47th Regiment Handbook
We decided some time ago that it was worthwhile to have a handbook for new folks, so they can read through it and see what sort of lunatics they were getting involved with. This is that handbook. In these pages you will find a pretty good picture of who we are, what we do, and what to expect as a member of our ancient and storied regiment. You will also find out who we aren’t, what we don’t do, and what not to expect. The point is not only to let you know how we spend our time at reenactments and other events, but also to make sure you don’t have any misconceptions about what you’ll be doing as a member of the 47th, and you won’t be surprised, disappointed, or offended if we ask you to stop doing something that doesn’t fit our impression.
As always, if you have questions about this article, or anything that has to do with reenacting the 47th Regiment of Foot, please ask one of the senior members. (Scott@47thregiment.org) We were all new at this once, and we’re happy to share what we’ve learned. Usually, the problem is getting us to shut up. We’re here to help each other.
- What is an “Impression?” An “impression” is to a reenactor as a “character” is to an actor. Basically, your impression is who you pretend to be when you’re reenacting. Most reenactors have a very general, or “3rd person” impression. Some do a “2nd person” impression, one with more detail, and in which they speak as if they were the person they are pretending to be. A very few do a “1st person” impression, in which they research a specific, real person from history and portray that person only.
- Okay, so what’s my impression? Your impression is this: a private soldier in the 47th Regiment of Foot. You’re welcome to go into as much detail about this as you want. You can even take it as far as a 1st person impression if you want. That would be wonderful. But the minimum standard is that you must be able to accurately and authentically portray a private soldier in the 47th Regiment of Foot. We will help you do this to the best of our ability. We have loaner gear to get you started, and we can help you make your own gear or find bargains on used gear to build your kit. We’re a very helpful bunch.
- What if I want to do something different? Well, you’re welcome to do something different, but we won’t be able to help you as much for the simple reason that our focus is on the 47th Regiment of Foot, and we just don’t know as much about what’s appropriate for a member of another regiment, or a miller, or whatever else you might want to be. Also, when you’re at a reenactment with the 47th, you’re there as a member of the 47th. We need you on the field with your boomstick. More on this later.
- What we do: The bare minimum, for starters, so therefore…
Your First Year
You absolutely positively must have these items:
The Bare Minimum
- A white 18th century shirt
- A pair of off-white wool 18th century stockings
Your shirt must be white, and ideally made of linen. Linen shirts are more expensive, but much more comfortable during hot summer battles. You can save money by making your own shirt. It’s a lot easier than you probably think. Alternatively, you can ask a more experienced member of the regiment to help you make one. The material for a linen shirt is less expensive than a ready-made cotton one. You can buy shirts here: http://jas-townsend.com/product_info.php?cPath=1_17&products_id=494 or here: http://www.smoke-fire.com/mens-colonial-clothing-1.asp. There are other sources as well, some more expensive, some less.
Your stockings should be considered nearly disposable; they wear out after about a season or two. Luckily, they’re not terribly expensive (about $15 at the time of this writing). In theory you could knit your own, but this is not very practical. We get our stockings from various sutlers, including James Townsend and Son (http://jas-townsend.com/product_info.php?cPath=5&products_id=239).
These are your underclothes. You wear them next to your skin and under all of your other gear. You’ll eventually want to get more than one of each, for obvious reasons, but for starting out, one of each will do.
Buy or make these two items FIRST, before you start on the rest of your kit.
Your Garrison Kit
Once you’ve gotten the bare minimum stuff, you’ll want to build your garrison kit, which includes everything you’ll need to take the field as a member of the 47th Regiment of Foot. From head to toe, this is what you’ll need:
- Cocked hat
- Regimental Coat
- Shirt (you’ve already got one, remember?)
- Black horsehair Stock (or neckcloth)
- White waistcoat
- White breeches
- White stockings (you’ve already got a pair of these)
- Garters (to hold your stockings up)
- Fatigue cap
We many of the above items from G Gedney Godwin, Inc or James Townsend and Son. There are other sources. We also make our own gear when possible.
