Our goal is to educate the public about our country's Colonial and Revolutionary War heritage, to support and promote local historical sites, and to work to maintain historical accuracy while we enjoy the comradery and friendship of like-minded citizens.
We attempt to recreate a Revolutionary War camp with an appreciation of the time and labor our forefathers and foremothers gave to everyday life, and to that end are constantly researching and polishing our image, in an effort to come as close as possible to an historically-correct impression.
The original 1st Ulster County Militia was founded in 1776, under the command of Johannes Snyder, and served throughout the war, notably during the actions connected with the Burgoyne Campaign in 1777.
Captain Ben Carlos The present 1st Ulster County Militia was reorganized in 1996, and is led by Captain Ben Carlos, under whose command the Militia has grown to a membership of about 65, with about 50 men-at-arms. The women of 1st Ulster Militia are also active participants, and their contributions are represented on the Distaff branch of this site.
Among other activities, 1st Ulster County Militia hosts the biennial reenactment of the Burning of Kingston, New York, which observes the destruction of the city by British forces under the command of General John Vaughan on October 16, 1777. This incident, intended to divert the attention of the American forces at Saratoga away from Burgoyne's bottle-necked British forces, did not succeed. Information about other 1st Ulster-sponsored events and projects can be found under More Information, at left.
People of all ages are welcome, though children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult an apply here : lmnp-gouv.fr
Forgive the length of this missive, I fear I have been lax in my duties to report to the people of Kingston until now. Fall has passed and with it the terror of renewed attacks in the Mohawk Valley. The raids by Sir John Johnson in the Spring brought about the final destruction of the village of Cherry Valley and Caughnawaga, and along with the destruction of the Oneida Castle by a band of Mohawk and Seneca, fear again reigns in the Mohawk Valley. In October, Johnson, aided by Maj. Christopher Carleton's force swept into the Mohawk burning the farms and homes around the Upper Fort of the Scoharrie and laying siege to the Middle Fort and but due to the resistance of one Timothy Murphy who refused surrender, Sir Johnson is forced to withdraw without achieving this objective. He continued, however, to burn his way through the Valley as far as Fort Hunter. In the Battle for Stone Arabia, called by the local people Klock's Field, General van Rennselear failed to rendezvous with Colonel Brown's Militia and Johnson's forces destroyed the militia, killing and scalping Col. Brown and moved on to burn Stone Arabia. The Mohawk Valley will not recover soon from the devastating Fall of '80, now known as the "Burning of the Valleys".
In Winter now the frontier is quiet, but the fear remains, Neighbor is suspicious of neighbor and the loyality of all is suspect. The Fall grain harvest is destroyed and here in the Esopus Valley we must provide for those who have lost so much. Fortunately the Esopus grain, considered the finest in New York, if not all the states, is abundant this Fall. However, in this Hudson Valley, the peace and joy we felt with the knowledge that the West Point and the Highlands were safe under the command of the Hero of Valcore Island and Freeman's Farm near Saratoga has been rudely shattered with the startling and unbelievable news of Benedict Arnold's collaboration with the enemy. Irrefutable evidence proves he had agreed for a sum to deliver the fortifications at the Point into British Hands. His collaborator, Major John Andre, well known among the fashionable in New York and Philadelphia, has been captured and the plan revealed. Maj. Andre has been subsequently hanged as a spy and the Traitor Arnold has fled the Valley aboard a British ship, reportedly Vulture and will escape earthly justice. Rest assured, however, his final reckoning will come at the hands of his Maker. In the meantime he has been given a commission by the British and set to raiding and burning his former countrymen in the state of Virginia. General Washington has sent Layfayette to stop him, but to no avail.
The news from the South has brought cause for celebration and optimism, however. The devastating defeats at Charleston and General Gates' disaster at Camden followed by Arnold's treason had proved to be the low point in this war and the future looked truly dark. Then in October, part of Cornwallis' army, comprised mostly of Loyalist troops were surrounded and captured at King's Mountain in South Carolina by frontier militia units and the mood began to change. Here in Kingston the news has recently arrived of an even greater victory in South Carolina. The so called "Flying Army" of General Daniel Morgan, a hero of Saratoga, recently given his command by General Nathaniel Green, planned and executed a brilliant tactical. At a place known locally as the Cowpens, a grazing area for livestock, General Morgan set a trap to catch a green coated rat. Brilliantly using militia to lure the British and Highlanders under the Bloody Banastre Tarleton -- the same coward who sabered surrendering Americans in May at the Waxhaws and was rumoured to have boasted he has "slaughtered more men and raped more women than any man in America" -- into thinking the withdrawing Americans were fleeing, he then closed the trap and with the help of the Horsemen of William Washington thereby destroying the Green Dragoons and the 71st Highland Regiment with them. Tarleton escaped justice by turning tail, but was wounded and will carry a reminder of his ignomious defeat to his grave, the Lord grant it to be soon. Huzzahs to General Morgan and to General Greene who had the wisdom to raise the "Old Wagoner" to command. General Washington's choice of the Hero Nathaniel Greene to replace the ineffectual and boastful Gates looks to be a stroke of genius.
