Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Brandywine Campaign...or buy new shoes dummy

Neal Hurst Made the company flag for the event....You can see my pack worn tumpline fashion

Company at the 1st crossing

Company Pic....2nd Va guys on the end of the line

"Bacon Boys" mess stomping out our camp site

So last week I didn’t post well anything..sorry my bad. I was trying to finish up some last minute stuff for the Brandywine Reenactment at Brandywine State park in Delaware. Normaly I am really not into the big battle events, I’m not a “powder burner” and most of the time don’t get anything out of this type of event. This year The Augusta County Militia Set up a March in to the event from an offsite location so I couldn’t pass it up.
The overall march for some of us was an 10 mile march ( 5 miles Friday to the ford 5 miles back Saturday) we would cross at two fords and camp at the 2nd ford. This was the location of ford one of the sites guarded by the militia during the Brandywine Campaign . Some of the crew did the march a number of times that weekend so…you go guys!
The gear I carried was a “warner” pack with: A pair of mocs, extra stockings, old tin cartridge box holding my hygiene kit (tooth brush, tooth powder, soap and my modern contact stuff) , fire kit, mallet bottle of whiskey and tumpline. My blanket was tied to the top of the pack. I also carried a tin canteen and haversack with: Pouch of parched corn/jerk/hard bread, Bag with 3 lbs of bacon, salt bottle, bag of potatoes, tin cup, porringer/spoon/fork and cakes of chocolate.
I wore a hunting shirt, shirt, linen waistcoat, trousers stockings, shoes, and cotton cap under a hat. I also wore a belt with a small belt pouch containing my bag of chewing tobacco, pocket knife and fishing kit. The mess equipment that We carried was an axe/sling and a Kettle in a kettle bag. The kettle contained some stag horn sumac berries and a loaf of bread.
My pack/gear seemed to work out pretty well except for the fact my pack had straps that were about 4 inches too short. It was one of those things I knew I should have fixed before the march but..Didn’t. Lucky for me I brought my tumpline because I ended up using it with the pack to carry my gear (point # 156 for tumplines) The other problem I had was the use of my old knit stockings on the 1st days march.
I spent the summer walking in bare feet/mocs both on site and in the woods and never had any problems. Well for the march on day 1 I wore a pair of Paul meekins stockings I bought some time ago and while the construction on them is pretty good I found out a few years ago wet knit stockings will draw file layers off your feet in seconds. Like a moron I wore them and well that coupled with bad shoes turned the little toe on each foot to hamburg (or at least nasty)
Once at the Camp I put my mocs on and feet problems went away right off the bat. AT camp my mess company set up our fire at the end of the line. I was in a mess with : Joesph Privott, Mike Burke, John Reeese, Matt Mickletz and Matt white (now known as the Bacon Boys Mess). We got a fire going gathered wood and proceeded to eat 3lbs of bacon and talk history.
We took up the 2am-4am watch So I ended up acting as a cpl and put guys out on their posts. Burke and Joseph took up the 1st watch so I stayed up gathered more firewood to last us until morning and then had the best time during the whole event. I sat along the Brandywine put my feet in the water with a mallet bottle of whiskey by my side, a chew and fished with a hand line and piece of bacon. I almost landed a fish but during this watch we heard what can only be described as a “manbearpig”. I sent out the next watch and setup the next mess company for watch and fell into a deep coma like sleep.
The march back was pretty uneventful except for the fact I was still dealing with my bonehead move from the day before. The ill fitting shoes and raw toes proved to…well…suck. By the last half mile I was toast. SO I dropped out with another ACM foot causality And we took our time back to the camp. The other fellow was pretty run down from heat so We got him cooled down and some sugar in him and we headed to our camp for some foot first aid.
Once in camp we hung out drank water and I took the time to get two new Period Tattoos from Joespeh Privott. We then marched to the camp kitchen to cook our Pork/corn rations for diner as mess groups. Thanks to Our Camp follower Brooke Armstrong for this she really took the ball and ran with making our meal more than boiled corn and pork. Also the “Yankee” mess did a great job of mixing up some tasty punch while we sat around and waited for diner to cook.
So what did I learn? Well I’ve done a lot of scouts/treks whatever over the past however many years and this march taught me to…..Pay attention! I slacked in my preparation and I paid for it. Also one thing I picked up from those around me….You do not need as much stuff as you think you do. Look more into period journals/accounts on just what these ppl carried. Less is more. Your pack doesn’t need to be full (you have pockets) but overall it was an awesome time And I’d do it again in a second….

