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.

James Smith's Captivity. 3.

Doug Hall.

Doug Hall.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

James Smith Capture & Running The Gauntlet. 2

By Pamela Patrick White.

James Smith, Captive, White Indian. Part 1.

This is the story, or at least part of the story, of the capture of James Smith, his becoming an Indian; not because he wanted to, but because he had no choice and the Indians considered him to be one of them. And how he got his Indian name.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Another Cook Book.

An 18th Century Cook Book.

Hard Tack, or Ship's Biscuit Recipe.

~~~~~~ Hardtack ~~~~~~
1 Tsp. Salt
1 lb. flour

Mix salt and flour; add water to make very stiff dough. Roll to 1/4" thickness, and cut the whole into four inch sections. Use lots of flour to prevent sticking. Use fork to punch with holes. Bake in a flat pan at 250 degrees for two to three hours.

-- Pirates and Patriots of the Revolution (C. Keith Wilbur)

Rum Punch.

If there are no posts on Dave's and Joel's blogs for a while, I guess you cam blame me. Here is another 18th century recipe!

~~~~~~ Rum Punch ~~~~~~

6 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 4/5 quart bottle rum
2 12 ounce cans beer
1 cup brandy
1 cup apple juice or apple cider
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 cup lemon juice

In a large kettle combine water and sugar; bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add rum, beer, brandy, apple juice, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Heat through. Serve warm in mugs. Makes 32 (4 ounce) servings.

http://www.11thpa.org/Recipes.html#Rum Punch

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Rabbit Stick.

I know I have mentioned the rabbit stick before, but I did not show an image. I made this one quickly in the wood shed this morning. A rabbit stick is easy to make, and it is a hunting tool that does not stand out in an urban setting. There is no law that I know of restricting the carrying of a rabbit stick in forestry areas.
This one below I have made with a point on one end so it can also be used as a digging stick. It looks much like a dibber, and this one reaches from my elbow to the tips of my fingers on an open hand.
The rabbit stick is thrown sideways, and the idea is that it covers a larger area than a rock as it spins. For target practice a peg is set into the ground for a target. I once knocked a snake away from one of my sons with a stick when it rose up beside him. I was too far away to reach him in time, and had his younger brother in a pack frame on my back.

18th Century Flip Recipe.

Flip Recipe.

• 3 eggs
• 3 teaspoons sugar
• 1 jigger rum
• 1 jigger brandy
• 1 red-hot flip iron or poker heated in fireplace
• tall, all-pewter mug
• 12-16 ounces of beer

1. In a quart mug break three eggs
2. Add three teaspoons sugar and stir well
3. Add in the jigger of rum and the jigger of brandy, beating meanwhile.
4. Fill remaining volume of mug with beer
5. Insert red-hot iron until it hisses and foams.
6. The drink will become only warm.

. Flips were originally drunk aboard English ships where mixtures of rum, sugar, and eggs were heated with red-hot iron to create froth ("flipping").

18th Century Flip-Can.

Well I now know that a flip-can is a brown glazed stoneware jug made for holding flip, and it was made in Fulham. But I do not know the size or shape.

This is what was enscribed on Selkirk's flip-can:

Alexander Selkirk. This is my one.
When you me take on board of ship,
Pray fill me full with punch or flip.
I think we are looking at something like this:

New England Almanac for 1704 under December:-

"The days are short, the weather's cold,
By tavern fires tales are told.
Some ask for dram when first come in,
Others with flip and bounce begin."

This one supplied by Dave Reid.
"Where dozed a fire of beechen logs that bred

Strange fancies in its embers golden-red,
And nursed the loggerhead, whose hissing dip,
Timed by wise instinct, creamed the bowl of flip."

Alexander Selkirk's survival on Juan Fernandez Island 1704-1709.

The story of Robinson Crusoe written by Daniel Defoe, is believed to have been inspired by the survival story of Alexander Selkirk. Here is the list of items he was left with when abandoned on Juan Fernandez Island in 1709.

Author's Note: Does anyone know what an 18th century "flip-can" is?

Friday, 23 July 2010

Foraging. BIG Punkwood.

This is the largest single piece of punkwood I have found so far, would have to last me for a year at least if I were using it. The rule is a meter long, and the piece of punkwood is about 725 cm long.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Can you see the bracket fungus?