Kingston, meanwhile has been quietly rebuilding and, by outward appearance is back to normal, although with the Port of New York remaining closed, commerce is still uncertain and most goods not easily obtained. Bogardus and Elmendorf have reopened their taverns to a lively business, alhtough they are a bit less interesting with the absense of the servant girl Sukey, reportedly with her mistress somewhere on the western frontier and the withdrawl of the French wretch, Lissette, to, as rumour has it, New York, where, we can only hope, the British deal with her as she deserves.
We here, grow weary of this conflict and all have lost much and perhaps, the Lord willing, it will be concluded shortly and we can return to our quiet Dutch lives her in this beautiful valley.
I Remain, Your Humble Servant, ~A.H.
Johannes Snyder was given his commission and officially took his post as Colonel on May 1, 1776. At that time the 1st Ulster was reported to have 472 officers and men. In April of that year, he was elected to the Provincial Congress as a Delegate, and thus did not start active duty until September 1, 1776 when he was directed to proceed to Fort Montgomery in the Hudson Highlands and take command. He arrived on September 27th.
The three months for which our Regiment had been called out expired on November 30th. In the following year, 1777, he was with his regiment at Ft Montgomery as early as June 4th. On July 30th, he took his seat as a member of the Assembly in the first legislature chosen in New York State. His activity was said to be "untiring! " He was at the head of his regiment in the Highlands, and was assigned to every court-martial convened by General George Clinton to try Tories who were active everywhere, and whom our regiment seized on every hand. He was also a member of the Council of Safety in Ulster County.
Colonel Snyder was thus in Kingston when General Vaughn landed to destroy Kingston, New York's first Capital. He could only muster 5 small cannons and about 150 men. The rest of the 1st Ulster were either with General, now Govenor, Clinton on their way to Kingston from the defeat at Fort Montgomery or as part of Colonel Graham's Levies from Dutchess and Ulster counties which were facing Burgoyne at Saratoga.
Colonel Snyder along with Colonel Pawling threw up a hasty earthwork at Ponckhonkie overlooking the Hudson River and the mouth of the Roundout Creek, and a second one at the hill near O'Reilly's Woods--the present site of Kingston City Hall, and placed his cannons. The British numbering over 2,000 of course drove the defenders out and commenced to torch the city on October 16, 1777. As General Vaughan wrote, "Esopus [Kingston] being a nursery for almost every Villain in the Country, I judged it necessary to proceed to that Town...they fired from their Houses, which induced me to reduce the Place to Ashes, which I accordingly did, not leaving a House."
After this, Governor Clinton assigned Colonel Snyder and a part of the regiment to assist and help rebuild the ruined city. He energetically took hold of the work with his men, and the town rapidly arose from the ashes.
In 1778, and through the remainder of the war, Colonel Snyder was credited that no enemy descent was made upon exposed settlements in the northwest Catkills frontier where Governor Clinton committed its defense to him and his regiment. Part of the regiment was usually stationed at Little Shandaken to watch the approach through the valley of the Esopus. Scouts constantly covered the territory from Hurley woods to the Palentine Clove along the foot of the Catskills. On at least three documented occassions, marauding Indians and Tories were turned back by finding their movements watched.
Excerpts from The Early History of Saugerties by Benjamin Brink (1902) and An Account of the British Expedition Above the Highlands of the Hudson River, and of the Events Connected with the Burning of Kingston in 1777, by George W. Pratt
August 22, 1775
That every country, city, Manor, Town, Precinct, & district within this Colony, be divided into districts or beats by their respective Committees in such manner, that out of each may be formed one military Company, ordinarily to consist of 83 able bodied and effective men, Officers included, between 16 and 50 years of age.
That every man furnish himself with a good Musket or firelock and Bayonet, Sword, or Tomahawk, a steel ramrod, worm, priming wire, and brush fitted there to, a Cartouch box to contain 23 rounds of cartridges, 12 flints, and a Knapsack agreeable to the directions of the Continental Congress under forfeiture of five shillings for want of a musket or firelock, or one shilling for want of a bayonet, sword, or tomahawk, cartidge box, cartridge or bullet, the whole to be judged by the Captain or the next commanding officer.
That every man shall at his place of abode be also provided with 1 pound of powder and 3 pounds of bullets of proper size to his musket.
That in each Company so to be formed there to be chosen, 1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants, 1 Ensign, 4 Sergeants, 4 Corporals, 1 Clerk, 1 Drummer, and 1 Fifer.
That a Brigadier General with a Major of Brigade be commissioned to the Command of each Brigade.
The Militia of the Cities of Kingston, Saugerties, Woodstock, and Hurley, and Northern Ulster County.
Mathias Dederick, Captain
Died December 19, 1808, aged 71 years, 9 months and 19 days. He rests in the field southeast of the old station in West Camp, N.Y. Age 39 in 1776.
Petrus Post, 1st Lieutenant
Died March 13th, 1787, aged 43 years, 7 months and 25 days, He rests in the Main Street Cemetery in Saugerties, NY. Age 32 in 1776.
Evert Wynkoop, Jr, 1st Lieutenant
Died April 16,1830, aged 86 years,7 months and 8 days.He rests on the property of the old Rio Alto Stock Farm. Also, served with the Fourth Ulster Regiment. Age 32 in 1776.