For anyone interested in this type of thing the Augusta county Militia is hosting an immersion event the weekend of Nov 6th-8th The main American Impression for the event is that of a Militia company
The website for the event is This is a great way to get out with some like minded people for a weekend and try your gear out in a tactical/campaign scenario

Also one of my Messmates John Reese is a wealth on info. He has a website at it has a number of articles from Blankets to Mess companies full of period Information. Please check it out

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Free The West Memphis Three

"Shortly after three eight-year-old boys were found mutilated and murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas, local newspapers stated the killers had been caught. The police assured the public that the three teenagers in custody were definitely responsible for these horrible crimes. Evidence?The same police officers coerced an error-filled "confession" from Jessie Misskelley Jr., who is mentally handicapped. They subjected him to hours of questioning without counsel or parental consent, audio-taping only two fragments totaling 46 minutes. Jessie recanted it that evening, but it was too late— Misskelley, Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols were all arrested on June 3, 1993, and convicted of murder in early 1994.Although there was no physical evidence, murder weapon, motive, or connection to the victims, the prosecution pathetically resorted to presenting black hair and clothing, heavy metal t-shirts, and Stephen King novels as proof that the boys were sacrificed in a satanic cult ritual. Unfathomably, Echols was sentenced to death, Baldwin received life without parole, and Misskelley got life plus 40.In the years since the convictions of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley for a crime they did not commit, their cause has gained support from all over the world, and these men have become known as the West Memphis Three. "

Ok I know this has nothing to do with history but hey...It's My blog and I dont care. This case has been something I've watched since it made the news back in the 90's. At the time I was the local weird kid with long hair (for reenacting) that listened to "heavy metal" and dressed in black t shirts. this is a trait I've found in alot of guys that now reenact.

Please take a minute you'd normaly spend on the usual msg board and check out the website of the west Memphis three buy a t shirt, sign a petition do something. these young men need our help.

All Money from orders I take in October will go to the defense fund of the West Memphis three. This is my job so this should show you how much this means to me. Please take a second and look at this site. these men need your help. if your at the greensburg show I'll have some more info so please stop and talk about history and getting these 3 young men free

THe Coon skin to Fess parker up your headware in a documented fashion

Me wearing the cap in Boston with the Augusta county Militia....yankees dont like it when you show up to church wearing a clout ,matchcoat, one shoe and Fur cap...

Side view of my cap over a silk scarf

Back of cap showing tie

view of cap

So a few years ago I went on a tangent where I started finding all the documented styles of fur caps you might find on the 18th century backcountry. I found some killer images/original styles of fur caps that seem to be pretty common (working on less country one right now blog to follow lol) One mention that stuck in my head was made by George Fearis. In the Draper manuscripts Fearis mentioned that an Indian he saw shot was wearing “a coonskin cap on his head with a long tail hanging down”.
To me this seemed to line up with the description of Brady’s rangers wearing Raccoon caps to look more like natives. I found a few more references to raccoon fur caps being worn so I decided I’d try and make one. So rather than reinvent the wheel I based my cap off a few extant Otter turbans with 19th century attributions as well as an early (17th cent ) image of a native wearing a turban.
I got a pretty large alum tanned raccoon skin (next one will be brain tan) I figured out how wide I wanted it and divided that in half (a) and drew a line down the center of the skin (using the nose as a center point) Half of (a) went above the line the other half below and trimmed off the excess. I secured it in the back thru the eye holes with a leather lace so I could adjust the size of the cap.
I’ve worn this cap a few times in the winter and worn with a silk scarf keep my head pretty warm. Ok but I’m not gonna lie it looks freakin weird. I have a hard time linking the stuff I’ve read with what looks “normal” to my modern mindset of what I should wear at events. That being said this is also an arguable cap for someone doing a Native portrayal as well. I mean a lot of the descriptions I found for this were on natives. A LOT of natives in hat/cap info out there , just sayin. But there ya go My take on the 18th cent native coon skin turban. Flame away

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

burke horns part 2

Self promoting collaboration or Really good stuff a few ppl made who will acknowledge the people that helped them...unlike the golem

Burke's Cherokee Campaign map horn and Cherokee Strap made by Nathan Kobuck...carving is based of the work of the "master carver"

Hand sewn hunting shirt By TRavis crowder....coon skin cap by Nathan Kobuck based off descrip. of Hats in drapers manuscripts. ...Horn strap and buffalo scalp by Nathan Kobuck

Crown point horn...Mike Burke

Fort Pitt Horn by Mike Burke...based off cox horn

Table set up...confused look by me....too much bourban and bourban ale.

woven goods and middle finger by me..Nathan Kobuck...not sure why the middle finger was up