Laetiporus Portentosus (A tinder fungus)

25-30 Years Ago.

Wabbits; meat for the table.

My First Powder Horn.

I made my first powder horn over 30 years ago. I did not have many tools, and was not sure how to make a secure plug for the horn, so I decided to use leather. I moulded the leather to the horn base and secured it by binding with cotton cord. Then I melted wax on the cord and around between horn and the leather cover. It was a make-shift job that worked out very well, and above all it was practicle and safe.
I have no idea if this was ever done originally, but it does show what can be done if you give a problem some thought.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Roger's Rangers Rules 1757.

Rogers Rangers Rules.

Roger’s Rangers Rules or Plan of Discipline

Major Robert Rogers - 1757

(Commander of Roger’s Rangers)

This is the original version —

1. All Rangers are to be subject to the rules and articles of war; to appear at roll-call every evening on their own parade, equipped each with a firelock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a hatchet, at which time an officer from each company is to inspect the same, to see they are in order, so as to be ready on any emergency to march at a minute's warning; and before they are dismissed the necessary guards are to drafted, and scouts for the next day appointed.

2. Whenever you are ordered out to the enemy's forts or frontiers for discoveries, if your number be small, march in a single file, keeping at such a distance from each other as to prevent one shot from killing two men, sending one man, or more, forward, and the like on each side, at the distance of twenty yards from the main body, if the ground you march over will admit of it, to give the signal to the officer of the approach of an enemy, and of their number, & c.

3. If you march over marshes or soft ground, change your position, and march abreast of each other, to prevent the enemy from tracking you (as they would do if you marched in a single file) till you get over such ground, and then resume your former order, and march till it is quite dark before you encamp, which do, if possible, on a piece of ground that may afford your sentries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy at some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.

4. Some time before you come to the place you would reconnoitre, make a stand, and send one or two men in whom you can confide, to look out the best ground for making your observations.

5. If you have the good fortune to take any prisoners, keep them separate till they are examined, and in your return take a different route from that in which you went out, that you may the better discover any party in your rear, and have an opportunity, if their strength be superior to your, to alter your course, or disperse, as circumstances may require.

6. If your march in a large body of three or four hundred, with a design to attack the enemy, divide your party into three columns, each headed by a proper officer, and let these columns march in single files, the columns to the right and left keeping at twenty yards distance or more from that of the center, if the ground will admit, and let proper guards be kept in the front and rear, and suitable flanking parties as a due distance as before directed, with orders to halt on all eminences, to take a view of the surrounding ground, to prevent your being ambushed, and to notify the approach or retreat of the enemy, that proper dispositions may be made for attacking, defending, & c, and if the enemy approach in your front on level ground, form a front of your three columns or main body with the advanced, guard, keeping out your flanking parties, as if you were marching under the command of trusty officers, to prevent the enemy from pressing hard on either of your wings, or surrounding you, which is the usual method of the savages, if their number will admit of it, and be careful likewise to support and strengthen your rear guard.

7. If you are obliged to receive the enemy's fire, fall or squat down, till it is over, then rise and discharge at them. If their main body is equal to yours, extend yourselves occasionally; but if superior, be careful to support and strengthen your flanking parties, to make them equal with theirs, that if possible you may repulse them to their main body, in which case push upon them with the greatest resolution, with equal force in each flank and in the center, observing to keep at a due distance from each other, and advance from tree to tree, with one half of the party before the other ten or twelve yards. If the enemy push upon you, let your front fire and fall down, and then let your rear advance thro' them and do the like, by which time those who before were in front will be ready to discharge again, and repeat the same alternately, as occasion shall require; by this means you will keep up such a constant fire, that the enemy will not be able easily to break your order, or gain your ground.

8. If you oblige the enemy to retreat, be careful, in your pursuit of them, to keep out your flanking parties, and prevent them from gaining eminences, or rising grounds, in which case they would perhaps be able to rally and repulse in their turn.

9. If you are obliged to retreat, let the front of your whole party fire and fall back, till the rear has done the same, making for the best ground you can; by this means you will oblige the enemy to pursue you, if they do it at all, in the face of a constant fire.

10. If the enemy is so superior that you are in danger of being surrounded by them, let the whole body disperse, and every one take a different road to the place of rendezvous appointed for that evening, which must every morning be altered and fixed for evening ensuing, in order to bring the whole party, or as many of them as possible, together, after any separation that may happen in the day; but if you should happen to be actually surrounded, form yourselves into a square, or if in the woods, a circle is best, and, if possible, make a stand till the darkness of the night favours your escape.