Petrus Eygener, 2nd Lieutenant
Thomas Van Steenburgh, Ensign
Hendrick Myer, Ensign
Died September 30, 1793, aged 51 years. He rests on the old Mynderse farm. Age 34 in 1776.
Stephen Fiero, Ensign Died September 16, 1831, aged 81 years, and 5 months. He rests in the Katsbaan Church Cemetery. Age 26 years in 1776.
Jacobus DuBois, Sergeant
Johannis Eygener, Sergeant
Jacobus Post, Sergeant
Petrus Eygener, Jr., Corporal
Wilhelmus Eygener, Corporal
Peter P. Eygener, Drummer
Andrew Breasted, Private
John Brink, Jr., Private Died June 9, 1814, aged 69 years, 8 months and 8 days lies in the Main Street Cemetery in Saugerties, N.Y. He also served in the Fourth Ulster Regiment. Age 31 in 1776.
Benjamin Burhans, Private
John Davenport, Private Kingston yeoman.
David DuBois, Private
John Eligh, Private
Petrus Emerick, Private
John Emerick, Private
Wilhelmus Eygener, Private
West Camp farmer.
Johannis Falck, Private
Born January 1, 1740, Died November 2, 1822,aged 82 years.He lies on the old Russell Wynkoop farm, alone in a cedar woods nearby. Age 36 in 1776.
Wilhelmus Falck, Private
Christian Fiero, Private
Died January 28, 1826, aged 67 years, 1 month and 21 days. He lies in the Katsbaan Church Cemetery. Age 17 in 1776.
John C. Fiero, Private
William Fiero, Private
Joseph Martin, Private Died November 1, 1825, aged 98 years,11 months and 6 days. He lies on the old E.P. Simmon farm along the Hudson near the old John J. Cooney brickyard North o f Malden. Age 49 in 1776.
Peter L. Myer, Private
Cornelius Persen, Private Katsbaan Storekeeper, Died February 7, 1827, aged 82 years,11 months and 21 days. He lies in the Katsbaan Church Cemetery. Age 31 in 1776.
Abraham Post, Private
Anthony Post, Private
John Post, Private Died November 20, 1801, aged 71 years, 5 months and 15 days. He lies on the old John W. Davis farm northeast of theold West Shore station. Age 46 in 1776.
Samuel Post, Private
Conrad Rightmyer/Rechtmyer, Private
Harmanus Rightmyer/Rechtmyer, Private Died May 12, 1835, aged 81 years,2 months and 18 days.He rests in Katsbaan Church Cemetery. Age 22 in 1776.
Johannis Rightmyer/Rechtmyer, Private
Ludwig Roessell, Private
Peter Sax, Private
Christopher Snyder, Private
Jeremiah Snyder, Private
George Sperling, Private
Thomas G. Van Steenburgh, Private
Henry Van Steenburgh, Private
Thomas Van Steenburgh, Jr., Private
Jeremiah Wolven, Private
Black Powder & Battlefield Safety I. General Guidelines
These guidelines apply to the use of black powder firearms for historical demonstration purposes by the First Ulster County Militia. “Demonstration” means the loading and firing of a black powder weapon, for the purpose of public education, under the direction of a Safety Officer. The only type of weapon that may be fired is a muzzleloading, blackpowder, flintlock musket or rifle. Pistols may NOT be fired in demonstrations except by mounted troops with approval of the field commander. Edged weapons, swords, knives tomahawks, etc. must always be considered dangerous. Except for the use as a camp tool, they should never be unsheathed. It is also highly recommended that a hunter safety course be taken for proper firearm handleing and general firearm saefty.
II. Individual & Tactical Demonstrations
Individual demonstrations are demonstrations during which a single weapon is loaded and fired by a member. Tactical demonstrations are those where two or more weapons are loaded and fired under simulated battle conditions. This includes but is not limited to reenactments in which opposing forces face each other. All weapons will be inspected by a safety officer prior to its use in any demonstration.
A. Individual Demonstration
The only weapons authorized for individual demonstrations are muzzleloading, flintlock muskets, and /or rifles.
A minimum of two members must be present for individual demonstrations. One to operate the weapon, and the other to provide crowd control and watch for safety. Either member may address the public. Each must be at least 16 years old. All individual demonstrations must have the prior approval of the safety officer.
The weapon being demonstrated will be inspected by the safety officer using the listed Inspection Checklist.
Blank charges are not to exceed the maximum loads designated in the Table of Maximum Loads for the weapon used.
Muskets are to be loaded from pre-wrapped paper cartridges prepared according to correct period procedures. Aluminum foil, coin rolls, and metal staples are not to be used.
Wadding is permitted in individual demonstrations, but NOT for tactical demonstrations.
The demonstrator must carry cartridges in an authentic leather, or leather and wood block cartridge box, worn well around the right hip. The demonstrator must take care that the flap is kept down except when a cartridge is being withdrawn. Extreme caution must be used when using a bellybox.
Rifles may be loaded from horns, however, the powder of the main charge must first be poured into a powder measure conforming to the Table of Maximum Loads, then poured into the muzzle. The main charge must never be poured directly from the horn into the barrel. (Note, many sites forbid the use of loaded powder horns, nor are they allowed in tactical demonstrations.) Riflemen must carry loose powder in a well maintained powderhorn that is kept stopped.
