Two paintings are known to exist of Massachusetts soldiers, militia and provincial from the French and Indian war period.

1756 Painting on left, held in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and by Joseph Blackburn was an English portrait painter who worked mainly in Bermuda and colonial America. Dark navy coat with red facings, gold laced button holes and hat, and buttons and gold waistcoat. White shirt, black neck cloth.  This painting is newly discovered by us.

1763 Painting on right held in The Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, MA. is an oil painting of David Mason in Company officer’s uniform. Mason was a commissary in 1755, a Lt. 1756-58, 1762 and Captain in 1763. Dark navy coat with red facings and waistcoat with gold laced waistcoat and hat. White shirt and black neck cloth.

As I interpret these the 1756 painting shows an early war and also an officer’s prerogative to deviate his trappings. He is a higher ranking officer so has more gold. You can just barely make out some of his right cuff which appears to be of the likeness to ours, but the facing was different (because of an earlier style or maybe again officer’s prerogative). The 1763 painting shows a late war lower ranking officer, so less gold and in later war we have seen an attempt at more regimented warrants in uniforms, consequently less deviations in style.

I do have documents and paintings of red coats for officers (usually high ranking) also.

My take and two cents! We will not be making changes to our recreated uniforms. This new find just adds to our authenticity package.
Major K

Brent Kemmer's photo.Brent Kemmer's photo.


Written on April 6th, 2016 , Articles

Holy Roman Emperor Charles the VI had no sons and spent his life securing the inheritance of his daughter, Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina, commonly known as Maria Theresa. On Charle’s death in 1740, the nations of Europe repudiated their signed treaties and took up arms to dismember her realm. They realized too late that Maria Theresa was no mere slip of girl, but one of the toughest women in history and a bloody eight year war was the result.

This war ended just six short years before Washington’s expedition and the battle of Fort Necessity. It took a heavy toll in the Northern British colonies and would be as relevant to the men of Massachusetts as the first Persian Gulf war is to Americans today.

In Europe, Saxony, Prussia, Bavaria, France and Spain all made war upon Austria. Extensive and bloody battles were fought across southern Germany and in the Low Countries. This potential upset to the balance of power greatly alarmed Britain but a formal declaration of war did not come until 1744, even though King George II entered the war in his capacity as elector of Hanover in 1742 and personally won a great victory against the French at Dettingen in 1743. The appointment of Marshal de Saxe reversed all of this for the French. In 1745, the lily banners rapidly overran Belgium (one of Maria Theresa territories at that time) and French ships returned Bonnie Prince Charlie to Scotland. His rebellion forced the British Army to withdraw from Europe and Hanover, King George II’s ancestral home, quickly fell to the French.

The war reach North America in the summer of 1744. Indian’s allied to the French raided the fishing port of Canso and the capital of British Nova Scotia, Annapolis Royal and besieged Fort Ann. The fort was saved by the arrival of troops and supplies from Massachusetts.   In 1745 William Pepperrell took command of a force of about 3,500 Massachusetts, 500 Connecticut and 450 New Hampshire troops to capture the fortress of Louisbourg after a six week siege. The following November, French and Indian forces raided and destroyed the village of Saratoga, New York and caused all settlements north of Albany to be abandoned. Extensive and devastating raids took place along the both the Massachusetts and New York frontiers in 1746, including attacks on Schenectady, New York and Fort Massachusetts in Western Massachusetts. The French Navy attempted to retake Louisbourg that year, but was decimated by storms and disease and never reach Cape Breton Isle. Indian Raids would continue until the war ended in 1748. Fighting in Acadia and Nova Scotia continued until the expulsion of the Acadians in the opening stages of the French and Indian War.

Conflict ended with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. The Massachusetts actions at Louisbourg represented the only bargaining chip in British hands during the negotiations. Britain traded Louisbourg back to the French for the return of Madras in India and withdrawal of French troops from the Low Countries and Hanover, restoring English positions in Europe. News of this decision was bitterly received in the Colonies. Border disputes in the Ohio country and Nova Scotia and concerns of colonial security against Indian raids went unresolved making a new colonial war inevitable.

