THE GEORGIA REFUGEES
Captain John Cunningham’s Company
Colonel John Dooley’s Regiment
Wilkes County, Georgia Militia
Clothing and Accouterment List
Current as of March 27, 2001
“…every person liable to appear and bear Arms at any Muster, exercise or training hereby appointed, pursuant to the directions of this Act, shall constantly keep and bring with him, to such training, exercising or Muster, one good Gun, Bayonet, hanger, sword, or hatchet, a Cartouch Box, twelve Cartridges, a powder horn and half pound of Powder, with at least twenty four rounds of Lead, a Worm, pricker and four flints each, to be produced at Musters and at all other times retained in every Person’s House…”
excerpted from AN ACT, for the better ordering and regulating the Militia of this State, adopted by order of the Georgia House, November 15th, 1778.
The majority of military action in the Province and State of Georgia during the Revolution were carried out by the militia. They were generally not uniformed, wearing their own clothing and carrying their own weapons. The documentation of the clothing and accoutrements of these men is slim, but through research and educated guesses based upon incidental citations, we have assembled the following list. Steve Brown is the primary researcher for our militia impression, and has found some great information. We intend to continually seek new information and incorporate it into our impressions.
In general, the Wilkes Countians were lower and lower middle class farmers and tradesmen, along with a few townsmen. The militia did not operate with a regular supply line, like the regular army did.
Each militia member’s impression should be an accurate portrayal of an individual, consistent in dress, manner, equipment and accoutrements for that person’s class and social station.
Articles are broken down into uniform items, weapons, accouterments, and personal items. Priority should be given to first procuring those items which create a complete visual impression--weapon, clothing, and shoes--before spending money on personal items (knapsack stuffers). As a reminder, all visible stitching on clothing items should by handsewn, and all fabrics should be natural fibers (in order of preponderance—linen, wool, hemp, linsey-woolsey, towcloth, cotton and silk)
All the opinions about the relative quality of gear from various sutlers is just that: an opinion. Our sincere thanks to Zack Pace for his input, and to Mark Hubbs of our unit for his constructive comments and knowledge. At this time, this listing is geared to the men; our distaff clothing list will be posted as soon as it is completed.
18th Century fashion generally dictated that a man, regardless of his station, should appear publicly dressed in a shirt, breeches, waistcoat, outer coat, and hat. A man might remove his outer coat when doing heavy physical labor, but generally would not be seen in public without it. A man without his coat and waistcoat on, and just his shirt would be considered immodestly clothed. Among poor people, as well as the rich, there was a desire to dress fashionably, and there was a sizable market for used clothing. Servant runaway descriptions many times refer to men and women wearing silks and velvets, however, these were most likely ragged hand-me-downs (or stolen). Cloth being dear, it was not uncommon for clothing to be neatly pieced and patched.
There is a wide variety of clothing that can be worn within this framework and still be appropriate for a militia impression, but there are some things to avoid: military-style overall trousers, “buckskinner” or longhunter styles of clothing, Highland garb, or clothing so old, mismatched and worn out that you would look like a servant (unless, of course, your impression IS OF a servant.)
Coat– Officers who raised their own units would generally have purchased their own military-style coats, but we have no reference for such wear among the refugee units. The men would have worn civilian coats appropriate to their station in life. This could have included frock coats; jackets (usually from a frock coat pattern except shorter, simplified and often unlined); or sleeved waistcoat.
Overshirt – In order to protect their “good” clothing, some (but by no means all) of the men may have worn an overshirt (workman’s smock, waggoner’s smock), or other such article. This would be constructed of either unbleached or colored heavy linen like a hunting shirt, except reaching to the knees and not having a cape or other such addendum. These were usually a pullover type shirt to keep from having a belt.
Shirts – NWTA/BAR pattern plain (no ruffles) man's shirt. White shirt-weight linen. A second shirt can be made in a properly documented period check or stripe, or a nicer one may be made in fine linen for dress.
Neck Stock - Civilian stocks can be of standing pleated cloth, or simply a tied cloth, of just about any period fabric. Since the size of the piece is small, fancier silks are possible.
