Primary Sources

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Great Resources
1764 Drill Manual

The Manual Exercise,
As ordered by his
Majesty,
In 1764.
Together with
Plans and Explanations
Of the Method generally Practis'd
At
Review and Field-Days, &c.

The Position of a Soldier under Arms.
To stand streight and firm upon his Legs; Head turned to the Right: Heels close: Toes a little turned out; the Belly drawn in a little, but without constraint; the Breast a little projected ; Shoulders square to the Front, and kept back; the right Hand hanging streight down the Side, with the Palm close to the Thigh; the left Elbow not to be turned out from the Body; the Firelock to be carried on the left Shoulder, as low down as can be admitted without Constraint; the three last Fingers under the Butt; the Fore-Finger and Thumb before the Swell; the Flat of the Butt to be supported against the Hip-Bone, and to be pressed so that the Firelock may be felt against the left Side, and that it may stand before the Hollow of the Shoulder, not leaning towards the Head nor from it; the Barrel almost perpendicular.
To be exact in counting a Second of Time, or One, Two, between each Motion.

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Arms and Accoutrements

We have several returns of arms, ammunition and accoutrements for 1777 all of which are for Captain Bevier’s 4th Company. The return shows all 44 men receiving guns and cartridge boxes and 29 receiving bayonets. The average price of the guns is listed at 3 pounds 10 shillings. Captain Bevier’s account book reports receipt of 25 stand of arms, bayonets and belts on April 10, 1777 and 8 more stand of arms on April 11. The October 1896 issue of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record contains an account of “French” arms and accoutrements delivered out to his company. We are searching for the original return to confirm whether the arms delivered were actually French. The NYG & BR return shows each man receiving scabbards and belts in addition to guns, bayonets and cartouche boxes.

Captain Bevier’s papers includes a document entitled “An Account of Napsacks Delivered out to my Company Coll Lewis Dubois Regt. Fort Montgomery 1777” The column headings, however, are titled “Haversacks” We are unsure whether the company was issued napsacks or haversacks. There is also an undated return of “numbered” blankets issued to the company.

We have two different arms returns one of which indicates “French” arms. This is supported by Joe Thatcher who reports that some parts for Charleville muskets were found at Fort Montgomery. At present the unit is supplied with Brown Bess muskets, bayonets with black leather scabbards and white leather shoulder belts with plain double D buckles.

We will refine our impression as more information comes in.

There’s more but that’s all for now.

Richard McGuinness

Steuben Drill Manual

Revolutionary War Drill Manual
Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States
by Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben

In CONGRESS, 29th March, 1779

CONGRESS judging it of the greatest importance to prescribe some invariable rules for the order and discipline of the troops, especially for the purpose of introducing an uniformity in their formations and maneuvers, and in the service of the camp:

ORDERED, that the following regulations be observed by all the troops of the United States, and that all general and other officers cause the same to be executed with all possible exactness.

By Order, JOHN JAY, President

Attest. Charles Thompson, Secretary

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Clothing

Supply records for the regiment in 1776 and 1777 are fragmentary at best. Certain records of Captain Philip D Bevier’s 4th Company have survived. A record of clothing received indicates receipt of 28 “full suits” in March and April of 1777. Each suit consisted of one hat, one coat, two frocks, two shirts, two overalls, one breeches, two stockings and two shoes. A total of 35 coats were received in March and April 1777. Undated clothing return “beginning” February 1777 shows the entire company fully clothed except for coats. Only 19 out of 48 men had coats. Perhaps these 19 coats were issued prior the March and April shipments. Alan Amoine of the West Point Library and an author of several articles on equipping New York troops during the revolution believes the term “full suites” includes a regimental coat. Steve Gilbert, a well-known researcher of New York clothing, arms and accoutrements concurs with Mr. Amoine. Mr. Amoine believes the coats would have been a dark brown faced with blue. He believes the coats would have been supplied out of Albany or Fishkill. The other four New York regiments were all supplied coats of varying description out of Albany in early 1777.

A memorandum dated Fort Montgomery August 6, 1777 of cash and clothing left by Jacob Davis, deceased, included 1 coat, 1 waistcoat, 1 pair leather breeches, 1 shirt, 2 frocks, 1 pr stockings, 1 pr shoes, and 1 Castor hat.

There are three 5th New York deserter descriptions from March and July 1777 as described by Lefferts in his classic work. One wore “Continent Cloaths”, one wore a brown coat faced blue and the other wore a blue coat with white laced buttonholes. The deserter with the brown coat faced blue was James Persons, a private in Captain Philip Bevier’s 4th company. He deserted in July and may well have received one of the 35 coats shipped to the 4th company in March/April 1777. Persons does not have a coat on the February 1777 clothing return. Mr. Amoine believes the brown coat faced blue is the most logical choice for a regimental. He chose dark brown because brown was easier and cheaper to dye than blue. The dark brown would have differentiated the 5th from other New York regiments that had light brown and chocolate brown coats. Mr. Amoine also contends that the regiment was issued captured British coats dyed brown and that the resulting color would have been a very dark brown. Trailside Museums of Bear Mountain State Park located on the former site of Fort Clinton houses an exhibit on the battle for the Highland Forts. The exhibit includes a rendition of a 5th New York soldier wearing a brown coat with blue facing. Jack Meade who was director of Trailside Museums in the 1960’s painted the image. We are trying to locate his research for this exhibit. Another image of a 5th New Yorker appears in Mollo and McGregor’s Uniforms of the American Revolution published in 1974. The soldier is wearing a dark brown coat with blue facing.

Many buttons were found during archeological digs at Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton some of which are on display at Trailside Museum. The buttons have a raised NY cipher and are waistcoat size (17mm). Don Troiani in his Buttons of The American Revolution shows the waistcoat buttons and a coat sized button (23mm) all with the joined NY cipher. Mr. Troiani indicates that all the buttons were discovered in the Hudson Highlands.

NY Reg button

We have two skimpy leads on materials for the clothing. Transcripts from a British Court Martial of Loyalist Officer Capt. Joshua Barnes refer to a chest of rebel cloathing found in the barracks of Fort Montgomery containing 60 pair of buckskin breeches. The other lead is a March 1778 order from Brigadier General George Clinton to John Henry, a commissary of clothing in New York, to furnish Col. Lewis Dubois’s regiment in Fishkill with two pieces of “oznibrig” to make pockets and linings, etc. Unfortunately John Henry’s account books burned in a fire at Albany in 1911. I have found numerous references to clothing in the Journals and Correspondence of the New York Provincial Congress. Several of these references even mention Colonel Dubois’s regiment but nothing conclusive about types or styles. Steve Gilbert has offered to search his extensive database on clothing and equipment issues during 1777 for anything relating to the 5th New York.

We intend to present the unit in a brown regimental coat with blue facings. More research is needed to determine the extent of facing (collars, cuffs and/or lapels). The coat will be a short length, certainly no longer than mid-thigh and be cut from appropriate weight and texture wool. Lining material might be linen. The coats and waistcoats could have pewter buttons with the raised pattern. The fatigue uniform would be a pullover smock/frock and overalls of dyed or undyed linen. Breeches could be linen or leather. The hats would be simple black cocked hats, uniformly cocked and trimmed. Shirts would be plain linen or checked.

We will refine our impression as more information comes in.

There’s more but that’s all for now.

Richard McGuinness