You can get the Cocked Hat here: http://www.gggodwin.com/CartGenie/prod-668.htm. Our hats conform to the Royal Cloathing Warrant of 1768:
“[Hats] of the Corporals and private men to have a white tape binding. The breadth of the whole to be one inch and a quarter; and no more to be on the back oart of the brim, than what is necessary to sew it down. To have black cockades.”
We make our own Coats. We buy the materials in bulk to save money. We’ve been getting our buttons from here: http://www.najecki.com/repro/reproindex.html but this source can be slow. We’re working on being able to produce our own buttons.
Our coats conform to the Royal Cloathing Warrant of 1768:
The men’s coats to be looped with worsted lace, but no border. The ground of the lace to be white, with coloured stripes. To have white buttons. The breadth of the lace which is to make the loop round the button-hole, to be about half an inch. Four loops to be on the sleeves, and four on the pockets, with two on each side of the slit behind.
The breadth of all the lappels to be three inches, to reach down to the waist, and not be wider at the top than at the bottom. The sleeves of the coats to have a small round cuff, without any slit, and to be made so thaat they may be unbuttoned and let down. The whole to have cross pockets, but no flaps to those of the waistcoat. The cuff of the sleeve which turns up, to be three inches and a half deep. The flap on the pocket of the coat to be sewed down, and the pocket to be cut in the lining of the coat.
You’ve already have (at least) one Shirt, but it is worthwhile to have a spare or two.
You can get a Black Neckcloth here: http://www.smoke-fire.com/mens-colonial-clothing-3.asp. Scroll to the bottom for item #: HS-305, black silk scarf. A horsehair stock can be found here; http://www.gggodwin.com/CartGenie/prod-606.htm, be sure they use stock buckle #86. Either a stock or a neckcloth is acceptable for battle; the stock is needed for parade.
The Waistcoat and Breeches (or “weskit and britches”) can be found here: http://jas-townsend.com/index.php?cPath=1_17 . Alternatively, you can make your own. Ask a senior member of the regiment for help and guidance. Ideally you will want one Wool waistcoat and a pair of breeches in cotton canvas and another set in wool (off white in color for both), but this is not required. Also, it’s worth the extra effort or money to make or buy a weskit with pockets in. Much more convenient.You’ve already got one pair of Stockings. You will want several. Most of us buy a new pair every year, whether we need them or not.
You can get Garters from here: http://www.gggodwin.com/cartgenie/prodInfo.asp?pid=627&cid=13. We can also make them for you, using these buckles: http://www.gggodwin.com/cartgenie/prodInfo.asp?pid=776&cid=25 and black leather.
The Spatterdashes are available here: http://www.gggodwin.com/cartgenie/prodInfo.asp?pid=614&cid=13 .
You’ll need to adjust them for fit, and replace the pewter buttons with black horn ones like these: http://www.wmboothdraper.com/. (Scroll down to find them.) Once fitted a senior member will help you in painting them with linseed oil for waterproofing.
The Shoes can be a bit tricky. Proper 18th century shoes are expensive, but if you take good care of them, they’ll last a lifetime. You can get them here: http://jas-townsend.com/product_info.php?cPath=5&products_id=244, or here: http://www.flyingcanoetraders.com/content/Catalogue.asp?ID=6&Epoque=5&Prod=19, or here: http://www.fugawee.com/Men%27s%20Colonial.htm.
If you need the support of modern shoes, you can use plain black oxfords or work shoes with plain black soles. You can use whatever orthopedic inserts you want. If you’re using modern shoes, they must seem period when worn with spatterdashes. Don’t even ask about sneakers: they won’t work.
The Haversack is a coarse linen canvas bag that goes over your shoulder. It was the soldiers’ mess kit in the 18th century, and primarily carried food. For reenactors, however, the haversack is more of a catch-all. Most of us carry our wallets, cell phones, and car keys in them. We make them for you, and only ask that you reimburse the unit for materials.
The Fatigue Cap is made of scrap wool from making our regimental coats. They look silly by modern standards, but they’re comfy: much more convenient than cocked hats for hauling wood or water, and they double as a nightcap on cold nights. We make them ourselves.
