There is simply no such thing as owning too many books! Sure, re-enacting is fun, but we're also in the education business, and one of the ways we become better educators is by reading up on the people, places and events defined America. With your assistance, this column will be a regular feature. Read a good one lately? Heard about a newly published work? Have a favorite? What one book would you want to have along if your were stranded on a desert island? Drop us a note! You will be rewarded with the knowledge that you have done your part to help inspire and educate your peers. -- ed.
From Hazel Dickfoss:
Cloth and Costume 1750-1800, by Tandy and Charles Hersh, Pennsylvania Historical Soc. Carlisle PA. 1997. Call 717-249-7610 to order ($34.95 plus $4 shipping and handling).
I recently had a look at this new book on clothing specific to our period. It covers the making of the cloth as well as the clothes and pictures clothes from collections in Pennsylvania not usually shown in other publications. No color plates but the items are well photographed. Only 1,000 copies were printed and it is well worth the price.
Steve Gilbert Recommends:
From Redcoat to Rebel: The Diary of Thomas Sullivan, Joseph Lee Boyle, editor, Heritage Books, Inc., ISBN 0-7884-0744-9.
This work has been available on microfilm through inter-library loan for quite a while, but now it is also available in paperback! Sullivan enlisted in the British 49th Regiment of Foot in 1775. He came to America in June of that year -- just before the battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill -- and deserted at Philadelphia in 1777. Sullivan ultimately found himself the assistant to the Quarter Master General of the Continental Army!
The Journal contains a wealth of information on the daily life of the 18th-century soldier -- rations, pay, shipping and transport, prisoners, and more. In addition to being an excellent blow-by-blow account of the early years of the war, Sullivan's Journal offers a lot of great ideas for first-person impressions!
(Now available from Don Hagist, Bookseller).
From Robert Tully:
American Aurora, by Richard N. Rosenfeld, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1997 ISBN 0-313-15052-0.
This hefty and fascinating volume tells the story of a newspaper -- The Aurora, which was published in Philadelphia during the dawning days of our national history when that city was the seat of government. The American Revolution was over, but the freedoms fought for were not yet secure. Our Founding Fathers disagreed bitterly on the direction the nation should take, and their rivalry was often intense and personal.
It is the story, too, about the Aurora's publishers, who attacked the Adams administration for its Alien and Sedition Acts. They questioned George Washington's ability and his character. They had strong opinions about who was the real Father of this country. And they fought a lonely struggle to ensure that future presidents would be elected by the people, not appointed by legislators or, worse yet, crowned in royal splendor!
Rosenfeld uses extensive quotes from the Aurora and other newspapers of the day, and from letters, diaries and other documents, to bring into sharp focus the political struggles of the 1790s and show how they still shape our lives today. American Aurora is an extraordinary work.
Pattern Dates for British Ordnance Small Arms, 1718-1783, DeWitt Bailey, (Gettysburg, PA) Thomas Publications, 116 p., illustrated. $20.00 (shipping included).
This new offering by a recognized expert on period firearms is a welcome addition to the reference materials available to re-enactors. DeWitt Bailey defines a system of distinguishing different patterns of the major British firearm in use during the French & Indian War and the American Revolution, in particular the Land Pattern musket known familiarly as the "Brown Bess," as well as carbines, rifles, pistols, and wall pieces. Both land and sea patterns are included.
The Land Pattern musket, and related firearms, went through many variations over the century that it was produced, and several slightly different styles were in use in America before and during the Revolution. Bailey has determined that these variations represent a progression of manufacturing technique. The book examines each style in detail, giving complete dimensions, drawings, and photographs of each component -- the locks, barrels, brass fittings, and stocks that composed the complete weapons.
Included in the work are a glossary of period and modern terms, and some discussion of the activities of the British Board of Ordnance. But the centerpiece of the book is the illustrations, over 100 photographs of original firelocks, including close-up details of markings on the barrels and locks, the inside of the locks, and brass furniture. Scale line drawings of each piece of brass furniture are also included.
This book has a broad appeal for re-enactors, being a useful reference for those who wish to analyze original pieces, customize reproductions, become better versed in the design and manufacture of firelocks, or who simply enjoy a well-illustrated book on these finely crafted firearms.
(Now available from Don Hagist, Bookseller).