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Today we celebrate Independence Day here in the States. As everyone knows on this day in 1776 the Second Continental Congress made a declaration of independence from the kingdom of Great Britain. What ensued next was the American Revolutionary War. This brings us to our gear review. Today, we will be discussing the typical Colonial Soldier’s kit. This is our Independence Day Gear Review.
Typical Colonial Soldier
THE COLONIAL KIT
The most commonly carried weapon was the Musket. They used various types. Many of the first Muskets were called Fowler Muskets. They also used seized muskets from the British, these were known as the famous Brown Bess Muskets. As the war progressed their were many adaptations to each. French weapons also made an appearance. Because new weapons and parts were scarce, many of the muskets that they used ended up having a mixture of parts on them to make them work. Basically, your gun was your most important piece of kit and you made sure that it worked by any means necessary. (Click Here to learn more)
I am placing the bayonet in a separate category because although it is used in concert with the musket, it deserves its own place. Often times it came down to the bayonet in these battles. Generally, each side would march out and fire volleys at one another in line. Once several volleys were shot, typically one side would break and the field would be won. However, if you were dealing with a well dug in opponent or the battle was particularly even, it often came down to bayonets. The men would fix their bayonets to the end of their rifles ready to wield them like the pikemen of old. A disorganized defense cannot generally stand up to a coordinated bayonet charge and visa versa. The bayonet was your last defense and offense when the fighting got especially brutal.
I am only mentioning them because there are many legends that surround them. They were not employed in great numbers during the war. It was simply that they were a highly specialized and expensive weapon. They were rifled and required a finer powder and different projectiles. However, in the hands of a skilled operator they could reach out to over 300 yards accurately. Like the modern sniper, these riflemen wielded a powerful psychological weapon against the leaders of the British Army. They were often targeted by their uniforms, leading many British Officer or NCO to rip the gold stripes off of his uniform. One well placed shot could and often did terrify the opposing troops. The weapon itself was a Long Rifle crafted by German descendent Americans in Pennsylvania. (Click Here to learn more)
Pistols were rare and usually carried by men in leadership positions as a show of power. Many men carried a variety of swords, especially the cavalry. Most men would have knives or other small blades to use as tools or to fight with if necessary.
The Hunting Shirt:
This shirt was not typical of the style of the day. However, it was popular with the frontiersman. It was a loose fitting linen shirt that could be easily made and taken care of by the soldiers themselves. For the most part the Colonial army was not a uniformed force. However, George Washington did try and adopt the hunting shirt as a required piece of clothing for his men. He liked its versatility and what it stood for in the eyes of the british soldiers. Before the war it was typically worn by hard frontiersmen and the British feared them.
Most men typically wore pants/ knickers and a waistcoat. These were all different and typically tailor made for each man. This was pre -industrial revolution, it was much harder to mass produce items. Also, many of these men simply wore what they could afford. As it got colder they would add overcoats, scarves, or whatever they could to stay warm.
Most men wore typical low leather shoes with buckles or laces on them. Some of the men, who could afford it, wore hunters boots.
I am sure everyone knows about the “Tri-Corner Hat.” Think Paul Revere. In actuality, there were many varieties of hats. Most men wore round hats with the corners cocked up. However, every different variety imaginable took place. It was a way that soldiers could customize their look and they took advantage of it.
The colonial soldier would carry a leather or tin pouch, typically on his right side, that held 20-30 cartridges of ammunition, a musket tool, and multiple flints.
He would also carry a linen sack with his food, eating utensils, cup, and canteen/ jar.
He also had a knapsack with his extra clothes, tools, tinder, or personal items. Like the Reaper Team, many soldiers would carry extra fishing line and hooks to catch their own fish. He would also carry his blanket. The blanket was a key piece of kit for the colonial soldier. It could keep him warm, dry, and comfortable. If he were lucky enough to have a tent, he would split the load between himself and his fellow tent mates.
As you can see the colonial soldier only brought with him what he could carry. He was not only expected to survive out there, but to fight and win. These men paid for in blood what was the beginning of the greatest country the world has ever known. Thanks to all the men and women of the American Revolution!
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