Defiance & Independence

Massachusetts Continental Regulars

John Patterson’s Brigade

Thomas Marshall 10th Mass.                             

Ebenezer Francis 11th Mass.

Samuel Brewer 12th Mass.                                 

Gamaliel Bradford 14th Mass.

Roche de Fermoy’s Brigade

Michael Jackson’s  8th Mass.                             

Seth Warner’s Additional Regiment

Pierce Long’s NH Line                                        

David Leonard’s Mass. Militia

            The extensive military and supply organization of Massachusetts was stretched by raising its congressional quota of fourteen Continental line regiments, and subsequently two additional regiments in 1777.   Regimental coats do appear on deserters, both newly made and perhaps left over from the Massachusetts continental regiments of 1776. Advertisements describe a wide range of colors even within the same regiment. A deserter from Colonel Marshall’s Tenth regiment was described in a March, 17th Connecticut Courant advertisement wearing, “light colored coat with red facings, brown waistcoat, leather breeches and half boots.” In September, a deserter from the same regiment was described wearing, “blue coat red facings, white waistcoat and breeches, black stockings,” in the Boston Gazette. Colonel Bradford may have been able to get some nice regimental clothing for his regiment. A drummer deserted in February wearing what may have been a musician’s uniform of a red coat with black facings, and white shoes. Two deserters from the same regiment left in February wearing, “an old Soldier’s Coat,” and “an old Soldier’s Coat, faced with white Cloath.” Likely, these old 1776 regimental coats were of Brown, or similar cloth colored cloth, as with so many coats made in that year. More deserters from Bradford’s regiment in October show regimental coats, such as, “dark brown coat faced light blue, reddish brown waistcoat, peach blossom colored trousers” and, “blue coat faced white, dark colored waistcoat, long trousers” German accounts from the other side of the firing line also describe some uniforms on Massachusetts soldiers. German letters about their surrender at Saratoga describe, “Few of the officers in General Gates' army wore uniforms, and those that were worn were evidently of home manufacture and of all colors. For example, brown coats with sea-green facings, white linings, and silver dragons(epaulettes or shoulder knots), and gray coats with yellow buttons and straw facings, where to be seen in plenty.” This description is corroborated by the Von Germann watercolors which depict an officer in a short brown coat with scarlet facings, and a private in a short grey coat with yellow facings and linings. 

 

 

 

 

 

            Even in the Massachusetts line, this smattering of regimental clothing was outweighed by civilian clothing brought from home. Among the civilian clothing leather breeches and canvas trousers seem to be the most common. Leather breeches appear so commonly among deserters from Massachusetts in 1777 that they may have been issued by some officers. In the 1776 campaign they were mandated as part of the Continental clothing bounty. Their frequent appearance in deserter descriptions could reflect how common they were as a civilian garment. Thanks in part to the relative wealth of the state and its officers, the five Massachusetts line regiments stationed at Ticonderoga received quite a large amount of clothing. Shoes, shirts, stockings, jackets, hats, and waistcoats were issued out in large numbers to Massachusetts soldiers at Ticonderoga. In some regiments, every soldier received a new shirt and pair of shoes while at Ticonderoga. Some issues of coats appear in these same records, but it’s unclear if these were civilian coats packed into public stores, or some of the sporadic regimental coats that appear on deserters. Some regiments, like Marshall’s tenth regiment drew considerable numbers of hunting shirts from continental stores at Ticonderoga. Likewise there were some linen overalls issued to Massachusetts soldiers from the public store at Ticonderoga. In time for Saratoga, Massachusetts soldiers would get complete issues of these two garments from public stores in Albany.  The German diary of J. F. Wasmus, describes hunting shirts saying, “The latter wear a short white shirt over their clothes, the sleeves being bordered by a number of rows of white linen fringes.”

 

 

            Arms and equipment were equally hit or miss for Massachusetts regulars. General St. Clair in his 1778 court martial would claim that he had, “2000 [Men that] were ill equipped and worse armed, not above one bayonet in ten, an are essential in the defence of lines---that with these 2000 I have made good a retreat under the nose of an army at least four times their number.” On April 21st of 1777 Massachusetts received their purchase of 5000 complete French stand of arms, with bayonets, flints, scabbards, and worms. These were rapidly issued out as the diary of Lt. Henry Sewell records.

