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A Study Of Army Camp Life During American Revolution – War & Military Audiobook – History Audio Book

September 12, 2019


introduction
to a study of army camp life during American Revolution this is a librivox
recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information
or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by david wales a
study of army camp life during american revolution by mary hazel snuff
introduction the object of this study is to produce a picture of the private
soldier of the american revolution as he lived ate was punished played and
worshipped in the army camp drawing that picture not only from the standpoint of
the Continental Congress the body which made the rules and regulations for
governing the army or from the officer’s viewpoint as they issued orders from
headquarters rather than just a study of the soldier himself in the camp
conditions and his reaction to them it was easy for Congress to determine the
rations or for the commander-in-chief to issue orders about housing conditions
and sanitation but the opportunities for obeying those orders were not always the
best it is just that fact not what was intended but what happened that is to be
discussed the soldier in camp is an aspect of the Revolutionary War which
has been taken up only in a very general way by writers of that period of history
except perhaps the condition at Valley Forge for at least their terrible side
is quite generally known Charles Knowles Bolton has studied the private soldier
under Washington but has emphasized other phases of the soldier’s life than
those taken up in this study the material has been gathered mostly from
letters journals orderly books and Diaries of the officers and privates
written a while in camp the difficulty confronted has been to get the diaries
of the private soldier they have either not been published or if they have been
published they have been edited in such a way as
to make them useless for a study of social condition
in camp the emphasis having been placed on the military operations and tactics
rather than the everyday incidents in the soldiers life the soldier has been
studied after he went into camp little has been said about the conditions which
led to the war or the conditions as they were before the struggle began except as
they are used to explain existing facts it has been the plan in most of the
chapters to give a brief resume of the plans made by Congress or the commander
in chief for the working out of that particular part of the organization then
to describe the conditions as they really were there has been no attempt
made for it would be an almost impossible to ask to give a picture of
the life in all the camps but rather the more representative phases have been
described or conditions in general have been discussed the first phase of camp
life considered is that of the housing conditions the difficulties encountered
the description of the huts the method of construction and the furnishing this
is followed in the second chapter with a study of the food and clothing the
supply and scarcity of those necessities the third chapter will have to do with
the health and sanitation of the soldier while encamped the hospital system the
number six the diseases most prevalent and the means of prevention the soldiers
leisure time will be the subject of the fourth chapter the sort of recreation he
had been in the habit of at home and the ways he found of amusing himself in camp
conditions the soldiers religion forms the subject matter of the fifth chapter
the influence of the minister before the war his place in the army the religious
exercises in camp and their effect upon the individual and the war in general
the last chapter will be in a way a recapitulation of all that has gone
before by drawing a picture of a day with a
soldier in town emphasizing the discipline and duties of
camp life end of introduction chapter 1 housing conditions the war was on the
Lexington and Concord Frei was over Paul Revere had made his memorable ride and
the own Patriots with enthusiasm at white heat were swarming from village
and countryside leaving their work and homes where they were going they did not
know they were going to fight with little thought of where they were to
live or what they were to eat and where there was a Continental Congress but it
had little Authority and the fact was that very few members of that mushroom
growth army even felt that they were fighting for a Confederation for in
their minds they were for the various states and it was through the various
states they looked for support and it was to those states that the honors were
to go it was not until the day before the Battle of Bunker Hill that Congress
had appointed a commander in chief and it was almost a month later when
Washington took command in Boston there was an army of 16,000 men mostly from
the New England states strengthened by about 3,000 from the more southern
states during the next month it was more nearly a mob than an army there was no
directing force no-one to superintend the building of barracks no one to
distribute food or to take charge of the supplies the provincial Congress of
Massachusetts on hearing of Washington’s appointment ordered on June 26 1775 the
presidents of the college house in Cambridge excepting one room reserved
for the president for his own use to be taken it cleared prepared and furnished
for the reception of General Washington and generally it seems as though the
general only occupied that house for a short time and then moved to what was
called the gray house for on July 8 1775 the Committee of Safety directed at the
house of John vassal a refugee loyalist should it be put in condition for the
reception of the commander-in-chief and later that his welfare should be looked
after by providing him with a steward a housekeeper and such articles of
furniture as he might ask for such were the headquarters of the first camp of
the revolution but the story of the privates quarters is quite a different
thing the troops were not quartered at one place they were scattered about the
surrounding territory some at Roxbury some at Winter Hill others at Prospect
Hill and sewells farm and at various small towns along the coast some of them
were living in houses and churches others were occupying barns and still
others were constructing their own places of shelter using sailcloth logs
stones mud sod rails or anything else which would lend itself to the purpose a
good description of this motley host is given us by Reverend William Emerson of
Concord the site is very diverting to walk among the camps they are as
different in their form as the owners are in their dress and every tent is a
portraiture of the temper and taste of the persons who in camp in it some are
made of boards some of sail cloth again others are made of stone and turf brick
or brush some are thrown up in a hurry others curiously wrought with doors and
windows done with wreaths and what’s in the manner of a basket Washington wrote
from Cambridge to Congress on July 10 1775 about a month after taking command
and said we labor under great disadvantages for want of tents for
though they have been helped out by a collection of now useless sails from the
sea for towns the number is yet far short of our necessities when the tents
were used for shelter at Cambridge or at other places
it was very seldom that anything more than Mother Earth served as floors and
sometimes that was so wet and miry that the soldiers during the rainy season
were forced to raise the ground with rushes barks and flags in the dry and at
other times the tents were taken down during
the day for the ground to dry and then put up again at night it would be
difficult to get anywhere more frank reactions to housing conditions than
those which were given by dr. Waldo in a poem written while in camp describing
the general conditions but particularly the tents and huts the park quoted below
describes a stormy day and the hardships endured when the army was encamped in
tents though Hut’s in Winter Shelter give yet the thin tents in which we live
through a long summer’s art campaign our slender covers from the rain and oft no
friendly barn is nigh or friendlier house to keep us dry move tents and
baggage to some height and on wet cloths wet blankets lie till welcome sunshine
makes them dry others a despising storm and rain still in the flat and veil
remain there sleep in water muck and mire or drizzling stand before a fire
composed of stately piles of wood yet off text ingh wished with the flood as
the weather grew colder and the men were still in tents it was the practice to
build chimneys on the tents or rather in front of the tents they were built on
the outside and concealed the entrance which served the double purpose of
keeping out the wind and also keeping in as much heat as possible the tents were
supposed to house about six men and no more than fourteen tents were allowed to
accompany of about 72 the tent was the most common mode of housing it was used