When loading and firing, the demonstrator will follow the correct manual for the type of weapon being fired. (We use His Majesties 1764 Manual of Exercise.) Riflemen who do not have a prescribed manual will follow safe procedures.
It is the responsibility of the non-shooting demonstrator to see that the shooter observes correct loading and firing procedures.
At no time is the demonstrator to surrender control of the weapon to a member of the public. A visitor may feel the weight of the weapon while the demonstrator retains hold of the weapon, or holds the sling. Likewise edged weapons will remain under the control of the demonstrator.
At no time will any member of the public be allowed to fire a weapon and at no time will a demonstrator carry live ammunition. B. Tactical Demonstration
Tactical demonstrations are inherently more dangerous than individual demonstrations for several reasons:
The number of demonstrators involved.
The close proximity of demonstrators to each other.
In the case of reenactments, the fact that weapons are being fired at opposing forces.
The greater difficulty in observing safety violations.
To assure the maximum safety for demonstrations and visitors, the following standards will govern tactical demonstrations:
Participants will be limited to members of the First Ulster County Militia and members of other units invited to the event.
Men-at arms using black powder must be a minimum of 16 years old.
Each unit will have at least one member who has been appointed as a safety officer.
Weapons, ammunition, ammunition containers, and weapons drill are subject to inspection by a safety officer, who has the final power to require correction of incidents of non-compliance with these guidelines.
Tactical demonstrations will be held under the direct supervision of a safety officer. The scenario for each demonstration is subject to the safety officers prior approval.
Tactical demonstrations will be held in areas of relative open space, allowing clear fields of vision for participants.
Weapons and blank ammunition used in a tactical demonstration shall conform to the specifications laid down in these guidelines. Powder loads shall not exceed the amounts specified in the Table of Maximum Loads.
There shall be no simulation of hand-to-hand combat.
Opposing forces shall not discharge weapons at each other unless there is at least 30 yards between them.
Weapons shall not be fired in the general direction of the public.
At no time on the battlefield will rammers be drawn or inserted into the barrel of any weapon!!
Bayonets shall not be fixed, and they shall remain in the scabbards. Hatchets, knives, tomahawks, and/or swords shall never be unsheathed and the edge must always be covered. The only exception for the bayonet rule will be by the command of the field commanders only.
All Safety officers have the power to order immediate correction of any safety violation.
The senior safety officers power shall extend to stopping the demonstration if they feel it is necessary course of action.
Under no circumstances shall a weapon be discharged anywhere other than the individual or tactical demonstration. Weapons will not be discharged in camp anywhere off the field of demonstration.
Demonstrators are not to surrender control of their weapons to any member of the public or allow a member of the public to fire the weapon.
III. Handling Black Powder Ammunition
Members of the First Ulster Co. Militia will observe the following rules for the safe transportation and storage of black powder ammunition:
A. Blank ammunition will be prepared off-site before demonstrations are held.
B. Loads shall not exceed the loads specified in the Table of Maximum Loads for the particular weapon being fired.
C. Cartridges will be paper wrapped, rolled on a former of the proper size for the weapon being fired, and secured with glue or string. No metal closures are permitted.
D. Ammunition shall be transported in bulk, in secure, non-sparking boxes. (A cookie tin works well for this.) Demonstrators must roll cartidges in a cartridge boxes that are in good repair, having secure leather flaps, and are kept clean of loose powder granules.
E. Members are required to store ammunition in a safe, fire free area, out of the reach of children and the general public.
F. Cartridges will not be given away to the public! IV. Musket and Rifle Inspection Checklist
A. The Stock:
B. The Lock:
C. The Barrel:
by Sona Hairabedian
For the past year, Miss Susan Haas—refugee from British-occupied New-York City and former denizen of Kingston—has been in retirement on the Frontier somewhere near Fort Pitt. It is an awkward situation for her, as it happened rather suddenly, and all the more awkward because it is hard to explain what a lady of her high social standing could possibly be doing in such a remote and comfortless place. However, there she is and there she will remain for another year at least. While I am finishing my graduate degree at Carnegie Mellon, she is my hostage.
As it happens, though, Miss Haas is not so out of place as one might think. It has lately occurred to me that my studies here, which center on designing products and services focused on human needs, rely on a practice that we reenactors know well—the development of Personas.
Chuck, Cynthia & Rob
The first formal use of Personas as an interaction design tool is generally credited to designer Alan Cooper in 1995. (1) He was developing a business intelligence product at the time, and needed to keep his user group in view. The natural tendency of designers and programmers is to design for their own tastes instead of the client's. To prevent this, he decided to take the research he had done, and from the information, opinions and stories of various interviewees, cobbled together three fictional, though based-on-fact new people, each with a very different business need. Their names were Chuck, Cynthia and Rob. Whenever a question arose regarding how the product should be designed, the team would ask, "What would Cynthia do?" and "Would Chuck understand this?" The product, incidentally, was a great success.
And so were Personas born as an effective communication tool. What I find interesting is that we reenactors also use the word "Personas" to describe our representation of historic people. We don't call them "Profiles" or "Characters". I'm tempted to look for some link between Alan Cooper's world and our own. Did Cooper borrow from us, or did we borrow from him? Or did the idea of creating "Personas" emerge independently in each case?