Waistcoat – Civilian waistcoats are of many different materials, such as linen, leather, silk; and button types and patterns. Consistency with the person’s social class would tend to regulate what should be worn, and whether it matched the other clothing as a suit or if a hand-me-down. For those who do not have a separate coat, the sleeved waistcoat is an alternative. Documented patterns, stripes, and colors are acceptable, as long as they are consistent with the overall impression.
Breeches – As with the waistcoat, the type, material and construction of the breeches would be very much a matter of social class. Knee breeches and broadfall trousers would have been available, but overalls would not be worn except by soldiers. Documented patterns, stripes, and colors are acceptable, as long as they are consistent with the overall impression.
Hat - One more thing that heavily depends upon the type of person being portrayed. Straw, felt, cloth, leather, knit wool, etc., would have been available, and may have been worn cocked, slouched, or flopped; any documented type and material are acceptable, as long as they are consistent with your overall impression.
Hair - If you have hair long enough to club it in the 18th Century military style, do so. Otherwise, a clubbed wig from Godwin would be an alternative. It should be styled to appear as your own hair, properly clubbed. Remember to take into account the extra size of your new head when it comes time to order your hat.
Wigs were generally common, but for those with their own hair, it was generally short on top, with the sides and back long in order to make a queue. (What we now laugh at and call a “mullet,” Lord help us.) There is little evidence for any sort of short modern buzzcut being worn openly, unless you are doing an impression of someone whose hair had to be all cut off because he had real bad lice or had been tarred-and-feathered (even then, such a fellow would probably have gotten a wig to cover his shame for the times he was around civilized folks).
A possible alternative to a full wig is based upon an interesting historical sidenote. Newspapers of the time regularly published runaway servant descriptions, and several of these include the information that the servant had a queue of his own hair that he would sometimes wear, and at other times remove. From the context, this doesn’t look to have been something uncommon, but I haven’t found a reference (yet) as to why this was done; I speculate that it was easier to keep the hair dressed while working, and allowed a queue for fancier occasions. This does offer a possible alternative to a full wig, and one of our readers, David Folds, kindly mentions the following: "On a recent trip to Williamsburg, my wife and I saw the detached queue and how it was made. My wife is presently making one for me since I cut my hair back some. Instead of suggesting the use of elastic to your folks, which would make such a piece historically inaccurate, [Mr. Oglesby blushes that he had indeed suggested this--his apologies] why not suggest this. This type of queue was attached by string or cord, colored to blend with the user's hair. The cord was tied in the front of the head above the hairline so that the piece is held onto the crown of the head. It actually works very well and does not fall off, even if you tilt your head over." Sounds like a very workable solution, and our thanks to Mr. Folds!
Beards and mustaches were not at all common, especially among good, decent folks. If you have a nice set of whiskers, they will need to be trimmed down to no more than a three day length. This is one of the sacrifices that must be made to present an authentic appearance. It will grow back.
Stockings - $33 from Godwin. Get at least two pair to start, may be any period correct color and should rise above the knee. Should be hand knit (wool), but there are examples of sewn fabric (wool, linsey-woolsey, or linen). Clocking, if present, may be somewhat showy, but must done in a documented pattern.
Shoes - These run $90 to $140, including the buckles. Shoes should be straight-lasted with moderately rounded toes; for field duty they should be rough-side out, with iron heel plates or hobnails. Pegged soles are not appropriate. Although other civilian styles are available and appropriate, remember that we will be outdoors and fancy shoes will be ruined. Left-and-rights should be avoided unless you have real podiatric problems. Straight last shoes can be made to fit very well by wet molding to the foot. (Lightly wet them and wear until dry, apply blacking after completely dry). Joe Catalano makes the best, and they are custom made, but you’ll pay a lot and wait up to a year for a pair. George Land in Canada is highly recommended, but again has a bit of a wait. Najecki stocks Bob Land’s shoes for $90, and they are a step above (you’re a funny guy, Mark!) the Fugawee 1758 Model and are the same price. Fugawee’s 1758 or Fort Ligonier model is a good shoe but does sacrifice thickness of leather, canvas lining, and heel plates to the Bob Land shoes. The soles are also machine sewn. However, they stock a wide variety of sizes (including Bonhomme Richard-sized ones for Mark Hubbs) for immediate delivery. Godwin shoes are good, costing about $130, but again, there is at least an 8 week lead time. Townsend shoes are not recommended.
