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Friday, August 29, 2008

Getting Shot by a Musket

I read a very interesting blog article back in May that came out around Memorial Day Weekend, and I have wanted to share it here with you. Brian Tubbs, over at the American Revolution & Founding Era blog wrote up a great article about getting shot with a musket. Here is a link to the article itself, and here is the text directly for you to read:

What was it like to be shot by a musket? I'm going to assume that none of my readers have had that experience. If so, do tell. Should be an interesting story. But, assuming no one has been shot with a musket, I ask the question again -- What must it have been like to be shot by one?

The most common weapon of the American Revolution was the smoothbore flintlock musket. The advantage to the target is that a smoothbore musket isn't very accurate. If you're the target, your chances of being missed are much greater than if you were in, say, World War II and coming under fire from a machine gun. But...

The advantages pretty much end there. To give you an idea...the Brown Bess British musket was 75 caliber and the Brits used a 69 caliber ball. If hit by one of these 69 caliber balls, it would hurt. A lot.

A musket ball didn't cut its way into you. It smashed through skin, bone, and muscle - and sometimes would then bounce around even more inside your body (doing even greater damage). If you were fortunate, the musket ball would pass clean through you - a simple in-and-out flesh wound, perhaps damaging some nerves and muscle tissue. But if it impacted bone, you were in trouble.

Of course, once wounded, your problems were only beginning. You would need medical care. And medical care in the Revolutionary War wasn't exactly...well...good. This wasn't the fault of the practitioners (not in most cases anyway). Medicine simpy hadn't developed to a point that it could adequately keep up with the diseases, hardships, and injuries of the Revolutionary War period. For a good overview of the medical problem, go here.

Getting back to that accuracy issue...the tactics of the day took the musket's limited range and accuracy into account. This is where volley lines and bayonets come in. A mass of soldiers standing shoulder-to-shoulder firing their muskets in a unified direction helped compensate as did the bayonet. If you feared getting hit by a musket ball, getting impaled by a bayonet was even less appealing.

Of course, if you were fortunate enough to escape battlefield injury during the Revolutionary War, you weren't "out of the woods" yet. Far more soldiers died of hardship and disease than on the battlefield. That's right. If musket balls and bayonets didn't get you, there was still something like smallpox to take care of business.

It's hard to find an upside to life in the Revolutionary War period. As historian David McCullough has repeatedly reminded us, life was hard in that time period. Today, we tend to see this era through romanticized paintings. But we need to guard against the assumption that things were easier or better.

I thought this Memorial Day weekend would be a good time to remind us all of that fact.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Scotch Eggs

I saw a brief mention of Scotch Eggs recently, and they sounded very interesting, so I went on an internet hunt to find some more information on them. First off I found the recipe for them on, it is as follows:

Scotch Eggs
This recipe makes 6 Scotch eggs.

6 hard-cooked eggs, well chilled
1 pound breakfast sausage
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

Peel eggs and set aside. Divide sausage into 6 portions. Roll each egg in flour and with hands press a portion of the sausage around each egg.

Dip sausage-wrapped eggs into beaten eggs and roll in bread crumbs. Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook each egg in oil about 4-5 minutes or until sausage is cooked and browned. Drain on paper toweling. Serve warm.

These sounds unreasonably unhealthy, but they also sound unreasonably yummy!! Upon poking around on the internet, I also found some more information on these little things on (of course this is all user written, so it should be taken as such):

A Scotch egg consists of a cold hard-boiled egg removed from its eggshell, wrapped in a sausage meat mixture, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried. The dish was invented by the London food shop Fortnum & Mason, in 1738.[1] Contrary to popular belief, it is not a Scottish dish. Scotch eggs are commonly eaten cold, typically with salad and pickles.

Scotch eggs were traditionally a picnic food, designed to be eaten fresh. However, in the UK at least, they have acquired an unfashionable, down market reputation due to the preponderance of pre-packed, plastic-wrapped Scotch eggs sold at convenience stores and motorway service stations.

In the United States, many so-called "English-style" pubs and eateries serve fresh-made scotch eggs. These are usually served hot, with dipping sauces such as ranch dressing, hot sauce,[2] or hot mustard sauce. At the Minnesota State Fair, true to fair tradition, scotch eggs are served on a stick.

Miniature versions of scotch eggs are also widely available in British supermarkets and are sold under the name 'savoury eggs', 'picnic eggs', 'party eggs' or similar. These contain a chopped, rather than whole, egg filling, sometimes combined with mayonnaise.

