Sunday 29 August 2010

Irish Road Bowles.

There is a set course, a set distance on a country road. The object is to see who can complete the course with the less bowles.
"They’re made of cast iron, 2.25 inches in diameter and 28 ounces apiece."
Both stone and iron balls were used in the 18th century.

Australian Aboriginal Rock Paintings.

My thanks to Dave at http://www.davesact.com/2010/08/namadgi-rock-art-video.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+http%2Fdavesactblogspotcom%2Ffeeds%2Fposts%2Fdefaultaltrss+%28Dave%27s+ACT%29&utm_content=Google+Reader  for bringing this video to my attention. I lived on an Aboriginal reserve in Arnham Land for a couple of months, and was privaliged to be allowed to see the sacred rock paintings in that area, for which I had to request special permission and was supplied with a native guide.

Saturday 28 August 2010

Tomahawk Throwing.

It helps if you have something to focus on, so I use playing cards held in place with a wood peg. As you will see I don't stand in one place and pitch the tomahawk, because in reality if you were hunting with a tomahawk, or using it in self defence, you would be moving. I also practice with a knapsack on my back on occasion, because it makes it a lot harder to throw, and once again, that is reality. Also we do not pace the distance from the target and make a mark. This is a good idea when learning, but once you get the hang of it you should learn to estimate the distance. I did this by walking in the woods with my tomahawk, and throwing at every dead tree I came across, just judging the distance.

The Australian Alps.

Gunpowder Tinder Fire Lighting.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Tinderlighter Fire Lighting.

I repeat the use of tinder in this one, but probably better than not mentioning it at all! Be careful if you make spunks, the fumes can be a bit much! The sulphur does not run much when you melt it, so you could heat it over the fire on a flat piece of tin if you wish. Do not put too much on the wooden splint, just dip the splint in the moulten sulphur and wipe off the excess on the tin. You will note that after I have lit the candle, that a flaming drop of sulphur drops from the splint! A sign of a little too much sulphur.

Privateers, Pirates and Pirate Ships.

Monday 23 August 2010

Marriage Problems!

“March 25, 1742:

Whereas ELIZABETH DUNLAP, Wife of JAMES DUNLAP of Piles Grove, Salem County in the Province of New-Jersey, hath lately eloped from the said James Dunlap her Husband. These are therefore to forewarn and forbid any Person to trust said Elizabeth for any Goods or other things whatsoever for that her said Husband will pay no Debt or Debts contracted by her after the Date hereof….”

“June 17, 1742:
Whereas JAMES DUNLAP, of Piles Grove, of Piles Grove, in the County of Salem, in the Province of New-Jersey, by an advertisement lately inserted in the American Weekly Mercury and in the Pennsylvania Gazette, did publish the elopement of ELIZABETH DUNLAP his Wife, and forewarned all Persons to trust her for any goods or other things, etc.

These are therefore to certify all Persons whom it may concern, that the contents of said advertisement as to the elopement of the said Elizabeth is utterly false, for the said Elizabeth never eloped from the said James Dunlap her Husband, but was obliged in safety of her life to leave her said Husband because of his threats and cruel abuse for several years past repeatedly offered and done to her, and that she went no farther than her Father’s House in said country, where she has resided ever since her departure from her said Husband, and still continues to reside. And the same James Dunlap having a considerable estate in lands in the said county, which the said Elizabeth is informed he intends to sell as soon as he can, she therefore thought proper to give this notice to any Person or Persons that may offer to buy, that she will not join in the sale of any part of said lands, but that she intends to claim her thirds (or right of dower) of and in all the lands the said James Dunlap has been seized and possessed of since their intermarriage whosoever may purchase the same. — Elizabeth Dunlap.”

“July 31, 1746:
Whereas MARY, the Wife of JOHN FENBY, Porter, hath eloped from her said Husband without any cause; this is to forewarn all Persons not to trust her on his Account; for he will pay no Debts she shall contract from the Date hereof.”

