Clothing Part 1 - Hunting Shirts

Editoral Note: These a number of quotes from various sources in reference to hunting shirts and appearence in general.

June 16, 1768.
RUN away from the subscribers, in Augusta county, in the forks of James river, two convict servant men, one named Israel Cowen, aged about 27 years, about 5 feet 7 inches high, of a dark complexion, his head bald and blind of his left eye. He had on when he went away, a new felt hat, an old thickset coat, with tortoise-shell buttons, a blue broadcloth jacket, trowsers, and old shoes. The other named George Wilkinson, aged about 20 years, about 5 feet 6 inches high, of a sandy complexion, and red hair. Had on when he went away, a new felt hat, hunting shirt and callico waistcoat, with old buckskin breeches, blue leggings, and old shoes. Whoever takes up the said servants and secures them in any gaol in this colony, shall have five pounds reward, and if but one of them, fifty shillings, besides what the law allows, paid by us, ROBERT WHITLEY, JOHN MAXWELL.

October 18, 1770.
RUN away from the subscriber living in Augusta, near Stanton, a convict servant man named JOHN CEATON, an Englishman, about 5 feet 5 inches high; had on when he went away, a white hunting shirt with striped wristbands, a light coloured lappelled jacket lines with white blanketing, two coarse shirts, and a pair of trowsers, a pair of black worsted stockings, a spotted silk handkerchief, old shoes and brass buckles, a red-coloured wig and has crooked toes. Whoever takes up and secures said servant so that I may have him again, shall have FORTY SHILLINGS reward, besides what the law allows, and reasonable charges paid if brought home. ADAM REABURN.

August 15, 1771.
RUN away from the subscriber about the 1st of June, an Irish convict servant man named CHRISTOPHER DOLTON; he is about 25 years of age, 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, of a clear and fresh complexion, has a down look, clumsy made, stoop shouldered, has short black hair, pitted with the small pox, and has a lump on one of his fingers next to his thumb. Had with him, when he went away, an old felt hat, with a piece set in the brim, not altogether of the same colour with the rest of the hat, 3 home made shirts, 1 pair of trowsers, and 1 pair of drawers, both of coarse home grade linen, an old hunting shirt, and a pair of old shoes. It is imagined he will change his name and apparel. Whoever apprehends and secures the said servant, so that I may get him again, shall have FORTY SHILLINGS reward, and reasonable charges allowed, if brought home. ANDREW HAMILTON, Calf Pasture, Augusta.

May 26, 1775. Supplement.
RUB away from the subscriber, in Augusta county, the 25th of February, a convict servant man named JOHN THRIFT, about five feet ten inches high, well made, brown hair, and has a very impudent look; had on, when he went away, an old felt hat, a brown hunting shirt, a light coloured sagathy waistcoat, old buckskin breeches, old shoes, and white yarn stockings. Whoever takes up the said servant, and secures him so that I may get him, shall have 20 s. if taken in the county, and if out of the county 40 s. besides reasonable charges if brought home. ROBERT M'KITTRICK

FINCASTLE, June 1, 1775.
RUN away from the subscriber, last night, within 9 miles of English ferry, on New river, an Irish servant man named THOMAS WELSH, about 21 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches high, is well made to his height, of a fair complexion, and speaks bad English. He was clad in a hunting shirt filled with wool, buckskin breeches, linsey leggins, a wool hat, and his shoes nailed all round, both heels and soles. He has a smooth-bore gun with him, and is supposed to be along with Nathaniel Morgan's servant man. Whoever secures the said servant, so that he may be got again, shall have 50 s. reward, if taken in the county, if out thereof 5 l. paid by SAMUEL INGRAM. JOSEPH MEARS

Head Quarters, WILLIAMSBURG, April 19, 1776.
DESERTED from the Halifax regular Company (now in this City) on Wednesday the 16th Instant, three Soldiers, viz. JOSEPH MITCHELL BLAIR, about 23 Years of Age, 5 Feet 8 or 9 Inches high, has a wide Mouth, blue Eyes, black Hair, and freckled Face. He carried with him a dark coloured new Hunting Shirt. His inside Clothing I do not remember.---- JAMES TROOP, about the age of Blair, about 5 Feet 10 Inches high, has blue Eyes, dark curling Hair, stoops in his Shoulders, but otherwise well made. He carried with him a dark coloured Hunting Shirt. What other Clothes he had I do not know.----WILLIAM HILL, 19 Years of Age, 5 Feet 8 or 9 Inches high, spare made, of a dark Complexion, with black Hair and black Eyes. He had with him a striped Virginia Cloth Hunting Shirt, which he has dyed almost black, a Snuff coloured Coat, blue Duffil Waistcoat, and Leather Breeches.----The above Deserters carried away three of the Country's Rifles. They were enlisted in Halifax County, to which I expect they will endeavour to return.--Any Person or Persons who will deliver the above Deserters to the Company to which they belong, or secure them so that I may get them, shall be handsomely rewarded by NATHANIEL COCKE, Captain.

