The Broadside

# 5. August, 2005


This issue:

A paper Shilling

Why Winter campaigns were unknown during the Revolution

18th Century definitions

A note to Governor Livingston by John Outwater.

 


Proclamation money, March, 1776


Why Winter Military Campaigns were unknown

in the Revolutionary War

During the American Revolution, each winter both the British and American forces stopped all major military actions and went into winter quarters. June through October-November was the campaign season. Why didn't they fight during the winter?

Sometimes people assume that "gentlemen" officers were unwilling to undergo the rigors of a winter season. This is a misunderstanding. The officers would have been much better equiped to withstand a winter outdoors than their men!

There are several reasons for military activity to stop during the winter. First consider the men.

During the Revolution, and well into the 1800's, soldiers had one uniform for ALL seasons. The basic uniform garment was a coat made of wool. It had to be of light wool so it could be worn in warm weather. So the troops were too hot most of the warm season, and too cold most of the cold season. During the winter they might be issued some warmer clothing, such as wool trousers and stocking caps, but not often. Each regiment would supply enough overcoats or 'watch coats' to take care of the needs of their guard detail on duty. Usually no gloves or mittens were issued, nor did the men have boots for snow or wet weather, just their normal everyday shoes and stockings. The men were issued only one blanket. Officers could usually afford to buy whatever clothing they needed. The men had to make do with what they were issued or could scrounge or make. Winters could be brutal and dangerous for the men, unless they were kept indoors as much as possible when it was truely cold.

Next, remember there were only two good methods of transporting supplies, equipment and materialb, by water or by wagon During freezing weather, water transport was slowed or stopped. Sailing ships often avoided sailing in the winter if possible, because of the hazard of freesing rigging. Winter slowed sea transport, amd stopped much of the water tramsport.

On land, as roads went from muddy to frozen, the ruts became barriers to the next wagon. Grass looses nourishment value after a frost. Horses that are worked need extra food besides grass, and in the winter they need much more than grass if they are to stay strong. Forage or feed for the draft animals becomes a bigger problem.

Winter snows block and delay both troops and supplies. Snow slows wagons and horses. Sledges were used in snow, but many areas alternate between snow and thaw, so neither sledges nor wagons worked all winter.

In short, winter campaigns were not practicable! They were not avoided by choice, but by need.

by Glenn Valis


A listing of 18th Century slang compiled by Leon Bienkowski and posted to the Revlist in 11 installments­last posting in June, 2000:
 
"The terms listed below were mostly gleaned from Partridge's Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. There is a bit of a nautical bent to this list because of my own peculiar specialty, but there should be plenty of amusing and useful terms for everyone.
 
Your underly industrious servant,
Lee Bienkowski"

(Encluded here are A and B)
 
A
 
Abbess - a woman who is a brothel keeper
Abraham-sham - a feigned illness
Academician - a whore
Cast up one's accounts - to vomit
Admiral of the Blue - a publican
Admiral of the Narrow Seas - a drunk who vomits into a neighbor's lap
Adrift - discharged
Adzooks! - an expletive
Air and exercise - a flogging at the cart's tail
Akerman's hotel - Newgate prison
All Nations - a mixture of drinks from unfinished bottles
Amen-curler - a parish clerk
Amidships - the belly
Anatomy - a very skinny person
Bring one's ass to an anchor - sit down
Anne's fan - thumbing one's nose
Talk like an apothecary - talk nonsense
Apple-dumpling shop - a woman's bosom
Hang an arse - to hold back
Arse upward - in good luck
Ask bogy - an evasive reply
Avast! - Stop!
 
B
 
Not to know B from a bull's foot - to be ignorant
Bacon-faced - full-faced
Bacon-fed - fat and greasy
Empty the bag - to tell everything
Heavy baggage - women and children
Bagpipe - a long-winded talker
Bailed man - a man who has bribed the press gang for immunity
Baked ­ exhausted
Banbury story ­ nonsense
Bark at the moon - to agitate uselessly
Barnacles ­ spectacles
Barrel fever - ill health caused by excessive drinking
To grin like a basket of chips - to grin broadly
Bear - a very gruff person
Beer-garden jaw - rough or vulgar language
Bring to one's bearings - cause to see reason
Drink like a beast - to drink only when thirsty
Beau-Nasty - finely dressed but dirty
To go up a ladder to bed - to be hanged
Beef-head ­ idiot
Beggar-maker - a publican
Belly-gut - greedy, lazy person
Bender - a sixpence
Bird-spit - a small sword
Bit of red - a soldier
Black arse - a kettle
Black cattle - a parson
Give a bottle a black eye - empty a bottle
Blashy - rainy weather
Blood and 'ounds! - an exclamation
Blue as a razor - extremely blue
Blue stocking - a learned woman
Blue tape ­ gin
Shift one's bob - to move or go away
Bog orange - a potato
To marry old boots - to marry another man's mistress
Bosom friend - a body louse
To have some guts in one's brains - to be knowledgeable
Brandy-face - a drunkard
Brattery - a nursery
In bad bread - in a disagreeable situation
Break-teeth words - words hard to pronounce
Gold bridge - an easy and attractive means of escape
To be stabbed with a Bridgeport dagger - to be hanged
Broganeer - one with a strong Irish accent
Brown cow - a barrel of beer
Brown George - ship's biscuit
Buck fitch - an old lecher
Like bull beef - big and grim
Bull calf - a big clumsy fellow
Bull's eye - a crown piece (5 shillings)
Bung one's eye - drink heartily
Bung upwards - on his face
Butter-bag - a Dutchman
Buttock-ball - a dance attended by prostitutes