whenever it was possible to get material except when the army went into winter
quarters then the log huts were built the tents were usually formed in two
ranks in regular lines and often the seasons advanced so rapidly that the
snow would be four feet deep around each tent it even being February before the
huts were finished in some instances the furnishings of the tents were very
meager one person even remarking that they were greatly favored and
having a supply of straw for beds the straw was placed on the ground and five
or six soldiers would crowd together on it hoping to keep warm sometimes each
had a blanket and sometimes there was one blanket for three or four the sentry
was instructed to keep the fire burning in the chimney outside which added a
little to the comfort when the army went into winter quarters the soldiers were a
little more comfortable Morristown and Valley Forge were the two representative
winter quarters the location of these permanent camps was usually chosen
because of the ease with which building materials could be obtained or because
there was easy access to food supplies as orders came to go into winter camp
the men were divided into companies of twelve each group was to build its own
Hut and lucky was the group which happened to get the most carpenters for
General Washington offered a prize of $12 to the group in each regiment which
finished its Hut first and did the best work while the men were busy cutting the
logs and bringing them in the superintendent appointed from the field
officers marked out the location of the huts they were usually in two or three
lines with regular streets and avenues between them all together forming a
compact little village the space in front of the huts was cleared and used
for a parade ground by the various regiments whenever it was possible the
huts were built on an elevation the health of the army being the object
considered the only tools the soldier had to work with were his axe and saw he
had no nails and no iron of any sort just the trunks of trees to cut into the
desired lengths and a little mud and straw each Hut was 14 by 16 feet with
log sides 6 and 1/2 feet high the logs were notched on the ends and fitted
together in a dove tailing fashion the spaces between the logs being made
airtight with clay and straw the roof was a single sharp slope that would shed
the snow and rain easily made of timbers and a covered with hewn slabs and straw
there might be boards for the floor but often there was not even a board to use
for that purpose and just dirt served instead each Hut inhabited by privates
had one window and one door the officers quarters usually had two windows the
windows and doors were formed by sawing out a portion of the logs the proper
size and putting the part sawed out on wooden hinges or sometimes in the case
of windows the hole was covered with oiled paper to let in light the door was
in one end and at the opposite end the chimney was built built in a manner
similar to the Hat itself except that it was made of the smaller timbers and that
both the inner and outer sides were covered with a clay plaster to protect
the wood from the fire the huts were in one room usually except the officers and
theirs were divided into two apartments with a kitchen in the rear each such hut
was occupied by three or four under officers the generals had added their
own private Hut or else lived in a private house near the camp in the same
poem as mentioned above written by dr. Waldo is a description of the building
and furnishing of a hut which warrants repeating my humble Hut demands a right
to have its matter birth and site described first of ponderous logs whose
bulk this days the winds or fogs the sides and ends are fitly raised and by
dovetail each corner braced Authority roof young saplings lie which
fire and smoke has now made dry next straw raps or the tender pail next earth
then splints or lay the hole although it leaks when showers are or it
did not leak two hours before to Kennedy’s placed at opposite angles keep
smoke from causing Earth’s and rankles our floors of sturdy Timbers made
cleaned from the oak and a level laid those cracks where Zephyrs oft would
play are tightly closed with plastic clay three windows placed all in sight
through oiled paper give us light one door on wooden hinges hung let’s in the
friend or sickly throng by wedge and beetle splitting force the oaken planks
are made though coarse pie which is formed a strong partition that keeps us
in a snug condition divides the kitchen from the hall though both are equal and
both are small yet with air the cook prepares the board here serves it up as
to a lord the above description that no doubt applies in general to any of the
winter quarters often the camp was better situated for obtaining the
necessary supplies and to after the soldiers had built one such town of huts
the next would be better because of their experience the camp at Morristown
was better than the one at Valley Forge the quarters were large and huts were
built to be used for social affairs such as dances and Lodge meetings when the
army was the only stationed at a place for a short time as for instance when
they were in camped near the enemy planning an attack and did not care to
build the more permanent quarters which took more time to complete and when
living in tents was not practical they built what the French called barrels
which could be thrown up in a day or two these temporary quarters consisted of a
wall of stone he dug the spaces between filled with mud and a few planks formed
the roof a chimney was built at one end and the only opening was a small door at
the side of the chimney when the army was on the March
the soldiers carried their tents with them if it was possible but a great many
circumstances arose which made that impossible then they had a Hut of brush
or sod or even just sky to cover and protect them at other times they slept
in barns or churches or wherever they could find a place as might be expected
the furnishings of the huts were of a very meager sort there were beds of
straw usually on the floor or else raised from the floor to get away from
the dampness each man was supposed to have with him his own blanket and
utensils but it often happened that there was about a kettle or two for the
whole company since the actual necessities were so meager there surely
were no unnecessary articles there were none of those things which would tend to
make the camcorders the least bit like home one man describes the difficulty of
finding a place to write and ends by saying that the railing in a nearby
church was the best place the only light they had was furnished by candles which
were a part of every man’s rations and the tallow from the cattle killed for
camp use was made into candles the men crouched together in these huts and the
poor ventilation coupled with the fact that the only means of heating was an
open fireplace which sent about as much smoke into the room as it did out
through the chimney produced a condition which was almost unbearable from this
study it would seem as if there were at least three classes of barracks the
tents used when practicable the huts for winter quarters the barracks for
temporary housing and if one wanted to mention a fourth it would be just any
place wherever a soldier might lie down when the housing situation is looked at
from one angle the view is of the worst possible but when on the other hand one
realizes that each time the troops went into camp the whole process had to be
gone through with from the cutting of the logs to the moving into the huts and
beside that they had no tools the whole thing seems wonderful chapter 2 food and
clothing if the problem of housing was a serious one and one which caused a great
amount of suffering the question of food was even more serious the theory of
getting the food for the soldiers was all very simple but not so simple in
practice according to theory the various colonies were apportioned at the amount
they were to supply and were to deliver their portion to the camp which might be
designated by the mandarin chief the lack of authority of
Congress which played havoc so many times with the smooth running of affairs
also played havoc in the commissary Department the apportionment plan was
carried out to some extent but of course was not to be depended upon for often
the colonies got the supplies to camp but more often they did not the amount
to be supplied was divided up among the inhabitants of the states in the case of
meet some giving one hundred and fifty pounds and others one hundred and eighty
pounds according to their ability the other supplies were divided up in the
same way when a given community was ready to send their supply some of the
farmers would take the job of driving the cattle to the camp receiving about a
dollar a day and expenses while they were traveling a French man who
travelled in America during the Revolutionary period told of his
experience when he tried to get a room in an inn which was filled with farmers
on their way to camp with a herd of cattle in that particular group there