So after a few weeks I can see that The Treaty Elm table at the CLA show( Mike Burke, Travis Crowder and me Nathan Kobuck…I’m the weak link) wont make it to other blogs because well….We don’t play nice with golems. Ok !OK I guess its partly our fault we didn’t shove our goods in people’s faces and scream “look at me! Look at me!” like other ppl (golems are good at this) but hey we were working on a hangover all weekend and well our stuff is Good enough for us and we’re the toughest critics we know.
Anyhow here are a few pics of the items we had displayed at the show and a sneak peak st items we will have at the Greensburg show in a few weeks. I’m going to go on a limb here and promote the horns done by Mike Burke. Burke and I have been friends since 1999 and roommates off and on since then. I have never seen anyone with an eye for detail on carved horns like this man. Lucky for me and the guys in the Augusta county militia Burke’s horns have gone unnoticed by the masses so the price for us has stayed low but in all honesty this man is an artist that needs to be noticed. I honestly would claim he is the BEST carver out there right now (he’d punch me for that comment) I have owned horns by Larkin, the sibley’s, Cadle and Burkeis still is by far the best out there IMHO.
He can switch up his carving to the region/school and knows the history of the item he’s working. If you are looking for a quality carved powder horn for me Mike Burke is the Guy to go to. Yes I am Bias but its only because I’ve been lucky enough to watch this man in action and know how he does research. …Look for our table at the Greensburg show .

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ken Hamilton Trade Knives...a review

Cindy and her matchcoat and knife....spent the next day in the woods and had no problem...Knife didn't have the right profile for her dad she he reshaped it
My collection Of Ken's one is the newest knife and I cant wait to use it

One of the things that has been going back and forth on the msg boards has been trade knives. We are at the level that one side will only carry massive file knives (the basis for the name long knife is neo-brauns I guess) and the other camp is all about the use of trade knives (the librarians)….for me the whole thing has become too close to the modern political world .So I have taken the stance of a history Anarchist. I wont take a side in your brown vs color world I'll just focus on the facts. That being said……I LOVE history and I LOVE Documentation….
That’s what brings me to Ken Hamilton’s knives (I don’t know what political ideals Ken ascribes but the man makes a good knife so don’t hold my ideas against him but I would put him in the Librarian that hunts category lol ) I have owned a number of Ken’s knives over the past 2 years. I have been very happy with all of them.
Two years ago I picked up two of Ken’s French Trade knives and the first thing that impressed me was the fact with the knives Ken sent me a massive collection of images and documentation on the knives. To me this is something that shows the level of craftsman you are. He backed up his item with the research which is something I think a lot of craftsmen could learn something from.
So if your looking for a quality trade Knife Ken is a guy that I feel would be a craftsmen you should contact. I own and use 2 french scalpers, an English scalper and 2 folders that ken has made and they are all great knives. The keep an edge and they are quality reproductions of the originals. If you want Ken’s contact info please contact me and I’ll provide it. He does a great job .

Monday, September 6, 2010

Trades on labor day

River work...nice detail on the fleshing beam and knives...I dig this because there was Tan yard about a mile from my house Along the Little Juinata River
Casting the gang mold

THe guy in the corner making drip it. AFter a summer of melting lead on 100 degree days , I feel his pain

the Butcher.... Dont think Peta would dig this plate.

The Cutlery shop...check out the knives on the bench...and the massive one the guy is holding

Well since it's a holiday I'm not going to type much. So I decided to post some images of Differnt Trades From Diderot's encyclopedia. If you get a chance check it;c=did

It's an awesome source for detailed info on the 18th century. I've decided to put up some images that wopuld have been connected to the Fur trade...enjoy

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Product review...MIll Creek Trading CO. Soapstone molds

Bar lead and molds....bars are based of Ligonier example...yes I am that geeky..but not as Geeky as Travis crowder who made the bar lead molds

Inside view of soapstone molds....the middle mold was used almost every day for 2 months this summer
top view of the molds

One of the most important pieces of gear for any hunter IMHO is a good bullet mold. For years I simply bought round ball/shot from the local black powder shop and looked in vain for a good mold. From what I’ve seen rapine makes really nice molds but I was looking for a soapstone mold (not sure why just thought they were cooler lol)
Well after years of looking I ran into to Denny Hevener of Mill Creek Trading Co. I’d known Denny for years and he was always really good at picking up 18th cent tools/molds and he decided to start making soapstone molds after getting some cherries to make the molds. SO I picked up two .60 cal molds for a smoothbore I owned (I bought two because you never know when someone making kewl stuff will quit making it) the .60 molds also had two .32 cal cavities on it for making shot for buck and ball loads.
I tried the mold out a few times and was really pleased with it. Since there is no “sprue cutter” on a soapstone mold you have to cut off the sprue (I use mu tomahawk and a billet of wood). I then ordered a double .49 cal mold and a gang mold of .32 (5 cavities). I picked them up this past spring and have used them both A LOT. I worked at a “lead mine fort” site all summer long so I did a bullet making demo for the public so…I made a lot of shot/ball and the molds held up great. Denny has a wide selection of mold sizes. He has even made a pretty sweet soapstone ink well. If your interested in getting Denny’s contact info drop me an email or try contacting him thru the frontierfolk message board.