April 18th, 1777 ‘no blankets available in Boston’

April 25th, 1777 ‘exchanged old arms for new French muskets’

April 26th, 1777 ‘drew gun slings and knapsacks’

Despite Lieutenant Sewell recording the issuance of French Muskets, the whole regiment was not so lucky, with nearly half of the regiment’s guns list as in Bad condition on June 17th, 1777. Major William Hull succinctly described the condition of his command within Colonel Jackson’s regiment on August 13th, 1777.

THIS may certify, that the detachment of Colonel Michael Jackson’s regiment, which was under my command at Ticonderoga at the time of its evacuation, was very poorly cloathed, many of their arms our of repair, and about one third of them destitute of bayonets.

 

Coats

Civilian coats, regimental coats, and hunting shirts are all equally good for a Massachusetts regular portrayal. 

 

Among civilian coats, short nautical styles appear commonly like, “a Sailor’s Habit,” or, “a blue Sailor’s Jacket.” Brown or drab coats appear with frequency on deserters, such as, “on an old Surtout, brown Colour,” or “a brown Coat.” There are some exceptions, like an October advertisement for a deserter from Bradford’s regiment which listed, “one reddish coat, striped jacket, black breeches.”

Best 1: Hand-finished, well-fit, wool broadcloth short or long coats of drab, brown, red, or blue, made either straight-bodied or cutaway.

The German copies of the Von-Germann watercolors, distinctly show short regimental coats on the American Soldier and American Officer. This style is corroborated by portraits of other American officers earlier in the war. Advertisements from the firm of Otis & Andrews, requesting coats made unlined or faced with the outer body cloth, as well as Washington’s later complaints about contractor made coats hint that these coats were likely made unlined or only partially lined. These coats likely could have had non-functional lapels, merely stitched down. The Von-Germann watercolors show pointed cuffs on the sleeves. The point centers on the top of the sleeve seem, with or without buttons set along the outside of the bottom seam. The pocket flaps are shown vertical, but canted forward at the top. The Von Germann Watercolors appear to show four buttons, but three would be fine as well. Both the officer and soldier are shown with the coats front corner turned back with some sort of loop onto the second or third button on the pocket flap. This reveals the coat lining which is the same color as the facings. Pockets, if the garments had any, were set into the coat tail lining. There is little evidence for regimental buttons on these coats. Almost all regimental buttons recovered at Fort Ticonderoga are from 1776 documented regiments. Coat-sized pewter or similar buttons appear to be the most common buttons on these coats.  Brown coats to drab coats with red, white, blue or sea green facings all are documentable. Likewise, blue coats faced with red or white are appropriate. Grey faced with buff or yellow is shown in the Von-Germann watercolors and specifically mentioned by Surgeon J F Wasmus. The coats recommended for Fourth Connecticut model company events are perfectly suitable. 

Best 2: Contract-made regimental short-coats, made with slanted vertical pockets, pointed cuffs, stitched-down or functional lapels of broadcloth or kersey, made half-lined (in facing-colored serge, bay, or flannel) or unlined.

 

 

 

Hunting shirts appear in large numbers in some Massachusetts regular regiments. From Continental stores at Fort Ticonderoga Colonel Jackson’s regiment drew 238 hunting shirts, Colonel Marshall’s regiment drew 36, and Colonel Bradford’s regiment drew 116. One deserter from Colonel Francis’ regiment was described in, ”a Toe Frock, Moose skin Breeches,” on June 7, 1777. The majority of these hunting shirts were of cheap osnaburg or tow-cloth. Brunswick Surgeon’s description of these hunting shirts as “a short white shirt over their clothes, the sleeves being bordered by a number of rows of white linen fringes” likely describes these tow-cloth hunting shirts bleached in the sun. Extant examples like the Captain John Duryea hunting shirt or contemporary German illustrations of American soldiers show hunting shirts with short shoulder capes which end at or just beyond the shoulder. These shirts are made open at the front, with edges trimmed in one or two rows of fringe. All hunting shirts must be made in this manner for the Rear Guard.

