Saturday, January 31, 2015

Le Chevalier discourses regarding his British Infantry Rifle

The Quest for a British Infantry Rifle, end of chapter one
So, I started my Quest for a British Infantry Rifle and the kit to go with over two and a half years ago.
Here are the links for the first two installments, originally published on the Gentlemanly Pursuits blog:
I did indeed receive my rifle soon after that last posting, so just over two years ago. There was a bit of a problem with the hardness of the frizzen and angle of the hammer, but local gunsmith Jerry Cook fixed these in short order.
I switched from the officers' style cartridge box to an other ranks box. I did this mostly for conveniance, but also for more usable storage space. I am not firing from paper cartridges, but I do carry enough ball, patch and powder to fire 60+ rounds before restocking.
I fire a .610” round ball with a 0.015” patch and a powder charge of 80 grains of 3F. Most of the people I shoot with shoot 40-50 caliber, so it is pretty noticeable when the Baker goes off. We were shooting to snuff candles a couple months back and the turbulence caused by the .610” ball sometimes put out two candles.
So, chapter one is done. I have the rifle and kit and am shooting regularly.
The next step I decided on was to pick a proper uniform to wear while shooting. The obvious choice would be 60th or 95th rifles, but as much fun as the greenjacket would be, that would be too easy.
The Chasseurs Britanniques was originally the French Royalist army led by the Prince of Conde in the early days of the French Revolution. By 1803 they were in British service as the Chasseurs Britanniques and issued the famous red coats. Evidence suggests that like some of the other emigre units in British service (King's German Legion for one) that the Chasseurs may have been issued Baker rifles, at least for the light company. Well, that is where I am going. Starting at the top I have my shako with proper insignia.
~ Chevalier

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Le Chevalier discourses on Sutlers, Seamstresses, & Swords

Good afternoon to our Gentlemen readers,

This is a reposting of an blog article published on The Fox & Thimble.  Enjoy!

Sutlers, Seamstresses, and Swords

I bought a pair of Fugawee Paul Revere boots back in February 2012 (so almost 3 years ago). A couple of months ago I went to wear them and noticed that the sole was becoming separated from the upper. I contacted Fugawee to see if they did repairs. Instead they promptly sent me a brand new pair of boots and paid shipping both ways. Now that is what I call customer service! 
 So, Theo made me a nice, new waistcoat and we decided I needed a Cobb Creek Hunting Coat to compliment it. I sent them a swatch of the waistcoat material and they promptly returned a recommended fabric plus half a dozen other choices if I did not like that one.
So, I ordered the coat on the 3rd, it was done and shipped by the 17th, and I received it on the 19th. Excellent fit, well made and it even has inside pockets – very useful when shooting.
A good friend of mine in Medford, Oregon runs Castille Armoury. Castille produces historically accurate hilts and blades, they can pretty much make anything you want. I have been exclusively buying hilts from him for many years (pre-dating the Castille Armoury name) and exclusively buying blades from him for the last couple of years. He is working on a more accurate sabre simulator and gave me a call today to borrow a couple of my pieces for research.
Also on the subject of swords, William Wilson's long awaited Bolognese Sidesword book came out last month. This is a sort of sequel to his Italian Rapier book “Arte of Defence.” Neither of these are straight translations, instead they are a very useful introduction and overview of the systems discussed.
“16th Century Single Sword Combat:”
“Arte of Defence,” 2nd edition:
“Arte of Defence,” 1st edition:
– Chevalier

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Word on Fashion from the Unfashionable

Welcome back and thank you for joining us here at Gentlemanly Pursuits.
Today's post is from the desk of Captain Schmidt.  Cheers!

In the modern world I’m one of the most unfashionable people I know. So it is with a great sense of irony that I watch this article appear out of my brain.

18th and 19th century fashion is something that will drive a 21st century man to strong drink. For my day to day existence Heaven forbid I wear anything other than a good pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt, or a polo shirt if I’m at work.