were thirteen men and 250 cattle July 19 1775 Joseph Trumbull was made commissary
General of stores and provisions by the Continental Congress November 4 of the
same year the following resolution was made in Congress in regard to the
rations of the private soldier resolved that a ration consists of the following
kind and quantity of provisions there’s one pound of beef or three quarter pound
of pork or one pound salt fish per day one pound bread or flour per day three
pints of peas or beans per week or vegetables equivalent at $1 per bushel
for peas or beans one pint of milk per man per day or at the rate of 172nd of
$1 1/2 pint of rice or one pint of Indian meal per man per week one quart
of spruce beer or cider per man per day or nine gallons of molasses per company
of hundred men per week three pound candles
to 100 men per week four guards twenty-four pounds of soft or eight
pounds of hard so for 100 men per week the rations mentioned in orderly books
or journals were the same as the above except that butter was added in some
cases and a pint of rum was allowed on the day a man was on fatigue duty or on
special occasion but in the large the rations given at the beginning of the
war by Congress were followed whenever there were supplies enough to admit of
any definite plan being followed the officers received rations according to
their rank this would have ended the story of the revolutionary soldiers food
if the theory had been practicable but as it was not there is a different story
to tell the conditions on the march to Quebec with Arnold were almost
unendurable the March was only started when the soldiers were put on short
rations receiving 3/4 of a pound of meat and bread instead of a whole pound and
as they proceeded the conditions only grew worse until when they were not yet
nearing their destination the last of the flour was divided there were just
seven pints for each man that amount was to last seven days thus each man had a
pint a day to live on and that had to be divided into a Gill for breakfast half a
pint for dinner and the remaining Gill for supper it was mixed with clear water
with no salt and laid on the coals to heat a little and then it was nibbled as
the soldiers marched on or else it was boiled like starch and eaten in that
fashion it happened sometimes that some soldiers had the good fortune to kill a
partridge much to his joy for that mint soup could be made the condition only
grew worse instead of better and all the food was gone the next move
was to kill the dogs which were in camp even the legs and claws were boiled for
soup when the situation had become so acute
that the soldiers had given up their moose skin moccasins to boil in an
attempt to get a little nurse a moose was killed a Hulk was called and
soup was made for the hungry soldiers of the entire animal hoofs horns and all if
we follow the division of the army which was sent against the Indians in
Sullivan’s expedition in 1779 the conditions will be found to be somewhat
different for that March was made during the summer and fall rather than fall and
winter as the march to Quebec had been and besides the Western campaign was
into a country which abounded in beans peas corn cucumbers pumpkins squashes
and watermelons the soldiers were short on rations and out of bread but it was
not felt so keenly because of the substitutes they could get the main
object of the expedition was to devastate the Indians land and one duty
was to destroy or take all the food which came in their way when the
soldiers came to a field of corn their first duty was to feast on it
and then destroy all they could not use or carry away with them if the corn was
in a condition for roasting they did that or made succotash if it was too
hard for roasting they converted some old tin kettles found in the Indian
villages into large craters by punching holes in the bottom then one of the
military duties of the soldiers was to grate the corn into a coarse meal which
was mixed with boiled pumpkins or squash and kneaded into cakes and baked on the
coals and even that coarse food was relished by the men when fatigued after
a long march this rather amusing entry yet terrible if true is found in one
diary of the expedition July 7 I eat part of a fried rattlesnake today which
would have tasted very well had it not been snake the conditions in the camp
were somewhat different than those on the March for in camp what the rations
were depended on the amount of supplies if they were plentiful full rations
could be drawn by each soldier but when they were scarce each soldier had to
take less the time and place of drawing supplies seemed to vary with
circumstances and no definite plan was followed it is a
mistake to think that the soldier of the American Revolution was always suffering
for the want of food the picture drawn for us most often is that of the
distressing conditions there was a brighter side although it is true that
the soldiers suffered many times when the camps were situated in or near an
agricultural community the farmers swarmed to camp with their produce
charging exorbitant prices but if the soldier had any money he was usually
willing to buy in the course of eight days the caterer of a single mess
purchased three barrels of cider seven bushels of chestnuts four of apples at
twelve shillings a bushel and a wild turkey which weighed over seventeen
pounds in winter when there was no produce to
be brought in and no way of securing provisions the story was not so bright
the conditions at Valley Forge were quite well known how the rations were
cut down until it was fire cakes and water for breakfast and water and fire
cakes for dinner or how the soldiers ate every kind of horse feed but a and often
they were without meat for eight or ten days and longer without vegetables
supplies were gathered from every conceivable source sometimes cows were
part of the supply company taken along for the purpose of supplying milk one
man writes in his diary his appreciation of a cow which supplied them milk on the
march with Sullivan’s expedition the method used at that time for cooking
seemed very simple and inefficient now huge bake ovens were built in the camp
and whenever there was flour to use Baker’s baked the bread for the camp the
quality of the bread furnished in that way was certainly not beyond reproach
for often it was sour and unwholesome there were huts built for kitchens one
for each company and there the soldiers took turns cooking for their company or
else each soldier cooked his own food over an open fire at times the fuel
became so scarce that the fences around the camp were torn down and burned and
after that the food had to be eaten raw because of the lack of fuel if there was
material to be used for fuel and other supplies some distance from the camp it
was no uncommon sight to see soldiers yoke together acting the part of horses
in order to get the supplies to camp today this question of food for the
revolutionary soldier in the light of present day events looks rather
inefficient and unscientific when there was plenty the soldiers feasted when
food was scarce they fasted but it must be remembered that there was no
dependable supply no directing force and no distributing agency and besides those
hindrances there were no ways of preserving food as there are today a
naked or half clothed army did not make a very imposing looking force even if
they did have a place to live and something to eat they had to have
something to wear if they were to meet the enemy on the field stoy ban wrote
the description of the dress is most easily given the men were literally
naked as some of them in the fullest extent of the word the officers who had
coats had them of every color and make I saw officers at a grand parade at Valley
Forge mountain guard in a sort of dressing gown made of an old blanket or
woollen bed cover this description no doubt was appropriate for part of the
army part of the time but not for all the army all the time the troops as they
were assembled at Boston did to present a peculiar picture each person wearing
the costume best suited to his individual notion of a suitable uniform
with a tendency toward frill ruffles and feathers each thinking that the
gorgeousness added to the dignity and effectiveness of the whole some were in
citizens clothes some in the hunting shirt of the backwoodsmen and some even
in the blanket of the Indian for it was the notion of some that rifleman should
ape the manners of the Savage Washington took the matter into consideration and
wrote Congress I find the Army in general and the troops raised in
Massachusetts in particular very deficient and necessary clothing
upon inquiry there appears a no probability of obtaining any supplies in
this quarter and the best consideration of this matter I am able to form I am of
the opinion that a number of hunting shirts not less than 10,000 would in a
great degree remove this difficulty in the cheapest and quickest manner I know
nothing in expected of you more trivial yet if put in practice would have a
