#7, Spring 2007
Outwater's Militia Newsletter
annual meeting pictures
Fife and Drum use during the Revolution
Old Words used then
Why winter was spent encamped
Drill day at the Staats House
Outwater's Militia 2007 Schedule
March 24 –
April 28 – Battle of
Bound Brook- Cancelled due to the flooding of April 15-16.
May 5 – NJ History Fair
June 9-10 – Battle of
**$ July 14th-MidTown
Elizabeth We are hosting this show again this year!
August 4-5 – Red Mill
August 25-26 –
September 8-9 - Brandywine
**$ September 23
– Reddington Museum
October 6-7 – Saratoga
Possible October 20 - Rock Ford
Dec 29 Battle of Trenton
**$ means a PAID event- manpower NEEDED.
We had our annual meeting this
year at the David Library at Washington's Crossing, Pa in Feburary.
We were given the history of the Library, instruction on how to
use its vast collections, and had a chance to actually look up a few
pension applications. Reelected were our Adjunant, Jim
Perry, Paymaster Don Post, and assuming the role of Quartermaster
is Frank Prevete.
Jim keeps the minutes on some kind of fancy machine...
For the first time in recent years the BAR actually had a real
election with mulitple candidates-Ken Miller of Heard's Brigade ran for
Board Member of the BAR but did not win election. Not
co-incidentally, many members of the BAR are unhappy with the schedule
this year. It has only one event for the British side- Cooche's
Bridge. Also, due to the Board's prohibition against talking BAR
politics on the BAR list, another email list was formed
(RWworkinggroup) so people have a place to vent about the BAR.
The Board has not been very responsive to members complaints
lately, and there is a growing dissent in the membership.
Hopefully the new BAR board becomes a little more responsive to the
Ken may be going to start yet another email group of all units in
the NYC area so we can all co-ordinate for local events better. GV
The Use of Fifes and Drums Effectively at Reenactments of the Revolutionary War by the Continental Army/American Militia
Matthew Skic, Fifer, Outwater’s Militia
It has been 5 years since I started playing the fife
and it has been 4 years since my Dad and I joined Outwater’s Coy.
of NJ Militia. At the many reenactments I have gone to, and the
books/primary sources that I have read, I have learned many new
techniques, tunes, etc. for playing on the fife. I have also gained
knowledge of the use of fifes and drums in the American War of
Independence and how they should be used at reenactments, as accurately
as possible (the uses, marching, instruments, etc.). NOTE: This is
appropriate for the Continental Army, but only appropriate for the
militia when in battle or on campaign with the regular army. So, here
is what I have learned so far:
The use of fifes and drums in camp at reenactments. NOTE: have either a
fife or drum major in charge that will receive orders from CO or other
officer and pass them along to other musicians
1. To wake the troops with Reveilly- assemble
musicians in front of adjutant’s tent and march along first row
of tents and back to adjutant’s tent while playing the tune,
usually around 7:00 am
2. Assign duty drummers for the day that will be
posted at CO’s tent to perform calls as commanded by officer;
also have a drummer march the camp police around, who will check for
modern items around camp before the public enters
3. To be the “clock” of the army: play
calls for lunch/dinner, taptoo, assembling officers, pioneers,
guards, other specific groups, etc.
4. To assemble the army for battle, ceremonies, etc.:
Used to call to arms to quickly assemble troops during attacks, to
assemble troops for inspection or the march, etc.
5. To provide music for social events and
demonstrations: eg. dances, celebrations, public music demonstrations,
etc. The music of the whole army should be grouped together when
performing these types of activities. NOTE: this may include other
period instruments if available such as cymbals, serpents, oboes, bass
The use of fifes and drums in battle and in marching. (see NOTES above)
1. Marching: use either common step 75 beats per
minute or quick step 120 bpm (at reenactments it hovers around 105-110
bpm) many period tunes can be played when marching, cadence used is
Long March, use a roll off when transitioning from cadence to a tune
2. In battle: There are disagreements, but I have
learned musicians did not play tunes during battle. They did, however,
play commands. The fife major and drum major of the battalion are to
stay with the colors at all times and the rest of the musicians are
split up to go with different companies. When priming and loading, I
have been told, only the preparative is played. When advancing, the
Grenadier’s March is played. The rest of the battle commands are
listed below under Calls for camp/battlefield use. Also, during
battles, musicians that are less experienced, or not needed, can assist
the wounded, run messages, etc.