However for my hobby I’m of much different habits. By choosing to recreate the 18th and 19th century my choice in dress is subject to the conventions of the times.

There are things that you must do, if (IMO) you’re going to do the time period right. First, if you’re out in public you wear at least a weskit/waistcoat/vest. You never appear in public in your “shirt sleeves” or without at least a vest on. This is because your shirt is considered part of your underclothing. It’s preferable to also be wearing a coat to be considered completely dressed.

Now to really make your day, the fashion of the time dictated that you must wear a neck cloth of some sort. A cravat or a stock is usual. Now I hated wearing ties to work, I still do. But reenacting I just don’t feel dressed unless I have my cravat on.

When out in the field hunting or shooting I wear my caped hunting frock, instead of my everyday frock coat to protect my clothing. Even in the field the vest and cravat is worn.

Also a piece of clothing that the gentleman would not be without in public is a hat. This is fine with me as I’m definitely a hat geek. But some guys aren't. But for recreation purposes the hat is necessary.
In my camp I don’t stay in shirt sleeves in the mornings. As soon as I emerge from my tent the vest comes on. The cravat probably doesn't get put on until I leave my camp. But when I leave my camp I’m fully dressed.

One thing that will also require an adjustment is how your trousers are worn. Both trousers and breeches come to the natural waist. That’s along the navel line gentlemen. This will be uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to it. This gives that uninterrupted line from the vest to the trousers. Another feature which 18th and early 19th century impressions have which is “uncomfortable” for the reenactor is the fit of the seat of the trousers. The seat is quite roomy to allow for flexibility. So when standing the seat is quite droopy. But you’ll be glad of this when bending over, or in a crouched position.

The author at a shoot. Note the cravat, and weskit under the hunting frock.
Now this might seem like a lot of trouble to go to. But we’re recreating a time in history. It is important to get these small details right as it really adds to the impression. One of the best complements I've gotten was at a trade show when another re-enactor commented that I was wearing a cravat, and he didn't see nearly enough proper neckwear.

When creating your impression consult artwork of the time period. For later impressions there are early photographs. There are also descriptions of clothing in some first person accounts, newspapers of the time. See my previous article on research for other hints for making your impression.

This hobby is great in that your impression will evolve with the more you learn and find out about your impression. Good luck!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

In Consideration of Bare Knuckle Boxing

Dear Readers,
Today's Post comes to you from the desk of Col. Le Chevalier de Valois:

"Men (including Gentlemen) settling their disputes or just have a
little sport, through unarmed combat is hardly a new concept.
In the mid-18th century Bare Knuckle Boxing and Prize fighting began
to gain more popularity. Formal (or at least semi-formal) rules were
developed and Boxing began to gain notice and respectability.
Interestingly, the increased interest in Boxing came at a time when
duels (primarily with swords) were on the decline. In addition, you
see an increased interest in physical culture, of which Boxing was
often an important part.
"Gentleman" John Jackson 1769-1845, Champion of England 1795. Lord Byron received instruction at Jackson's academy for gentlemen on 13 Bond Street.

Clubs, like Gentleman Jackson’s frequently by Lord Byron, became very
popular in late 18th and early 19th century London. Gentlemen were
often expected to be able to box, ride, drive, shoot a pistol and know
a bit of sword work.

Daniel Mendoza 1764-1836, Champion of England 1792-1795. Know as the "father of scientific boxing" and a favourite of the Prince of Wales.

In The Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig and The Memoirs of a Bow
Street Runner Series by T.F. Banks several important characters are
skilled pugilists. In the memoirs of a Bow Street Runner the main
character Henry Morton routinely visits Gentleman Jackson’s Club to
box with Lord Byron. These characters are all shown to be in better
physical condition and better able to ‘take care of business’ because
of their boxing training.
"Jem" James Belcher 1781-1811. Know as the  'The pet of the Fancy' and 'the Napoleon of the ring'. Champion of All England 1800-1805

Why a Bare Knuckle Boxing article at this moment? Well, recently
several gentlemen of my acquaintance were able to join me for the
filming of a book trailer for Delilah Marvelle’s upcoming book Forever
a Lord. This book (and the one before it Forever a Lady) features a
fair amount of bare knuckle fighting. In the trailer the main scenes
revolve around one such fight that the main character is in."