Fowlers – The most common civilian gun of the period was the smoothbore fowler, and probably saw more use than any other type of weapon among American militias during the war. These were long-barreled weapons capable of firing shot or ball. Calibers ran in the 20 to 14 gauge range. Reproductions should be full stock with a minimum of a 38-inch barrel. 42 to 50 inch barrels were most common. Several companies offer completed fowlers or parts to build them, including Caywood and Northstar West.
Trade Guns – These were essentially cheap fowlers made for the Indian trade in North America. Several British firms produced these in quantity throughout the 18th century. They had most of the attributes of the fowler except they were simplified and often had a French-style butt (ooh laa laa). Many of these guns ended up in the hands of American settlers because they were cheaper than other guns, or because they were captured in actions against the Indians. As with the fowlers, barrels should be at least 38 inches long. Caywood (Wilson Trade Gun) and Northstar West (Early English Trade Gun) make excellent reproductions of these weapons. The “Northwest Trade Gun” is unacceptable. It is a reproduction of a later weapon. Some vendors who sell completed fowlers and tradeguns and kits are: http://www.caywoodguns.com/index.html
Rifles - First, the use of a rifle is discouraged for several reasons, and will be accepted only on a case-by-case basis. We are an infantry/artillery company, not a rifle company, and smoothbores should be our predominant weapon. The long rifle during this period was more expensive and less versatile than smoothbore guns. However, they were used during the Revolution by the militia. This would have been especially so in settlements on the frontier. There are very few mass produced reproduction rifles that are acceptable for use. Parts can be obtained to build a very authentic period rifle, however. Proper reproductions should be full stocked with at least a 38-inch barrel, and calibers should be large, .50 - .62 caliber. A Refugee member would have to inspect any rifles to ensure that they meet authenticity requirements before they could be considered for use. Here is a link http://www.flintlocks.com/default.asp to give you an idea of what rifles of our period look like. This vendor is top of the line, although less expensive rifles can be had.
As an aside, the proper names for the working parts of the lock should be adhered to. The curved metal part that hold the flint is the COCK (not the hammer.) The upright thingy that it strikes the flint against is the HAMMER (not the frizzen.) The spring which holds the pan shut is the FEATHER, or FEATHER SPRING (not the frizzen spring.) If the gun is a smoothbore or a rifle, generically they are termed firelocks. Smoothbores are called a musket, gun, or piece, not a rifle. (Hard to unlearn for everyone who went through basic training, or watched Full Metal Jacket—“This is my rifle, this is my gun--this is for fighting, this is for fun.”)
Weapon Accessory Items
Powder Horn and Shot Bag/Cartridge Box – Many styles are available for both articles. Look in Neuman and Kravic’s Collector's Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Revolution for a view of the different styles used. For militia, a good rule of thumb may be: if you carry a civilian weapon you should have a horn and shot pouch, if you carry a military gun, an early style English cartridge box is also an option.
Musket Flints - If possible, obtain French buff-colored flints, as these would have been most used, although black English flint is perfectly acceptable. Do not use machined German agates. It is better to have too many than too few, and you should try to have about 5 or 6 in your bag, a dozen is better.
Musket Flint leathers - from any sutler, although any small piece of thin leather will do; lead pads work, too, and are correct, but tend to deform after a few firings requiring the frequent retightening of the jaw screw.
Musket Whisk & Pick - from any sutler, or you can make your own from horsehair or hog bristle, silver or brass wire, brass chain, and small diameter brass rod. Please use care in cutting hairs from horse or pig.
Tompion - Maple muzzle plug available from any sutler or make your own.