“August 7, 1746:
Whereas JOHN, the Husband of MARY FENBY, hath advertis’d her in this Paper, as eloped from him, &c., tho’ ’tis well known, they parted by Consent, and agreed to divide their Goods in a Manner which he has not yet been so just as fully to comply with, but detains her Bed and Wedding Ring: And as she neither has, nor desires to run him in Debt, believing her own Credit to be full as good as his; so she desires no one should trust him on her Account, for neither will she pay any Debts of his contracting.– MARY FENBY”

Huzza for the Cymro! The Last French Invasion of Britain.

A little late nomally for my interest, but I wonder if any of my family were involved in this?! My thanks to Ralphus at Flintlock & Tomahawk for bringing this to my attention: http://flintlockandtomahawk.blogspot.com/2010/08/last-invasion.html

A Greens Rangers Video.English Rangers in Training.

This video could I think have been better using a tripod and or slower panning, but it is still a good video, and I like it.

Find more videos like this on Greens Rangers Re enactors of Colonial America

Sunday 22 August 2010

18th Century Movies. Wuthering Heights.

Sealing Your letters With Sealing Wax.

My Mother always had sealing wax in her writing desk, which as a kid I was facinated by.

This video found at: http://olympesdiary.blogspot.com/

New England Colonial Living History Group Promotional Video. Plus fire lighting & tinder preparation.

Note on laying a fire:  I have seen many types of fire laying construction on videos, and most of them go to unecessary work. This fire in the video below is very simple. 1) lay a small log or large piece of wood to the left of your fireplace. 2) lay some kindling dried grass or similar alongside this small log. 3) lay bark/twigs and sticks on top of the log, bridging the grass kindling. The idea of the log is that it leaves an air space beneath the kindling sticks.
You will note that when I make fire, I simply place the burning grass kindling next to the log and that is all I do. The fire will take and keep going so long as there is fuel to burn.

Friday 20 August 2010

Military Firelock.

This is a short video but well presented. The military method as you can see in this video was to use paper cartridges, and to prime the pan first before loading the musket. I do not recommend using this method for safety reasons. IF the cock should go off "half cocked", in other words if for some reason the half cock position should release, then the gun will fire whilst you are loading! If it went off whilst you were ramming for instance it could be nasty!
Load the main charge down the barrel first, then prime and fire.

Thursday 19 August 2010

First Sighting Of Australia.

But it is finally here, in 1606, we have our first authenticated European sighting of the Great Southern Land. Janszoon and his crew had inadvertently sailed south and were following the west coast of the Australia’s York Peninsular.

More information here: http://scribblemesomething.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/byte-19-the-great-southern-land-bites-back-discovery-1606/#comment-26

Wednesday 18 August 2010

My Broadsword Project-Customising.

The Broadsword I purchased was not top of the range, so I expected to have to do some work on it. When it arrived it had cloth inside the basket hilt, as did originals, but often this cloth was removed. My cloth had wire running through it which was loop around and trapped under the brass pommel.

Also there was a gap between the blade and the hilt which required a good deal of filing to make it fit properly. If left as it was it could have weakened the sword.

I don't think I have big hands, but my index finger knuckle occasionally caught on the brass guard, also I was finding the sword heavy in the hand. So I removed part of the guard. Below are some images of before and after customising. I am pleased with the finished product.

Flint, Steel, and Tinderbox Fire Lighting. My First you tube Skills Video.

Many times over the past few years I have been asked to produce some skills videos. Well now I actually have a video camera, so here is my first skills video.
Not only is the tinderbox used for making fire, but it is also used for preparing charred tinder. The tinder is simply charred directly in the fire; I stuck a piece of punk wood on the end of a two tine fork and held it in the fire until the surface was charred. I used this same piece of charred punk wood in the following fire lighting demonstration. After the tinder is charred, simply place it in the tinderbox and close the lid. This will smother the smouldering embers.

An Interesting Article on Sword Fighting.

This is very interesting, and worth reading if you have an interest in historical sword fighting.

Sword wounds and the circulatory system

Maestro Frank Lurz.


Best Information On Ranger's Clothing and Equipment for 1750 so far.