 Here is the Trailer:

Come out Swinging,

~ Le Chevalier

Online Images Courtesy of:
The British Library
The Olympic Book Fair
Powells Books
Amazon Books

Sources & further Reading:

Bell's Life In London (an English Sporting Chronicle 1822-1886)
The Truth Teller (New York City's first Catholic newspaper 1820's)
Egan, Pierce  (1813-1828)  Boxiana
Banks, T.F. (2001, 2003). Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner (two books)
Marvelle, Delilah (2012). Forever a Lady
Marvelle, Delilah (2012). Forever a Lord
Willig, Lauren (2005-present). Pink Carnation Series (currently nine books)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Quest for a British Infantry Rifle, Part Two

Dear Readers

It has been many more months of waiting than I would have expected.
If all goes well, my Baker Rifle will be done and shipped in the next week or so.

I did not let the intervening time to pass in vain. First, I had to get all of the kit necessary to fire the Baker. Patches, round ball, flints, cleaning tools, etc. – all of these things were easy, ordered directly from Track of the Wolf. Second, I wanted 95th Rifles inspired leatherwork to carry all of this stuff.

I finished my research on the Rifles style leatherwork, but before I started making it I picked up a Pedersoli AN IX Dragoon pistol in .69 caliber. I found a picture of an artilleryman’s shoulder holster and decided to make my own version. I also added a Rifles style ball pouch and kit pouch to the shoulder holster harness in order to make it more self-contained. I picked up a repro Victorian Rifles belt (virtually the same as the Napoleonic version) and made two more pouches for it. I was going to use an enlisted man’s cartridge box for extra storage, but decided to make an officers’ cartouche bag instead (this is the style of bag that Sean Bean wears in the “Sharpe’s” series). It took about 2 ½ hours to hand sew the bag.

I finally received the bayonet, and made a hanger for it, but still need to get it sharpened. I think I am going to have a hatchet edge put on it instead of a knife edge. I figure I will be killing more blackberry vines than Bonapartists.

Artilleryman's shoulder holster & pistol

Cartouche bag, bayonet belt et al.

Col. de Valois

Friday, September 21, 2012

Historical Cooking for Beginners Part 2

This week's post is Part 2 in GP's Historical Cooking for Beginners series.  Please welcome our newest guest writer, Chef Gaston Boudin, Hôtel de Valois

“Houde was the head chef at Boodle’s, which stood on the same street
as Westcott’s club, White’s. Of all of the famous club in the
neighborhood, Boodle’s was the least political and, traditionally, the
most resistant to foreign innovation. Its members were mainly
fox-hunting men, country gentlemen, and landowners, and their tastes,
left to their own devices, would probably have run to beefsteak, port
wine, and … more beefsteak. But management had decided that Boodle’s
was not to be left behind by such establishments as White’s and
Brooks’, at least in matters culinary, and had acquired their own
Frenchman. Houde’s pedigree was good, if not quite as stellar as the
famous Carême, who had cooked for Tallyrand and the Russian tsar and
now the Prince Regent and was rumored to be headed for the Pulteney
Hotel” (Banks, p. 112).

Marie-Antoine Carême was the most famous chef of his time and one of
the most famous chefs ever. He was most important for simplifying and
codifying cuisine, making it easier for chef and cooks to discuss
cuisine with a set of rules defining basic sauces and techniques. He
also popularized the, relatively, new idea of restaurants. And he
standardized what is still recognized as the “Chef’s Uniform.”
"Cooking for Kings" Ian Kelly
Before restaurants most commercially produced meals were eaten at
inns, public houses, chop houses and private clubs. Most of these
places had a ‘menu’ (if you really want to call it that) with a single
‘special of the day’ and maybe a soup. Your only choice was to eat
what was offered or not eat. In the case of the chop houses and many
private clubs this choice was the same day after day – beefsteak.