The Smock is basically an oversized shirt of coarse linen or fustian (a linen-cotton blend). You wear it over your smallclothes (weskit and britches) when doing things like carrying firewood, tending the fire, cleaning your musket, or anything that’s likely to get your nice clothes all messed up. The smock is easy to get clean. The woolen smallclothes, not so much. We make them, or you can buy them from a sutler if you want.
These are the things that you’ll need to have to be happy and comfortable at a reenactment, but that aren’t needed for battle or for marching up and down the square.
- Tin cup: You’ll want something to drink out of. This is it. Durable almost to the point of indestructibility. Pretty much every sutler has them, but the best (and most expensive) ones come from here: http://www.cg-tinsmith.com/images/Photos/CGmeasures1.jpg. A pint cup is standard.
- Bowl: You’ll want a bowl. Tin or wood are both acceptable, but a wooden bowl will keep you from burning your hands when picking up your hot bowl of stew or oatmeal. The best bowls are of maple. Season it with food grade mineral oil before use.
- Spoon: Horn, wood, or pewter are all good spoon choices. Horn is very authentic, but be careful when using it to eat hot foods. (Heat makes horn malleable!) Also horn wears out quickest. Expect to replace your horn spoon once every other year or so. Wood is authentic, but can break or split. You must thoroughly clean wooden spoons as microbes can lurk in the wood otherwise. Pewter is most durable, but perhaps least authentic for a private soldier, being both heavy and expensive
- Knife: Soldiers carried knives. They come in handy at mealtimes and for other needs. You can get a proper soldier’s knife from sutlers at reenactments. Fancy-schmancy 18th-century flatware-type knives with matching forks are also available. You do not need these.
- S-hook: It’s an iron hook shaped like an S. We use these to hang our tin boilers over the fire. We adjust the temperature by adding or taking away S-hooks, as needed. Each soldier should have an S-hook in his haversack. They’re cheap. You can get them for under $5 from a smith or a sutler at any reenactment.
After Your First Year
Arms and Accoutrements
- Canteen: You need a canteen, and your canteen needs to be full of water. We’re not kidding about this: dehydration is a very real problem when reenacting in the hot summer sun. Get one like this: http://jas-townsend.com/product_info.php?products_id=370. You can also get a stainless steel one. They last longer, but are more expensive.
- Musket: We use these: http://www.davide-pedersoli.com/?item=ArmiCategoriaDettaglio&CategoriaId=235&lang=en. You don’t have to order them from the Pedersoli company. You can also get them from Dixie Gun Works (http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product_info.php?products_id=957) or from Cabela’s (http://www.cabelas.com/link-12/product/0012692210056a.shtml). The Discriminating General (http://www.militaryheritage.com/musket7.htm) is an alternative, less expensive, source, but the touchhole is not drilled on these muskets. You will have to drill it yourself, or pay a gunsmith to do so. Further, your musket will not exactly match those of the rest of the lads, and it will be harder for you to get replacement parts that fit if you should need to.
- Bayonet: You should get your bayonet when you get your musket. It will cost you an extra $50 or so, but you need it to field as a British Soldier. There’s no point in buying a musket without a bayonet to go with it.
- Bayonet Sling: The unit makes these out of white leather, black leather, brass belt plates, etc. We only ask that you cover the cost of materials.
- Cartridge Box: These are a big pain to make, so we don’t. You can get them from here: http://www.jarnaginco.com/revwar%20leather.htm. You want “#200RW British 1777 Cartridge Box.” We are doing our best to standardize our cartridge boxes for the unit. These are the new standard, often known as the ‘Rawle Pattern’ box.
Every soldier needs his canteen, musket, bayonet, bayonet sling, and cartridge box.
Burgoyne Campaign Kit
The 47th Regiment was part of the army commanded by Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne in 1777. This army was ordered to modify their uniforms to make travel easier in the mountains of New York. To complete this kit, you will need everything in the Basic Kit, with the following substitutions and additions:
- Instead of the Cocked Hat, you will need a Light-Infantry-Style Cap with Horsehair Crest.
- Instead of the Regimental Coat, you will need a Cut-Down Regimental Coat.