In West Africa, some fast-food restaurants offer scotch eggs alongside their other menu items. In Nigeria, Tantalizers and Mr. Biggs both prominently feature scotch eggs.

1. The great garage snack revival - Restaurants - Time Out London
2. The Dinner Menu Courtesy of Piper's Pub -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

I think I will try this recipe at home first and see how well it goes, I can see that it might take a little practice to make sure the sausage coating doesn’t fall off or crack. If it turns out good, this might be another one I try at a reenactment.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Blacksmith Pictures

In my recent Old Sturbridge Village post, I showed a picture of the blacksmith that works there.

The gentleman, whose name is Jay, happened upon my blog and saw the picture of him holding a knife that was unfinished in the photo. He offered to send me pictures of it finished, which I of course said I would be delighted to post for all of you! Here is the finished blade that he was holding in the photo …

He also passed along some other examples of knives and hatchets he made. He explains them as …

I have sent you pictures of various knives and a couple of hatchets I have made in the last three years. These items have all been made by forging the blade, not on a grinder removing the metal. The picture of the four knives together is of my earliest blades.

If you would like to see more information about a Blacksmith in the early 1800s, check out all the information on the Olds Sturbridge Village website here.

Thanks Jay for sharing your pictures! Please feel free to share more pictures of new projects anytime!

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Reenacting with Water Guns and Bubbles

This past Saturday there was a Revolutionary War Reenactment taking place in Boston, but this time it was with bubbles and water guns. It was hosted by the Banditos Misteriosos, and was done for pure joy and entertainment. Here is a video from the event:

Revolutionary War Water-gun Re-enactment from Nick Carlisle on Vimeo.

Also check out the flickr stream with pictures from the event.

It looks like they had a lot of fun!!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hem Stitching

Recently on one of the message lists I follow there was a bit of discussion regarding hand sewing. We were talking about its benefits, which are many. You can take it with you anywhere (dentist office, car ride, child's sports game). You generally have more control over your stitches, which is very helpful if you are new to sewing. It is more authentic. The sewing machine did not come into being until the early 1800s, so although it is a quick alternative, nothing at the time we are reenacting would have been sewn by machine. Now, even though this is true, there are times when it is still acceptable enough to use a machine, so don't think I am telling you to never use one, we were just having a discussion about the benefits of hand sewing and that is one of the benefits!

I personally have used a combination of hand sewing and machine sewing in making my garments. Usually if the seam cannot be seen, I will use the machine, but anything that can be seen will be hand sewn. I am not wholly opposed to hand sewing a garment inside and out, I have done this with one of my husband’s shirts, but it is more time efficient to use the machine where it won’t be seen anyway.

In the midst of this lovely conversation, one of the members of the list shared some great information about stitching a hem. Her name is Steph and she is a member of The Hive Online and The Ladies of Refined Taste. I got permission from her to share the information here with you. I hope you find it as interesting and useful as I did!

In our recent discussions on hand sewing, I'd like to offer up a few period examples of hemstitching. Notice how these are not rolled hems as you might think, rather (1/4" approximately) folded hems. Here's some inspiration for your fine hand sewing...

1. Pretty Girl with her Apron before the Candle
This one is such a gem -- there are soooo many details here. If you zoom in you can see the stitches on the hem of her handkerchief. Notice the straight pin holding it shut -- love that!

2. Portrait of Thaddeus Burr by Copley
Look at how the sleeve ruffles are hemmed -- see how they are depicted by a band of shading.

3. Portrait of Samuel Quincy
Take a gander at the work on this minister's collar -- you can see how it is folded and the corner's finished. Thank you Mr. Copley!

4. Portrait of John Hancock
Check out those sleeve ruffles -- how fine the linen is and how they are finished with a folded hem

And there are many, many more examples -- on bosom ruffles, shift ruffles, aprons, etc. Zoom in on the details and they tell you sooooo much – And important enough for the artist to show them!!