Tunes for Rev War Reenacting (fifes/drums)
Calls for camp/battlefield use:
• Drummers Call: to assemble the musicians
• Reveilly: to wake the troops, usually at 7:00 am
• Assembly (or singlings of troop): to assemble the troops for inspection
• Troop Sequence (3 cheers, singlings of troop,
doublings of troop, ending with 3 cheers): played while inspecting
• To Arms: to assemble the troops with haste for battle
• The Roast Beef: lunch and dinner call
• Bank: church call and parley(during battle)
• The Retreat: played at sunset to call roll and close the camp to public and to retreat during battle
• Pioneer’s March: to assemble the pioneers
• The General (first part): cease fire
• Preparative Sequence: for priming and loading during battle played only once
• Taptoo: quiet in the camp
• Grenadier’s March: to advance during a battle
• Point of War(first part of Reveilly): charge bayonets
• Long March: cadence
• Adjutant, Sergeant, etc. Call: to call all adjutants, sergeants, etc.
Some of the Marches/Ceremonial Tunes
• Bellisle March
• Boston March
• Brit. Grenadiers/Free America
• Capt. Money’s March
• Chain Cotillion
• Country Dance/Doublings of Troop
• Duke of York’s March
• Fanfare(masterpiece medley)
• French Quick March
• Girl I Left Behind Me
• Governor King’s
• I’ll Touzle Your Kurchy
• La Belle Catherine
• La Rejouissance
• Moon and 7 stars
• Norman Toy
• Paddy Whack
• Quick March in CYMON
• Rakes of Mallow
• Road/March to Boston
• Scotch Grey’s March
• Successful Campaign
• The Drum
• Welcome Here Again
• When the King Enjoys His Own Again (The World Turned Upside Down)
• Yankee Doodle
• York Fusiliers
...there are many more to learn
Music/Info sources: BAR music book, fellow Musicians of the historical
reenactment community (esp. BAR fife major Erik Lichack), and The Old
Barracks Fifes and Drums tune list (D.M. Steven Hudak)
Note- the BAR has a couple of excellent tapes/cd's of the military music of the Revolution. GV
Matt is center in the rear of the musicians in this photo of the Old Barracks Fife and Drum Corps
Old words used during the Revolution,
from the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: available free online
from the Gutenburg project, www.gutenburg.org. I chose this as
they caught my eye....
Cull- someone worthless, who could be 'culled from the herd' without
loss. Sometimes used as an address-"ahoy there, Cully"
hand and pocket shop: An eating house, where ready money is paid for what is called for.
hangman’s wages: Thirteen pence halfpenny; which, according
to the vulgar tradition, was thus allotted: one shilling for the
executioner, and three halfpence for the rope, —N. B. This refers
to former times; the hangmen of the present day having, like other
artificers, raised their prices. The true state of this matter is, that
a Scottish mark was the fee allowed for an execution, and the value of
that piece was settled by a proclamation of James I. at thirteen pence
harum scarum: He was running harum scarum; said of any one running or walking hastily, and in a hurry, after they know not what.
harridan: A hagged old woman; a miserable, scraggy, worn-out harlot,
fit to take her bawd’s degree: derived from the French word
HARIDELLE, a worn-out jade of a horse or mare.
KEN MILLER, or KEN CRACKER. A housebreaker. (Could not resist this one when I saw it, sorry Ken!)
Kicksaws. French dishes: corruption of quelque chose. (note, the
English like plain food, not usually made into something, without
To kimbaw. To trick, cheat or cozen; also to beat or to bully. Let's kimbaw the cull; let's bully the fellow.
To set one's arms a-kimbaw, vulgarly pronounced a-kimbo, is to
rest one's hands on the hips, keeping the elbows square, and sticking
out from the body; an insolent bullying attitude.
lazybones. An instrument like a pair of tongs, for old or very fat people to take any thing from the ground without stooping.
loblolley boy. A nick name for the surgeon's servant on board a man of
war, sometimes for the surgeon himself: from the water gruel
prescribed to the sick, which is called loblolley.
looby. An awkward, ignorant fellow.
mares nest. He has found a mare's nest, and is laughing at the eggs; said of one who laughs without any apparent cause.
mawley. A hand. Tip us your mawley; shake hands with me. Fam the mawley; shake hands.
may bees. May bees don't fly all the year long; an answer to any one who prefaces a proposition with, It may be.
