Monday, March 16, 2015

After Guilford

Pity the poor Fusilier, the Carolina sun finally came out and dried him after days of being soaked. Promoted corporal (largely through attrition) he somehow avoided capture at the Cowpens, saw his tent burned, waded through chest-deep rivers, and cleaned the mud from his uniform in a horse trough. He survived the slaughter at Guilford, moved wounded men for hours, and can no longer coax the ramrod from his firelock until it dries.

There is magic in hearing Lord Cornwallis's compliments read while standing on the muddy ground where hundreds died in 1781. Keeping weapons functioning, powder dry, and cooking food in the wet is a challenge. The winter uniform fared remarkably well. Back home, it is time to assess damage and make repairs.

Starting from the top, the hat slowly uncocked itself and is now soft. It is steamed back into shape, and shellac applied to the soft spots. The coat needs little attention: mud is brushed from it with a stiff brush. The right waistcoat pocket bag tore and needs to be stitched up. Ruffles are cut from the shirt before it is hand-washed. They will be ironed and replaced when the shirt dries.

The winter trousers are still in fat configuration and need to have three inches cut from the waistband back. Eyelets will be redone, and the popped seam inside the left thigh fixed. The stirrup straps stretched and need to be cut shorter. Water and a stiff brush remove most of the mud.  Belts, sling, and shoes are cleaned with soap and water. Shoes get a healthy dose of shoe grease, and some black ball. White leather is painted with white ball and polished with a glass bottle. The brass belt plate gets a high polish.

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