Monday, November 13, 2017

Georgia Continentals recruited in Virginia, or Crackers in linen kilts

At the beginning of the American Revolution, Georgia found itself poorly equipped to wage war, and a small and impoverished population did not help matters.  In his 1783 "An Address to the Army", Major George Hangar mentioned "...The Southern Colonies are over-run with a swarm of men from the western parts of Virginia and North Carolina, distinguished by the name of Crackers.  

Many of these people are descended from convicts that were transported from Great Britain to Virginia, at different times, and inherit so much profligacy from their ancesters, that they are the most abandoned set of men on earth, few of them having the last sense of religion. When these people are routed in the other provinces they fly to Georgia, where the winters are mild, and the man who has a rifle, ammunition, and a blanket, can subsist in that vagrant way, which the Indians pursue; for the quantity of deer, wild turkies, and other game there, affords subsistence; and the country being almost covered with woods, they have it always in their power to construct temporary huts, and procure fuel..."
- certainly Major Hangar should have really let us know how he felt on the topic.

Another author, Baika Harvey, was more impressed in 1775:
"I am Just Returned from the Back parts where I seed Eight Thousand men in arms all with Riffeld Barrill guns which they  can hit the Bigness of a Dollar between Two & Three hundreds yards Distance the Little Boys not Bigger than my self has all  their Guns & marches with their Fathers & all their Cry is Liberty or Death Dear Godfather tell all my Country people not to come here for the Americans will kill them Like Dear in the Woods & they will never see them they can lie on their Backs & Load & fire & every time they draws sight at anything they are sure to kill or Creple & they Run in the Woods like Horses I seed the Liberty Boys take Between Two & Three hundred Torreys & one Liberty man would take & Drive four or five before him Just as shepards do the sheep in our Cuntry & they have taken all their arms from them and put the head men in gaile ...".

The state of Georgia initially authorized two battalions of Continentals in 1776, recruiting officers were sent into Virginia and the men recruited for service in Georgia's regiments were to provide their own clothing. Below are some rough notes on clothing and Arms for Georgia's Continentals from a variety of sources.

Savannah, State of Georgia, 2d Oct., 1776. Lieut. Col. John Stirk & ) Maj. Seth John Cuthbert;

Gentlemen: The Honorable the Continental Congress having voted two additional Battalions of foot to be raised for the Defence of this State,our convention have done me the honor to appoint me Colonel of the Second or musket battalion and have greatly added to that honor by the appointment
 of two such Gentlemen of Character and veracity to be my Field Officers, an appointment, be assured Gentlemen, which gives me infinite satisfaction. Let us then unanimously determine to bring into the field as soon as possible a Regiment of brave fellows who may be the Salvation of their Country. For this purpose you are, Gentlemen, to use all expedition in going to the state of Virginia where you will find that Mr. Wereat has distributed all the Commissions in our Regiment to such persons as were capable of raising men. ...The men have a Bounty of Seventy dollars and one hundred acres of land who enlist on the above terms; they are to pay for their clothing. Try to get good Muskets; we shall want in the whole Regiment One hundred and twenty good Riflemen to make two flying companies. Do what you can to get good drummers and fifers, at any rate buy some good drums and as none are to be had here you may have the Dragoons marked 1 to 8 with battalion upon them, but no more paint—it spoils the sound of a Drum..."


Early clothing descriptions for these Georgia recruits are sparse (3rd Ga deserters some of whom originated in Amelia county Virginia- were described in the December 19th, 1777 Virginia Gazette as "in soldier's dress" and at least one man from the British 17th Regiment in "a light cloth coat and breeches with pewter buttons numbered 17"), but a few details are available:

 THE VIRGINIA GAZETTE December 6, 1776
TWENTY DOLLARS REWARD .DESERTED  from my company of the 2d Georgia  battalion, the following soldiers, viz. PATRICK DUFFY, an Irishman , about 5 feet 8 inches high, well made, full faced, wore a short blue jacket with sleeves half worn, and it is supposed was in the marine service. EMANUEL KELLY, country born, about 5 feet 8 inches high, a wheelwright by trade, is very fond of liquor, and wore an old hat, with clothes much worn. Whoever secures said deserters shall have the above reward, or 3l. for each. 

THE VIRGINIA GAZETTE NEWGATE, Loudoun  county, Feb.  20, 1777. DESERTED  from my company in the 2d Georgia  battalion, Patrick Duffy , an Irishman , who is fond of liquor, and has been in the marine service. William Hardy , born in or near Frederick  town, Maryland , about 6 feet high, well made, about 25 years old, wore a cocked hat, and buckskin breeches. Owen Cawfield  an Irishman , by trade a weaver, well dressed, and is a likely fellow; he sometimes works at brick making, and has lived in Alexandria. Charles Melton , born in Loudoun  county, near col. Russell's , and is supposed to be lurking about that neighbourhood. Charles Phillis  (but sometimes calls himself John Ferr ) 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, very well made, seems to be religious at times, though I believe him to be a great villain, and lived near the Short Hills  in Loudoun  county. 