One thing I can say: As I work this summer developing Personas for use in redesign of a medical website, it hits home that we reenactors have been using a very powerful tool for our interactions with the public, and among ourselves as 18th-century people. Maybe a knowledge of how it's used in the hands of professional researchers may help us more fully leverage its potential in reenactment.
In Interaction Design, Persona development begins with talking to Real People—people who may or will be interested in or affected by the planned product. For instance, if the team is developing software to help elementary school teachers keep track of their assignment schedule, they would arrange to interview elementary school teachers in different areas. They would find out what they are currently doing to keep track of their assignments, find out what their needs and pet peeves are, what their challenges are, and generally try to understand them as professional human beings. In short, they would make a verbal sketch of each of these potential customers, possibly including favorite hobbies.
Rev War reenactors don't have the luxury of talking to real live people. The reenactor must go one better over the design researcher, and somehow communicate with the dead. He does it by reading reliable histories and biographies, contemporary publications, diaries and logs. (I have found tons of valuable information in novels and plays of the 18th century.)
What usually happens is that this information becomes absorbed into the reenactor's mind, to be held indefinitely. He is assembling an understanding of 18th-century personalities, but is also reconstructing the world in which they lived, and the moral and intellectual climate which influenced them. At a certain point, the thorough-going reenactor becomes "pickled"—so infused with the historical environment he has mentally resuscitated that it seems to affect him even in unconscious ways. For instance, one impressive example is the lazy grace of posture that one often sees in officers of the British Brigade. They strike the poses that one recognizes from paintings by Ramsey and Reynolds, and do it as if it were their natural habit.
The design researcher, of course, does not go so far as to embody the people she is studying. Instead, she looks at the data she's accumulated to find patterns and connections. Do several of the school teachers interviewed use written schedule books instead of computer prorgams? Do their schedules change a lot? Did you hear two or three of them say that they hate leaving tasks hanging over a weekend? Is there a certain personality type emerging here?
The use of Personas in research is still an evolving practice, and opinions vary as to how they should be developed and used. Some researchers argue that a Persona should be largely based on a single interviewee, as a means of keeping it as real and cohesive as possible. Others dismiss the idea of Personas altogether, thinking it takes a step away from actual data. Still others feel that the Persona should be a selective merging of traits of interviewees with common characteristics.
Mrs. Allen and Mr. Ritter are both teachers in their 30s who have extensive computer experience, use the Easytime Scheduler software but dislike its inflexibility. They also both have hopes of becoming administrators some day. Mrs. Allen may teach 1st grade and use imaginitive games in class, while Mr. Ritter teaches 3rd grade by the book. Mrs. Allen's degree may be in child psychology, while Mr. Ritter's is in Math, but they could be rolled into one Persona called, perhaps, Jean Osmond. And Jean might be 35, married to a pediatrician, with a degree in Science Education. She would teach 3rd grade, encourage her students to use the computer in class, and use the Easytime Scheduler. She doesn't like its inflexibility, because she has a spontaneous style of teaching, and wants the freedom to easily change the schedule as needed—which Easytime Scheduler won't do.
The designer/researcher, having Jean as a client, can now focus on her needs as the guiding influence for the design project.
The purpose of the Persona is to create a focal point for the designer. Without this imaginary-real person to please, all one has is a chaotic mass of information from surveys, interviews and statistical records. Nothing stands out as a single point to aim at—and, as any rifleman worth his salt can tell you, if you can't fix on a target, you won't hit it.
Historic Accuracy and Reality
So where else is there an analogy to the Rev War Persona?
As in design research, there are also those in reenactment who feel that acting the part of imaginary-real characters is too close to playing fictional roles. This is a valid concern. (Some liken it to the Society of Creative Anachronism, which certainly plays by different rules—but then it doesn't pretend to do otherwise.) When historic authenticity is the aim, however—which is the case in Rev War reenactment—any relaxing of the rules may lead to deterioration of the portrayal into the Disneyesque. None of us wants that.
However, it is hard to play the part of a generic soldier, camp follower, townsman or lady with authenticty. There were no generic people then, just as there are none now. As reenactors, we each have to become the focal point for a specific personality in order to convey the flavor of reality to the public. In some cases I know of, reenactors have chosen a specific person from history to recreate—have read about them, visited places where they lived and worked, imitated their dress and tried to reconstruct their language and attitudes. This may be the most direct method of Persona development, where all one needs to do is find the information and internalize it.
However, it has its limits, too. General John Vaughan is a fixed person in history. This doesn't allow for much improvisation in personality or experiences, unless he's willing to set the historical record aside for awhile. And his Persona is borrowed, rather than his own. And unlucky is the George Washington reenactor who encounters someone in the tour group more expert on Washington than he is!
The alternative is to use the design researcher's method of "finding" a Persona in the mass of information one has collected about 18th-century life. One shouldn't forget to add oneself in the calculation—otherwise one will be putting on a suit that won't fit very well.
I admit that this is a more systematic method than the one I used to find Susan Haas. Her attitudes, however, were formed largely by the literature of the period, by Locke and Richardson, Haywood, Burney and the "Pennsylvania Farmer". I modeled her family on the James Alexanders of New York, and her refugee status on Cathy Van Schaick's in Kingston. Her being stationed near Fort Pitt is an anomaly: she is more or less in hiding now, for want of an explanation.