happier tendency to unite the men and abolish those provincial distractions
which lead to jealousy and dissatisfaction he suggested the hunting
shirt because it was cheap and besides it is a dress justly supposed to carry
no small terror to the enemy who think every such person a complete marksman it
was decided that the hunting shirt should be used and also that the
Continental government should supply the clothing and then 10% of each man’s
wages should be withheld each month the quartermaster general had charge of the
clothing supply and at regular intervals he was supposed to distribute clothing
to the soldier but the supply varied to such an extent that no regular plan
could be followed the following was considered an ordinary man’s outfit for
a year to Lenin hunting shirts two pairs of overalls a leather nor woolen
waistcoat with sleeves a pair of breeches a hat or leather cap two shirts
two pair of poles two pair of shoes the whole was to amount to about $20 the
soldier was considered in full uniform when he appeared on parade with a clean
shirt leggings or stockings hair combed shirt collar buttoned with star hunting
shirt well put on hat since the material for the hunting shirts was difficult to
get the officers as well as the men were to dye their shirts in a uniform manner
the different ranks of a soldier were shown by the hunting shirt a captain’s
was short and fringed the privates short and plain the sergeants was to have a
small white cuff and to be plain and drummer’s was to have a dark curve both
officers and soldiers were to have hats cut round and bound with black the brims
of the hats were to be two inches deep and cocked on one side with a button and
a loop and a cockade which was to be worn on the left side there was also a
distinction made by the wearing of a certain colored cockade in the Hat the
field officers were red or pink the captain at yellow or buff and the
subaltern green the material for the soldier’s clothing was supplied by the
various colonies the following resolution is typical of numerous ones
passed by the different colonies that a quantity of homemade cloth or other if
that can be obtained as far as may be of a brown or cloth color sufficient for
three thousand coats and the same number of waste cuts and as many blankets as
can be obtained in the colony three thousand felt hats cloth of czech famil
or some linen if that can’t be obtained sufficient for six thousand shirts and
also six thousand pairs of shoes or as in Massachusetts a committee was
appointed to collect four thousand pairs of stockings the material after being
collected was made up by regimental tailors the commanding officer was to
make a report as to the number of tailors employed in the regiment and
also whether there were not more tailors in the regiment than were employed in
making clothing the women at home aided very materially in the clothing problem
by their spinning knitting and collecting of linen when persons called
on mrs. Washington whether she was at home or ain’t can’t they usually found
her knitting and she had 16 spinning wheels running at one time other women
all over the country followed her example instances almost without number
or mentioned in Diaries and journals of the nakedness of the army some without
shoes with only pieces of blankets wrapped around their feet thousands
without blankets others with their shirts and strings and added to all that
the paymaster without a dog and the quartermaster in almost the same
situation even the soldiers had to suffer from the want of clothing yet
they were able to see the funny side of the situation the story is told in one
diary of a party that was given by an officer for which invitations were
extended to all the only restriction being that no one with a whole pair of
breeches could be admitted end of chapters 1 & 2 chapter 3 health and
sanitation the health of the soldier was not entirely forgotten those in
authority made an attempt to prevent or at least to lessen the pain and
suffering of those who were taken sick or were wounded in army service but
often the measures of prevention instituted the methods of checking
contagion and the means of alienating pain were of the crudest sort and to us
of the 20th century they seemed almost inhuman it must be remembered that not
even our simple remedies of today were known then not to mention our modern
methods of combating disease the Continental Congress thought of that
phase of army conditions and on July 25 1775 the following provisions were made
for an army of 40,000 men a hospital was to be established under the direction of
a Director General his salary was to be $4 per day he was to superintend the
whole furnish the medicines and bedding and make a report to and receive orders
from the commander-in-chief under the director there were to be four surgeons
one apothecary and 20 surgeons maids each receiving 2/3 of $1 per day whose
Duty it was to visit and attend the sick there was also to be a matron who had
under her direction the nurses one for every 10 sick soldiers then in July 1776
the resolution was passed that the number of hospital surgeons and maids
was to be increased in proportion to the increase in size of
the army not to exceed one surgeon and five mates to every 5,000 men and to be
reduced as the army was reduced dr. church was appointed by Congress as
director but before October 14 7075 he had been taken into custody for holding
correspondence with the enemy and on October 17 1775 dr. Morgan was elected
in his stead but even after the new director was
appointed there was still room for complaint for Washington wrote to
Congress I am amazed to hear the complaints of the hospital on the east
side of Hudson’s River I will not pretend to point out the causes but I
know matters have been strangely conducted in the medical line I hope
your new appointment when it is made will make the necessary reform in the
hospital and that I shall not be shocked with the complaints and looks of poor
creatures perishing for want of proper care either in the regimental or
hospital surgeons Congress had made several attempts to organize the
hospitals and in July 1776 resolutions have been passed which defined more
fully the duties of the various officials both of the departmental and
the regimental hospitals there was to be a director and under him the directors
of the various departmental hospitals but since there were only a few
departmental hospitals and those few often a long distance from the scene of
battle it became necessary to have branch hospitals or regimental hospitals
at the head of those who were persons known as regimental surgeons who were to
make reports of expenses and lists of the sick to the director of the
departmental hospital and receive supplies from him the plan was then that
the soldiers were to be cared for by the regimental surgeon as long as it was
possible and then they were to be sent to the departmental Hospital for further
care these two systems seemed to interfere with each other’s work and
there was always jealousy existing but the director of the General Hospital and
the surgeons of the regiment there will be nothing but continued complaints of
each other the director of the hospital charging them with enormity in their
drafts for the sick and they him with the same for denying such things as are
necessary in short there is a constant bickering among them which tends greatly
to the injury of the sick the regimental surgeons are aiming I am persuaded to
break up the General Hospital the two most representative departmental
hospitals where it might be said at Bethlehem and Sunbury but there were
others at Redding Lititz and Ephrata Bethlehem was a Moravian village and was
in the midst of military affairs almost continually from 1775 to 1783 to Bahasa
ttle on December 3 1776 an order was sent to the committee of the town of
Bethlehem as follows gentlemen according to his Excellency General Washington’s
orders the General Hospital of the army is removed to Bethlehem and you will do
the greatest act of humanity by immediately providing proper buildings
for their reception the largest and most capacious will be the most convenient I
doubt not gentlemen but you will act upon this occasion as becomes men and
Christians it was by the above process that the little peace-loving village of
Bethlehem and many others like it were thrown into confusion and dwelling
houses or other buildings were turned into hospitals the men began to play the
part of nurses to help care for the sick and dying sent from camp and the women
prepared Lent and advantages the buildings which under ordinary
circumstances could accommodate about 200 were made to accommodate five or six
hundred the housing accommodations of the regimental hospitals were even more
varied for they were housed in anything from a capital building to a long Hut
including private homes Church barns and courthouses
depending upon what happened to be near the camp a Hut or group of huts were
sometimes built for the purpose in or near the camp they were built in a
manner similar to the dwelling house only larger with furnishings as meager
