The Continental Army started out as an untrained, undisciplined, and irregular fighting force. So how did it manage to beat what was probably the greatest army in the world? They studied!
"During these two years the Americans have trained a great many excellent officers who very often shame and excel our experienced officers, who consider it sinful to read a book or to think of learning anything during the war. For the love of justice and in praise of this nation, I must admit that when we examined a haversack [knapsack?](1) of the enemy, which contained only two shirts, we also found the most excellent military books transcribed into their language. For example, Turpin, Jenny, Grandmaison, La Croix, Tielke's Field Engineer, and the instructions of the great Frederick to his generals I have found more than a hundred times. Moreover, several among their officers had designed excellent small handbooks and distributed them to the army. Upon finding these books, I have exhorted our gentlemen many times to read and emulate these people, who only two years before were hunters, lawyers, physicians, clergymen, tradesmen, innkeepers, shoemakers, and tailors.(2)"
Ewald's advice also applies to modern re-enactors. Many of us have never seen military service, so to stage an organized and convincing battle scenario, anyone in a position of command should follow this lead and study the period texts. Timothy Pickering's An Easy Plan of Discipline for a Militia is an excellent period text and is available through the King's Arms Press.
1) Haversacks were strictly for carying food in the period; Cuthbertson, System for the Compleat Interior Management and Oeconomy of a Battalion of Infantry, Dublin, 1775 edition, p.???)
2) Captain Johann Ewald, Field Jäeger Corps, Diary of the American War; A Hessian Journal. Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1979.
So, YOU WANNA BE AN OFFICER? Consider getting yourself a copy of Col. Vincent J-R Kehoe's An Officer's Guide for Re-created British Regiments of Foot. This two-volume, paper-bound set is full of all sorts of great advice, ideas, and information on how to effectively recreate the role of an 18th-century Officer. Col. Kehoe bases his writing on a myriad of period sources plus many years of solid experience gained from raising and commanding the 10th Regiment of foot during the bicentenial. Under Col. Kehoe's command the 10th was one of the biggest and best of the re-created units.
Topics covered in Volume One include: Basic Concepts, the Commanding Officer, Command Presence, Authenticity, the Officer's Mess, Modernisms in Realistic Recreations, and much more.
Volume Two mostly consists of material re-printed from 18th-century sources, including excerpts from Elements of Tactics by Friedrich von Saldern, Proper Saluting with the Sword, from Hall's Encyclopedia, Elements of Military Arrangement by John Williamson, A Military Course by Simes, and others.
An Officer's Guide... also contains an excellent and thorough bibliography for those inclined to further research. Although written for those portraying a British Officer, this set would benefit ANY unit or field commander.
An Officer's Guide for Re-created British Regiments of Foot can be had directly from the author for $25.00 postage paid. Send your check or money order to:
P.O. Box 850
Somis, CA 93066
Quantities are very limited, so if you are interested you had better jump on it! There will also be a limited number of sets available for purchase at the upcoming School of Command on May 4 & 5.
AS LONG AS we're talking books, check out A Parting Glass, An American Book of Drink, by the NWTA's own Bruce Lanzerotti (King's 8th). The book is a collection of dozens of authentic recipes for beers, wines, coffees, punches, teas, mixed drinks, and more! It is laid-out and printed in the classic 18th-century style and all recipes are documented.
A Parting Glass would make a great gift for any history buff and offers all sorts of possibilities for period entertaining. It is available at most NWTA-sponsored encampments - check with your favorite sutler!
TO THE EDITOR,
First, allow me to thank the membership of the NWTA for the wonderful thoughts and wishes that I received during my recent illness. Having never been in such a situation I can't tell you how encouraging I found your support. It was brought to my attention that my heart condition may have been caused in part by not attending enough events - I look forward to correcting that this coming summer.
And speaking of seeing you this summer, I hope that you all can come to Chiwaukee Fair. Speaking for the organizing committee, we are looking for your help in making this a first-class event. If you as an individual or unit wish to offer your assistance, we need help in planning the event, conducting the event, working on the grounds and the battle field. This is only a partial list of the events requirements.
We also want to encourage interested parties to use their creativity (within the framework of research and authenticity) to design activities. We ask further that you try to think outside of the boundaries of a "traditional" NWTA event. This is, after all, ultimately going to be a fair. If you run across any "civilian" activities that would be suitable feel free to make the suggestion.
On May 11 and 12, or 18 and 19 (weather permitting) we hope to have a preparation weekend for the event. We have lined up the assistance of a number of volunteers for the weekend and hope that a group of you will be able to join us. We have firewood etc. for those who wish to camp. If you are interested, please contact Bill Burke at (414) 633-9726.
Finally, we hope to put together an "advertorial" section as we did last year. Inside we want to credit the work of units and individuals. So if this year your unit wants to do a gambling demonstration, for example, we need to know so that the activity and the name of your unit will be published in the event schedule.