PLEASE NOTE: I suggest that when reading this document that you substitute the term "frock" for the words "smock" and "hunting shirt". I am not aware that the term smock was used for this particular garment in the early to mid 18th century, and the term hunting shirt is misleading, as it is not a shirt. A shirt is "underwear". Also the term hunting shirt is often given to the later revolutionary war fringed open fronted frock.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

18th Century Ranger, Travel and Food Rations.

1757. Rations for Rangers per week; 7 pounds biscuits, bread or flour, 7 pounds beef or 4 pounds pork, 6 oz butter, 3 pints of peas, 1/2 pound of rice .

Knox p. 48, Vol1. The journals of Captain John Knox.

February 8. Sixth day's march — The river wound through a broken, hilly, country and the general course was not favorable according to our opinion. The weather was very cold and stormy ; the traveling, in general, very bad all day ; the men were so feeble and lame with frozen feet, that but few of them were able to break track, so that we began to be fearful that we should not be able to reach any settlement for some days, and had we not have had some relief by traveling a part of the way on the river, it is highly probable some of them would have perished. We had one — and but one— dog along with us ; he was large and very fat, and this
evening he fell a sacrifice to our necessities. Our custom on this march was to encamp ten men at a fire. The dog was carefully butchered and divided into seven parts, except the entrails which the butcher had for his
fees. These he brought to our fire, and ten of us made a very good supper of their fat, without bread or salt.

Journal of Rufas Putnam 1754.

Sunday 15 August 2010

More on 18th Century Staff Fighting.


" You shall stand upright, holding the staff upright close to your body with your left hand, reaching with your right hand your staff as high as you can, and then allow to that length a space to set both your hands when you come to fight, wherein you may conveniently strike, thrust and ward, and that is your just length to be made according to your stature. And this note, that those lengths will commonly fall out to be eight or nine feet long " ll Quarterstaf

The true times are:

• The time of the hand

• The time of the hand and body

• The time of the hand body anf foot

• The time of the hand body and feet

The false times are:

• Time of the foot

• Time of the foot and body

• Time of the foot body and hand

• Time of the feet body and hand

• These are the slowest times

The idea of these sets of times is common sense, it is a way of telling a person the fastest, and safest and the slowest and riskiest way of using your body in a fight.

Just by knowing these times, gives you an advantage in a dangerous situation.


“We hear that the gentlemen of Ireland have been long picking out an Hibernian heroine to match Mrs. Stokes, the bold and famous city championess. There is now one arrived in London, who by her make and stature seems likely enough to eat her up. However, Mrs. Stokes being true English blood (and remembering some of the late reflections that were cast upon her husband by some of the country folk) is resolved to see out ‘vi et armis.’ This being likely to prove a notable and diverting entertainment, it is not at all doubted but that there will be abundance of gentlemen crowding to Mr. Figg’s ampitheatre to see this uncommon performance.”

“At Mr. Stoke’s Amphitheatre, in Islington Road, near Sadler’s Wells, on Monday next, being the 3d of October, will be perform’d a trial of skill by the following Championesses.

‘Whereas I Mary Welch, from the Kingdom of Ireland, being taught, and knowing the noble science of defence, and thought to be the only female of this kind in Europe, understanding there is one in this Kingdom, who has exercised on the publick stage several times, which is Mrs. Stokes, who is stiled the famous Championess of England; I do hereby invite her to meet me, and exercise the usual weapons practis’d on the stage, at her own amphitheatre, doubting not, but to let her and the worthy spectators see, that my judgment and courage is beyond hers.’

‘I Elizabeth Stokes, of the famous City of London, being well known by the name of the Invincible City Championess for my abilities and judgment in the abovesaid science; having never engaged with any of my own sex but I always came off with victory and applause, shall make no apology for accepting the challenge of this Irish Heroine, not doubting but to maintain the reputation I have hitherto establish’d, and shew my country, that the contest of it’s honour, is not ill entrusted in the present battle with their Championess, Elizabeth Stokes.’

Note, The doors will be open’d at two, and the Championesses mount at four.

