Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Joys of the Nativity to you, and God bless His Majesty, George II!

John Singleton Copley, The Nativity, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Video From Kinnelon Military Timeline

The French & Indian War and the Colonial Frontier

This video comes from a show-and-tell display that the Frontier Guard set up as part of a military timeline event at Kinnelon for the New Jersey Arms Collectors in early November.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Over 20,000!

The figures for 2014 are in, and the New Jersey Frontier Guard put on presentations for over 20,000 people at all the events we attended this year.  We'd like to thank all the organizers of the various events who invited us to show up and give visitors a glimpse of life on the NJ frontier in 1756.  Hope to see you in 2015!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Winter is Coming

With the onset of cold weather, eighteenth century armies usually ceased active campaigning.  Frigid weather and snow meant that it was difficult for armies to move, and thaws were often worse, as mud made roads impassable for large bodies of men, animals, wagons, and artillery.

While neither the NJ Frontier Guard nor their Lenape foes moved large bodies of men along the roads at any time of year, winter was nonetheless habitually a time to stay inside as much as possible, as close to the fire as duty and circumstances would allow.

Similarly, the campaign season for Captain Gardiner's company of the NJ Frontier Guard has finished for the year.  It is a time for us to do research, to repair items worn or damaged during the events of the last months, to stock the larder if game comes into the front sight, to make new clothing or accoutrements, and to plan for the next season.

I hope, over the next few months, to post more articles about the history of the Frontier Guard and related subjects, so check back regularly.  In the meantime, please accept my wishes for a joyous Thanksgiving (a holiday, by the way, that dates back to 1863, and for which we have Abraham Lincoln to thank, not the Separatists of Plimoth - as some spellings of the seventeenth century had it). 

Enjoy your roast venison, woodchuck, and squirrel!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Van Campen Inn

On Sunday the Frontier Guard set up a display at the Van Campen Inn in Walpack, NJ.  

The inn, at the intersection of  the old Military Road that ran from Elizabeth Town to the Delaware River and the Old Mine Road along the Delaware River, is a stone building that dates back to the 1740s, and thus was an important location on the frontier during the French and Indian War.   In fact, the Headquarters Fort of the Frontier Guard, Ft. Johns, was located on a rise directly behind the Van Campen Inn (Some sources claim that the Inn itself served as Fort Johns, but that doesn't quite square with the sketch of the fort Hampton drew).

The morning was crisp and windy, but it was sunny, and it warmed up a bit as the day went on.

It was good to see Dom, who retired from the active membership last year, fall in with us again.  He's a good guy, knowledgable about the era and a good person to muster with.

The senior corps of the Colonial Musketeers also attended, playing a nice mix of fife and drum pieces.  Our junior member certainly enjoyed the music, especially as he got to bang the drum with them.  

The Walpack Historical Society gave tours and sold books and refreshments.  There were demonstrations of corn shelling, cider pressing, and blacksmithing.  The crowds were large, and we were busy all day.  People enjoyed themselves, and it was a great event.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Wilson Contract Fusil

**Please note: all photos in this post are copyright Bill Ahearn and used with his gracious permission for informational/reference only.  Please respect his copyright. **

One of  the most impressive pieces that I have seen or handled is a fusil made by Wilson of London as part of a 1757 contract of 2,000 pieces for the Royal Province of New Jersey.  Made during the French and Indian War, this arm also saw Patriot use during the American Revolution, making it a significant artifact of American history.  As Mr. Ahearn has said, "I've been able to identify two other Wilson fusils but thus far the one I have is the only New Jersey marked fusil that I've been able to identify."

This is an exceptionally light and trim weapon, with a weight of approximately 6 1/2 pounds, a bore of .71 cal., and a barrel length of  approximately 38".  Unlike most civilian fowling 
pieces of the period, the stock ends approximately 
6" before the muzzle, allowing the use of a socket bayonet.  

The round-faced lock has an external bridle and is simply marked "Wilson."
The trigger guard resembles that of a Brown Bess and is drilled for a sling.

The sideplate resembles the Brown Bess plate, but given the smaller surface area of the lock panel, it looks proportionally larger.

The thumb plate, also patterned after the Bess, is engraved with the number 10.

The barrel bears both Crown proofs and Wilson stamps.

The stepped buttplate is engraved "New Jersey."  Mr. Ahearn notes that there were 2 contracts, one from 1748 and one from 1757.  The 1757 contract came after the loss of approximately 350 of the New Jersey Provincial Regiment, the "Jersey Blues," at Sabbath Day Point in 1757.
Some have claimed that there must have been three contracts, as buttplates bear three different styles of engraving, but according to Mr. Ahearn, there is no record of a third contract; it is far more probable that there were simply two engravers who worked on the 2,000 pieces.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quiet Valley Harvest Festival

The Harvest Festival last weekend was one of the busier events the Frontier Guard has attended, packed with visitors, vendors, exhibits, and food.


It was good to see Adam is recovering, and we look forward to the day when he can again fall in with us.