Best 3: Osnaburg, split-front hunting shirts, with short capes and fringe.

Unacceptable: Smocks, over-shirts, baggy coats, cotton hunting shirts, Very long hunting shirts.

Jackets and Waistcoats

The Massachusetts regiments at Ticonderoga varied in how many jackets or waistcoats they drew from stores. Marshall’s regiment drew by far the most with 27 waistcoats and 244 jackets, though what the distinction between the two signifies is unclear. Other regiments like Bradford’s drew 38 waistcoats and 112 jackets. Continental store records for 1776 show a wide variety of woolen cloth drawn from stores. A variety of cloths, such as, “black bearskin, fine knap[ped] sarge, wide knap[ped cloth] light coloured [purple crossed out], narrow red knap, narrow brown knap, drab cloth, clarrett coloured wide cloth, yds black wide cloth, Brown wide cloth much motheaten ------“ are listed in Quarter Master John Harper’s orderly book in August 1776. Without specific reference to any material, likely waistcoats drawn from stores could have been made from any materials like these. One deserter from Colonel Francis’ regiment was described in a May 15th advertisement wearing, “a white out-side Jacket, a blue Waistcoat, and Leather Breeches.” A deserter from Bradford’s regiment left in October wearing, “reddish coat, striped jacket, black breeches.” The Von Germann watercolor of an American soldier shows him wearing a steel-grey square cut waistcoat while his rendering of an American officer shows a white skirted waistcoat. Both skirted and square cut waistcoats are perfectly acceptable, as are belted waistcoats which appear in many images of Continental soldiers.

Best: Hand-finished, well-fit, single or double-breasted, skirted, square cut or belted waistcoats with or without sleeves made of drab, brown, green, red or blue broadcloth, kersey, or serge.

Acceptable: Well-fit, single or double breasted, skirted or square cut waistcoats of linen, linsey-woolsey, cotton, cotton velvet, or wool plush in solid colors or simple patterns. Sleeved waistcoats are acceptable as the primary outer garment.

Unacceptable: Upholstery fabric waistcoats, extremely long or baggy waistcoats.

 

 

 

 

Breeches and Trousers

Civilian breeches and trousers appear on some Massachusetts regular deserters. Both blue and black wool breeches are specifically described. Leather breeches appear most frequently among deserters, described as, “leather breeches and white stockings,” or “white Leather Breeches.” “Moose skin Breeches” appears on one deserter from Colonel Francis’ regiment on June 7th. Quartermaster’s records for 1776 show hundreds of pairs of leather breeches issued out of continental stores at Ticonderoga. Many of the Massachusetts regiments drew breeches from Ticonderoga stores as well, Colonel Jackson’s regiment drawing the most: 66 pairs. These may have been leather or made of the myriad of woolen fabrics in Continental stores. Jackson’s regiment and Marshall’s regiment both received overalls from Continental stores, 57 and 233 pairs respectively. There was considerable controversy over the shipping of Massachusetts clothing in the spring of 1777. A June 8th letter to James Mease, clothier general, complained that Massachusetts clothing destined for Peekskill did not arrive as planned. This clothing included a “quantity of light Clothing, such as Shirts, Frocks and overalls.” By the 13th of June, correspondence with James Mease speculated that this light clothing had been shipped north to Albany and Ticonderoga as Massachusetts soldiers were ordered north. Most likely the overalls issued out of Continental stores at Ticonderoga were light-weight, onsburg or similar materials.

Best: Hand-finished, well-fit, leather breeches or trousers of linen or hemp canvas or checked linen. Well-fit osnaburg, ticking, or tow-cloth overalls.

Acceptable: Well-fit leather breeches, breeches with buckled knee bands in black, brown, drab, kersey, linsey-woolsey, serge, cotton velvet, wool plush, broadcloth .

Unacceptable: Fringed trousers, baggy breeches.

Leg wear

Best: Just stockings or well-fit, hand-finished spatterdashers or half-gaiters of black, brown, or drab wool, canvas or black leather.

Discouraged: Spatterdashers worn with trousers.

Unacceptable: Military gaiters, Indian leggings, baggy spatterdashers.

