The last event of 2018 (for me) was the “March In” evening event at Valley Forge. My reasons for choosing events may be quirky: anything I can get to at Fort Ti, because I love that fort and landscape; MoAR events because they’re imaginative, not too far, and, bonus, I get to see my mom; anything immersive at which I’ll have tasks and a role; anything that gets me behind the scenes or gives me a new perspective on a site, museum, or event; anything that allows me to flex my interpretive muscles. March In gave me a new perspective, a new site, and a chance to expand my interpretive range. I loved it. My son, not so much. While I’d thought he’d enjoy it– he got us into this living history business, after all–since we’d visited Valley Forge every summer when we went to see my mom, and our parts would be small, progressive-focused scenarios.
Reader, he quit. Ten minutes before the park reopened to the public, as we stood in the dark on the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail, he told me he wanted to quit reenacting.*
No wonder I found the evening chilly.
I wasn’t too concerned about keeping warm after surviving and thriving in Princeton. The weather on December 19th seemed, if not balmy, seasonably pleasant, so I left off a layer or two from the Princeton list, skipping the third neck handkerchief. My bonnet this time was an old woolen “stuff” bonnet made back when my bonnet obsession first began. In the April 8 1776 Pennsylvania Packet, an ad for runaway Margaret Collands records that she was wearing “a redish coloured worsted bonnet.” My choice seemed pretty apt for winter in Pennsylvania, and, lined with linen, I can confirm my head stayed warm. My neck was not!
Griselda Countess Stanhope. Mezzotint engraving by James McArdell after Allen Ramsay. British Museum, ca 1760
At Princeton, I solved the neck draft problem by tying my third neck handkerchief around the neck of my cloak hood (see above). When I came home from Valley Forge, I went shopping in the historical record to see what I could find: hoods. Close-fitting hoods, worn over caps. Some velvet, some, possibly, quilted. I also found bonnets with “quilted crowns,” which I think may describe quilted hoods.
The title is taken from Tench Tilghman to John Cadwalder in Boyle, Writings from the Valley Forge Encampment, 1:26 “Our Men have all got comfortably covered in their Huts and Better quarters are not in the World…” Tench Tilghman to John Cadwalader, Valley Forge, 18 January 1778.
*More on this another time, but yes: he’s still alive and well and seems happy enough for an enormous 20-year-old home with a classic college break cold.