11. If your rear is attacked, the main body and flankers must face about to the right or left, as occasion shall require, and form themselves to oppose the enemy, as before directed; and the same method must be observed, if attacked in either of your flanks, by which means you will always make a rear of one of your flank-guards.

12. If you determine to rally after a retreat, in order to make a fresh stand against the enemy, by all means endeavour to do it on the most rising ground you can come at, which will give you greatly the advantage in point of situation, and enable you to repulse superior numbers.

13. If general, when pushed upon by the enemy, reserve your fire till they approach very near, which will them put them into the greater surprise and consternation, and give you an opportunity of rushing upon them with your hatchets and cutlasses to the better advantage.

14. When you encamp at night, fix your sentries in such a manner as not to be relieved from the main body till morning, profound secrecy and silence being often of the last importance in these cases. Each sentry, therefore, should consist of six men, two of whom must be constantly alert, and when relieved by their fellows, it should be done without noise; and in case those on duty see or hear anything, which alarms them, they are not to speak, but one of them is silently to retreat, and acquaint the commanding officer thereof, that proper dispositions may be made; and all occasional sentries should be fixed in like manner.

15. At the first dawn of day, awake your whole detachment; that being the time when the savages choose to fall upon their enemies, you should by all means be in readiness to receive them.

16. If the enemy should be discovered by your detachments in the morning, and their numbers are superior to yours, and a victory doubtful, you should not attack them till the evening, as then they will not know your numbers, and if you are repulsed, your retreat will be followed by the darkness of the night.

17. Before you leave your encampment, send out small parties to scout round it, to see if there be any appearance or track of an enemy that might have been near you during the night.

18. When you stop for refreshment, choose some spring or rivulet if you can, and dispose your party so as not to be surprised, posting proper guards and sentries at a due distance, and let a small party waylay the path you came in, lest the enemy should be pursuing.

19. If, in your return, you have to cross rivers, avoid the usual fords as much as possible, lest the enemy should have discovered, and be there expecting you.

20. If you have to pass by lakes, keep at some distance from the edge of the water, lest, in case of an ambuscade, or an attack from the enemy, when in that situation, your retreat should be cut off.

21. If the enemy pursue your rear, take a circle till you come to your own tracks, and there form an ambush to receive them, and give them the first fire.

22. When you return from a scout, and come near our forts, avoid the usual roads, and avenues thereto, lest the enemy should have headed you, and lay in ambush to receive you, when almost exhausted with fatigues.

23. When you pursue any party that has been near our forts or encampments, follow not directly in their tracks, lest you should be discovered by their rear guards, who, at such a time, would be most alert; but endeavour, by a different route, to head and meet them in some narrow pass, or lay in ambush to receive them when and where they least expect it.

24. If you are to embark in canoes, bateaux, or otherwise, by water, choose the evening for the time of your embarkation, as you will then have the whole night before you, to pass undiscovered by any parties of the enemy, on hills, or other places, which command a prospect of the lake or river you are upon.

25. In paddling or rowing, give orders that the boat or canoe next the sternmost, wait for her, and the third for the second, and the fourth for the third, and so on, to prevent separation, and that you may be ready to assist each other on any emergency.

26. Appoint one man in each boat to look out for fires, on the adjacent shores, from the numbers and size of which you may form some judgement of the numbers that kindled them, and whether you are able to attack them or not.

27. If you find the enemy encamped near the banks of a river, or lake, which you imagine they will attempt to cross for their security upon being attacked, leave a detachment of your party on the opposite shore to receive them, while, with the remainder, you surprise them, having them between you and the lake or river.

28. If you cannot satisfy yourself as to the enemy's number and strength, from their fire, & c. conceal your boats at some distance, and ascertain their number by a reconnoitring party, when they embark, or march, in the morning, marking the course they steer, & c. when you may pursue, ambush, and attack them, or let them pass, as prudence shall direct you. In general, however, that you may not be discovered by the enemy on the lakes and rivers at a great distance, it is safest to lay by, with your boats and party concealed all day, without noise or show, and to pursue your intended route by night; and whether you go by land or water, give out parole and countersigns, in order to know one another in the dark, and likewise appoint a station for every man to repair to, in case of any accident that may separate you.

