi John;
      >
      > Thanks for your insights, but I'm seeing a different picture.
      >
      > A large part of the premise we are examining is that the troops did
      > cleaning and maintenance as part of a daily routine enforced where
      > need be by the Non-commissioned Officers. If this was the case, why
      do
      > we find these intermittent orders from the Commanding Officers for
      the
      > troops to resume cleaning? The only logical conclusion is because it
      > was not being done on any kind of routine daily basis.
      >
      > In the record so far we are seeing orders for light kit, not
      including
      > cleaning equipment.
      >
      > We are seeing orders for washing linens such as shirts (health) and
      an
      > order to wash seriously soiled trousers (slovenliness).
      >
      > But that's all we're seeing at best. We're not seeing a high, daily,
      > customary standard of appearance at all. At best, spotty and
      intermittent.
      >
      > As far as the maintenance of firelocks is concerned, perhaps that's
      > academic. We would not want to create a hazard to safety.
      >
      > Lieutenant Hale is a very good example of how campaigning affected
      the
      > Officers, even early in the war.
      >
      > Best Regards,
      >
      > Steve Rayner
      >
      >
      > --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "John U. Rees" <ju_rees@> wrote:
      > >
      > > Steve, What you are failing to see (I think) is that they did
      what
      > > they could, when they could. For the 1781 references, Richmond
      was in
      > > the midst of the campaign, not at the beginning, and the same
      goes
      > > for the Williamsburg reference. It was not till they reached
      > > Portsmouth that they could stand down and be considered at
      campaign's
      > > end.
      > >
      > > The 29 November 1776 reference for the 17th Regiment was in the
      > > middle of the pursuit of GW's forces. It looks as if the 17th
      went
      > > all the way to Trenton, so, no, they were not yet in winter
      quarters.
      > > We in the 40th do a campaign impression; we are dirty, but we do
      what
      > > we can to "clean up" at times. The original troops did pretty
      much
      > > the same. So, it was not yes or no, black or white, but as usual,
      > > varying shades of grey.
      > >
      > > Here is an officer's letter that goes far to show what campaign
      > > conditions did to apparel and equipment, but still the men did
      their
      > > best (visions of Continental soldiers looking like scarecrows but
      > > with powdered hair come to mind ...)
      > >
      > > 233-234.
      > > William John Hale, lieutenant, Grenadier Company, 45th Regiment,
      > > Philadelphia, 20 January 1777.
      > > "I am extremely concerned at being obliged to inform you that I
      have
      > > not received a single article of my baggage, excepting my
      bedstead
      > > from the Regt. Whether taken, driven to the West Indies, or not
      sent
      > > is impossible for me to say, the want of it, however, reduced me
      to
      > > the same distress as if totally lost; six shirts were my Campaign
      > > stock, and by unavoidable bad usage they are now barely
      serviceable
      > > for lint. My jacket (an old coat turned) cannot now be resembled
      to
      > > any earthly clothing … In this distress I have been forced to
      borrow
      > > from Bellew the sum of twenty guineas, which with my pay have
      barely
      > > sufficed, to get me a suit of clothes and six shirts. Could you
      form
      > > an idea of the misery of the Army you would envy a common sailor.
      My
      > > epaulets cost a guinea and a half each, my linen, 6/- the
      exclusive
      > > making, scarlet cloth six dollars, white 25/- sterl[ing]. … Let
      me
      > > add the enormous price of every article of life; meat for a
      > > considerable time before the taking of Mud Island 3s/6d Currency
      a
      > > pound, common brown sugar a dollar …"
      > > Lieutenant William Hale, Grenadier Company, 45th Regiment,
      > > Walter Harold Wilkin, Some British Soldiers in America (London,
      Hugh
      > > Rees, Ltd., 1914)
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Cheers,
      > >
      > > John
      > > www.revwar75.com/library/rees
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "raynersteve" <steverayner@>
      wrote:
      > > >
      > > > Hi John;
      > > >
      > > > Thanks for this item, too. Can you or anyone fill in for us
      where
      > > the
      > > > 17th were? It's not clear from the orders whether they were at
      > > Newark
      > > > or another location. Were they on the march or in camp
      (campaign) or
      > > > where they in quarters or barracks (garrison)? If this
      reference
      > > fits
      > > > the pattern I proposed, they might have recently arrived at
      > > quarters.
      > > > Marching again might throw a wrench into their cleaning program.
      > > >
      > > > Typically, troops are entering winter quarters around December.
      If
      > > > this is what is going on, the orders fit the norm and the
      orders are
      > > > given to resume cleaning accoutrements.
      > > >
      > > > This is part of what makes your humble servant question whether
      > > > cleaning of accoutrements was done in the field. If it was
      being
      > > done
      > > > routinely in the field, why the orders to resume? It's the
      > > > intermittence and timing.
      > > >
      > > > I hope that we can locate more references related to the
      activities
      > > of
      > > > a range of regiments.
      > > >
      > > > Best Regards,
      > > >
      > > > Steve Rayner
      > > >
      > > > --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "John U. Rees" <ju_rees@> wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > > Yet another reference, this time early war ... John Rees
      > > > >
      > > > > "General Orders Newark 29th Novr 1776 …
      > > > > Regimental Orders
      > > > > The Quarter Master will appoint the waggons to the Grand
      > > > > Divisions that Each may know their Own and the Companies to
      draw
      > > > > provisions for the Drivers.
      > > > > The flour to be made into bread and Baked this Evening.
      > > > > The Men to Clean their Accoutrements and set about
      washing
      > > their
      > > > > Linnen. … If the Regiment Should not march tomorrow the Men
      [are]
      > > to
      > > > > parade at a 11 O'clock as Clean as possible."
      > > > > Order Book, 17th Regiment of Foot [British], Lt. Col. Charles
      > > > > Mawhood, 11 October 1776 to 28 December 1776, New-York
      Historical
      > > > > Society (transcription by Gilbert V. Riddle).
      > > > >
      > > >
      > >
      >
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