The Pennsylvania Gazette Philadelphia, June 26, 1777.
DESERTED  from the 4th Georgia  battalion, commanded by Col. George White, Esq; John Kaighn, an Irishman, about 5 feet 8 inches high, and 35 years of age, of a dark complexion; had on, when he went away, a hunting shirt, torn breeches, and a round hat....

Thankfully the Orderly book of Samuel Elbert survives and is very illuminating. By 1777 some of the men of the 2nd Battalion in Savannah were oddly enough clothed in linen coats and kilts

 Georgia Continental Currency ca. 1777

Regimental Orders, 2d Battalion.
Savannah, 25th June, 1777

Colo. Elbert desires that the Officer Commanding each Company in the Regiment do immediately apply to the Quarter-Master for as much Osnabrigs as will make Coats & Kilts for their men; which they are to have made up without future all the Officers are to make a point of being present whenever the men are under Arms, as those who stand in no need of being any further instructed in the Art Military will be of great service in teaching others..."

Camp at Reids Bluff, 6, June 1778

        Shirts.  Shoes. Kelts.
Lt. Dragoons    16    12    16
1st Battalion   16    11    15
2nd Do        76    55    74
3 do         46    33    45
4 do         20    29    40

Total         174    140    190

Hats seem to have not been entirely uniform and shoes in short supply:

Head qrs., Savannah, 5th Dec., 1777

"[discusses plans to intercept  Florida Scouts] " which case you are both to wear white cockades-the enemy commonly have red in their hats-Ambuscades from the enemy is the most you need to be
 on your guard to prevent, your videttes will always give you timely notice, should they attempt to surprize your camp..."

General Orders
Head qrs., Savannah, the 31st Decemr. 1777

"...The soldiers appearing in the manner they do, with flapp'd hats, in any place (but more especially when on duty) is slovenly and unsoldierly. Hats, however ordinary, may surely be cocked...All officers are therefore injoined, but more particularly the officers of companies, to be attentive in endeavoring to make their men appear as decent and soldier like as possible..."

Camp Sattilia River, 21, June, 78

"...Commanders of brigades will have returns made them of such men as have no shoes, and have mockazons made for them out of the hides, the well calculated the number of hides necessary, that no waste may happen, which the commissary is to deliver to their order...The shirts, kelts, shoes and other clothing served out to the Georgia Brigade at Fort Howe, Reids Bluff and this camp, are to be immediately reported by the commanding officers of each corps to Colo. Elbert..."

Camp So. Side of St. Illa River, 24, June [1778]

Commanding officers of corps are to draw from the Quarter Master of the 2d Reget. the articles agreeable to the following list, which they are to serve out to such
of their men as stands most in need thereof...

        Shirts.  Shoes. Leggins.
1st Battalion   15    10    13
2nd Do        58    39    52
3 do         44    30    39
4 do         26    17    23
Lt. Dragoons    26    18    24

Total         169    114    151


Georgia began the war with a few varieties of older muskets on hand, other arms came with the recruits from Virginia and later, French sources.

The State of Georgia to Capt Sam’l Scott [3rd Georgia Battalion? ]
"...To 29 Rifles and 8 Smoth Do. at £8 Each 296"

John Mosby [2d Ga Battalion 4th company?]
" 22 Rifles, Screws & Moulds 122 " 45 Musketts and Fowling Pieces 225 " 3 Musketts Bayonetts' & accourtramts 18... 1 Gun and Screw 5 6...Do for powder Horns 6..."

Elbert's Orderly Book has some additional great arms oriented citations, he describes the Regiment's arms in July of 1777 as" Sorry trash I have at present being such a medley of Rifles, old muskets & fowling pieces, with a few French Traders, that I have no faith in them, not above fifty of the three Hundred Stand French Arms bought the other day in South Carolina, but what are either Bursted or otherwise totally unfit for Service." They seem to have utilized both cartridge boxes and shot bags/pouches with horns.

[2d Georgia Battalion]

Regimental Orders, 2nd Battalion
3rd April, 1777.

"...The Officers of each Company are to see that every man under their Command is Immediatley furnished with a good powder Horn; after a reasonable time, no excuse will be received for a breach of this Order, as any reasonable expense in procuring them will be allowed..."

Polly Transport, 4th May, 1777, St. Catherines

"...The Commanding Officer desires that particular attention be paid to the Order of yesterday & that of the first Instant; he will take an Opportunity of going onboard the different Transports in order to examine the men's Arms & Ammunition; by Applying to Mr. Seeds a little Oil will be obtained to oil the Arms & Keep them from rust; each soldier is to have powder in his Horn & look to all in their Pouch with proper Wadding, exclusive of the Cartridges in their Pouch, which are to be Kept full with three spare flints pr. man;..."

