Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A Scenario and a Question.

As you know, it is very difficult to find specific information on 18th century lifestyles and the tools and equipment used. So most of our research has to be done through simply finding out what people did, and what tools and equipment were available to them. Then we must gather the clothing and a selection of tools and equipment and see if we can accomplish certain tasks. This is called "experimental archaeology", or by some, "experiential archaeology".
So below I have set out a scenario, and please feel free to participate.
Woodsman By John Buxton.

The Scenario.

It is sometime in the early to mid 18th century. You have been a few years in the New World doing various jobs to earn money. Recently you have been hired to range the area around a small community in New England looking for any sign of Indians. If you do find any sign of them being in the area, you are supposed to get back to the community as fast as you can and report your findings to the local militia.

You could be gone for any length of time from a few days to a month, depending on if you find anything, and it is now Indian summer, a time just before the leaves fall from the trees and bushes. There is a possibility that you could be discovered by an enemy, in which case you must just do the best you can to get back to the community.

You could of course get injured in some way and once again you will have to deal with it the best way you can. Now the question is, what equipment do you decide to carry with you when ranging the wilderness? You need to travel as light as you can, but at the same time you must be as self-reliant as possible. So some compromise must be made between these two principles, minimum weight, and maximum self-reliance.

Here below is a list of items you can take with you, you may add to this list if you think it necessary, or you can take away from this list if you don’t think an item is necessary. I will welcome any feedback on this that you are prepared to offer.

• .60 cal/20 gauge fusil. 42 inch barrel.
• .60 calibre smoothbore pistol.
• Shot pouch and contents.
• Powder horn.
• Butcher/Hunting knife.
• Legging knife.
• Clasp knife.
• Tomahawk.
• Tinderbox.
• Belt pouch.
• Fishing lines in brass container.
• Two snares.
• Gunpowder wallet (contains spare fungus tinder at present).
• Knapsack.
• Ball mould and swan shot mould.
• Lead ladle.
• Cup.
• Trade kettle.
• Medical pouch.
• Housewife.
• Piece of soap and a broken ivory comb.
• Dried foods in bags.
• Wooden spoon.
• Gun tools and spare springs.
• Compass.
• Whet stone.
• Oilcloth.
• One blanket (Monmouth cap, spare wool weskit and wool shirt rolled inside blanket).
• Leather costrel.

Friend or Foe By Griffing.


Mr. Moai said...

I have seen you haven't received any comments recently. I just wanted to let you know that I come to your Blogspot page daily and always look forward to your posts. I am a peak oil activist and believe that the "old ways" are some of the most adaptable and sustainable for the long term survival of our species. I always look forward to your posts and marvel at the vigor with which you pursue the lost knowledge of past generations. Please keep up the good work and know I wish you all the best with gratitude for your research. May you live prosperously until the day you keel over at a ripe old age doing what you love best.

Le Loup said...

Mr Moai. Many thanks for your feedback,it is good to know that one is wanted or appreciated.
You have no doubt realised by now that I too am very survival oriented, and I totally agree with your comments.
Take care.

Martin said...

Hello Loup,

I've been lurking on your site since it was mentioned in "MuzzleBlasts" a while ago, and I have really enjoyed the information and presentation!

Now...as to your proposed Scout. I'd take a rifle rather than a fusil. It's more accurate (Of course this depends on the man behind the sights! Ha, ha!); has longer range; the smaller caliber means less lead to lug around. It just might mean the difference between success and failure.

Since this is a "See And Not Be Seen" mission, I'd go ahead and cast the balls, say... six for the pistol (That quick second shot is just too handy to leave behind!) and twenty-four for the rifle, that way I could leave the ladle, mould, and bar lead behind. Same goes for the soap, since there'll be plenty of time to clean up afterwards.

The only food I'd take along would be jerky, ship's biscuit, and other victuals that don't need a campfire. Yeah...I'd be damned tired of them after a month or so, but why advertise your presence to any unfriendlies that might be in the area with a big light at night that says, "Here I am! Come and get me!"

Watch your backtrail,

Martin (In the wilds of Indiana) Meltzer

Le Loup said...

Thanks for commenting Martin, much appreciated. A good answere too, thank you.

Jenny said...

Hello sir! I've been perusing your archives with great interest! At some point, would you speak again to why you do colonial American reenactment, as opposed to settlement-era Australian history? I mean no disrespect - I'm just kind of tickled that some folks across the waters are so into our history here. Would that we had more Americans that were like you.

To your post, I've a couple questions - why the third (legging) knife? I understand having a little one for small chores and a larger for big ones, but don't understand the third. Is it simply to allow for loss or breakage (entirely sensible) - or have you another reason?

fishing lines - Is this for line fishing as we know it now, or would you set them up as snares over the bank? (I've read about this being done, but never seen nor tried it). How much leeway for snares, fish traps, and such would you have, given the military nature of your task? (I guess I'm worrying about the trapper becoming the trappee if his snares are found)

For that matter, how do you balance the human need for warmth and food with the military need for not standing out with firelight or gunfire?

I've read of my Tennessee ancestors carving fired balls out of tree trunks to recover the lead after hunting squirrels - how often can you recover your lead from hunted game, and does it help extend your supplies much, or is it incidental?

Thank you so very much for your labour of love here - it's fascinating to read! :)

Le Loup said...

Hi Jenny. 1) Why New World and not Australia?
Many reasons, period is earlier, more nationalities to choose from, more skills, more trades, more personas, more scenarios, more clothing and equipment choices, more fun.
2)Legging knife. Historical fact, coureur de bois carried a legging knife. Also a good idea when you are skinning and butchering game, to have a back-up knife.
3)Fishing & snares. Fishing lines are set lines, no rod. Snares are only two, not a trap line. This equipment is what this person is used to carrying regardless of occupation at the time.
4) Being an Indian summer it won't be too cold yet. If a fire is needed for warmth, then it must be hidden as best possible, and only lit after dark after checking for other fires in the area.
5)Retrieving spent lead from game can save a lot of initial weight. Large calibre ball is often found in the game. Obviously you would not use your gun unless really necassary, hence use of snares and fishing. When you do shoot game, you must be watchful, and fast to get what meat you need and leave the area.
Many thanks for your feedback & questions Jenny, much appreciated. I hope my answers make sense.
Regards, Le Loup.

Gabriel said...

Great subject. Didn't get to comment sooner, was camping in the wilds of Idaho. Anyway, Martin made the major modification I was going to suggest: moulding you balls prior to going out so you don't need to bring your bar, ladel, and mold. I would bring the soap along though- even when our modern day special forces are in the remote regions of the world on missions they take the time atleast wash groin and underarms. Not bathing for a month could impact your health adversly. Also, the chances of needing or having the occasion to use the pistol are so slight that I would probably leave it hime as well.

Le Loup said...

Hi Gabriel, good to see you have given this some thought, and thanks for taking the time to reply. I would agree with leaving the bar lead behind, but the reason for carrying the ball mould and ladle is so one can remould spent lead taken from shot game.
The pistol I agree is a personal choice, and personally that quick second shot in the event that I am discovered is very tempting.

Buzz said...

I'd also go with the rifle, not merely for weight, but mainly because that's all I have! I would think I'd at least give serious thought to a compass, as well. You mention moccasin grease. What sort of grease do you use? I have plenty of bacon grease, but since it has a distinctive odor, I wouldn't imagine it would be good, especially as it might attract bears. By the way, I do think this is an interesting and useful thread. Thank you!

Le Loup said...

Hi Buzz. The tallow I use is mostly mutton or beef, occasionally goat. I usually mix a little beeswax with it.