N.B. They fight in close jackets, short petticoats, coming just below the knee, Holland drawers, white stockings, and pumps.”

“In Islington road, on Monday, being the 17th of July, 1727, will be performed a trial of skill by the following combatants.

‘We Robert Barker and Mary Welsh, from Ireland, having often contaminated our swords in the abdominous corporations of such antagonists as have had the insolence to dispute our skill, do find ourselves once more necessitated to challenge, defy, and invite Mr. Stokes and his bold Amazonian virago to meet us on the stage, where we hope to give a satisfaction to the honourable Lord of our nation who has laid a wager of twenty guineas on our heads. They that give the most cuts to have the whole money, and the benefit of the house; and if swords, daggers, quarter-staff, fury, rage, and resolution, will prevail, our friends shall not meet with a disappointment.’

‘ We James and Elizabeth Stokes, of the City of London. having already gained an universal approbation by our agility of body, dextrous hands, and courageous hearts, need not preambulate on this occasion, but rather choose to exercise the sword to their sorrow, and corroborate the general opinion of the town than to follow the custom of our repartee antagonists. This will be the last time of Mrs. Stokes’ performing on the stage.’

—There will be a door on purpose for the reception of the gentlemen, where coaches may drive up to it, and the company come in without being crowded. Attendance will be given at three, and the combatants mount at six precisely. They all fight in the same dresses as before.’”


18th Century Quarterstaff Fighting.

The staff has been in use as a weapon since at least the middle ages, and continued in use as a training method for certain military units untill at least the 1980s. The staff has also been known as: The Stave, Balkstaff, shortstaff, tipstaff (with metal tips!), cudgel and club. The length of the staff can vary from 6 feet to 9 feet by roughly one and a quarter inches.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Rogers Rangers Rules and Standing Orders 1757.

"…I do therefore Hereby Constitute and Appoint you the said Robert Rogers to be Captain of an Independent Company of Rangers to be forthwith raised and Employ'd…"

"On the 23d, I waited on the General, and met with a very friendly reception; he soon intimated his design of giving me the command of an independent company of rangers, and the very next morning I received the commission, with a set of instructions."

"my men lay concealed in a thicket of willows, while I crept something nearer, to a large pine-log, where I concealed myself, by holding bushes in my hand."

"According to the General's orders, my company was to consist of sixty private, at 3s. New York currency per day, three searjents at 4s. an Ensign at 5s. a lieutenant at 7s. and my own pay was fixed at 10s. per day. Ten Spainish dollars were allowed each man towards providing cloaths, arms, and blankets."

"from time to time, to use my best endeavours to distress the French and their allies, by sacking, burning, and destroying their houses, barns, barracks, canoes, battoes, &c. and by killing their cattle of every kind; and at all times to endeavor to way-lay, attack and destroy their convoys of provisions by land and water, in any part of the country where I could find them."

Rogers Rangers Rules.

I. 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 be draughted, and scouts for the next day appointed.

II. Whenever you are ordered out to the enemies 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.

III. 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 which that may afford your centries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.

IV. 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.

V. 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 yours, to alter your course, or disperse, as circumstances may require.

VI. If you 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 those 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 at 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 ambuscaded, 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.

VII. 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 to 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.

VIII. 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 you in their turn.

IX. If you are obliged to retreat, let the front of your whole party fire and fall back, till the rear hath 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.

X. 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 the 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.

XI. 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.

XII. 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 come at, which will give you greatly the advantage in point of situation, and enable you to repulse superior numbers.

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

XIV. When you encamp at night, fix your centries 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 centry 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 any thing, 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 centries should be fixed in like manner.

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

XVI. 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 favoured by the darkness of the night.

XVII. 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.

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

XIX. 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.

XX. 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.

XXI. 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.

XXII. 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.

XXIII. When you pursue any party that has been near our forts or encampments, follow not directly in their tracks, lest they 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.

XXIV. If you are to embark in canoes, battoes, or otherwise, by water, chuse 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.

XXV. In padling 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.

XXVI. 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 judgment of the number that kindled them, and whether you are able to attack them or not.

