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Francis Wheatley, 1747-1801, British, Soldier with Country Women Selling Ribbons, near a Military Camp, 1788, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Francis Wheatley, 1747-1801, British, Soldier with Country Women Selling Ribbons, near a Military Camp, 1788, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

You know you’re taking something seriously when you’re willing to pay for the privilege of reading a primary source. The microfilm I ordered from the Phillips Library arrived a week or so ago and I managed to snatch an hour or so between meetings to read and print some of the most interesting pages. I get a week or so more before the reader at work goes to storage, and then I’ll have to go haunt another library.

This is the kind of stuff I will happily read at bedtime, though it should also be noted that I will read regimental record books at bedtime, or runaway ads, so we may not share tastes in literature.

I was willing to pay for the film because I wanted to read the books in full to get a better sense of the context in which Bridget Connor was operating. (Delightedly, I realized last night as I fell asleep, of course there’s no death record for her in Massachusetts. She was expelled from camp at Newburgh, so why would she walk all the way back to Massachusetts? Why not set up a new life in New York? A whole new place to look for her!)

Beyond Bridget, there’s a wealth of detail in the Stephen Abbott Orderly Books.

Thomas Sandby, 1721-1798, British, Encampment at Maestricht, 1747, Pen in black ink, over graphite with gray wash on medium, moderately textured, beige, laid paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Thomas Sandby, 1721-1798, British, Encampment at Maestricht, 1747, Pen in black ink, over graphite with gray wash on medium, moderately textured, beige, laid paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

“Regl Orders 5th June 1782
the Regiment will make Every preparation
to March on Fryday the Soldiers are to
Clean there arms to Morrow and pack up
there Clothing.. The Commedants of Com
apanies are Directed to Send the tent poles
which are Finished to Morrow by 12 oClock
to the Landing where the tent Lay the Guard
with the tents will pitch a No of tents Suff
iciant to Cover the Straw and what ever Bag
gae is Brought previous to the march”

This helps us get a picture of the camp, and from the order about the tent poles, I think we may gather that there were plenty of tent poles NOT expected to be finished. (My colleagues enjoyed that part when I read it aloud at work.)

Regimnl Orders June 6th 1782
the Regiment will turn out to Morrow Morning
at the Beating of the Revelee and to March
By Six oClock they are to pack there cloth
ing and kook there provisions this Evening
when they have arivd on the Ground for Encam
ping the officer commanding on the Spot
will order a partry if Forty men from the Reg
iment a Capt and two Sub’s to Command them
to Return to the Encampment in order to asist
in Bringin on the Baggage the Soldiers
are to Carry there kittles in there hands and
are to Leave there arms and pakes &c at the
New Encampment any Soldier who is found
Plundering another pack is to be tyd up and
punished with out Trial..

Carry their kettles in their hands, their provisions cooked the night before. Now, wouldn’t that change an encampment’s appearance? Let alone tied up plunderers…