The Georgia Refugees




Well here are a few of the questions we have been asked by new members, our friends and spouses, and just a bunch of other people. Hopefully they and the answers that follow the questions will prove useful and informative.


IF YOU DO HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS, please send Mark Hubbs an e-mail at and he will answer them in an expeditious and courteous manner.  (Well that is our hope anyway but since this is all voluntary we can make no promises.)









Who?—Although this is also answered over on the Introduction page, I will tell you again that THE GEORGIA REFUGEES are a group of men and women who do living history interpretations of the time period of the American Revolution, 1776-1783.  We represent the common inhabitants of Wilkes County, Georgia.  These people were pioneers in new lands opened up by the land cession of 1773.  Although on the frontier of Georgia, they were not isolated from the general goings on of life and culture in the state nor from their neighbors.  The inhabitants of the so-called Ceded Lands were Whigs and Tories, farmers, merchants, slaves, mechanics, tradesmen, thieves, murderers, runaways, gentlemen, and ladies—in general, the same sort of folks found in the more settled areas.   Their home county of Wilkes became the primary focus of the war in the state of Georgia after the fall of Savannah, and many were uprooted due to the deprivations wrought on both sides by those loyal either to Congress or to Crown.   The back country of Georgia was known as “The Hornet’s Nest” due to the savagery of the conflicts among the inhabitants; conflicts which in time became a true civil war within the greater scope of the American War of Independence.   THE GEORGIA REFUGEES represent Captain John Cunningham’s Company, Colonel John Dooly’s Regiment of the Whig militia of Wilkes County.  In the future, we hope to expand our impression to include a specific Loyalist company, and also possibly an element of the Continental Line.



What?—Our intent is to portray militia troops in the field, equipped to march and fight.  We have adopted a set of guidelines to help us interpret these citizen-soldiers, which we call “The Wilkes County Militiaman’s Manifesto.”  We will be working with American Village in Montevallo, Alabama, and will be working closely with the Kettle Creek Battlefield in Washington, Georgia to present our impressions, and will be found at reenactments across the South (and even a few hardy souls will venture all the way up to New York.)



When?—Most reenactments take place in the spring and summer, but our work with the Kettle Creek site will put us in the field in November and in February.  We will make several attempts to muster together during the year to drill, but this is often a problem given folk’s schedules out in the real world.  See our Current Schedule of Events for what we have decided to do this year.
4. Where?—The majority of our members live in the north-central part of Alabama, and we have one hardy fellow down in ‘gator country, and another several equally hardy men over in our namesake state. 







      Why?—Oh, please!  Can anyone truly explain such madness?  Basically, we’re just a bunch of costumed gun nuts.  The more detailed version of the story is that a bit over a year ago, Charlie McCulloh and Terry Olglesby, along with a few of Charlie’s pards over in the Civil War arena, thought about starting a new Continental Line unit here in Alabama.  We had a meeting and tried to come to some agreement on exactly what we wanted to do, and generally decided that no matter what we did, we wanted to do it right.  We knew we wanted to represent a Southern unit, and concentrated initially on the Second Georgia Regiment.  We found that our research materials were severely limited in information, other than the fact that the Georgia Line troops did not have the, er…, best reputation let’s say.  We continued on, trying to dig up more information and came in contact with Mark Hubbs of the 1812 reenacting group known as Jackson’s Lifeguards. With Mark’s contacts, our roster grew, and our emphasis began to shift.  It became apparent from our research that the majority of military action in Georgia was carried on by the militia, not Continental troops.  It also was noted that we could be much more versatile if we were fitted out as militia troops, allowing us a much broader field to work in.  So, in January of this year, we changed.  We have lost a few of our initial folks, who preferred to continue working toward assembling a Line unit.  We completely understand their reasons for pursuing their own course, they continue to be our friends and we wish them continued success.  As for the remainder of us, THE GEORGIA REFUGEES are the only Revolutionary War reenactment group in Alabama, the only Brigade of the American Revolution unit  in the Deep South region, and one of the largest “campaigner” militia units in the United States.

