straw for the bed tells the tale of equipment but the hospitals were a
little value if there were not able physicians and antiseptics and
anesthetics were almost unknown besides the lack of skill and proper medicine
and instruments for some of the instruments described are almost
inconceivable there was a lack of cleanliness in conducting the operations
for that was not insisted upon then as it is today of hospital methods
dr. Waldo wrote December 25 1776 we give them mutton and grog and avoid the
pudding pills and powders this perhaps was a little extreme but it at least
reflects the conditions Thad described the awful conditions in
which soldiers came to the hospital with wounds covered with putrified blood and
full of maggots which were destroyed by the application of tincture of myrrh
director-general shippin in explaining the causes of the mortality among the
soldiers attributed it to the want of clothing and covering necessary to keep
the soldiers clean and warm articles at that time and not procurable in the
country partly from an army being composed of raw men unused to camp life
and undisciplined exposed to great hardships and from the sick and wounded
being removed great distances in open wagons as to the kind of diseases most
prevalent and the number in the hospitals because of sickness in
proportion to those there because of injuries some idea can be formed from
the hospital reports sent in weekly from the departmental hospitals although some
of the diseases listed in the reports are unknown to us now and there is no
way of knowing what the proportion the sick was of the entire army in that
section however the returns do state the number
sick during the various seasons and show in which season of the year there was
the most sickness the following are the returns from the Sunbury hospital for
the four seasons of the year spring summer fall and winter March 6 to 13
1780 wounded for dysentery o1 diarrhoea zero rheumatism two of Thoroughly up one
asthma one ulcers one total 10 July 13 to September 22 1779 pleurisy 0 parrot
nominee 2 angina one rheumatism 14 bilious fever 8 intermittent fever 0
putrid fever 0 dysentery 19 diarrhea 11 gravel 12 cough
and consumption for hernia 5 Louise 14 epilepsy to itch to ulcers 9 wounded 33
total 126 November 1 to 7 1779 dysentery 5 diarrhea to rheumatics
to intermit to be remit 5 asthma one of thorny Oh to ulcers to wounded 11 total
30 January 24 to 31 1781 did 6 intermittent fever zero dysentery Oh 1
diarrhea 1 asthma one up for only a one rheumatism three ulcers to total 15 if
the above tables are any index at all the most dangerous season was summer in
spite of the crowded unsanitary conditions of the winter quarters they
also show that the number in hospitals due to sickness was larger than
number due to injuries received in Babel smallpox was one of the most dreaded of
all the diseases mostly because there were few ways of combating the disease
inoculation was only slightly known and there was some opposition to it even
sermons were preached on the question it was so much discussed the British knew
the New England people were especially opposed to it and were known to send out
spies to spread the disease in the American camp which Shrieve wrote killed
more Yankees than they did the disease was especially serious in the Northern
Army causing greater dread than the enemy Thatcher in his military journal
emphasizes another disease which caused a great deal of suffering but strange to
say there was only one remedy for it and that was a furlough for the disease was
homesickness in reality that was a fact which caused anxious moments for General
Washington for the men were continually trying to bribe the physicians to
declare that they were unfit for duty other provisions were made for the
health of the soldiers besides the establishment of hospitals the others
were along the line of prevention such as keeping the tents and hearts clean
and dry the careful preparation of food the washing of clothes
caring for refuse and the soldier’s own personal cleanliness chapter four
recreation in camp if there must be a certain proportion of work and play in
everyone’s life to make for efficiency then the soldier of the Revolutionary
War was far below normal in the scale of efficiency for recreation in any
organized form is found to have been entirely lacking but before too severe a
judgment is placed upon this lack of recreation the conditions the soldier
left at home must be studied recreation as such had not been a part of his daily
routine it has been estimated that nine-tenths of the people lived in rural
districts leaving only one-tenth for the cities an estimate which no doubt is
true the people had never thought of the problems
a bad housing congestion or recreation they had had the whole of nature for
their home and the whole of the frontier to wrestle with speaking of the people a
generation or two later dr. FL Paxson says in the rise of sport the fathers of
this generation had been sober not unable to bend without breaking living a
life of rigid and puritanical decorum interspersed perhaps with disease and
drunkenness but unenlightened for most of them by spontaneous play thus in
studying the life of the soldier at home before he went into the army camp even
the slightest traces of twentieth-century recreation are found
to have been lacking but that does not mean that those people never forgot
their work it would be hard to find a more hospitable group they were never
too busy to entertain there was the occasional jollification with rum or
beer the card party the ball the concert the theater and of a more rural type the
picnic and the corn husking the conditions in camp were different than
those at home the problems of bad housing congestion and recreation within
factors to be considered there was the small unsanitary and poorly ventilated
hut with 12 to 16 men and sometimes even more crowded into it when the troops
first went into winter quarters there was plenty to do in the way of exercise
but there were logs to cut and Hut’s to build but those were soon completed and
the men were crowded together with nothing to do something had to happen
the monotony of the dreary days had to be broken this was brought about in
several ways often the punishments ordered by the court-martial were
administered publicly in camp just to enliven the common routine when a man
was sentenced to death but had been pardoned by those in charge the force of
going through the punishment was carried out the condemned man was brought to the
side of his newly dug grave he was bound and
unfolded the firing party got in position the firewalk even snapped and
as might have been expected the culprit sometimes died of the shock the hanging
of a man was a gala day in camp and the place of hanging was almost as popular
as an amusement park of today five soldiers were conducted to the gallows
according to their sentences for the crimes of desertion and robbing the
inhabitants a detachment of troops and a concourse of people formed a circle
around the gallows and the criminal were brought in on a cart sitting on their
coffins and halters about their necks it was frequently stated in the sentence
given by court-martial that the punishment whatever it was riding the
wooden horse riding the rail receiving the biblical 39 lashes or running the
gauntlet was to take place at some time when all the soldiers were together as
at the beating of the retreat or at the head of the regiment punishments ordered
by court-martial in that way served two purposes they furnished amusement for
the soldiers at the same time the purpose for which they were intended
that making an example of the misbehavior of one of the soldiers while
the Virginia riflemen were in camp at the siege of Boston there was a practice
which served both as a source of amusement and as a display of
marksmanship there were two brothers one of whom would place aboard five inches
wide and seven inches long with a bit of white paper in the middle of it about
the size of a dollar between his knees while the other one at about sixty yards
distance would shoot eight bullets through it without injuring the brother
the duel was another common practice which seemed to furnish amusement
besides deciding the honor of some individual hunting too was a means of
cheering the dreary days but this too was often a killing two birds with one
stone for often the soldiers went hunting to provide the regular rash
but at other times it was done just for the sake of the sport to be found in it
the following is taken from a New York paper of December 12 1785 a fox hunt the
gentlemen of the army with a number of the most respectable inhabitants of ol
slur and orange purpose a fox hunt on the 23rd day of this instant
to which all gentlemen are invited with their hounds and their horses the game
is plenty and it is hoped the sport will be pleasant along with the hunting
phrase went fishing and nothing trips which added a little variety to the
ordinary camp scenes there were several Day celebrated by the Americans at that