 

Shirts

Massachusetts regiments drew a lot of shirts from stores at Ticonderoga. These may have been osnaburg like the overalls and hunting shirts sent north to northern department continental army stores.  Much like the rest of their clothing, civilian shirts of typical New England styles were likely mixed in as well.

Best: Hand-stitched shirts made of osnaburg, checked, striped, or white linen with narrow band cuffs and thread Dorset buttons or made for sleeve buttons (cuff links).

Unacceptable: Cotton calico or plaid shirts.

Neckwear

Best: Silk, linen, or cotton neckerchiefs; linen neck stocks, or linen rollers, well-tied around the neck

Unacceptable: Military horsehair or leather neck stocks.       

Hats and Caps

Some Massachusetts regiments did draw hats from Ticonderoga’s stores. Colonel Jackson’s and Colonel Marshall’s regiment drew 116 and 167 hats or caps respectively. It is unclear if they actually received a mix of cocked hats and leather caps or if this was merely a convention based on the continental clothing bounty which included either a hat or leather cap. The Von-Germann watercolor shows a small cocked hat on the American officer and what appears to be a small brimmed round hat on the American soldier. Either of these styles of hat is acceptable.

Best: Hand-finished, round blocked, black wool or beaver felt, round hats, fan tail hats, or cocked hats

Acceptable: Leather caps. Knit wool Monmouth, Dutch mutt, or Kilmarnock caps, oval blocked, white felt cocked or round hats.

Discouraged: Grey or brown wool felt hats, cut down felt caps.

Unacceptable:  Slouch hats from unfinished blanks, straw hats, fur caps.

Socks and Stockings

Best: White or grey wool yarn or worsted stockings or socks seamed with back seams.

Acceptable: No Socks worn with trousers.

Unacceptable: Red, yellow, or polyester stockings.

Shoes

Best: Hand-finished, short or long-quartered, round-toe, shoes with black waxed calf uppers, fitted for buckles. Shoe boots, half-boots high-lows, with black waxed-calf uppers.

Acceptable: Machine made, black leather, shoes with buckles or ties or high-lows.

Discouraged: Moccasins, half-boots worn with trousers.

Unacceptable: Modern Footwear, modern moccasins, civil war bootees, or riding boots(except for field officers).

Cartridge Pouches

No evidence has surfaced in writing these guidelines about the issuance of cartridge pouches, which are typically called, “Cartridge Boxes,” quite contrary to British military parlance. On June 25th, 1777 General St. Clair wrote to General Phillip Schuyler saying, “but what can be expected of from troops ill armed, naked and unaccoutred.” Massachusetts regulars were raised by a draft of the militia, with a given quota from each township drafted for regular service. These draftees would have been equipped according to militia laws for military equipage. Militia laws specifically addressed arms and equipment. The 1776 Militia Act required:

That each and every Officer and private Soldier of said Militia… shall equip himself, and be constantly provided with a good Fire-Arm, with a Steel or Iron Ramrod, and a Spring to retain the same, a Worm, Priming Wire and Brush, and a Bayonet fitted to his Gun, a Scabbard and Belt therefor, and a Cutting Sword, or a Tomahawk or Hatchet, a Pouch containing a Cartridge Box, that will hold fifteen Rounds of Cartridges at least, a Hundred Buck Shot, a Jack-Knife and Tow for Wadding, six Flints, one Pound of Powder, forty Leaden Balls fitted to his Gun, a Knapsack and Blanket, a Canteen or Wooden Bottle sufficient to hold one Quart.

Massachusetts-Bay, The Militia Act; together with the Rules and Regulations for the Militia, (Boston: J. Gill, 1776), 8-9. 

Whatever the source of cartridge boxes, they were in reasonably good supply. A June return of Colonel Francis’ regiment lists 382 cartridge boxes for 413 men. Likewise Colonel Marshall’s regiment listed 267 cartridge boxes in good condition with 77 wanting on June 17th, 1777. Brown’s Company participants are highly encouraged to re-use their cartridge pouches from that event. Remains from a cartridge pouch with a nearly identical cartridge block and similar flap was recovered from the Lake Champlain in Valcour Bay, the site of the 1776 naval battle.