nighingale. A soldier who, as the term is, sings outat the halberts. It
is a point of honour in some regiments, among the grenadiers,
never to cry out, become nightingales, whilst under the discipline of
the cat of nine tails; to avoid which, they chew a bullet.
sh-t sack . A dastardly fellow: also a non-conformist. (note- a
non-conformist was a non-Anglican- a Puritan, Jew or Catholic for
This appellation is said to have originated from
the following story:--After the restoration, the laws against the
non-conformists were extremely severe. Theysometimes met in very
obscure places: and there is a tradition that one of their
congregations were assembled in a barn, the rendezvous of beggars and
other vagrants, where the preacher, for want of a ladder or tub, was
suspended in a sack fixed to the beam. His discourse that day being on
the last judgment, he particularly attempted to describe the terrors of
the wicked at the sounding of the trumpet, on which a trumpeter to a
puppet-show, who had taken refuge in that barn, and lay hid under the
straw, sounded a charge. The congregation, struck with the utmost
consternation, fled in an instant from the place, leaving their
affrighted teacher to shift for himself. The effects of his terror are
said to have appeared at the bottom of the sack, and to have occasioned
that opprobrious appellation by which the non-conformists were vulgarly
steamer: A pipe. A swell steamer; a long pipe, such as is used by gentlemen to smoke.
starter: One who leaves a jolly company, a milksop; he is no starter,
he will sit longer than a hen. Also, a short piece of rope used
on ships to get the sailors moving, like a whip.
stiff-rumped: Proud, stately.
whip jacks: Rogues who having learned a few sea terms, beg with
counterfeit passes, pretending to be sailors shipwrecked on the
neighbouring coast, and on their way to the port from whence they
whiskin: A shallow brown drinking bowl.
zad: Crooked like the letter Z. He is a mere zad, or perhaps zed; a description of a very crooked or deformed person.
Winter- a time to rest and refit
You should all be aware that during the Revolution, it was
unknown for either side to have an active campaign season during the
winter. Most, but not all, military activity halted for the
winter. The exceptitons being some raids and foraging expeditions
by the British, and the American counter patrols and raids- and the war
in the south.
There are two reasons they spend most of each winter and
most of spring encamped, and not campaigning. First, soldiers
during the Revolution received only one uniform for the year.
Today, armies commonly have uniforms and equipment issued by the
season and climate- desert gear, artic gear, warm weather clothing,
cold weather clothing. This is a modern development. During
the Revoluition, a soldier had just the standard uniform,
something like: shoes, breeches, stockings, linen shirt,
waistcoat, wool coat and hat or cap. They were probably too hot
half the year, and too cold half the year. They had no general
issue overcoats for cold, no gloves or mittens, no rain gear, no boots for snow and cold.
There were a few modifications because of winter.
Troops might receive wool stockings or trousers, or a
sleeved waistcoat. Still not acceptable for spending weeks
outside in the winter weather. Watchcoats or overcoats were
provided only for winter sentries, who stood duty only a couple of
hours at a time. Winter hats, gloves, mittens or footwear were
not generally issued. So to save the men, troops had to be kept indoors
as much as possible.
We ignore the condition of the roads, which are always worse over the winter!
Secondly, armies moved with wagons pulled by draft
animals. These also have to eat, and they could not possibly work
all day and graze enough to get enough to eat to continue working- even
during the summer. During the winter, with the grass brown or
covered in snow, it is impossible for them to find hardly
anything, so they must be fed when working entirely on grains and hay.
Encampments had to scatter their many draft and riding animals
over many miles so they could grase on the poor winter grass.
Neither side had large surpluses of forage to feed draft animals!
Therefore, over winter and until the grass had grown several
inches in the spring, armies spend most of their time encamped,
resting, refitting, and waiting for their draft animals to also
recuperate on fresh grass from a starving winter. As local
pastures were able to support more animals, the army gathered them
together, preparing for the campaign season. GV
Drill Day at the Staats House-
On March 24th we had a combined drill day with Heard's brigade
at the Historic Staats House in South Bound Brook. Several men
attended from Outwater's: Glenn, Jim P. Dave, George, Matt, Chris,
Peter and Jeff. We covered the duties of NCOs, the basic
close order drill, sizing a company formation, basic manuevers
and street firing and firing by files. Our NCO's had a chance to
take command for some drills.
Jim Perry is our senior NCO, with Dave Kloos backing him up. Also, we have Mike and Bob who have experience.
I took some video, and will be taking some more this spring, to use in making a training dvd. GV
© copyright, Outwater's Militia, 2007