One interesting by-product of Susan's evolution, though, has been the emergence of an alter-ego. There are several reenactors who have found this happening to them—as if, once a character is mature enough, it calves a second character to pick up whatever personality traits were left over. Susan's is called Sukey, and she is as unlike Susan as can be—illiterate, shifty, cheating—and amusing. They are mistress and maidservant; and in the professional design research field, they would be known as the Primary and the Secondary Personas.
In one respect, the Persona of the design researcher and that of the reenactor can't be made to line up and match. The researcher must thoroughly understand the people he is studying, and convince his clients that he understands. But the reenactor must convince the public that he is the person he understands. And in order to do so, he must, to a certain extent, convince himself.
One hears about those "Twilight Moments" in reenactment when, either in the heat of battle or the candlelight of a ballroom or tavern, one loses the sense of "reenacting" and suddenly finds oneself simply reacting: Stark panic in an ambush during the "Bloody Scout", or during envelopment by waves of American soldiers at the Balcarres Redoubt. Or the sliding of a caped shadow across Venetian stone walls by moonlight, during the Masquerade. These are the rewards that a personal involvement with research can render to the conscientious and imaginative reenactor—a luxury that the design researcher rarely knows—unless she is also a reenactor.
17th & 18th Centuries by Sona Hairabedian 1780s (fabric 1740s) English-White cotton chintz with polychrome Indian floral print-Kyoto Costume Institute Robe a l'Anglais 1780s (fabric 1740s). White cotton chintz with polychrome Indian floral print. Kyoto Costume Institute In The Book of Costume, Millia Davenport describes a scene that resembles accounts of the Black Death's invasion of Europe: some time in the 1650s, a ship enters port in Southern France, bearing in its hold a novelty cloth from India -- light, crisp, inexpensive and easily washable. Before long, the local folk are wearing it in preference to their usual woolens, and its popularity begins to spread among the bourgeoisie and reaches the courts, where the Indiennes are made into dressing gowns. France is in the throes of the cotton mania, and the wool trade is near ruin. In self-defense, wool-weavers appeal to government, which responds by enacting a series of prohibitions and penalties on the sale, production and wearing of cotton goods -- which in turn succeeds in driving the cotton trade underground, thus giving it, in addition to all its other attractions, the dark glamour of a contraband item. It remains the chief black market commodity in France until 1759, when the government finally gives up the struggle and legalizes it. The Oberkampf factory at Jouy is the almost immediate result. (1)
A similar scenario is being played out in England at about the same time, though in this case it is the British East India Company who is the culprit, importing cottons that sell for almost one third of the cost of woolen cloth, and deliberately targeting the upper-class market by sending favorite English patterns to India to be imitated in print. (2) In 1720, Parliament establishes a law banning the import or use of Indian cotton, in order to protect the domestic linen and silk industries, but its prohibition does not ban the export of Indian cotton; and so it is that British colonists are able to legally buy and wear the Indiennes that the citizens of Great Britain cannot. (3)(4)
Initially, Britain's involvement in the cotton market was part of what was then the much more important trade with the Spice Islands (now part of Indonesia). In the 15th and 16th centuries, this was largely carried on by Islamic and, later, Portuguese merchants, who acted as middlemen between Europe, India, and the Spice Islands, providing India with European silver for Indian cotton, the Islands with cotton for pepper and spices, and Europe with pepper and spices for silver. By the early 17th century, however, the balance of power on the seas had shifted, and the Europeans -- notably the Dutch, English and French -- had wrested it away from the Portuguese and established their respective East India Companies, which from then on jostled each other for dominance in the profitable triangle trade.
British merchants' previous efforts to set up direct trade with the Spice Islands had been unsuccessful, as the woolens which were Britain's prime commodity could not compete with the light cottons favored by the population of that hot climate. To obtain spices, the British East India Company continued the triangle trade of English silver for Indian cotton for Island Spices, until the aggressive Dutch East India Company forced them out of Bantam and the Spice Islands in 1682. This left the British East India Company with India, and cotton. What followed was a model of creative marketing.* (2)
The Indian Craze
"Je me suis fait faire cette indienne-ci," declares Moliere's Bourgeois Gentleman in 1670: "I've had this Indian thing made up for me.... My tailor tells me that people of quality go about like this in the morning." In France they were called "Indiennes", "perses", or "toiles" -- in England, "chintz", "calicoe", "gingham", and "muslin", and not only people of quality were wearing them. While at first the handsomely-printed cotton fabrics were imported for use as bed-hangings and upholstery, it was not long before their merits as clothing material were discovered, and they were showing up in the wardrobes of working men and women in both France and England. (1) Samuel Pepys gave some account of his own purchases along this line:
July 1st. This morning I went up and down into the city, to buy several things, as I have lately done, for my house. Among other things, a fair chest of drawers for my own chamber, and an Indian gown for myself. The first cost me 33s, the other 34s. (5)
Later on, he purchases his wife "a chintz, that is, a painted Indian callico, for to line her new study" (6), and a few months later rejects a dubiously-bestowed "very noble parti-coloured Indian gowne for my wife...I guess this gowne may be worth about £12 or £15". (7)
