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The Jolly Landlady in Hyde Park. Paul Sandby, 1780. British Museum 1904,0819.622

The Fair Stationer in Hyde Park, 1780. Outline engraving by Paul Sandby. British Museum 1880,1113.1915

The Fair Stationer in Hyde Park, 1780. Outline engraving by Paul Sandby. British Museum 1880,1113.1915

Still wondering what to do in camp that’s not cooking or sewing? Technically, you shouldn’t be cooking if you’re a woman: that was a soldier’s job, though I recall seeing a reference to women cooking when all the men were pulled into the line during an engagement. A card file would help me, but for now, all I have is my scattered memory.

But if you’re tired of mending and making shirts (one of the most boring tasks, I find– all straight seams and very predictable), there’s more to do than laundry.

If the event represents a longer encampment, you could run a traveling coffee house or tavern. There’s the Widow Black in the Mid West, but I haven’t encountered this yet in New England. You could be a Jolly Landlady, or as the British Museum has it,  “a voluptuous lady stands in foreground to left, holding up a glass to a soldier on horseback.”

The Fair Stationer in Hyde Park 1780. Outline etching with watercolor, Paul Sandby. British Museum 1904,0819.576

The Fair Stationer in Hyde Park 1780. Outline etching with watercolor, Paul Sandby. British Museum 1904,0819.576

The Fair Stationer shows us Lloyd’s Coffee House and what looks like a carriage body on blocks, converted to a news stand. You could sell newspapers and writing paper, pamphlets and poem and songs. It’s an impression that would take a lot of thinking and research for the American colonies, but could be very interesting. the transmission of news and information and the transport of mail and packages presented challenges. How were they overcome?

I’m also struck by the number of dogs in Sandby’s images. If it’s not the same dog, over and over, I would guess that in the 18th century as in the 20th, soldiers had pets that traveled with them, both common soldiers with common curs and officers with hunting dogs. The camps must have been disastrously messy, with fatigue details to clean them.  We can’t have dogs at reenactments, but we could have more outraged sergeants. It’s hard, though, because to do these things well, you have to know and trust the people you’re doing them with (and that includes yourself).