Vent cover - Brass shield covering the flash hole and side of pan to keep the nice fellow to your right from having a permanent FFFg tattoo upon his cheek. From any sutler, plain brass only. These are required safety equipment at all major events.
Musket Tool - The common pricker-hammer-turnscrew Pickering-type can be ordered from any sutler, or similar tools can be made by a local smith based on pictures in Neumann and Kravic. The “three-way” British tool is good for pin-fastened muskets.
Wooden "Flint" - For manual of arms or other training requiring the simulation of firing. Used to cut down on wear to hammer and flints, and won't make the piece go boom. Small piece of hardwood cut to size of flint. These are available from sutlers, but why do that–just whittle your own.
Hammer stall - Small leather cover for the hammer. Also something used for manual of arms or other training when you might have powder in the breech or a flint in the jaw and you don't want it to go boom. These are required at all major events.
Musket Cleaning Kit - A very good article from the NWTA Courier at http://www.nwta.com/couriers/11-96/clean.html has a concise idea of what is required for the proper daily care of your firelock.
Canteen – The stave constructed wood style is possible, but more common were the carved wooded rumlets, a leather covered bottle, or a pitched leather bottle. See Neuman and Kravic for the variety of types.
Bayonet w/scabbard - $85 - Should be appropriate for your type of musket. Dixie Gun Works will fit the bayonet to your musket.
Bayonet Carriage – Leather frog with a heavy linen or jute strap.
Haversack - $20 - These are available from a number of sources or can easily be made. Made of natural linen (preferred), white linen or white tow canvas, with three plain pewter buttons for closure. Sutler supplied sacks will more than likely have to be taken up (by resewing-not a big knot on your shoulder), in order for it to hang at the proper height (under your elbow, not below the belt).
Knife - pocket knives are real handy and available from any sutler; giant hunting knives are not appropriate, but a moderately sized (5-8 inch blade) is not unheard of. Handles should be wood, bone or antler and blades should be carbon steel.
Tomahawk/hatchet - Most appropriate is round polled with hickory handle. No spike on the back. Available from several folks, should be hand forged.
Sword/hanger – As noted in the Militia Act, this was also an appropriate edged weapon for members of the militia. Refer (once more) to Neumann and Kravic.
Cup - $10 to $20 - Get one made of tin, or of copper with the inside tinned. Should be not too small (pint works good), and make sure it can be used to heat things up in. Best bests are Godwin, Jarnagin, or Carl Giordano; Townsend is not recommended.
Plate/Bowl - $5 to $15 - This can be of wood, tin or pewter, but shouldn’t be too fancy. Bowls are more practical, but plates are fine. Try any of the sutlers.
Eating Utensils - $2 to $25 - Made of wood, pewter, iron, or steel. Spoons are the most necessary, knives and forks are fine (usually you can get by without either). Make sure forks are two-tined.
Blanket - $20 to $50 - Blankets should be of 100% wool, of solid color (perhaps with one or two dark bars at the ends), and with no lettering (i.e. U.S.) Grey or white is best; avoid olive drab. You can get blankets from any of the sutlers, or check an Army/Navy store (make sure they fit the above description). You can also get a long piece of wool from a period cloth dealer and wrap up in that. Buy two if possible. Pat Kline at Family Heirloom Weavers makes some excellent blankets that are made on a narrow loom and seamed down the middle. Several weights to choose from. $60 - $80
Ground Cloth - So far, documentation for something used purposely to sleep on is a bit sketchy, but an oilcloth does seem like a necessity if you are going to sleep on the ground. $20 to $30 - Use a piece of heavy drilling or tightly woven tow material longer than you are when laying down and wide enough (after piecing down the middle) for you to lay on and pull over yourself. This can be painted with milk paint (obtain from Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company- http://www.milkpaint.com/index.html.) Make sure that the fabric is well coated, allow to dry thoroughly, them use a light coat of linseed oil on the surface to seal it. Alternately, oil-based, flat finished metal oxide type paints can be used, or just plain linseed oil over dyed cloth. Red is suggested as a color simply because it was common, but other earth-toned pigments are also possible.
