Tuesday 28 December 2010

The Use Of The Term Tomahawk-Bad Publicity!

Hunt for blood-soaked city tomahawk wielder.
 Megan Levy

December 29, 2010 - 9:23AM
.Heavily-protected police have entered an upmarket Melbourne hotel hunting a blood-soaked man who attacked a car with a tomahawk in inner Melbourne this morning.

What are the chances that this chap was actually using a tomahawk?! Very little chance I would think, yet the term is used to highten the drama. It is this sort of (probable) misinformation that led to the banning of tomahawks in Victoria some years ago, and I believe one had to apply for a permit to attend a Living History Rendezvous with a tomahawk for the purpose of competition tomahawk throwing.
A modern axe or hatchet. Far easier to obtain than a tomahawk.

A typical tomahawk or 18th century belt axe. Not available from hardware stores, and the most common tool used by 18th century Living Historians & Reenactors worldwide.

Friday 24 December 2010

A Sequel To Master and Commander.

For those of you who enjoyed watching Master & Commander, here is your chance to see a sequel. Email the following address and put in your vote for a sequel. Russel Crowe is all for it and requests your support.

More Details Of My New Book. Primitive Fire Lighting.

Primitive Fire Lighting-Flint & Steel & Fire Bow.

Title: Primitive Firelighting
ID: 9784776
Category: History
Description: “Primitive Fire Lighting”, is a hands on guide to how to make fire with flint and steel and fire bow. This includes some history, a variety of methods, tinder plants identification, and tinder production, tips on fire place construction and use, how to prepare and lay a fire, wet weather fire lighting and magnifying glass fire lighting. The skills and methods in this book will be of interest to a wider range of readers including survivalists, historical re-enactors, bush-walkers and campers, historical–trekkers and even historical novel writers. Although the plant identifications list is mainly Australian it also has some information for England, Europe and America.
Publisher: Keith H. Burgess
Copyright Year: © 2010
Language: English
Country: Australia

Table of Contents
Illustrations. 4
Tinder preparation-charring: 15
Emergency methods: 17
Introduction 24
A Brief Overview. 25
The Parts of the Fire-bow. 26
The Bow. 26
The Drill Piece. 27
The Fireboard. 29
The Tinder-board. 30
The Bearing Block. 31
The Bowstring. 32
Tinder. 32
Making Fire. 32
Making Cordage. 37
The Step for making Cordage. 38
Fire steel suppliers. 45
About the author. 45

5.83" x 8.26", saddle-stitch binding, white interior paper (60# weight), black and white interior ink, white exterior paper (100# weight), full-colour exterior ink.
Cost: Book $11.00 US. Plus P&P. Download $7.00 US

Thursday 23 December 2010

18th Century Women's Clothing Layers.

Rifles, Smoothbores & the use of Wadding.

Smoothbores, Rifles & Wadding.

Early to mid 18th century English guns did not use patch material for round ball shooting. Instead, wadding was used in the same manner as used when firing shot. The rifling in rifles was seen as a solution to the round ball moving from side to side in the barrel, which effected accuracy when shooting over long distances. Fortunately hunters using the fusil did not shoot over long distances, and had no problems shooting game at 50-60 paces. Rifles however required the ball to be driven into the muzzle “by means of an iron rammer, struck with a mallet”. So, rifles did not use a patched ball either, leastways not in England and not by an Englishman.

In Germany however “they sometimes charge them in the following manner: a piece of thin leather or fustian is cut of a circular shape, and so large as to cover a little more than one half of the ball; this piece is then greased on one side, and being placed over the muzzle, the ball is laid upon it, and both thrust down together”.

Smoothbores however; fusils, fowlers and muskets, did not use patched ball, only wadding. “In firing with ball it is observed that the better the ball fits the piece, or the less windage there is, the greater will be the force of the discharge-the wadding of hat (wool or beaver felt hat material cut to fit the bore) may be preferable to that of card or paper…..”.

“In countries where orchards abound, a very fine moss, of greenish grey colour, is found adhering to the apple trees, which is extremely proper for wadding….tow is also very good for this purpose”.

The above information is taken from “An Essay On Shooting 1789”, this book in turn uses “La Chasse au Fusil” as a basis for this work, so it is probably safe to assume that both the English and the French used the same manner of shooting the smoothbore. This in turn makes me question the use of so called “patch knives” by the French hunters which they carried round their necks. I suspect that this knife was instead simply a utility knife.