Best: New England style soft cartridge pouches black or fair leather with approximately 19 round cartridge blocks, narrow black or buff leather straps, or linen webbing shoulder straps.

Acceptable: Small, simple leather shot pouches with narrow leather shoulder straps, or belt loops.

Unacceptable: Belly boxes or shoulder converted belly boxes. British 36 or 29-hole cartridge pouches, New Model American pouches.

Powder Horns

Despite the Massachusetts militia laws, horns were in short supply. Marshall’s regiment listed only 60 in good condition with 284 wanting on June 17th, 1777.

Best: Plain, empty, powder horns with narrow leather straps.

Acceptable: No powder horn to go with a cartridge pouch.

Unacceptable: Native styled powder horns, or black powder filled horns.

 

 

 

 

Arms

Despite the availability of French Muskets, it appears that there issuance was very incomplete before Massachusetts regulars marched for Ticonderoga. Even though Lieutenant Henry Sewell records exchanging old arms for new French muskets on April 25th, the June 17th, 1777 return for his regiment, Colonel Brewer’s lists, “126 Good,” “121 Bad,” and “10 Wanting.” The June return for Colonel Francis’ regiment indicates that these bad arms may have been a mix of civilian and older arms. While this return lists, 406 arms for 413 men, there were only 294 iron ramrods, leaving 112 either without ramrods or with wooden ramrods. Marshall’s regiment potentially shows a mix of arms as well with a June 17th, 1777 return listing, “258 Good,” “68 Bad,” and “18 Wanting.”

Best: French musket in great condition. Old pattern French, Dutch, British, commercial or American made muskets.

Acceptable: New England style fowlers, English fowlers either plain or modified for a bayonet.

Uncceptable:  Virginia or Pennsylvania styled long rifles.

Side Arms

General St. Clair among others bitterly complained about the lack of bayonets, an assertion partially backed up by returns. Marshall’s regiment in their June 17th, 1777 return of arms listed only156 bayonets for a total of 326 muskets. Colonel Francis’ regiment shows 270 bayonets for 406 arms, a slightly better portion. Interestingly, this same return lists only 160 bayonet belts. Many of the bayonets without scabbards and belts may have been simply fixed to the weapons at all times. Those with bayonet belts likely had simple black leather or webbing bayonet belts.

Best: Waist or shoulder belt carried bayonet.

Acceptable: Bayonet fixed to the musket, no bayonet, or small axes carried in a knapsack or in a belt.

Unacceptable: Horse pistols, naval pistols, unsheathed tomahawks, or belt axes.

 

 

 

 

 

Knapsacks and Tumplines

The Diary of Lt. Henry Sewell records drawing knapsacks. However, the return of equipment for Colonel Francis regiment lists 261 knapsacks for 413 men. The Benjamin Warner pack has details similar to those recommended by Massachusetts Colonel Timothy Pickering in his 1775 manual exercise. The pack’s Connecticut provenance makes it a great choice for any New England regular portrayal. It is unclear what soldiers without knapsacks carried. They may have used blanket rolls or tumplines, though blankets were in even shorter supply than knapsacks in the return for Francis’ regiment.

Best: Painted canvas Benjamin Warner or similar pattern knapsacks.

Acceptable Plain single envelope knapsacks, drawstring canvas snapsacks, or hemp tumplines blanket rolls.

Unacceptable: British painted or goatskin knapsacks.

Blankets

The return for Colonel Francis regiment from before the evacuation of the Fort lists only 245 blankets for 413 men. Whether this lists only regimental property and not personal blankets is unclear. It is possible that some of these Massachusetts regulars were without blankets.

Best: 2-3 Point checked, Dutch, or Rose blankets.

Acceptable: No Blanket

Discouraged: Hudson Bay blankets.

Unacceptable: Civil War grey blankets.

Canteens

Best: Wood cheese box, or staved canteens of documented period pattern with narrow leather or linen webbing strap. Cheese box canteens should have narrow leather keepers or narrow iron staples to retain the strap.

Discouraged: Tin canteens of kidney or half-moon shape.

Unacceptable: Wool canteen covers, jacked leather canteens, covered glass bottles, copper canteens, stainless steel canteens, gourd canteens, and Petite Bidon.