XXVII. 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 surprize them, having them between you and the lake or river.

XXVIII. 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 reconnoitering 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 upon 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 shew; 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 every man to repair to, in case of any accident that may separate you."

Rogers Rangers Standing Orders. 1757.

• Don't forget nothing.

• Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute's warning.

• When you're on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first.

• Tell the truth about what you see and do. There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don't never lie to a Ranger or officer.

• Don't never take a chance you don't have to.

• When we're on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can't go through two men.

• If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it's hard to track us.

• When we march, we keep moving till dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.

• When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.

• If we take prisoners, we keep 'em separate til we have had time to examine them, so they can't cook up a story between 'em.

• Don't ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won't be ambushed.

• No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout 20 yards ahead, twenty yards on each flank and twenty yards in the rear, so the main body can't be surprised and wiped out.

• Every night you'll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.

• Don't sit down to eat without posting sentries.

• Don't sleep beyond dawn. Dawn's when the French and Indians attack.

• Don't cross a river by a regular ford.

• If somebody's trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.

• Don't stand up when the enemy's coming against you. Kneel down. Hide behind a tree.

• Let the enemy come till he's almost close enough to touch. Then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.

The French and Indian War. Known in Europe as The Seven Years War.

A Ranging Way of War. Rogers Rangers.

My Living History Playground. Running Water Again.

In the past few days we have had some much needed rain. The header streams were not running, Cattail Pond was low, and Millie's Creek, named after my Mother, had stopped flowing. Now the streams are flowing and the Butterfly Valley spring too. Cattail Pond is full and overflowing and Millie's Creek is on the move again. From Wychwood Forest where it starts, this water will flow north into Reedy Creek and from there go west finally flowing into Copeton Dam.


Flatboats were used right through the 18th century by settlers as transport to new lands, and to transport farm produce. Many flatboats were attacked by Indians, but it was still seen as the safest form of transport by many. Once at the end of the journey the flatboat would be sold for the timber, or used by the owner for construction. This is a mid 20th century living history film about 19th century flatboatmen.

Sunday 8 August 2010

Staff Fighting.

The most asked question is probably "how much does it cost?" Well a pruning saw or a hatchet and a visit to your local woods should net you a good staff.

Native Indian Fish Trap.

This does not have the best sound, wind blowing across the mic, ut it is a good demo video just the same.

Another Weekend Workshop. Sword & Axe Fighting.

This past weekend we had a sword and axe fighting workshop. Jon Clay from Uralla visited Wychwood to give us some basic training, and plans to return to give further instruction in sword, axe and the staff. The last 30 minutes of this workshop also included some instruction in knife fighting.

Two real practice swords were used plus one axe, and the juniors brought along their own toy swords and axes that worked very well for training purposes. It was a great day for all involved, and I would like to publicly thank Jon Clay for the time and effort he put into this workshop. It is one thing to be skilled in a craft, but it is another to be able to teach that craft well. Jon Clay is a good teacher, and worked well with the kids.

No pics of me, but I did get to join in toward the end of the workshop and enjoyed it immensely, I am hooked! Jon assures me that if I like sword fighting, I will enjoy staff fighting even more. If you have the time and there is an instructor near you, I encourage you to try it, it really is great fun.

Thursday 5 August 2010

The Axe and the Tomahawk.

I have been recieving some education regarding axes and tomahawks, I went looking for it because I found myself becoming increasingly confused with various terms used in this century(21st). The article below is only a small sample of the information available at the link I shall provide, and I found it well worth reading.
This also explains the terms used when refering to the woodsman's tools being the gun, the knife and the axe. I have always thought of an axe being large, certainly not the size of a tomahawk, and I was wrong. Also I have always thought of the tomahawk using the particular helve or haft that does not require a wedge to secure the head, and the axe requiring a wedge, wrong again!
From what I have read so far, a tomahawk is a tool/weapon that has a specific type of poll, that with a spike or a pipe bowl. But it can also have a hammer poll. Anyway, read the following and see what you think. Personally I am still finding some grey areas! But I now know more than I did before reading this article.