Waterproofing Leather.

“ Take of tallow, half a pound, Hogs lard, four ounces, Turpentine, two ounces, New bees wax, two ounces, Olive oil, tow ounces. Melt the whole together in an earthen pipkin over the fire, and stir it well while melting”.

I think I have also mentioned before that no mention of priming horns can be found in this period publication, and loading and shooting is covered within.


Smoothbore Fusil.

I used to use hat as wadding before I even read this book, then when I ran out of hat, I started using thes leather wads, cut to size with the wad cutter below.

Tow which I also use as wadding and for cleaning my gun.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Firearms, Traps & Tools of the Mountain Men, By Carl P. Russel.

My friend over at www.thesharpenedaxe.blogspot.com  mentioned this book in his comments today, so I think it is only right that I post an image of this book here. This is an excellent book for the later period, the 19th century, but it has got some earlier equipment in its pages. As I mentiond before, the fur trade started much earlier than the Rocky Mountain beaver trapper period, so it only stands to reason that there be earlier equipment being used in a later period. This is something to pay attention to when interpreting, you did not just suddenly appear in 1825 with all 1825 equipment, you have a history!

Author's copy scanned.
My thanks to my friend over at the sharpened axe for reminding me about this book.

Interpreting The Woodsman.

The Eastern Woodsman.

Interpreting The Eastern Woodsman 1700-1760.

A woodsman was someone who spent time in the woods, either wholly or part time. The woodsman could have a variety of jobs. He could be a town tradesman, a militia man, a farmer. He could work as a ranger, a scout, a guide or a messenger. Depending on his present occupation he may travel by horse, wagon or on foot. Scouting areas for trapping was often done on foot. If he did not want to attract attention he would travel on foot and leave less sign.

Daniel Boone worked as a labourer for a Wagoner in the French and Indian war. Later he became a land owner and farmer, but he spent most of his time in the woods whilst his family looked after the farm.

The woodsman and even the woods woman are easy characters to emulate, because you have a variety of choices regarding dress and equipment.

• You do not need a horse to be a woodsman or woods woman.

• You do not need to carry steel traps.

• You have a variety of Historical Trekking scenarios to choose from.

• You can be an “Indian Influenced” woodsman.

• Men & Women can interpret this character & share this experience together.

• Woods women can wear men’s clothing or a mixture of men’s and women’s clothing.

The fur trade started very early on in the history of the New World. Woodsmen involved in the fur trade could be beaver trappers or they could hunt bear, deer, and a variety of other fur bearing animals for the skins.

Rangers were excellent woodsmen.

Interpreting Mad Ann Bailey.

Links for more information:

Interpreting The Rocky Mountain Fur Trapper 1825-1840.

Rocky Mountain Fur Trappers 1825-1840.

This is just a short article on the Mountain Men of the far west. This is not within my period, but the recreating of the Mountain Man life is a popular interpretation, and I think it requires some clarifying.

Firstly the fur trade Rendezvous only lasted 15 years, from 1825 to 1840. This was the hay day of the beaver trade, and this trade dropped off after silk top hats became the fashion and beaver fur was not so popular. Fur prices dropped, and it was no longer viable for fur trade companies to travel to the far west to trade for furs.

Facts about Mountain Man interpretation:

• You will need at least two horses or a horse and a mule or two mules. Rocky mountain fur trappers did NOT travel on foot unless they lost their horses.

• The western Mountain Man did NOT use a percussion gun, he used a flintlock. The flintlock was far more reliable and the percussion caps were hard to come by. If the caps got damp, they were no longer of any use.

• From what I have read the Mountain Men preferred linen and wool clothing when they could get it. When they started trapping they were dressed much the same as the eastern woodsman. The frock that the woodsman wore was still in use during the mid 19th century and with frocking added it was still in use in the mid 20th century. Leather clothing apparently was worn when other clothing wore out.

• The Mountain Man used steel traps to catch the beaver, this is one of the reasons he needed horses, to carry the traps and the furs.

• The western Mountain Man existed to trap beaver and collect other furs as the opportunity was offered. He was not there to roam as he pleased without working. He may have loved the wilderness, but he could only stay there providing he trapped beaver and was able to trade that beaver.