Such in general are the rules to be observed in the Ranging service; there are, however, a thousand occurrences and circumstances which may happen that will make it necessary in some measure to depart from them and to put other arts and stratagems in practice; in which case every man's reason and judgment must be his guide, according to the particular situation and nature of things; and that he may do this to advantage, he should keep in mind a maxim never to be departed from by a commander, viz. to preserve a firmness and presence of mind on every occasion.

— From JOURNALS OF MAJOR ROGER ROGERS (as published in 1765)

Woods Lore.

Woods lore.

• Never step over a log or fallen tree if you can’t see what is on the other side!

• Always check above for widow makers and dead branches before setting up camp.

• Set up your shelter first before collecting fire wood and making fire.

• Stack your fire wood close to the shelter so you do not have to leave the shelter to stoke the fire.

• Always store dry kindling in back of your shelter in case the fire should go out in the night.

• Always carry spare tinder in your pack.

• Take your powder horn off and place it in the back of your shelter or under your blanket before making fire!

• Always try and set up camp in daylight, and check the camp site for ant and spider nests.

• Layer your clothing on a trek so you can remove or add to suit the temperature. Don’t push too hard and perspire, if your clothes do get wet in winter, take them off in front of the fire and dry them out before bedding down, or you will get cold in the night.

• Always carry a little dry kindling and a candle in your fireworks bag.

• When your gunpowder wallet is empty, it is a good place to store spare tinder.

• When looking for dry kindling in wet weather, look under rocks and fallen trees, look in hollow trees, cut wood from dead trees; under the surface it will be dry.

• Prepare several sizes of kindling before making fire.

• Make your bed up off the ground winter and summer.

• To keep a straight line in the woods, always line up several trees in the direction you are travelling. When you get to the last but one, put your back against the tree and line up several more trees.

• Always carry a canvas or oil cloth on a trek.

• Always carry a tomahawk/hatchet and a knife.

• Trees will usually fall down hill, but not always!

• The bark will come off a living tree easier in the summer than in the winter.

• Any large animal is dangerous if wounded.

• Snakes are slow to move in spring, take care where you tread.

• If you have to cross a creek or river, always check the depth with a stick before stepping into the water; and check in front of you as you go.

• When drying your moccasins in front of the fire, do it slowly! Do not overheat the leather.

• Three shots in succession and repeated are a distress signal.

• Always plug the vent hole before making fire with the lock of your gun.

• Always make sure your gun can’t fall when not in your hands!

• If you should lose the trail when tracking wounded game, mark the last sign with your handkerchief or neckerchief or patch cloth and move in ever increasing circles around your marker until you pick up the sign again. Always take care the game is not waiting in ambush!

• Be sure to clearly sight your game before you shoot.

• Be sure of the area beyond your target.

• A ball or bullet can ricochet off water.

• Always keep your blades sharp, a blunt blade is dangerous.

• When using an axe or hatchet/tomahawk, make sure you are clear should the tool glance off the wood.

• Always carry a bandage for injury or snake bite.

• Some people have survived 3 weeks without food, but depending on exertion and weather conditions you will need water within 3 days. Always carry water with you.

• On long treks, carry a ball mould and a lead ladle. You can remould the spent lead you retrieve from game.

• Do not use dried grass or bark as wadding if there is a danger of starting a fire!

• Use rocks or green wood at the back of your fire to reflect heat into your shelter during winter, but NEVER use river rock or rocks from a creek or stream for in or around your fire. They hold water and can explode with the heat.

• Char your tinder in the fire and extinguish it by placing it in your tinderbox and closing the lid.

• Keep some uncharred tinder in your tinderbox.

• Carry your fireworks in a greased leather fire bag to keep them dry.

• Always wrap the head of your hatchet or use a sheath when carrying.

• A button closure on the flap of your shot pouch will keep all inside safe if you should take a fall.

• Wear your powder horn toward your back when hunting.

• Use a hammer cap on your flintlock for added safety.

• Seal inside your lock mortise and barrel channel with beeswax.

• A smokeless fire is made with small dry kindling.

. Carry more than one knife.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Cree Hunters Of Mistassini.