Vol. 4 of the Livingstone Papers, page 289

Petition of Peter Wilson and Note Attached of John Outwater

[New Barbadoes, September 8, 1781 ]

May it please your Excellency

The perilous Situation of the frontiers of this County has induced me to make this Application to your Excellency at the Request of the Inhabitants, that a part of the Militia of the State should be called out to the Assistance of the twelve Months Men stationed here for the defence of the County. This Measure has become the more necessary as the few Men who were raised for a Year are reduced in Number by Enlistments into the Continental Army. One hundred & twenty Men were designed for the Protection of this Frontier, not above one fourth Part of which are now on duty here, while Closter which is also very much exposed, is entirely open to the Depredations of the Refugees, who are indefatigable in making nocturnal Expeditions for Horses, Cattle, & Prisoners.(1) On the 9th. of August they carried off fourteen Prisoners & a very considerable Number of Cattle & Horses-the greater Part of the Stock they were obliged to quit, but the Prisoners were safely lodged in the Sugar House, and on the 30th. ult. they made another Attempt upon this Quarter but were forced to leave all the Cattle & Horses they had taken, & in Spite of the Fire of their Gun-Boat, & Grape Shot to make a precipitate Retreat with the Loss of three men killed, & 6 or 7 wounded two of whom, one of them the Capt. of the Gun Boat, are since dead, some of the Others dangerously wounded, and one taken prisoner. Capt. Outwatcr who commandcd the Year'.s Men & Militia of the Vicinity who turned out On the Instant, had one man wounded thro' the Thigh, & two others slightly scratched. A small party of them succceded better at Closter last Wednesday night the 4th. Instant having carried off 10 head of Cattle & 4 Horses, & taken five white Men & a Negro prisoners. One Cole,(2) of the Militia of that Neighbourhood, who had deserted to the Enemy a few days before was their Conductor.
The Militia of this County have done so great a Surplus of Military Duty that I could wish, if the Governor's Ideas coincide with mine, to have one Class from one of the Regiments of the County of Somerset, & one Class from this County called to our assistance, to be Stationed at this Place & at Closter. I am with the greatest Respect your Excellency's very humble Servant

PETER WILSON [Bergen County, September 10, 1781 ]

 

I am Parsaonelly Acquainted With the General Desire of the Publick, In Regard to An Augmentation of the Guard, On this frontier, Your Excelency I Am Convinced, Wants No Information, In Regard to the Situation of this County from Your Parshaonel knowledge of the Strength of the De[ . . . ] under my Command, & Capt. Demarests (3) at the Bridges, You take the mater In Your Serius Consideration & Grant the Above Request. I Am With the Gratest Respect Your Excellency's most Obedient & Very Humble Servt.

JOHN OUTWATER

 

ALS, NN.

I. For a report of earlier Loyalist raids into Bergen County see Petition of the Inhabitants of Bergen County, June 26, 1781. British regulars, Loyalists, and refugees not only attacked and looted Bergen County towns through the spring and summer of 1781, but in May had established a blockhouse at Fort Lee. The Bergen County militia, under thc command of Capt. John Outwater, had reduced the blockhouse even before receiving George Washington's orders to do so (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 22: 94-95).

2 Probably Benjamin Cole, a private in Col. John Lambs Artillery of the Continental Army, who had deserted prior to Sept. 4th, 1781 (NJA, Newspaper Extracts, 5:294)
3 David Demerest


(note, Outwater commanded the State Troops in Bergen County in 1781, and in 1782, Peter Ward took command. Glenn Valis)



Newsletter vol. 1,
Newsletter vol. 2
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