These militia-men turned regulars may well have imagined their new lives in the army as an adventure, the same way we often imagine their service now. New to army life, many of these soldiers were itching for a fight, so much so that officer’s worked all summer long to keep them from shooting in camp, on the march, or wherever these soldiers got bored. The men of Colonel David Waterbury’s Fifth Connecticut regiment, which encamped in New York City during the summer of 1775, were chastised, “All wrestling and gaming of every kind in camp is strictly forbidden-the firing of guns in camp is also strictly forbidden. Only ten days later, these soldiers were reminded in general orders, “Each soldier is absolutely forbid firing on their march except ordered by their officers, and they are to take especial care to injure no man’s property”. The message still had not been taken to heart by July 5th when Waterbury’s men were reminded, “all firing of guns either in or without hearing of the Camp is strictly forbid without orders of the field officer’s of the day.” Clearly, at least one of these soldiers had argued that what was out of site and earshot didn’t violate orders, a testament to the ingenuity of these Connecticut Yankees. Indeed, some of these trigger happy new privates lost track of whether their weapons were loaded at all, prompting the Colonel to order,” The officer’s of each Company to exercise and see that the Soldiers guns are not loaded before exercise.”
With the threat of British invasion from the north in the summer of 1775 being merely a pervasive rumor, these lapses in security were less of the threat to these green soldiers than their personal habits in camp. Back down in New York City, Colonel Waterbury’s men had to be continuously reminded not to terrorize the poor citizens of New York. As early as July 3rd, General orders included a pointed note to, “take particular care that the Soldiers pull down no fence nor ruin any railes, to be careful that no fires are made (except for) cooking only in the rear of the Regiment.” If orders are any guide, fence rails remained a favorite firewood for Waterbury’s men throughout the month in New York City. Camp mischief and kitchens aside, these new soldiers often lacked the cleanliness that was the mark of both discipline and a good bulwark against disease. Colonel Waterbury himself had to order his men on July 3rd to clean up their company streets after breakfast. At Ticonderoga Colonel Hinman had to wrestle with the most basic of necessary activities. In his July 14th orders he specifically ordered his men to use latrines, rather than immediate vicinity of the Fort itself.