The rising popularity of Indian cottons in Europe (as well as other Indian textiles, like silk) inevitably took trade away from the established market, especially in French and English woolens. Wool and linen had up to this point occupied the utilitarian niche for the working classes in the form of worsteds, stuffs, and fustians. Suddenly, the market was awash with an inexpensive, comfortable, durable, and beautiful alternative, colorfast and easy to clean. Some wearers of Indian cotton claimed that the colors even became brighter after washing. (8) Surviving samples of calicos and chintz from this period and earlier show that the quality of many of the imported cottons was very high, both in fabric and in print. The mordants and dyes used resulted in colors that have remained brilliant even after 300 years or more. (9)(10) That the influx of Indian cotton was creating a genuine economic panic in England is shown by the flurry of pamphlets that cropped up toward the turn of the 17th century, including one in 1699 which declared that "...twenty years ago, calico...was never seen as a fashionable adornment. But nowadays most men and women would not consider themselves dressed if they did not wear garments made of calico. Men now wear calico shirts, ties, sleeve protectors, gowns and handkerchiefs, while women favor calico hair ornaments, nightdresses, head scarves, aprons, gowns and underwear. Indian stockings are now all the rage among both the sexes. Unless parliament passes a law prohibiting it...it will be difficult to restrain this craze..."(2) French Prohibition
The French government was the first to clamp down on the situation. Spurred by the well-organized protests of the weavers, who justifiably feared the collapse of their industry, Louis XIV began instituting a series of prohibitions in the 1680s against the import and use of toiles. Colbert, Louis' chief minister, happened to be the son of a wool merchant, which leads one to speculate about how far personal bias may have influenced economic policy in this case. (11) The prohibitions were continued under Louis XV and improved upon with the addition of huge fines for being caught wearing Indian goods. Fledgling efforts to produce French cottons were squelched for the same reasons. In this repressive environment, smuggling flourished. Significantly, Louis XV could not even prevent his own mistress, Mme. de Pompadour, from stocking her house with toiles (12); and as it became clear that the popularity of cottons could not be suppressed, France at last lifted the ban in 1759, and set about establishing its own cotton factories.
The enthusiasm for Indian cloth had taken deep root in England. Despite outcry from workers in the existing British textile industry, it was not until the 1700s that Parliament finally stirred itself to act against the import of Indian cotton. This was done chiefly to protect the woolen, linen and silk industries. But unlike the French laws, the English ban made certain exceptions: muslin was exempt, as was raw cotton; Indian cloth could be exported by the British East India Company to other markets, including British colonies; and every effort would be made to encourage a British cotton industry to produce fabric equal to or surpassing the quality of the forbidden Indian imports. (3)(4)
In the wake of the 1720 prohibitions, supply dried up, but demand was as strong as ever, and the fledgling cotton manufacturers of England rushed to fill it. The British East India Company had cultivated public taste for Indian goods by customizing the supply -- giving popular designs to the Indian manufacturers, who ably reproduced them in their delicate and sophisticated medium. It was a difficult act to follow, but the potential profit from capturing this market made it worth the effort. Manchester, a textile manufacturing center since medieval times, now became the site of cotton as well as wool and linen production. The first results were relatively crude, and many were actually blends of cotton with linen, or sometimes wool or silk. A large proportion of these early cottons were woven checks, (13) though as printing methods improved, the patterns became more varied; still, it wasn't until the 1740s that the print quality of English chintz was near to being on a par with Indian chintz. (3)
These early efforts may have been sub-standard, but were still bought and used by the British public. Calico gowns and aprons, handkerchiefs, ruffs and caps show up repeatedly in the inventories of servants and tradespeople. Richardson's Pamela, a servant about to return to her humbler origins, purchases "a good sad-colored stuff" for a gown, and makes facings and robings for it with "a pretty bit of printed callico". Her nightgown, "rather too good", is also calico. (14) While a large percentage of these items are women's wear, by the 1750s cotton shirts are beginning to appear in the lists with linen for men's wear, as well as cotton corduroy and velverets. Beverly Lemire states, "the largest portion of the cotton materials produced in Britain was the stuff of work-a-day clothing and Sunday bests. The laboring people, artisans, tradesmen and all those who aspired to gentility 'carried off' the bulk of British cottons in the late eighteenth century." (13) For upper- and middle-class consumers like Barbara Johnson, cottons were one clothing option among several that included silks, fine stuffs, and printed linens; but for the large working classes, cotton became a staple, especially as the industry advanced into the 1770s and '80s. Once Richard Arkwright's water frame (1769), James Hargreaves' "Spinning Jenny" (1770), and Samuel Crompton's spinning mule (1779) came on the scene, British cotton manufacturers were able to produce fine muslin thread, which at last made possible the production of Indian-quality muslin material. (3)
One en fourreau gown from this period is in the Museum of London collection (c. 1775, Accession #35.59), a fine example of cotton's durability. The material is a cotton/silk blend, chiefly white cotton, the exception being a cherry-red double-pinwale silk stripe running along the warp. It is embroidered with small polychrome flowers of silk floss, and looks remarkably unaffected by the passage of 225 years. ** The weft thread, all white, creates a pronounced horizontal grain in the fabric. The gown is simply-cut, with no more ornament than pleating and gauze ruffles at the elbows, and two cloth-covered buttons at the back for looping up the skirt. (15)
A second, probably later gown in the same collection (c. 1775-85, Accession #53.146/1-2) must have belonged to a woman of means. Elaborately embroidered with chain-stitched green silk vines and polychrome flowers, it is made from fine white Indian-cotton gauze, and was worn with a quilted petticoat. (This particular gown appeared in the 2000-01 exhibition Coton al la Mode at Le Musee Galliera in Paris, which featured many other examples of 18th-century cotton clothing.) Though the cut is similar to the other gown, the fine quality of the fabric gives it a drape suggestive of the muslin gowns of the Federalist period. At the elbow are cuffs trimmed with ruffled cream silk ribbon. The whole effect is sheer and delicate -- a step into a new age of dress. (15)
In 1774, Parliament granted British citizens the right to wear clothing made of 100% cotton. By then, there was a good chance that that clothing would be British-made cotton.