time which meant a holiday for the soldier with perhaps an extra allowance
of rum or meat some of those days were Christmas Thanksgiving fourth of July
made a commemoration of the French alliance or a celebration following a
victory the celebration usually consisted of a parade a sermon by the
chaplain followed by a banquet and perhaps a dance for the officers and
extra rations for the privates another celebration mentioned by several Diaries
and one which seemed to be a joyful occasion was as one writer said and we
converted the evening to celebrate as usual wives and sweethearts which we do
in plenty of grog there were a few games which served to shorten some of the long
term days for the soldier some of them were fives shindy gold ball and a kind
of football no description of the above games has been found but to judge by the
context they were all outdoor games the divergence discussed so far in this
chapter have all been outdoor games but the real test came when the soldiers
were crowded into the huts during the winter months with nothing to think of
but their own miserable conditions since no one had thought of organizing the
soldiers leisure time he had to invent something for himself the first things
thought of naturally were the amusements which had existed at home card-playing
came to his mind but in the army the game of cards or any
other game of chance was absolutely forbidden by order of Congress and the
commander-in-chief in the officer noncommissioned officers or soldiers of
the shall hereafter be detected – playing a toss up pitch and hustle or
any other games of chance in or near the camp or villages boarding on the
encampment shall without delay be confined and punished for disobedience
of orders the general does not mean by the above order to discourage sports of
exercise and recreation he only means to discontinuance and punish gaming in
another order Washington said men may find enough to do in the service of
their God in their country without abandoning themselves to vice and
immorality Dancing had been another form of entertainment at home but that too
was usually impossible because of a lack of room that was especially true at
Valley Forge and other camps but at Morristown however a large room in the
commissariat storehouse was reserved for dancing lodge meetings and the like for
the Masons had chapters in the army camps at home the soldier had also had
his friends and dinner parties now he had soldier friends but the only way for
him to keep in touch with former friends was by letters and that was a very
irregular and uncertain way for mail could only be sent from camp or brought
to camp when someone was going home on a furlough or new recruits were coming
into camp the nearest the soldier came to his social dinner and evening at home
was the rallies from barracks to barracks when everybody who could sing
sang as for the officers at camp their leisure time was better provided for
they lived in better quarters generally at least larger ones they too had the
advantage of being entertained at the homes of the people living in the
vicinity of the camp even if one’s imagination must be drawn upon in order
to make the recreation of the private seemed recreation
you know at least there was a side of camp life which presented a more
pleasant picture if our forefathers bled and suffered they also danced and
feasted the letters and diaries of the young officers tell of the gaiety of the
war even in midst of the gloom at Valley Forge there was drinking from cabin to
cabin and dinners in honor of visiting foreigners no sooner was the Army in
winter quarters than the ladies began to appear for mrs. Washington mrs. green
and mrs. Knox made it a practice to spend the winters with their husbands
mrs. Washington was in the habit of saying that she always heard the last
cannon fired in the fall and the first one in the spring as soon as the wives
appeared the gaiety began among the families of the officers the dinner was
the favorite method of bringing the families together
general green and his lady present their compliments to Colonel Knox and his lady
and should be glad for their company tomorrow at dinner at 2 o’clock often
the dinners were in name rather than in reality for officers and privates
suffered a white when food was scarce but the social time did not depend
entirely upon the supply of food one such dinner is described as having
been potatoes with beech nuts for dessert the usual round of pleasure for
the officers was dancing dinners teased slaying parties horseback parties or the
celebration of some day or event of the dance General Greene wrote on March 19
1779 we had a little dance at my quarters a few evenings past his
excellency and mrs. green danced three hours without one sitting down upon the
whole we had a pretty little frisk another such affair is described as
follows there were subscription balls in the
commissary storehouse at which Washington in black velvet the foreign
commanders in all their gold lace general story bayonet being particularly
resplendent and the ladies in powdered hair stiff brigades and high heels made
brilliant company in that the large it can be said that the recreation of the
American soldier during the Revolutionary War was invented to supply
the need felt rather than an institution thought-out before some of the practices
it would hardly be classed as recreation but they helped to break the monotony
and that was the object desired whether it was by enjoying a fellow soldiers
punishment or playing an innocent game of ball end of chapters three and four chapter five religion in the camp
it is earnestly recommended that all officers and soldiers diligently to
attend divine service and all officers and soldiers who shall behave indecently
or irreverently at any place of divine worship shall if commissioned officers
be brought before a court-martial there to be publicly and severely reprimanded
by the president if noncommissioned officers are soldiers every person so
offending shall for his first offense forfeit one-sixth of a dollar to be
deducted out of his necks pay for the second offense he shall not only forfeit
alike some but be confined for twenty-four hours and for every like
offense shall suffer and pay in like manner which money so forfeited shall be
applied to the use of the six soldiers of the troops or company to which the
offender belongs the Continental Congress and its acts for the regulation
of the army issued the above orders orders also came from headquarters
directing the soldier’s actions along religious lines all officers see that
their men attend upon prayers morning and evening also the service on the
Lord’s Day with their arms and accoutrement ready to march in case of
any alarm that no drums be beaten after the parson is on the stage but the
religion of the American soldier was more than an order from the provincial
or from headquarters it was an influence which was an important factor in the
soldier’s life and in the war in the American Revolution that perhaps the
religious element was not the paramount factor as it had been in the Crusades or
the Puritan revolution giving a character to the whole movement it
rather stayed in the background and supported the political and military
organizations the pulpit had been a factor in shaping the soldier’s life
before he left home it was a day when newspapers and other means of
disseminating ideas were not very plentiful and the pulpit was about the
only way of reaching the majority of the people it is said of one minister who
was famous for his bold sermons and his purely political discourses although
they were delivered from the pulpit he knows all our best authors and has
sometimes cited even in the pulpit passages from Voltaire and jean-jacques
Rousseau the House of Representatives of Massachusetts saw the value of the
clergy in shaping public opinion and passed a resolution asking them to make
the question of the rights of the colonies a topic of their discussion on
weekdays the pulpit too had its place in the election campaign there was preached
before the governor and House of Representatives of Massachusetts what
was called the election sermon it was a sermon preached by the best ministers of
the colony not exactly as a mere complement to religion but with the
object in view of instruction the ministers did not only deliver
dissertations on the doctrinal truths but they discussed the rights of man the
nature of government and theories of liberty and equality the sermons
delivered on such occasions do not seem to be impractical theological discourses
but rather on the other hand very practicable the questions of the day
being subjects discussed for it was through the medium of the church that
the people received the foundation for their beliefs in the political
affairs on Monday the 29th of May 1771 John Tucker of Newbury preached the
election sermon on the text submit yourselves to every ordinance of men for
the lord’s sake whether it be the king as supreme from that as a text he went
into a discussion of the sort of submission which was due to the rulers