WILLIAMSBURG, May 7, 1776.
DESERTED from the Pittsylvania regular company now in this city, on Monday the 6th instant, four soldiers, viz. Philip Atkinson, 30 years of age, about 5 feet 11 inches high, well made, has black hair and black eyes, and a dark complexion; he carried with him an old hunting shirt died black, a blue duffil Newmarket coat, a pair of new shoes, a new blanket, and blue leggins. Walter Walters, about 35 years of age, and is 5 feet 11 inches and a half high; he carried with him a black and white mixed Virginia cloth coat and waistcoat, new hat and shoes, also a new blanket. William Freeman, about 23 years of age, 6 feet high, has light coloured hair, blue eyes, and stoops in his shoulders; he carried with him a copperas striped coat and waistcoat of Virginia cloth, new leggins, shoes, and a blanket. William Davis, a native of Great Britain, has blak [sic] hair and eyes, is about 5 feet 11 inches high, and spare made; he carried with him a light coloured Kersey coat and leather breeches, but his inside clothing I do not remember. The above deserters carried with them four of the country's rifles, and were listed in Pittsylvania, to whcih country I imagine they will endeavour to return. Woever [sic] delivers the above deserters to the company to which they belong, or secures them so that I may get them, shall have 5 l. reward for each. THOMAS HUTCHINGS, captain.

June 7, 1776.
RUN away from the subscriber, near Staunton, in Augusta, the 6th of last month, a servant man named NED BARRY, between 50 and 60 years of age, 5 feet 6 or 8 inches high, is bald-headed, and has much of the brogue; had on, when he went away, a white hunting shirt, a white coat of country made cloth, striped linsey jacket with blue backs, new wool hat, and white woollen stockings. Whoever apprehends said servant, and secures him so that I get him again, shall have 20 s. reward, besides what the law allows. JAMES CROW.

WILLIAMSBURG, July 5, 1776.
DESERTED last night from the College camp, James Vaughan, about 23 years of age, about 6 feet 2 inches high, well made, long black hair, of a dark complexion, and long visage; had on, and carried with him, a new suit of gray broadcloth, an old hunting shirt trimmed with red, old leather breeches, and a green broadcloth coat trimmed with silver lace, which he purchased at Dunmore's sale. Also Josiah Cheathum, about 22 years of age, 6 feet 6 inches high, well made, of a very dark complexion, has short black hair, and a dejected look; had on, and carried with him, a pair of good leather breeches, a hunting shirt trimmed with red, and a jacket and pair of breeches of light coloured sagathy, almost new. They were enlisted at Amherst, where I suppose they will endeavour to get. Whoever delivers them to the 6th Virginia regiment shall have 40 s. reward for each, and be allowed all reasonable expenses. SAMUEL CABELL, captain.

WILLIAMSBURG, August 16, 1776.
DESERTED from the College camp, on Friday the 9th of this instant, EDWARD MARSHAL, a soldier belonging to the 8th regiment, and a recruiting party of capt. Knox's company. He had been about a fortnight recruited, and has gone off with one of the country's rifles, and a blanket. He is below the middle stature, of a brown complexion, very talkative, and given to liquor. He had on when he went away an old hunting shirt, ragged breeches, stockings with holes in them, an old flapped hat, and was very dirty. He was not long since discharged from on board the Raleigh cruiser, by capt. James Cocke, which discharge I have now in my possession. Whoever secures the said deserter, and delivers him at the camp, shall have 20 s. reward- EDWARD MOODY.

September 6, 1776.
DESERTED from the College camp, the 2d instant (September) a soldier who says his name is JOHN BOYD, born in New England, and a shoemaker by trade. He is about 30 years of age, 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, and has some scars about his mouth; had on a brown hunting shirt fringed, and trousers of the same colour. He told some persons before he went off, that he was going to York town for a rifle, and some clothes that he said he left there. He had taken the place of a soldier in my company the day he went away, and I expect he is either gone towards York or Fredericksburg. Whoever will deliver the said Boyd to my company of the second regiment shall receive 40 s. reward, paid by FRANCIS TAYLOR.

September 20, 1776.
DESERTED from my company of regulars in the 4th battalion of Virginia forces, the 13th of this instant, from Portsmouth, two soldiers, viz. JOHN LANCASTER, born in the county of Isle of Wight, 25 years old, 5 feet 9 inches high, stout made, has brown hair, a reddish beard, dark eyes, and is of a down look. As he is acquainted in North Carolina, it is supposed he will go that way until the regiment marches. KINCHEN TURNER, born in the same county, about the same age, 5 feet 7 inches high, wears his own short dark hair, of a brown complexion, and stoops when he walks; he wore away a dyed hunting shirt faced with red, a check shirt, and a pair of trousers. Whoever apprehends and delivers the said soldiers to the commanding officer in this state shall receive 3 l. for each, and expenses paid. ARCHIBALD SMITH, captain.