The weather was beautiful, and our distaff members were busy showing off children's toys and games to large and enthusiastic crowds.

In between visitors, they also took a bit of time to do some needlework.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Touching a Piece of History

Last Thursday evening, noted collector and author Bill Ahearn came to Washington's Headquarters Museum and gave a talk on muskets of the French and Indian Wars and the American Revolution.  The event, sponsored by the North Jersey American Revolution Roundtable, was well-attended, and Mr. Ahearn gave a very nice talk indeed, with excellent, detailed photos of long arms from Hudson Valley fowling pieces to rare 1730 pattern Brown Bess muskets,  and from a 1760 sergeant's carbine, to Wilson contract fusils.

Even better, he brought a large number of pieces from his collection:

A trio of rare Brown Bess muskets

A 1760 pattern carbine, most likely issued to sergeants...

A 1759 pattern Light Dragoon pistol

This was my favorite: a fusil made by Wilson of London. Part of a 1757 contract for 2,000 pieces for the Province of New Jersey,  this light and trim scaled-down musket saw service in both the F&I War and in Patriot hands during the American Revolution.

And yes, thanks to Mr. Ahearn's gracious nature, I not only got to examine the pieces, but to hold some as well.  My grin says it all.

Bill Ahearn's book, Muskets of the Revolution and French and Indian Wars has a wealth of detailed information on these pieces and many others.  It's a great source of information.  I suggest you pick up a copy; I have mine autographed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quiet Valley this weekend

Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm near Stroudsburg, PA is having its Harvest Festival this weekend.  The Frontier Guard will be setting up a display there.  Hope to see you!  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wool Overshirt

With the weather turning colder, it was time to make the little man some cold-weather gear.  I had some heavy wool check fabric, so I made him a wool overshirt.  

My sewing skills are limited, to put the best face on it, but this turned out pretty well, in my slightly-biased opinion.  He seemed to like it too.

I still have to add buttons at the collar and cuffs, but it's pretty much done.  It should do for the next year or two, until he grows out of it.  Honestly, I don't know if any colonial shirts looked exactly like this, but checked wool appears in many inventories, and woolen shirts appear in some runaway descriptions, so this is an article that may have existed.  If anyone else knows more, please comment and let me know.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In Memoriam: Dave Bender

It is my sad duty to report that New Jersey Frontier Guard member Dave Bender was killed in an auto accident last Sunday morning, as he and another member, Adam, were on their way to go fishing.

Dave, below left, and Bobby (behind table) share information with a visitor at Quiet Valley in August...
A pickup truck crossed over the median as they went around a curve and struck them head-on.  Dave was killed, and Adam suffered multiple injuries. Luckily, Adam will recover, but our hearts are heavy at the loss of Dave, and our prayers are with both of them and their families.

I will remember Dave as a talented craftsman and a nice guy, a man who immersed himself in our past and gladly shared his knowledge with others.

(Unfortunately, this is the best photo of Dave that I have, as he joined the Frontier Guard this year, and no one thinks in terms of a memorial.  Should anyone have another photo, please let me know, and I will post it promptly. )

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm

Quiet Valley Farm, near Stroudsburg,PA, is a working 18th century farmstead in a beautiful setting.  This past weekend, August 23 & 24, they held their annual craft festival and invited the NJ Frontier a Guard to demonstrate.  A blast from the swivel gun let visitors know of our presence near the 19th century schoolhouse building, and we had a steady stream of visitors.  In fact, I was only able to get out my camera at one slower point.

Our junior member was there to demonstrate 18th century children's' games.

Adam worked on his horn, beginning the process of carving it into a work of art.  If it comes out anything like the fowling piece he built, it'll be a beauty.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Whispering Pines

This post is not directly related to the Frontier Guard, but Whispering Pines was my first introduction to the world of re-enactments, living history, and rendezvous.  This rendezvous, held each August in Cherry Flats, near Wellsboro, PA, is a great event that's lots of fun.  I've gone back each year, making a lot of friends, shooting (usually badly), and singing in the evening with friends like Rose and Steve.

Friends like Shep and "The Old Man" welcomed me the first time I was there, treated me to dinner, and made the experience great.  While my family has gone for the day the past few years, this year we all went and camped for the weekend.

While in past years I've camped in a 6x6 wedge tent, last year a friend sold us a monster 20x20 marquis tent at an amazing price, so this year we camped in style.

My wife sewed divider curtains, so we could separate the dining/sleeping area from our bedroom, and I built some folding benches and a table.

Liz looked superb, as always.

There were games for the young ones, like sack races.

They found friends almost immediately, and spent the entire weekend playing and exploring.

I even shot well, at least for me.

At the last minute, I picked up a little something from Shep...

This will mean a lot to me, not least because it was made by Robert Pollack, the "Old Man," and owned by Shep, so it's a connection to friendship and good times.  Plus, it's simply beautiful.  

All in all, it was a great experience.  If you have are within driving distance of Tioga County, PA, and you have time in August, I hope to see you there next year.