Eyeglasses - One thing that must be remembered is that most (but not all) eyeglasses were made for folks who were farsighted and needed help seeing up close, i.e. reading glasses. Therefore, the frame sizes were generally small, and the interpupilary distance was geared toward reading. This is fine if you are farsighted, but those such as your gentle adjutant who are severely nearsighted will have some troubles. Colonial Williamsburg has a period frame for $95, which is very similar to that sold by Townsend. From personal experience, these look fine from a distance, but up close they are very apparently modern. Also, they only come in one size. For my gigantic head, the centers of my pupils were a half inch outside the rims. Eyeglasses did not come in just one size, and in just one size of lens, and in just one interpupilary distance–so caveat emptor. IF you are nearsighted, these are almost impossible to be useful for vision. My own intention is to make my own pair of frames, based upon my (admittedly limited) research of period frames, and fitted to my previously mentioned gigantic head. Other details that you should note are that the temples were generally flat and single or double hinged, and there are no nose pads. Materials could be horn, silver, gold, or japanned brass. Not appropriate are the thin spring wire temples and frames common to the 19th Century American Civil War period, or the sliding temple frames. The sliders came a bit after our timeframe, and did not truly become common until the 19th Century. If you can wear contacts, you are blessed. Likewise if you have the spare change for laser surgery.
Other Stuff That Militiamen May Have Carried About With Them, But That Are Not Well and Truly Necessary to Fully Enjoy One Another’s Company
Currency, dice, playing cards, penny whistle, sewing kit, firemaking kit, quill, ink, lead pencil (musket ball drawn to a point), writing paper, Bible or prayer book, medicine, tobacco and pipe or snuff, compass, food not issued as ration, (such as dried soup, fruit, vegetables, cheese, parched corn), straight razor with brush and soap, mirror, comb, soap (homemade castille soap is nice to have, although would have been an extravagance ordinary people would probably have had little use for–the more common plain lye soap, properly cured, is not the harsh stuff you may think it to be–it’s kind of like Ivory soap), wash rag, blacking ball, shoe brush, &c., &c. It goes without saying that you should research your persona before rushing out and buying a bunch of stuff. Militia members traveled lightly, and may have only had a bit of extra clothing and some toilet items, so don’t try to carry everything ever made.
301 E. Main St.
Good source of period cloth and other items, including Fugawee shoes.
409 Gun Road
Baltimore, MD 21227
Good if limited assortment of period items.
Burnley and Trowbridge Co.
108 Druid Drive
Williamsburg, VA 23185
Good suppliers of period cloth.
Carl Giordano - Tinsmith
PO Box 74
Wadsworth, OH 44282
Best tinware on the market.
C&D Jarnagin Co.
P.O. Box 1860
Corinth, MS 38835
Ph (601) 287-4977
FAX (601) 287-6033
Good tinware and accessories, clothing is suspect in some regards.
3127 Corrib Dr. Box 5
Tallahassee, Fl. 32308
http://www.fugawee.com Good period shoes.
G. Gedney Godwin
The Sutler of Mt. Misery
Valley Forge, PA 19481
Probably the best all-around sutler. A bit on the pricey side.
Goose Bay Workshop
Rt. 1 Box 297- C
990 Greenwood Rd.
Crozet, VA. 22932
Excellent historical tinware, especially for cooking.
Hamilton Dry Goods
Ron "Tennessee" Hamilton
2510 Randolph Road
Cookeville, TN 38506
Good supplier of hand-woven stockings; very good wool stockings.
1203 Reynolds Rd
Chepachet, RI 02814
Highly researched items from a British reenactor. Excellent items, though predominantly British. Has great shoes, up to size 13, $90
Jas. Townsend & Son. Inc.
133 N. First St., P.O. Box 415
Pierceton, IN 46S62
Ph (219) 594-5852
Fax (219) 594-5580
Many good items, some suspect items. The “Wal-Mart” of revwar.
Smoke & Fire Co.
PO Box 166
Grand Rapids, OH 43522
Similar to Townsend.