Beards in the Eighteenth Century.
By Ron Poppe
I am writing in response to the article about facial hair in the eighteenth century.
To say that all men were clean-shaven is a mistake. As with all things that we do
to be authentic we must take everything into consideration. Like our clothing, hair
style and uniform collars are all regionally specific. You just can’t make a general
statement about something without all the facts. That is to say you couldn’t say
that all colonial troops wore blue coats with red facings. This might be true for
some areas but not for others. For instance if you were on Arnold’s march to Quebec
a lot of the men were unshaven by the time they arrived there. There again you must
use your research to back up what you are doing.
The thing is that all units in the N.W.T.A. are not regular line companies. We have quite a few Militia Companies, and they are unique in there own way. I am a member of Captain Benjamin Logan’s Coy. We portray the militia of the backcountry of Virginia, Kentucky County. In the backcountry fashion was not a high priority. And the militiamen were more concerned with survival than whether or not they had shaved.
To show that beards were not so uncommon in the backcountry I have a few bits of documentation to share with you. One time Simon Kenton was mistaken for James Harrod or “Black Beard” as the Indians called him but were set straight by Simon Girty who told them that they had Kenton.1 So Kenton also must have been wearing a beard. It appears that Harrod was a real practical joker. At a salt lick Harrod “put fire to Billy Bush’s red beard.”2 And John Stovall was seen on the Green River in Kentucky and he was wearing a goose hat and a beard.3 All of these men were in the region that our company portrays. Not all men in Kentucky wore beards but some did. This is also depicted in our group. Out of fifteen men at arms only three of us sport beards.
In closing I would like to say this. If you are going to portray specific companies of the American Revolution then do your research and for heaven sake be regional specific. Just because they did something a certain way in one place doesn’t mean that they did it that way every were.
Your humble servant,
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