October 18, 1776.
DESERTED from the sloop Susannah, at Leeds town, two soldiers of the 6th Virginia battalion, belonging to capt. Hutchings's company, viz. WILLIAM FREEMAN, 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, of a pale complexion, and has long yellow hair, which he wore tied behind; had on when he went away a snuff coloured coaat and waistcoat, and has a sliver button and loop to his hat. WILLIAM JONES, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high, of a brown complexion, and has black hair, which curls a little; had on a dark coloured hunting shirt, striped Virginia cloth coat and waistcoat under it, and Russia drab breeches. Whoever delivers the said deserters to the commanding officer at Williamsburg shall have 5 l. reward for each. HARDEN PERKINS, ensign.

DEEP SPRING camp, Sept. 17, 1776.
DESERTED last night from my company of riflemen, the following soldiers, viz. JOSIAH JONES, about 22 years old, 6 feet 2 inches high, well made, has short black hair, a very likely countenance, and when intoxicated very talkative, and desirous of raising disputes; he carried away with him a hunting shirt trimmed with red, a pair of leather breeches, several new shirts, and other things which I cannot recollect at present. DAVID BARNETT, aged 21 years, 6 feet 4 inches high, well made, has short black hair, a thin visage, occasioned by the ague and fever, which he had when he deserted, is very serious, and speaks but seldom; he carried with him a hunting shirt trimmed with red, a pair of leather breeches, a pair of new shoes, and several yards of linen, which I had delivered to him about two days before he deserted. JOSEPH CANTERBURY, aged 28 years, 5 feet 10 inches high, well made, has short red hair, a reddish complexion, and a dejected look; he carried along with him a hunting shirt trimmed with red, a gray coloured broadcloth waistcoat and breeches, a pair of black stockings, two pair of shoes, and several yards of linen, which I delivered to him a few days before he deserted. They went off indebted to the publick store, and were raised and enlisted in Amherst, where I expect they will endeavour to get. Whoever will deliver the said deserters to the commanding officer in Williamsburg, or safely contrive them to the 6th Virginia regiment at New York, shall have 4 l. 10 s. for each, and all reasonable expenses paid. SAMUEL JORDAN CABELL, captain in the 6th Virginia regiment

Thought I'd add a little clarification to the French & Indian reference you speak of, at least if its the one I have in mind. If it is, it certainly had me going until one day as I was reading through the Bouquet Papers relative to the forbes campaign in 1758. During the summer of that year, poor supplies and general economy made Washington a firm advocate of Indian dress, which is described over and over as a shirt, breechcloth, blanket, leggings, etc. A July 11 letter from Bouquet to Washington showed the colonel's approval: "Major Lewis with two hundred men under his command arrrived here last night. I am extremely obliged to you for this extraordinary Dispatch. Their dress should be the pattern in this expedition..." He then changes topics, leaving what, if it were left to stand alone would be a pretty cryptic reference. The reason it is so often interpreted as a reference to hunting shirts is the footnote regarding the comment, which states: Woodsman's or Indian dress, consisting of hunting shirt and leggings."The footnote, however, was written by the editor, rather than some first hand observer. No doubt he was well acquainted with later descriptions of what woodsmen wore, just a few decades shy of serious study on the hunting shirt as a specific garment, and the time frame in which it emerged. By Dunmore's campaign, sixteen years later, woodsman dress meant "hunting shirts" for the white guys and what we understand as Indian dress for the Indians. In the forbes campaign, however, officers at least tried to dress their men as closely as possible to the Indians they fought with and against. I think, unlike many, you're dead on with your interpretation of the garment as it existed on the eve of the Revolution, however. I still can't see why folks are so stubborn on the split front/ closed front debate, when literally all the available evidence points to a split or doesn't mention specifics. We still have Rev War guys, who call themselves progressives. trying to make this futile argument. Who knows, I guess divergence is just part of the hobby. To each his own;) Regards,

Hunting shirt quotes:
Washington's General Order July, 24th, 1776 "No dress can be cheaper, nor more convenient, as the wearer may be cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather by putting on under-cloaths which will not change the outward dress, Winter or Summer-besides which it is a dress justly supposed to carry no small terror to the enemy, who think every such persona a complete marksmen"

" They wear black, white or purple blouses with fringe on their sleaves and collars in Spanish Fashion. Their guns, having rifled barrels five feet long are much too heavy for one to aim well with out support. They have a kind of cartridge box, from which hangs a powder horn and in which is a wooden frame holding twenty-three cartridges"Karl Baurmeister-Adjutant General Major of the Hessian Forces