in 1773 Charles Turner preached from Romans and tried to show why it was the
right and duty of the clergy to enter into politics the next year when
excitement was reaching its height it is interesting to note the sort of text
Reverend Hitchcock of Pembroke took for the basis of his sermons it was from
proverbs 22 to when the righteous are in authority the people rejoice but when
the wicked to bear rule the people mourn it is not hard to believe that such
sermons and many others like them had something to do with the revolution as
well as a navigation acts and correspondence committees of course it
must be said that since the people did not rise as one man there was another
view to take on the question but the people were guided in the opposite view
also by the clergy the clergy did more than discuss politics from the pulpit
before the conflict broke for when the war was on in earnest and troops were
being raised The ministers left their purpose to take their place in the army
not always as chaplains but sometimes in the ranks and sometimes as head of the
company in one company of Minutemen from
demurrers the deacon wet as captain and the minister as lieutenant besides the
part played by the clergy the church as a whole was one of the forces working
for the care and comfort of the American soldier the churches were turned into
barracks and hospitals messages of the officers of the army describing the
soldier’s condition and camp were read from the pulpit on Sunday morning the
afternoon congregation would be made up almost entirely of men
and the women were to be found at home knitting or spinning when Washington
assumed command of the army at Cambridge he found two chaplains attached to
different regiments sent from various colonies especially from the New England
colonies some of these were volunteers without pay and others were appointed by
the Provincial Congress the chaplain of that war was not like the chaplain of
the present time a sort of half soldier half minister never expected to fight or
endure the hardships of the private on the other hand he was one of the men in
the field but also reverenced by the soldiers because of the place he had
filled in their activities at home at first as has been noticed there was no
regulation concerning the appointment and pay of the chaplain by the
Continental Congress Washington wrote the Congress in December 1775 and said I
need not point out the great utility of gentlemen whose lives and conversation
are unexceptional being employed for that service in the Army he went on to
suggest plans whereby all regiments might be served by a chaplain the plan
which Congress adopted was of having a chaplain for every two regiments and
they fixed the salary at 33 and 1/3 dollars a month the plan worked when the
soldiers were in camp but not when they were on the march in 1776 a chaplain was
allowed for each regiment according to the regulations of the army there were
to be prayers morning and evening and on Sunday services were almost continuous
there were always two services and often more the chaplains from the various
regiments preaching in rotation the places of holding religious meetings
varied with circumstances services were held in a church in or near a camp on a
college campus in an opening in the woods and in a log Hut built for the
purpose when the army entered Cambridge the next day was Sunday and a stage was
erected on the campus by turning out a ROM hogshead on another occasion a
pulpit was formed out of knapsacks piled together the
the sermons provided by the chaplains to the soldiers make an interesting study
they were always of a practical nature the sermons seem to fall into two
general classes one class setting forth the characteristics of a good soldier
and the other those which had to do with the political and social troubles of the
time there are records of the attitude of the soldier being changed very
materially by some of the sermons heard both concerning his own personal
attitude and his attitude in general toward the war the story is related at
one time Reverend Ghana knew that a number of the
soldiers and his audience were men who had only enlisted for a few months hence
during the service he made the remark he could a burr of the truth that our Lord
and Savior approved of all those who had engaged in his service for the whole
warfare the rank-and-file were much amused and those who enlisted for the
whole war forced many short-term men by their jesting to re-enlist and other
observance which might be considered part of the soldier’s religion was the
day of fasting and prayer ordered by Congress and the officials of the
various colonies there is yet one more effect which grew out of the religious
activities of the soldier while in the army camp that is the weakening of the
rigid lines which had been drawn between sets when the soldier was at home
he was Presbyterian Anglican Catholic or whatnot but in the Army there was a
tendency to forget the barriers both Protestant and Catholic services were
held but it was one of the orders of Washington that no person should make
light of another’s religion it had been the custom of the people near Boston to
celebrate what was called Pope Day when they burned an effigy of the Pope the
soldiers were contemplating a celebration of this custom when
Washington issued orders against it calling it a ridiculous and childish
custom the fact that the chaplain of a regiment might have members of a number
of sects and his audience would tend to create a common interest and also the
fact that whenever the troops were near a
Church they were ordered to attend regardless of denomination the incident
is related to Washington who was Anglican that he and a number of his men
asked a Presbyterian minister to give them communion in his church and it was
gladly done all of which were factors in bringing about democracy in the church
chapter six camp duties and discipline the soldiers day began with revelry at
sunrise or when a Sentra can see clearly 1000 yards around him and not before
and ended with tattoo beating at 8 o clock for after tattoo there was to be
no straying about camp without a written pass between revelry and tattoo there
were numerous duties to be performed and orders to be obeyed some of them seemed
foolish and most unnecessary to the average soldier the first thing was roll
call before the doors of the barracks which everyone was to appear in full
dressed well shaved and with hat caught then
came breakfast prepared either by one of the company in the camp kitchen or by
each one for himself over the open fire the breakfast was anything from the
usual dish a large plate of rice with a little salt to a heavier meal of meat
and potatoes morning prayers followed breakfast and of the routine of the rest
of the day Simon Lyman of Charon wrote we marched out in the morning and
exercised and in the afternoon we marched out again and exercised again
captain Lewis in his orderly book recorded the following order for the
future the fatigue parties to parade a seven o’clock in the morning and return
at 11:00 to their dinners and parade again at 2:00 then came supper evening
prayers and tattoo camp life was however not all a routine of revelry prayers
drills meals and tattoo for there were hundreds of other things which had to be
done there were huts to build roads to make
entrenchments to construct fuel to collect supplies to provide
armaments to make or clean and drills for the awkward squad
besides guard and fatigue duty not to mention the more domestic duties of
cooking of washing and mending clothes and cleaning huts or acting as grass
guard it can hardly be said that any hard and fast rule was followed in the
matter of camp activities for there were circumstances continually arising which
altered affairs there were parades before a visiting officer and the days
taken off for washing then too there was the lack of a permanent organization of
the army which was a serious hindrance and following any different course for
the short time enlistment men were constantly leaving and the new recruits
were coming into camp all of which broke into the routine of camp and often
nothing of importance was accomplished for weeks at a time
Simon Lyman – Aaron wrote of the week following August 29 1775 Friday 29th in
the forenoon we went round the town and in the afternoon we putted up our tents
and marched through Cambridge to Charlestown there we was stationed we
put up our tents Tuesday 3 I rubbed up my gun and looked around the fort’s
Wednesday the 4th we got some boards to fix our tents and it rained and we did
not do it Thursday 5th it rained and I wrote a letter home and stayed around
the house when the new recruit was given the duty of being on guard with the
orders that he was not to sleep or leave his post he felt for the first time the
hand of Authority he felt that the orders were ridiculous when he must
shave every day and appear at roll call every morning with his hair powdered but
when he could not go more than a mile from camp without a pass and that only