Carême’s arrival in England paved the way for an increased interest in
cuisine. This interest in food, especially French food, was further
aided by the Prince of Wales’ fondness for food, drink and parties.
With the end of the Napoleonic Wars food and drink supplies from
Europe became readily available again.
The Prince of Wales & Careme at the Brighton Pavilion

Beverage choices had also been limited by the Napoleonic wars. Beer
and Ale were just fine for the common folk (and sometimes for
breakfast in the upper classes), but the aristocracy had more refined
taste. Port was very popular in no small part because trade with
Portugal was strong. French brandy was consumed more than French wines
as both had to be smuggled, but brandy got you more alcohol from your
smuggling efforts.

All of this continental food and drink did not deter some Englishmen
from sticking to more traditional fare. The Sublime Society of
Beefsteaks was established in 1735 and continued to meet until 1867.
The Order’s menu consisted of beefsteak, grilled onions and a baked
potato. Toasted cheese was often offered as a second course and for
beverages you had a choice of port or porter.
Sublime Society of Beefsteaks, courtesy of "Supersizers Go: Regency"

Bon Appétit,
Chef Gaston Boudin, Hôtel de Valois

Banks, T.F. (2003). The Emperor’s Assassin
Kelly, Ian (2003). Cooking for Kings

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Annual Rendezvous at Fort Bell, Washington

Shooting the trail at Ft Bell

Over Labor Day Weekend,  Theo and I had the opportunity to be the guests of
the Columbia Cascade Company at Fort Bell.

The Columbia Cascade Company is Fur Trade Era (pre-1840) Muzzle Loader
group. Every year they host a Rendezvous over Labor Day weekend. They
offer a variety of trail and novelty shoots as well as activities for
the Ladies and children.

This year Theo and I arrived on Saturday morning. Prior to shooting, we visited at the encampment of
 our good friends, Craig & Deanna Schmidt.  After which, I went off with Craig to
shoot the rifle trail while Theo stayed behind with Deanna and made beeswax candles with the other ladies.
The Fort Bell rifle (and Trade gun) trail consists of 25 target
ranging from 5 yards to 85 yards at various elevations and a wide
variety of shapes.

After returning for a delicious lunch of Duck Rillettes, bread, fresh
blackberries, grapes and brie cheese, as well as some blueberry-apple
cider for the Ladies and Smithwick’s Ale for Craig and I, we returned
to the trail to shoot the 14 pistol targets.
French Dragoon Pistol circa 1798

The next day I returned by myself and started the day with the ‘Luck
Shoot’ followed by the ‘Booshway Shoot.’ The ‘Luck Shoot’ consisted of
firing three shots at the blank side of a target marked with random
numbers – your score is the sum of the numbers. The ‘Booshway Shoot’
was a sort of obstacle course called the ‘Moose Milk Run.’ Competitors
had to set a foothold trap, throw knife and tomahawk until they stick

in a target, shoot at the 125 yard ‘Super Long Gong’ target, shoot at
a much closer target and finally milk a moose. This was done for time.
Despite having never set a spring trap or thrown knife or tomahawk I
did quite well – finishing third or fourth.
Foothold trap

Next, Craig and I did a fencing demonstration featuring smallsword,
sabre and singlestick.  Each form was played to best of five good
hits. I won the smallsword bouts after disarming Craig for the final
hit. Craig won the sabre bouts, rallying after a hard hit to the head.
And finally I won the singlestick bout.
After another delicious lunch, Craig still needed to shoot the Trade
gun Trail. I do not have a Trade gun, but shot the trail with my rifle
for fun.

This Rendezvous was quite the treat. I fully intend to camp the entire
weekend next year. I also need to get my own knife and tomahawk so
that I am not caught unprepared in the future.
Ft Bell Cannon

Best Regards
Colonel deValois