- Instead of the Spatterdashes, you will need Leggings
- Knapsack/Backpack with regimental cipher.
These items are made within the unit. Don’t worry about them until you’ve got your basic kit and your Arms and Accoutrements taken care of.
Bird’s Campaign Kit
After the ill-fated Burgoyne Campaign, the remaining companies of the 47th regiment were sent west, to Upper Canada, and took part in several raids on colonial settlers in the Ohio river valley. For this campaign, you will need the following equipment substitutions:
- Instead of your Cocked Hat, you will need a Flop Hat with black rosette and plume.
- Instead of your Regimental Coat you will need a Round Jacket (also called a barracks jacket, battle jacket, roundabout, or just a jacket).
- Instead of your Spatterdashes, you will need Leggings.
Again, these items are made within the unit. When you’re ready to put these items together, we’ll help you out. As always, you’ll only need to cover the cost of materials.
There are several items that are very good to have, but not essential to reenact with us. We’d like for you to get these things so you’ll have them if you should need them, but nobody will be upset with you if you never get one. Here’s the list of extras:
- Tent: You can usually find someone in the unit to bunk with at a reenactment, but it’s nice to have your own tent. We get them from here: http://www.tentsmiths.com/period-tents-wedge-britishinfantry-tents.html. You can buy poles and stakes and such directly from the manufacturer, or you can make your own with materials from the hardware store.
- Blanket: your British Army blanket is very handy for hiding anachronistic stuff like sleeping bags, coolers, DVD players, &c. Plus, it functions as a nice, warm blanket. There is no consistent source for these items; we generally buy as many of them as we can when they come available. They can cost anywhere from $25 to $75, depending. We stamp them with the GR/broad arrow cipher after we get them.
- Capote: These blanket coats are made from white wool blankets. The down side is you have to cut a blanket apart to make them. The up side is that they’re very warm in the wintertime, early spring, or late fall.
- Wool Mittens: Also cut from blanket fabric. We make them of leftover material when making a capote. You can also buy them from some sutlers. Warm in the wintertime.
- Canadian Cap: Made of raccoon fur and red wool scraps. Cozy winter clothing, much warmer than a cocked hat.
- Winter Leggings: *We’re still trying to determine what color the 47th’s winter leggings were; they may have been the same as the Burgoyne Campaign ones, or they may have been different. For the time being, don’t worry about them.
- Period mattress: these are basically canvas bags with and opening in them for stuffing them full of straw. Not essential, but nice to have.
- Housewife: In the 18th Century, everyone knew how to sew, and everyone carried a housewife when they travelled. A housewife is a cloth sewing kit, filled with everything you’ll need to make an emergency repair to your kit: pins, needles, thread, spare buttons, beeswax, small scissors, etc. It’s in the extras category, but it’s strongly recommended.
- Camp stool: A folding wood-and-canvas chair. Useful and practical, but not exactly authentic for a private soldier.
- Pipe: Tobacco was considered to be beneficial to health in the 18th century, and most men smoked (or “smoaked”). You don’t need a pipe, but it can round out your impression.
- Moccasins: Center-seam woodland moccasins are comfy around camp and cozy for sleeping in. These are not a standard part of the kit, and don’t even ask about wearing them on parade or in battle.
- Horn Cup: for drinking stuff that comes in smaller portions than the usual helping of water or root beer.
- Bone Handled Toothbrush: Exactly what it sounds like. The bristles are boar’s bristles.
- Horn Comb: a comb made of cow’s horn. In the 18th Century, not so much for vanity as for parasite control. Now, a nice authentic addition to your demonstration kit, and a cool way to gross out elementary school kids.
- Whatever else you might want to make your reenactment experience a more enjoyable one. Remember, though, that we’re trying to re-create an authentic revolutionary war experience. A private soldier doesn’t need a spyglass, a lap desk, a document case, fishing tackle, banyan and cap, etc. Also, there are plenty of items that a soldier would love to have, but which did not exist in our time period. Talk to the more experienced members of the unit before you buy a nifty item that is both expensive and inappropriate for our impression. If it’s inappropriate and you still want to buy it, go ahead, but please keep it hidden.