• Links to information:






• "A Trappers equipment in such cases is generally one Animal upon which is placed...a riding Saddle and bridle a sack containing six Beaver traps a blanket with an extra pair of Moccasins his powder horn and bullet pouch with a belt to which is attached a butcher Knife a small wooden box containing bait for Beaver a Tobacco sack with a pipe and implements for making fire with sometimes a hatchet fastened to the Pommel of his saddle his personal dress is a flannel or cotton shirt (if he is fortunate to obtain one, if not Antelope skin answers the purpose of over and under shirt) a pair of leather breeches with Blanket or smoked Buffalo skin, leggings, a coat made of Blanket or Buffalo robe a hat or Cap of wool, Buffalo or Otter skin his hose are pieces of Blanket lapped round his feet which are covered with a pair of Moccasins made of Dressed Deer Elk or Buffaloe skins with his long hair falling loosely over his shoulders complete the uniform."

Osbourne Russel.



By Osborne Russel.

Monday 20 December 2010

That time of year in this New World.

We are busy here on the homestead harvesting the winter crops and planting the summer crops. Today for me it has been the beans. We have already pulled, picked and shucked about 3-4 of these bags, and there are still more out there. But this bag is full, and it is getting hot outside, so time to come in.

The Jerusalem Artichokes are up and doing well.

Rhubarb is the first fruit to show itself after winter.

Egg plants & some volunteer beans. The back section is corn, but it is not up yet.

Cattail Pond in the bottom of the valley is full, and the cattails are doing well, but no heads yet.

Wednesday 15 December 2010


A short film.

The Matchlock.

Many of these earlier guns were still in use during the 18th century. A good example of this is a true story of survival during the 18th century in a book called "The Matchlock" which is a children's book, and a good read. 

Saturday 11 December 2010

A Run To Fort Edward. (plus a deleated scene).

What it is & What it is not. Misinformation!

I think I explained a while back that I will not post corrections on other people's blogs or videos. I have done in the past, in the most respectful manner, and in private when I could, but I still attracted abuse. So instead I choose to post the correct information here, and I do not name the site on which the misinformation is posted. Which sites is not important as there is nothing to be done there. What is important is that you recognise misinformation when you see it.
If I make a mistake of my own, I will admit to it and correct it, and I do not have a problem with other people correcting me providing it is done nicely. However, do not get confused between what is wrong, and what is simply a "different way". True some ways are better than others, and some ways are just wrong, we need to keep this in mind.

The above is charred cloth which is used as tinder, it is tinder. It was not a popular tinder in the wilderness as you can imagine, but was used in some homes in the cities and towns.
It is not "char" and seperate from tinder, it is tinder.

This is a piece of punk wood, which is also used as tinder. A variety of plants and fungus are used as tinder.

This is rope fibres which can be used for kindling, just the same as dried grass or coconut fibre can be used as kindling. Light twigs and sticks are also kindling. This rope fibre is NOT tinder.

The above is a 19th century tobacco box with a burning glass in the lid used for lighting a pipe on a sunny day. It is NOT a Hudson Bay tinderbox. Yes you can use it to store tinder, flint and steel if you wish, but if you use it for making fire, or preparing tinder, it will smoke up the glass and may in time damage the burning glass.

Above are two hammers used on flint locks, they are also known as steels. Below the bottom image of a hammer you can see the hammer spring. These are NOT frizzens, and it is not therefore called a frizzen spring.

This is the cock on a flint lock, it is NOT a hammer! If it were a percussion lock it would be called a hammer, but on a flint lock it is called a COCK. The cock holds/secures the flint which strikes the hammer which creates sparks which fall upon the gunpowder priming in the pan of the flint lock which creates fire that will flash through the vent in the barrel and fire the main charge of gunpowder in the barrel of the gun.

Why does it matter if we use the correct terms or not? Well so long as we know their function it does not matter what you call an object, but if you are going to inform/instruct others, then it does matter. If dried grass is going to be called tinder, then I must assume it is kept in the tinderbox, and if charred cloth is char, then is it the only char available for making fire? Do I strike sparks on the char or the tinder? The book sais tinder, but I have not managed to catch sparks on the dried grass! Do you see where I am going here?
Yes I know people are calling the ferrocium rod a steel, and the method of using the ferrocium rod flint and steel, but it is not. Dried grass may well catch fire from a ferrocium rod scraped with a knife blade, but that does not make the dried grass into tinder! Let us all try and stick with the traditional names even when we are using modern methods and materials, otherwise it just gets confusing for the newbies.

With respect.