two furloughs were allowed at one time then he was sure that his personal
liberty was imposed upon it was just that attitude taken by the soldiers
toward their officers and the orders given by them or toward the duties they
were ordered to perform that made the question of discipline a serious one
army life was at first but before many weeks had
passed the aspect changed the soldiers were in new conditions and new modes of
doing things had to be learned what to do and what not to do were questions
with the new recruits there had been little of the being ordered to by
anybody at home especially among the New Englanders now the private had to salute
take orders from an ass permission of an individual who in all probability had
been his next-door neighbor at home with no more training than himself and
perhaps one who had just taken command without having been appointed by the
proper authority the trouble came from both sides the officer felt the
importance of his position to such an extent that he could not see the
privates viewpoint but on the other hand the private was not willing to endure an
ordinary amount of subordination the orders sent out from headquarters
concerning the matter were numerous depicting to the soldiers and to the
officers as well their duties and privileges the question of discipline
was one which caused Washington a great deal of concern on first entering camp
and a matter which always brought comment from the foreigners who visited
our camps or worked with our army as the war progressed the conditions grew
better but the personnel changed so often that one group just reached the
stage where some sort of law and order was made possible when they left and the
whole process was to be gone through again with the newly enlisted group the
general rules of discipline were laid down by the Continental Congress and
what were called the rules and regulations for the government of the
army Congress there described the general conduct of the soldiers as to
their duties and privileges and also recommended the punishments which should
be inflicted by the court-martial in case of violation of the rules by anyone
there were also orders issued from headquarters which gave more detailed
directions in respect to the personal appearance of the soldier how his hat
should be caught how his hair should be cut
the white others in respects to the duties of the soldier on fatigue on
guard or about the camp his conduct toward citizens the punishment for
stealing and numerous other things which were incident to camp life as the
regulation of grog shops orders concerning the morale of the soldiers
and health precautions the means of enforcing the Disciplinary rules was the
court-martial an instrument which is of common use in time of war but some of
the trials and decisions of the revolutionary court-martial are
interesting if not amusing and yet significant because of the state of
affairs which they reflect first as to the organization of the court-martial
there was to be a general and a regimental court the general the higher
and the regimental the lower court the general court was to consist of not less
than 13 members none of whom were to be under the rank of a commissioned officer
and the president was to be a field officer the regimental court was to
consist of not more than five members and in case five could not be assembled
three were sufficient and any commissioned officer of a regiment by
the appointment of his colonel could hold the court in the regiment for minor
cases all crimes not capital and all disorders and neglect that officers and
soldiers might be guilty of though not mentioned in the Articles of War were to
be taken into a general or regimental court according to the nature of the
crime the offence could be punished at the courts discretion but no one was to
be sentenced to death except in the cases mentioned in the rules laid down
by Congress and no sentence was to be executed until the commanding officer
had approved it the commanding officer also had the power to pardon or suspend
sentence if he saw fit according to the organization of the court-martial it was
to inflict at its own discretion only degrading cashiering drumming out
of camp and whipping not exceeding 39 lashes
according to entries made in orderly books and diaries those orders were
often over and the originality of the members of
the court was worked into service Thatcher said of the punishments ordered
by the court martial death has been inflicted in a few instances of an
atrocious nature but in general the punishment consists in a public whipping
and the number of stripes is proportional to the degree of offense
the law of Moses prescribing forty stripes save one but that number has
often been exceeded in our camp in aggravated cases and with old offenders
in our camp the culprit is sentenced to receive 100
lashes or more it is the duty of the drummers and Pfeiffer’s to inflict the
chastisement and the drum major must attend and see that the duty is
faithfully performed the culprit being securely tied to a tree or post received
on his naked back the number of lashes assigned to him by a whip formed of
several small knotted cords which sometimes cut through the skin at every
stroke however strange it may appear a soldier will often receive the severus
stripes without uttering a groan or once shrinking from the lash even while the
blood flows freely from the lacerated wounds they have now however adopted a
method which they say mitigates the anguish in some measure it is by putting
between the teeth a leaden bullet on which they chew while under the lash
till it is made quite flat and jagged in some instances of incorrigible villains
it is adjusted by the court that the culprit received his punishment at
several different times a certain number of stripes repeated at intervals of two
or three days in which case the wounds are in a state of inflammation and the
skin rendered tender and the terror of the punishment is greatly aggravated
another mode of punishment is that of running the gauntlet
this is done by a company of soldiers standing in two lines each one furnished
with a switch and the criminal was made to run between them and receive the
scourge from their hands on his naked back but the delinquent runs so rapidly
and the soldiers are so apt to favour a comrade that it often happens in this
way on is very slight boardman thus recorded a
punishment this morning and other riflemen was drummed out of camp not
whipped but if he ever returns again he is to
receive 30 lashes other punishments were riding the wooden horse for 15 minutes
with two bands tied to the victims feet and then 10 minutes without guns or
riding a rail there were two the fines and imprisonment but often the penalties
bordered on the humorous line and furnished real amusement to the rest of
the soldiers one man was sentenced to wear a clog chained at his leg for three
days another was to wear a clog for days with his coat turned wrong side outwards
the last penalty was for Maj Carnes cordage trials were held for anything
from disorderly conduct or stealing assured to treason in the court-martial
and its actions it is possible to see a reflection of England and the methods of
torture used there the colonists had not been away from the mother country long
enough to get away from those devices for the punishment of offenders the
number and kind of trials also show that the soldiers as a rule were inclined to
have their own way and disregard orders for the majority of the trials were for
the disobedience of minor orders a study of conditions during the Revolutionary
War and the light of the present day and especially in the light of the Great War
with the care given the soldier in the way of housing medical aid sanitation
and recreation makes the soldier of 1776 more of a hero than he had been before
that he under the most adverse circumstances with stood the war
conditions and came out victorious for liberty seems almost a miracle John
Adams described the Continental Army as follows our army at Crown Point is an
object of wretchedness enough to fill a human mind with horror disgraced
defeated discontented dispirited diseased naked and
a blend eaten up with vermin no clothes bed blankets no medicine no victuals but
a salt pork and flour one almost wonders that it is not a true characterization
but it is interesting to note that of the 50 Diaries and journals studied only
one or two reflected a pronounced discontented or dissatisfied spirit the
others mentioned the sufferings and hardships but did not complain the
leaders of the war for independence have long been appreciated for the part they
played perhaps over appreciated but leaders could not have accomplished
their goal had it not been for the private the private was undisciplined it
is true and will fall at times but to him with his sufferings hardships and
even willfulness must be given a great amount of the honor end of chapters 5 &
6 end of a study of army camp life during American Revolution by Mary hazel
snuff you

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