" best garments were a sort of hunting shirts, loose jackets made of gray linen very common in Carolina" Lafayette

1st Philidelphia County Battalion of the Flying Camp-
Capt Thomas Holme's Company-
Yellow Frock and Trousers Light Colored Frock-yellow breeches
White Frock,leather Breeches, yarn stockings
Purple Frock and rousers
Purple Frock, white jacket, breeches and stockings & a cocked hat
Sept & Oct 1776- Pa. Gazette

Pennsylvania Militia of the Flying Camp 1776
Capt Jacob Faun's Co
Yellow Striped Jacket, striped trousers
Linen Frocks and trousers ( two deserters)
Blue hunting shirt and trousers white coat, leather breeches, half boots

Capt Wm. Roberts co of Riflemen of Bucks County
Yellowish hunting frock and yellowish or white trousers ( worn by three) Sept 1776

Capt Andrew Holmes Co. 1st Batt. of Cumberland County Militia-
Hunting Shirt and leggings of a light lye color, striped jacket, good shoes small brimmed hat Sept 76

I think the famous John Trumbull sums it up best on the 'hunting shirt' and/or smock for protecting clothing in this now popular extract explaining the difference between the two garments.
"You expressed apprehension that the rifle dress of General Morgan may be mistaken hereafter for a waggoners frock, which he, perhaps, wore when on the expedition with General Braddock, there is no more resemblance between the two dresses, then between a cloak and a coat; the waggoners frock was intended, as the present cartman’s to cover and protect their clothes, and is merely a long coarse shirt reaching below the knee; the dress of the Virginia riflemen who came to Cambridge in 1775, was an elegant loose dress reaching to the middle thigh, ornamented with a great many fringes in various parts meeting the pantaloons of the same material and color, fringed and ornamented in corresponding style." John Trumbull, Personal letter, 1780

Hundreds of Backwoodsmen collected at Fredericksburg Virginia every man rich or poor with their hunting shirts, belts and tomahawks fixed.(Letter to Gustavius Wallace, 1775, qtd. in LaCrosse 71)

A 19th Century Pension Application puts Daniel Morgan’s men in a short frock made of salt and pepper colored cotton cloth like our common working frock worn by are country people, except it was short and open before (LaCrosse 70 frontier rifleman)

Woodmason remembers that men appeared to preaching in Frocks or shirts, and long trousers, no shoes or stockings. (32) and seeing men with only a thin shirt, and a pair of breeches or trousers on, barelegged and barefooted.”(61)

"On the frontiers and particularly amongst those who were much in the habit of hunting and going on scouts and campaigns, the dress of the men was partly Indian and partly of civilized nations.

The hunting shirt was universally worn. This was a kind of loose frock, reaching halfway down the thighs, with large sleeves, open before, and so wide as to lap a foot or more when belted. The cape was large and sometimes handsomely fringed with a ravelled piece of cloth of a different color from that of the hunting shirt its self. The bosom of this dress served as a wallet to hold a chunk of bread, cakes, jerk, tow for wiping the barrel of the rifle, and any other necessary for hunter or warrior…
The hunting shirt was generally made of linsey, sometimes of coarse linen, and few of dressed deerskins. These last being very cold and uncomfortable in wet weather. (doddridge 91)"

"There whole dress is very singular, and not very materially different from that of the Indians; being a hunting shirt, somewhat resembling a waggoner’s frock, ornamented with a great many fringes, tied around the middle with a broad belt, much decorated also…Their hunting or rifle shirts, they have also died in variety of colors, some yellow, others red, some brown, and many wear them quite white” (Smyth 179-180) from the Pennsylvania Archives, 1770. It is pertaining to the Paxton Boys. It tells of the this day an account was brought to Town, that a great number of Persons, mostly dressed in blanket Coats and hunting Shirts, all armed with Rifles, and some having one and others two Case of Pistols, were dispersed in small Parties about this town.... (379) _6 years earlier_ this same group who had on hunting shirts, were in blanket coats and maccasins, like our Indian Traders or Backcountry Waggoners where did the hunting shirts go? an unsolved mystery?

Washington wanted as many men as possible to wear hunting shirts, for it is a dress justly supposed to carry no small terror to the enemy, who think every person [wearing a hunting shirt] a complete marksman.” there is a distinction.

"They immediately scalped him and pulled his hunting shirt off of him and cut one-half of his waistcoat off and took these things with them." (Dann 280)

General Griffith Rutherford, from North Carolina, wore a Tow hunting shirt, dyed black, and trimmed with white fringe. (Henderson, 266-267)

"At that time if a gentleman could procure a hunting shirt made of good tow linen, and died, black, with a motto across the breast in large white letters, LIBERTY OR DEATH he is fine for anything. In fact our Genl’s hunting shirt was inferior, a dingy colored, ordinary looking one. "

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