*This is very simplified account of the triangle trade. For a more detailed account, read Kawakatsu Heita's fine articles in the Journal of Japanese Trade and Industry, online at www.jef.or.jp.
**An agreement signed at the museum prevents me from including photos of these gowns. If I get permission, they will be in the second part of this article.
(1) Davenport, Millia: The Book of Costume, Crown Publishers, 1948. p. 530.
(2) Heita, Kawakatsu: "Japanese Civilization, Part 5: Maritime Asia and Europe", Journal of Japanese Trade and Industry, Nov/Dec 2002. (Kawakatsu Heita is a professor of economic history at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto.)
(3) Heita, Kawakatsu: "Japanese Civilization, Part 6: Maritime Asia and the Industrial Revolution ", Journal of Japanese Trade and Industry, Jan/Feb 2003.
(4) Baumgarten, Linda: What Clothes Reveal. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2002. p. 79.
(5) Pepys, Samuel: Diary of Samuel Pepys, 1 July 1661.
(6) Ibid, 5 September 1663.
(7) Ibid, 21 November 1663
(8) Bronson, Bennet: "An Industrial Miracle in a Golden Age: The 17th-Century Cloth Exports of India," 1982. (Dr. Bennet Bronson is Curator of Asian Archaeology and Ethnology at the Field Museum in Chicago.)
(9) Davenport, Millia: The Book of Costume. Crown Publishers, 1948. p. 535: #1405, #1406. (At the time of the book's publication, the dressing gown, c. 1700, and wall hanging were both in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
(10) The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan. (Samples referred to are from the 1993 exhibition, "From Riches to Rags: Indian Block-Printed Textiles Traded to Egypt" (Curators, R. Barnes and T. K. Thomas), and date from around the 13th and early 14th centuries. These are remnants of cottons produced in India and discovered at the Red Sea port of Quseir al-Qadim, a trading center under the Mamluks of Egypt. Although the fibers are disintegrating, the colors have remained surprisingly intense.)
(11) Mitford, Nancy: The Sun King. Harper & Row, Publishers, 1966.
(12) Davenport, Millia: The Book of Costume. Crown Publishers, 1948. p. 696.
(13) Lemire, Beverly: "A Good Stock of Cloaths': The Changing Market for Cotton Clothing in Britain, 1750-1800". Textile History, 22 (2), 311-328, 1991.
(14) Richardson, Samuel: Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, volume I, 1741. Letters 20 & 29 (15) Study done by Sona Hairabedian at the Museum of London, April 2002
The 1st Ulster County Militia, Colonel Snyder's Regiment, which enacts the years 1775-1783, welcomes anyone who wishes to participate in the "living history" of the American revolutionary War. Militia men, women and children are invited to join. People of any age, race, or gender are welcome; however, children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Our goal is to educate the public about our country's Colonial and Revolutionary War heritage, to support and promote local historical sites, and to work to maintain historical accuracy while we enjoy the comradery and friendship of like-minded citizens.
The Militia strives to recreate an authentic 18th-century encampment and works continually to upgrade and refine militia skills, battle equipment, clothes and interpretation.
All cooking is done over an open fire, exercising utmost caution to avoid injury.
Members of the regiment will be happy to assist you in assembling appropriate battlefield dress and equipment. Read on for specific information on clothing, equipment, meetings, and resources.
Most reenactors develop their "persona" or historical character over a period of time. You can get an outfit together, but in order to portray a convincing 18th-century personality, you need to learn about the thoughts, motives and ideals of a person of that period. You also need to be specific about exactly what the person you are portraying is like--rich, poor, middle class, active, passive, sneaky, honest, meticulous, careless, independent, irritable, urbane--all of this should be expressed in your clothing, manner and eqipment.
Militia were civilians who, in extreme circumstances, took up arms to do what had to be done in defending their province. However, they were not, for the most part, professional soldiers. On the contrary, they came from many different professions, a few of which are listed below. Knowing who you would be in peacetime can help give your citizen-soldier interpretation greater depth and reality. The titles in bold would be the typical 18th-century term for these jobs. Notice how many have become common surnames!
Names & Meanings
("I put these 130 items together from many sources and used it as a handout for our local Orange County (NY) Genealogical Society. I was asked by many recipients if the CHART could be forwarded to other lists or used in local newsletters. The answer is yes - please share this information." Dan Burrows)