Written on March 24th, 2016 , Articles

Rifling is a series of grooves cut in a spiral pattern inside the barrel of a firearm.  These grooves spin-stabilize the projectile producing straighter and more accurate flight.  The importance of putting a spin on a projectile was known to archers for a long time and was implemented by offsetting the fletching feathers on their arrows.  It was first applied to firearms in Germany starting in the late 15th century. The early examples were greatly improved upon by the middle of the 16th century.

A rifles projectile must have a tight fit to engage the grooves and spin.  This makes a rifle much more difficult to load than a musket.  Small greased patches have to be supplied to the riflemen to wrap the projectile, and much more force used to seat it properly.  This generally slows the loading process to roughly half that of a comparable musket.  Additionally most 18th century rifles were not designed for military service and so have no provision for mounting a bayonet and are not built robustly enough to survive hand to hand combat.  This puts the rifleman at a great disadvantage in close quarters combat.

Evidence for use of rifled guns in the French and Indian war is common, but no known guns survive from the main period of the conflict.  Newspapers in many places were advertising rifle parts for commercial sale as this example from South Carolina shows;

November 4, 1756
JOHN DODD , Gun-Maker in Meeting-Street
HAS to sell a parcel of very neat rifle-barrel guns, from 3 to 4 feet in length; and continues to do all sorts of gun-work in the best manner.

Accounts of native raiders in Pennsylvania with rifles appear as early as 1730 and go all through the French and Indian war period.  Robert Kirk, a private in Montgomery’s Highlanders (77th Foote), purchased a rifle during his period of Indian adoption over the winter of 1758-59.

“We hunted here for two moons or better and had great success.  Some French traders coming up the Ohio, exchanged powder and shot with us for furrs and skins.  I had succeeded so well in this party that I bought a riffle gun, some powder, and two new blankets, one of which I sent as a present to my adopted spouse, which was received as a great mark of my love and affection” (McCulloch & Todish, 48)

Natives lived and died by their ability to hunt and recognized the superior abilities of rifled guns.

‘Riffled Carbines’ were issued to the light infantry for Abercromby’s Ticonderoga campaign at a rate of one per ten men in the following regiments; 27th, 42nd, 44th, 46th, 55th, 60th, 80th (Gages Light Armed), and Bradstreets Batteaumen.

Gerneral order for 12 June 1758 were “Fort Edward Camp. Each Regt. to receive 10 riffled pieces from the store, and to return the like number or firelocks for them”.

July 1, 1758 ” Capt Sheperds Company of Rangers to discharge thier pieces between 3 and 5 this afternoon. The Regts may try thir riffles at the same time”.

As for the provincials Colonel Bouquet, of the 60th Royal Americans, wrote, “A large part of the provincials are armed with grooved rifles, and have molds.  Lead in bars will suit them better than buttlets—likewise the Indians—but they also need fine powder FF”

Production of Jaeger style rifles took place in the German states from the beginning of the 17th century and were in military service with specialist German troops from the 1650s.  Sweden began importing them in 1711 and they would have been commercially available in Europe and could have been imported into America or immigrated with Germanic and Swiss settlers.

The oldest surviving American rifle is the John Shreit rifle housed in the William duPont collection and dated to 1761.  Unfortunately this rifle was rebuilt in the early 19th century and so cannot be used as an example of an F&I era gun.  The first of the famous Pennsylvania long rifle makers, Andreas Albrecht, opened his shop in Christian Springs PA in 1761.  These early guns probably resembled trade muskets and were intended for sale, although not exclusively, to the natives.