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Norwegian Crispbread - Historic Foodways

Time to add another recipe to our files here. This one comes to us from Historic Foodways. This is a recipe adapted by Mary Inghram from Flatbreads and Flavors; A Baker's Atlas. Though this recipe calls for cooking in an oven, it could probably be easily done prior to an event and brought with me, or I could try it over the fire in the same way we cook a pie over the fire. Should be interesting to try. Here is a link to the recipe. And here is the recipe itself:

Adapted by Mercy Ingraham from
Flatbreads and Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas
by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
page 340

According to Mercy , “What was spectacular was the dough I saved from the same recipe done 3 weeks earlier. It was a thousand times more flavorful and moist.” Mercy suggests that the dough should be made 2-3 weeks in advance of cooking the flatbread. “It was wonderful!”

Norwegian Crispbread

1 cup oat flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 cup light rye flour
1 ½ cups warm water
1 cup hard unbleached wheat flour, Oat flour or barley flour for kneading
1 cup barley flour

1. Mix flours together in a large bowl. Stir in warm water and form the dough into a ball. Turn out onto a work surface generously dusted with flour. Knead with well-floured hands, working the dough gently until it gains elasticity and loses it stickiness. Continue kneading for 5 minutes longer. This will develop the gluten in the wheat and rye flours and make rolling out a pleasure.

2. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes covered with a towel. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

3. Divide the dough into four. Flour your work surface and each piece of dough generously, and flatten each piece with the palm of your hand. Cover three of the pieces with a towel. Working with the fourth, flatten it further with your palm into a rectangle about 6 to 8 inches across. Then start rolling it out, working from the center outward into a rectangle the size of your baking sheet and less that 1/8 inch thick. Trim off the edges to make a neat rectangle and transfer it to an ungreased baking sheet.

4. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough lengthwise into 1 ½ inch wide strips. Then cut the strips crosswise in thirds. If your oven is large enough to accommodate two baking sheets at once, roll out and cut another piece of dough. Place the baking sheet(s) in the center of the oven, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how thin the flatbread is. You will see the crispbreads separate from each other as they curve away from the hot surface; start checking them after 5 minutes—once you see them starting to brown, they’re done. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Roll out and bake the remaining dough. Store the completely cooled flatbreads in a well-sealed plastic bag or a cookie tin.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Old Sturbridge Village 2008 - Sunday Battle

Here is another placeholder post for the wonderful Sunday battle description which will be put together just for you by Kris. Here are all the pictures and videos from the battle to tide you over until then.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Old Sturbridge Village 2008 - Sunday

Sunday at Old Sturbridge Village was a beautiful day. Apparently it rained buckets and buckets in New Hampshire for pretty much the whole weekend that we were at Sturbridge, but we didn’t have nearly that much rain while we were here. The rain actually held out for us on Sunday until after we were packed up and gone. The only rain we got was the little bit we had on Saturday (which was bad enough).

When I woke up on Sunday morning, I took a stroll down to the local tavern where there were flush toilets and mirrors and soap and running water, all of which I was very grateful to have.

Along the way, I decided to take some pictures of the scenery and the camps of others nearby. One of the first things I ran into was the neatest sleeping set up I have seen to date …

Though I guess they couldn’t all fit in there …

I also stopped to chat with a British gentleman and got some pictures of their area.

After my bathroom run, Kolby, Kris and I headed down to the bank to take some pictures. Kris’ real life job is at a bank, so we thought it would be fun to have one of these printed up for him to have there. We ended up getting some great pictures.

After our morning walk, we headed back to camp for some early morning conversation ….

And some breakfast cooked for us by Lori. She made scrambled eggs, sausage, and some fruit cakes, the really yummy kind, not the weird kind you think of around Christmas time. And we threw in some potatoes left from Glenn’s meal on Saturday.

And you guessed it, it was enjoyed by all! We really do eat well at these events!

After breakfast there was a little bit of free time that was used to play …

Fetch water …

Clean guns …

Make some tape …

Go for a walk in the woods (and get turned around just a bit) …

Visit the blacksmith …

Watch some fencing …

Take a portrait (Thanks Larissa!)

Check out the scenery …

And tune a drum …

After all the morning activities, it was time to get ready for the battle. Before the boys went down to fight, there was a prayer said.

Then it was time to march into position.

Once again I will defer all the good battle details to my hubby, but here are a few pictures and videos I really liked:

Unlike most of our events, we couldn’t leave Sturbridge immediately after the battle. This is because they are a running business that doesn’t close until 5:00. So a bunch of us took the time after the battle to go on a little boat ride. We learned a little more about the history of the area, and it was a nice relaxing time.

Old Sturbridge Village was a very fun event and I am very glad we had the chance to go. If you would like to see all the photos from Sunday please visit my gallery here.

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