What kind of gun should I get?—While this question is answered on our equipment page, it still seems to be asked by every new recruit. So maybe a second explaination is in order. The gun best suited to our impression is the Fowler. It was the most commonly owned type of civilian gun. Because of this it would have been widely used in the ranks of the militia.  This gun could also be used as a militia weapon for French & Indian War and War of 1812. There are no "factory" reproductions made, but you can find complete guns made by custom gun makers in the $700 - $1500 range. If you are handy with tools you could also build one from a kit or parts for the $450 - $700 range depending on the vendor. DO NOT confuse a "Northwest Trade Gun" for a fowler. That style emerged in the great lakes and Northern Plains area in the very late 1700s. It was still be made for the Indian trade into the 1860s. It would not be appropriate for any eastern or Rev War era use. The give away on that trade gun is the shape of the buttstock (sort of like a Civil War Enfield) and the oversize trigger guard to allow for gloved fingers. The early English Trade guns would be a decent choice (Charlie has my old one). They are made by Caywood and NorthStar West.

The next best choice would be a military musket. French and British made muskets should be dominate. Fortunately those are the only nationalities readily available.  Which you chose is personal preference. Though a Bess would probably allow the most flexibility.

Some early French muskets would have been in British Colonial hands after the French and Indian War. Also thousands of early French muskets were imported during the war. Most would have been used by Continental troops. Use buy a Southern militiaman would not have been impossible, but probably would not have been common. There are three companies have the early 18th Century French muskets. These represent slightly different models, but are probably made in the same factory in India. The price is attractive and all have gotten good reviews. We personally would prefer the Model 1728. Stay away from the 1777 model. That was Frances premier musket and would not have been sold to other countries. During the period we portray they were only carried by French troops.

The British Brown Bess is probably one of the most well known guns ever produced. It was the main arm of the British army for many decades. It was produced in three primary models, Long Land, Short Land and India pattern.  The most common English musket in colonial America at the outbreak of the war would have been one of the Models of the "Long Land" musket. This would be the second best musket for militia use. There were no factory reproductions being made until recently. But now three importers are bringing them in from India. From reports from the field the Loyalist Arms version is probably the most authentic right out of the box. The Middlesex and Military Heritage versions are also acceptable but be aware there may be some authenticity "fixes" that you might want to make in the future on these guns. All three manufacturers continue to refine their products so hopefully the final version will require little fixing. With the new availability of the "Long Lands", we do not recommend new members purchase one of "Short Land" models. For more information on the Brown Bess please read the article in the April 2001 issue of the American Rifleman Magazine linked here.

As stated on the equipment page, a rifle should be a last resort. These were expensive guns and not as flexible to the average person. To have a few in the ranks is acceptable but they should not be the predominate weapon.





What should I get first?— As a new recruit, it can be some what intimidating trying to decide what to get first in the way of gear. this is especially true if you have a limited budget and lets face it that would be almost everyone. We strongly urge everyone to begin getting the fitted items first. Many of our members have multiple guns and such that we are willing to loan out. Many of us also have extra clothing items but since most of this was made to fit us it will not usually fit well on others. The hardest thing to fit folks with is shoes so this is the first item a new recruit needs to get and don't forget the socks. Next would be trousers or breeches. Then a shirt and waiste coat. A coat or over shirt would be next. Lastly begin acquiring you gun and accoutrements. The biggest thing to keep in mind is you will never have enough. Once you are hooked it is an addiction that never ends.  









What should I do for shoes?— Again this is covered in our equipment section but seems to need a little clarification. The most common shoe of the period was low cut and straight-lasted (meaning when brand new they would fit on either foot. However once they have been worn and molded to ones feet don't try to switch unless you like sore feet.) with moderately rounded toes. These were either buckled or tied. The "high shoes" or Hi-los do have a place in our era. There is evidence that they were used, but probably more by the upper classes as sporting wear. Some of us commoners may have had them too. There has been quite a bit of discussion concerning the Fugawees (Fugawee is a maker of period shoes. Not always the most authentic but affordably priced.) and the consensus is that they are not too bad, but could be improved by dying black and removing the tongue. The extant originals evidently are all "tongueless". We supposed Fugawee chose to put them in to satisfy the trekkers who wanted more protection from the elements.


Moccasins should be avoided. There is no documentation for their wide spread use among the white population in the Colonies. While it is probably true they were used to some extent, we believe it was only for a temporary fix until normal shoes could be found or made.


For field duty, we recommend getting 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). 



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Last revised: August 2,  2003 


Copyright 2000,  2001, 2002, 2003 The Georgia Refugees