Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Survival Connection. PART 3.

The Survival Connection. Part 3.

So what can 18th century living history and historical trekking teach you? It can teach you how to choose the right clothing & equipment. There are individual choices of course, but certain items are recommended. Man or woman it makes no difference, the clothing is the same if you are trekking in the wilderness. Hat, neckerchief, shirt, weskit, breeches or breechclout, leggings & moccasins. If the weather is cold then wear more than one shirt & or weskit, and carry spare ones in your blanket roll for wearing at night. One trek and you will see the benefits of wearing such clothing.

Wearing  woodland Indian women's clothing is an option.

A good pack is very important, just one trek in the woods of any distance and you will find out if your choice was a wise one or not. You will learn to adjust the strap/s to fit more comfortably & stop the pack from moving about. A blanket can be bulky, so we usually only carry one. But you will learn how to stay reasonably warm with only one blanket. Note that I say “reasonably warm”, I will also say “reasonably comfortable”. Do not expect to be as cosy in a primitive camp when you are travelling light, as you would be in your own bed at home. This is something you need to understand & get used to.

Your tools and other equipment will be few, so you need to choose wisely. Remember what I frequently say, when packing for the trail there must be a compromise between two principles; minimum weight and maximum self-reliance. As part of a group you will be given some direction in these choices, but ultimately it is up to you. But remember, if you are part of a group, then you have certain responsibilities. We are all responsible for each others well being, so the choices we make also effects others. If you should ever become separated, you need to know that you can survive on your own.

Basic tools/weapons are well known, & have never differed. The gun, the knife and the axe. You can of course substitute something else for the gun, such as a bow, so long as you become proficient in its use. Each of these tools needs to be serviced, you need other items to make these tools function correctly. The gun needs a shot pouch & a powder horn, plus wadding, worm, screw, shot, spare lock parts and gun tools, plus spare gun flints. Make sure you have a hammer stall & use it.

Blades need to be kept sharp, a blunt blade is dangerous because it takes too much effort to cut with & this often leads to accidents. You will need a good whet stone & a metal file. These blades need to be sheathed. Hunting knives & legging knives will of course have a proper fitting well made safe sheath. The tomahawk/axe can use a leather sheath or it can be wrapped with soft leather or cloth. Secure it so it can be easily uncovered at a moments notice.

The skills are many, & it will take more than one trek for you to learn them all, & many more treks to become proficient in those skills. There is little room for error in an emergency, & sometimes even simple skills such as constructing a shelter can become a matter of urgency in certain situations. Some of us who have been practicing these skills for many years have been guilty of taking these skills for granted. It is only when you see a pilgrim on his/her first trek that you realise just how many skills you have & how the simple lest skill in your eyes can be a difficult task in another’s.

Walking & travelling in the wilderness is not the same as walking in a town, city or even on a country road in peace time. You need to learn how to walk to save effort & be as silent as possible. You need to pay attention to your surroundings & stop often to look & listen. Unless you have gained some knowledge of this wilderness before hand, you’re looking & listening will be at a disadvantage. Again, this is where historical trekking can help you. In a group it will be the leader who sets the pace & makes the stops, but at the same time he/she must be aware of the rest of the group. Is there someone who can’t keep up? Has the rear guard heard or seen something & called a stop? Has a member of the group suddenly stopped for some reason? You all need to function together, & only practice will allow this to happen.


Rules, regulations, & clothing & equipment requirements. 19-6-08/update 7-5-09
Rules and regulations guide.
(1) Each train to have at least 2 archers (each archer to carry at least 1lb of gunpowder, & 1lb of lead on extended ranging expeditions).
(2) When ranging, each column to have one archer accompanying the lead scout.
(3) Each column to use: lead scout with archer, a rear guard, & at least one scout on each flank.
(4) Each member to maintain a space before of at least 3 paces.
(5) Lead scout to lead by at least 60 paces.
(6) Rear guard to trail at 20 paces.
(7) Flank scouts to keep column in sight at all times if possible.
(8) Guards to be posted at all stops.
(9) Packs are not to be removed at stops except for toilet.
(10) No person shall leave the column alone and must always remain in sight of the column.

Equipment for extended ranger duties in wilderness areas.
(1) Cartridge box containing a minimum of 8 cartridges. (Fusils & muskets only).
(2) Shot pouch & required contents.
(3) Powder horn.
(4) Functional firelock with hammer stall & lock cover.
(5) Gunpowder wallet.
(6) At least 2 lbs of gunpowder.
(7) At least 4 lbs of lead in ball, buckshot & birdshot.
(8) At least 12 flints.
(9) A tomahawk/axe.
(10) A good hunting/butcher knife.
(11) A clasp knife.
(12) A knapsack, snapsack or rucksack.
(13) A haversack or market wallet.
(14) A good wool blanket.
(15) An oilcloth of suitable size to shelter one person.
(16) A water bottle, canteen or costrel to hold at least 1 quart (You may need to carry more than one, depending on the area you are travelling in).
(17) Sufficient tow or wads.
(18) Patch material ditto.
(19) Fishing kit with at least 6 hooks & 2 lines.
(20) Tinderbox, flint, steel & prepared tinder.
(21) Trade kettle or other.
(22) Leather inner-soles & repair leather for moccasins.
(23) Leather thong or cordage ties.
(24) Food bags.
(25) Sewing kit.
(26) Awl
(27) Soap & hair comb.
(28) Medical supplies.

Optional Equipment.
(1) Short hunting sword.
(2) Half-axe or felling axe
(3) Auger

Clothing Requirements.
(1) Felt hat.
(2) Shirt ( plus spare wool shirt in bedroll).
(3) Weskit (plus wool weskit ditto)
(4) Monmouth cap ditto.
(5) Wool mittens.
(6) Half-blanket or capote.
(7) Breeches or breechclout.
(8) Neckcloth.
(9) Stockings or socks (wool recommended for winter).
(10) Leather leggings with garters.
(11) Moccasins with extra sewn on sole plus a spare pair.
(12) Frock or other.

Trail Foods.
Each person to carry as much dried foods as possible. Recommended foods are:
• Oats
• Beans
• Pease
• Corn
• Rice
• Cornmeal
• Flour
• Meat (dried)
• Sausage
• Fruit
• Hardtack
• Bread
• Biscuit
• Hard cheese
• Boiled beef
NOTE: Unless otherwise requested, we will carry 5 POUNDS OF FOOD, which should last approx 6 days.

This is a guide only, & individuals will learn from experience what they need to carry & how much.


Karl said...

Good post Keith,

The whole series has been quite good actually.

But I will admit you beat me to the punch on this one though... I'm in the middle of writting something similar, all be it from a modernist perspective of sorts...



Le Loup said...

Regardless of us writing similar material, I still enjoy reading yours. You write differently to me & come at it from a different perspective. I have been writing this stuff for the past 20 years, so really my articles become updates.
I look forward to your next article.

Southern Bushcraft and survival said...

Great post really in joy reading this and change bits and pieces to suit my 21st century longhunter mind set

Keith H. Burgess said...

Glad you liked it JT.
Regards, Keith.