 F&I era Cherokee/French treaty image possibly showing a powder horn slung to a shot pouch

Regimental Orders, 2nd Battalion
12th July, 1777.

"...The regiment to parade precisely at four o'clock this afternoon, each man with as much loose powder in his Horns as will make Nine rounds, with black moss [Spanish Moss] for wadding;
 the Colo. can have no doubt but that every man in the Regiment has a powder Horn slung to his pouch after so many repeated orders for the Purpose, as the Companies are
all informed they are in future when every under arms to appear in them..."

 Firearms parts, including fowling gun parts from Fort Morris,Georgia.

Savannah, 18 July, 1777.

"...I send you a return of my Regemt. together with as Exact account of their Arms and Accoutriments as could be procured at this time, many of them being on out Commands. Could you by any means furnish me with good Muskets and Bayonetts for my men it would make me Happy, the Sorry trash I have at present being such a medley of Rifles, old muskets & fowling pieces, with a few French Traders, that I have no faith in them, not above fifty of the three Hundred Stand French Arms bought the other day in South Carolina, but what are either Bursted or otherwise totally unfit for Service.
You may rest assured that I shall pay due respect to your Recommendations of Mr. Bradly. I am with much respect, Dear General,
Your most obedt. Servt.,
                           S. ELBERT. "

"General Howe.
Regimental Orders, 2d Battalion.
                                     Savannah, 21st July, 1777.

All the small smooth bore pieces are to be sent to Mr. Richards the Gun Smith, who will fit them with the best of the Bayonetts & Iron Rods of those French Guns that were landed, the Officers by applying to Mr. Cooper will get Horns for their men, the Co1o. will order payment for what may be bought, frequent complaint being made that the Soldiers destroy Horns in Town for want of Firewood; the Quarter-Master is ordered to take such steps as to have a regular supply
 of that article in future."

General Howe.
Savannah, 6th Decemb. 1777

Dr. Sir: The letter I give you for Genl. Howe, you are to proceed to Chas. Town with, and in case he can't furnish you with the arms for your regt. try if possible
 & purchase what are necessary, but take care that they are fit for service & with good bayonetts; purchase or have made pouches & belts likewise, and I will give orders to our quarter-master general to make payment.  General Howe will assist you in this matter.  If you succeed in procuring the arms and your regt. are not passed, change their route and let them call & take them, but should this not be convenient either hire wagons or a boat & have them transported here immediately. I am, dr. sir,
 Your most obedt. servt. S. ELBERT.

Order Book of Samuel Elbert,
Colonel and Brigadier General in the Continental Army

[2d Georgia Battalion]


Headquarters, Savannah, 29th Jany. 1778
"...Commanding officers of companies are immedieately to have each man of their company furnished with a former exactly fitted to his gun; and as the calibers may not be equal, commanding officers of battalions are directed to have boxes prepared to deposit cartridges in seperate bundles, which bearing some mark to distinguish to which gun they belong, no mistake, confusion, or delay may happen in serving them out when necessary..."

Gneral Orders
Headquarters, Savannah, the 2d Feby. 1778

Commanding officers of battalions are immediately to have bullet moulds made for their several regiments; if the caliber of the guns is equal, two to each regiment, casting four or five bullets on each side will be sufficient, but if there should be a variety of different bores a greater number of moulds will be wanted, in which case they need not be made to cast so many. The regiment they belong to must be marked on each mould..."

Headquarters, Fort Howe, 1778 [6? May 1778]

"Commanding officers of corps are to see that such of their men as are without do immediately provide themselves with powder-horns and as many have not the proper means
 of carrying their cartridges, application must be made to the Deputy Quarter Master General, for leather or canvas to make pouches for supplying the deficiencies

Camp So. Side of the St. Illa River, 24th June. [1778]

The army marches to-day. Every man is to have his horn filled with powder, his cartouch box well furnished, carry thirty rounds of loose powder & ball and
two spare flints pr. man
; four days' rice is to be served to each man..."

Pension application of William Willoughby S36396 fn9GA
Transcribed by Will Graves 5/14/10

2nd Battalion

I certify that William Willoughby a Private Soldier has Delivered all his Arms Acconrments [Accoutrements] and Ammunition. That is his Musket, Cartridge Box and eighteen rounds of Cartridges
Augusta 28th day of August 1779
S/ George Handley
? Major 1st Geo. Cont. Regt.

Willoughby's 18 rounds may indicate the use of an 18 hole cartouch box. On November 19, 1756 there was an “Order in Council for Small Arms & Ammunition to be sent to Georgia” (p104 55/412) for “Five hundred Small arms of the Dutch Fabrick...with Bayonets and Scabbards... Cartouch Boxes with Straps of 18 Holes...”