Although rifle choices in history were many, the modern F&I era rifleman has a much more limited selection.  The only production replica rifle available today is Pedersoli’s Jaeger rifle and that is the one I’ve been carrying this season.  Other historic guns are only available in kits or parts sets and require considerable gunsmithing skills to complete them.  This comes with the advantage of uniqueness but at considerable cost.  As always speak with your officers and NCOs before spending money on a gun that may not be appropriate

Ian McCulloch and Timothy Todish Through So Many Dangers; The memoirs and Adventures of Robert Kirk, Late of the Royal Highland Regiment. New York NY, Purple Mountain Press, 2004
Peter A. Alexander The Gunsmith of Grenville County; Building the American Longrifle. Texarkana TX, 2012
Ian McCulloch & Tim J Todish British Light Infantryman of the Seven Years War; North American 1757-1763. Wellingborough UK, Osprey Publishing 2004

Written on August 3rd, 2015 , Articles, Gear

Earlier this month we had our annual Holiday meeting where we all got together to discuss last year, plan for the upcoming year and have some fun. Our reenacting family is growing, but we’d still love to have more friends to share our hobby with. Our group has a variety of men, women and children who are active participants. For us, reenacting is for the whole family. If you are considering joining us, come check us out at an event or contact us ahead of time and maybe you can come and join us on the field!

Written on January 20th, 2014 , Articles Tags: , ,

The Massachusetts Battalion is led by officers and managed by non-commissioned officers (NCO) just like modern armies around the world.  Here we have a photo of a selection of the Battalions leadership.  From left to right, we have a corporal of the Light Infantry, a Lieutenant of the Light Infantry and a Sergeant Major of the Grenadiers.

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Written on October 1st, 2012 , Articles Tags: , , , ,

The first grenades were invented sometime in the 15th century and were simple hollowed iron balls packed full of black powder, occasionally nails or other fragments, and lit with a slow match fuse.  These grenades were pretty heavy and were assigned to the biggest and strongest soldiers to throw.  These soldiers were called Grenadiers. The specialized equipment and dangerous nature of their work gradually transformed the grenadier into an elite member of Europe’s armies.

By the time of the French and Indian war grenades had gone out of style, but Grenadiers had not.  They were still chosen for their height and brawn.  In British Regiment the first company or ‘A’ Company was the Grenadier Company.  Since the Massachusetts regiments were built on the British model their first company was often made up of grenadiers as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on September 1st, 2012 , Articles Tags:

The Brown Bess; An Identification Guide and Illustrated Study of Britain’s Most Famous Musket by Erik Goldstein & Stuart Mowbray is just what it says on the tin.

Cover Art

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Written on April 8th, 2012 , Articles, Gear Tags: , ,

Ted, a reenactor for over 35 years, passed away at his home in Cadillac, Michigan Sunday August 14. He was only 61. Ted was known by many. He had a gruff exterior, but for those who could see beyond that, was a kind and good friend. Ted was a good colonial reenactor primarily doing French and Indian War. His specialty was his knowledge of Native Americans and the British and American Indian Departments.  I first met Ted on opposite sides of the battlefield, but really got to know him as members of Jaeger’s Battalion of Roger’s Rangers. Ted was the Lieutenant and stuck up for me once, which I will never forget. I became Sergeant in the group and we had many good times. Ted held several titles in the Battalion.

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Written on October 10th, 2011 , Articles

Fort Ticonderoga NY post this nice video about the uniform of a Massachusetts Provincial solder in 1759.

Written on June 24th, 2011 , Articles, Gear Tags: ,

Centinel John TimberlakeIt is with the greatest lament and condolences that I must inform you all that one of the most loved members of the Massachusetts Provincial Battalion, John Timberlake of Ohio, passed away in his sleep on a business trip in a motel room March 8, 2011.  John was a member of the organization beginning since 1995!  John is survived by his wife Lori and two sons and a daughter.  His son Paul, who is a past member also of Bagley’s Regiment also called me to tell me the news.


John was always a great supporter of the unit and could always be counted on to give his opinion!  Say hello to Col. Bagley for us!  We ALL salute you John.  God Bless you John…A true and dear friend.

Major K
Written on March 9th, 2011 , Articles

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