Trade Rates in 1812 at Fort Astoria, Columbia River
One half-axe = four beaver
Hatchet = two beaver
Yard of cloth = four beaver
Yard of cotton = two beaver
Large knife = two beaver
Five leaves of well-twisted tobacco = one beaver
Trade axes of today were called 'Camp Axes' or 'Squaw Axes' or just plain 'Hatchets' in the records of the fur traders and in the words of Indians. We know they were distributed from at least 1570 to about late 19th C. although common axes of the period were traded to Indians before that. They came from Holland, France, England, Canada, Spanish colonies & America. They were used primarily as tools but also as weapons if the need arose (spike tomahawks also were used as tools at times although their main purpose was as a weapon). Trade axes have been greatly maligned by the collectors of the much more expensive pipe tomahawks who claim they were never used as weapons although in the same breath the lighter trade axe of 1lb or less is accepted as a weapon/tool by most. Is it the same as a tomahawk? That depends on your definition, but definitions have been changing through out the historical period and still are. Initially, during the earliest contact period, ANY hatchet or axe used by Native Americans was referred as a tomahawk.

The reality is they used what they had, what they could afford and what was available.

The above article and some of the images curtesy of:

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Cyrano de Bergerac

A Woodsrunner's Knives.

The Woodsman’s Knives.

When interpreting a woodsman or woods woman of the 18th century, it is important to think of the uses these knives were put to then, not how you might use a knife now. Three tools are synonymous with the 18th century woodsrunner, the gun, the knife, and the axe or tomahawk. These days these items tend to be classed as weapons, but to me they are working tools just like any other tool, but they did sometimes have to function as a weapon, and it is important to bear that in mind when making your selection.

So what was the woodsrunner’s knives used for? Let’s start with the hunting knife. The hunting or belt knife was used to field dress game, which means gutting, cutting the meat, dismembering, and skinning. Boning out the meat may also be involved. I don’t believe there is an all round knife, you either need more than one knife for butchering game, or you need to find a middle of the road knife that works for you. For me a skinning knife needs to be rounded at the tip, this is especially good for slitting the skin open from crotch to chest. But there are other needs for the hunting knife.

Sometimes an animal does not die instantly, this is not desirable, but it does happen. When this does happen I need a sharp pointed knife. I will not go into detail here, as it may distress some people, but this is one of the responsibilities you take on when you hunt wild animals.

As I said before these tools may also be needed for fighting, so once again, although I would prefer a more rounded tip on the knife, I really do need a good sharp point. I like a big knife, a short bladed knife is good for skinning but for a main knife I need something big. At the same time I do not like a heavy knife, and my preferences seem to have been universal, as the majority of 18th century hunting knives appear to have been butcher knives, sometimes known as scalping knives.

My hunting knife.

Two well used original butcher knives with pinned wooden handles.

The Courier De Bois it is said carried three knives, a hunting knife under the belt, a neck knife, and a legging knife. Rather than carry a neck knife I prefer to carry a clasp knife. The clasp knife I use for camp chores and making traps. This involves a lot of shaving and whittling of wood, some of it very fine intricate work that needs a small knife. You could use a fixed blade utility knife; it is a matter of choice.

This was my Father’s utility knife, and it is typical of this type of 18th century knife.

This is one of my late 18th century clasp knives.

A 17th century gully knife.

The legging knife is in my case a back-up knife. It needs to be light and short bladed, but it may be used for field dressing game, or as a quick to hand fighting knife if the main knife is lost. When field dressing game you need to be fast, and at the same time you need to keep a sharp look-out and listen for any sounds out of the ordinary. Sometimes you can strike a bone in this sort of situation which will dull your blade. You do not have time to resharpen your blade unless it is the only knife you have, so this is when you use the back-up knife.

This is my legging knife. Actually I have used this knife quite a lot over the years for various leatherwork, principally for making moccasins.

If you carry a knife, then you need to carry a whet stone. This is the small whet stone I carry in my knapsack.

A Michael Galban neck knife and sheath.

Cathy Sibly sheath with a Bill Reynolds knife.