This is a great movie, and well worth watching. I have lived like this for many years, both in the Territory and here in NSW. Now I no longer need to hunt for food, but I am very glad to have had the experience.
You will note that the children learn at a very early age, and carry their own hatchets, my sons were brought up the same way, though the tomahawks they carry now are full size. A couple of other things you will note, the children are given plenty of opportunity to experience, they can touch the furs without being chastised. In white society children are often chastised for touching things that the adult considers there is no need to touch, regardless that it does no harm. Children can play with animal parts, just as a child I was able to pull the tendons on pheasant and chook legs to make the claws clench and unclench. This sort of experience is necassary if the child is to grow up not being repulsed by dead animals hunted for food.

Robinson Crusoe.

I am not a fan of Brosnan, or the new Robinson Crusoe movie, but there are a few parts that I like.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Brown Bess Musket.

The Brown Bess musket must be one of the strongest and most reliable arms ever made. At .75 calibre it does a lot of damage, and there is little chance of ever losing any game. This musket will take anything from buffalo to rabbits, it will shoot buck & ball, or buckshot, or birdshot, making it very versatile. The lock of course can also be used to make fire.
The long land patter Brown Bess came into use in 1722 I believe and remained in use with the British army right into the 19th century.

The short land pattern Brown Bess appeard about 1740.
The Brown Bess musket was used by civilians as well as military, and the woodland Indians captured many of them for their own use. Some of the long land pattern muskets had their barrels cut short by some Indians and white colonials.


Furniture (fittings) Brass

Caliber of bore .75 (.75 inch)

Caliber of projectile .71 (.71 inch)

Projectile One ounce lead ball

Theoretical maximum range 250 yards

Effective maximum range (100 round volley) 150 - 200 yards

Effective maximum range (Single round) 100 - 150 yards

Favored range Less than 100 yards

Weight 9lbs 11 oz

Optimum effect at 30 yards Will penetrate 3/8" of iron or 5 inches of oak

Rate of fire (Optimum) 4 - 5 rounds per minute

Rate of fire (actual) 2 - 3 rounds per minute

In the above video it shows the use of a paper cartridge, which the military and the militia favoured because it made loading faster. However, if you do use a paper cartridge yourself, DO NOT prime the pan first as shown in this video. Use your powder horn to prime the pan after the arm has been loaded.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


My Riflestock Club Project.

This was a project I set myself many years ago, and it has hung on the wall in Elm Cottage ever since. Not a very handy woodscraft tool, but a good conversation piece and decoration for our club house wall.
Having made this club I came across some powdered paint as was traded to the Indians, so used some to stain the stock red. This one is smaller than the one used in "The Last Of The Mohicans" movie, but it is a copy of an original with same dimensions, being exactly 2 feet long.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Historical Trekking on Lake Onega.

The Shooter's Guide, 1816.

This book is a little late for my period of interest, but the book makes for very interesting reading. Covers various game, game dogs, game laws, the fowling piece itself of course, gunpowder, wadding etc and a pattern in the back for a "Sportsman's Journal". The index takes up two pages.
Once again this is a reprint by the Richmond Publishing Company Ltd, England.

An Essay On Shooting 1789.

An Essay On Shooting 1789, with a new introduction by W.S. Curtis. The copy I have is a reprint by The Richmond Publishing Company England.

It contains a lot of interesting information, and also the lack of, eg there is no mention of priming horns being used, which means that the priming horn is a new invention. This led me to look further than this book, and it seems that the small horns that have been found are now believed to be pistol horns, not priming horns as previously believed.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Gun Slings.

Military firearms often came with a sling for carrying the arm on one shoulder, but civilian arms rarely came with a carry sling. The sling I use on my fusil is simply a long length of leather tie, with the ends tied together. Loops are easily formed at each end which are slipped over the gun stock. The weight of the fusil tightens the sling, but the sling is easily removed to be carried in a pocket or belt pouch.
A Middlesex Village Brown Bess with sling attached.

The sling attached to my fusil.

More on Wads & Wadding.

For wadding in the 18th century as you may have read in my earlier post dried grass and tow was often used, but bear in mind that this material can easily catch fire! Therefore I recommend that unless the area is safe from fires spreading; or the weather or ground is wet, that you use wool felt or leather wads.
These are the leather wads I use in my 20 gauge fusil. These have been cut from second hand leather shoulder bags. The same thing can be done using inexpensive second hand wool felt hats.
This is the original 20 gauge wad punch that I use to cut out the wads.