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MAJOR BRAY MUSES


Additional comments from Major George A. Bray III ...

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George A. Bray, a leading authority on the French & Indian War period, has picked up behind us for nearly two years now, checking our History-oriented pages for accuracy in the role of Site Historian. In response to a series of questions we posed, here are some of his observations regarding The Script & the Matter of Historical Accuracy.

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Q - Bearskin miter caps on the Grenadiers - would 1757 be too early for those to appear in the colonies?

Well to answer this question accurately I have to say a couple of things. First, the bearskin miters were worn by the 42nd Highland Regiment of Foot who did arrive here in the colonies in 1756. In New York to be precise, and stationed along the Mohawk River. Their grenadiers had been authorized to wear them since 1747.

However, if I recall the movie, which has been a while since I reviewed it, had the 60th Royal Americans in them which is incorrect. So while they were in the movie they were utilized on the wrong soldiers.

I would disagree with Mark Baker, of course, on the grenadier caps not being in existence prior to 1768, as mentioned earlier. The 42nd had been authorized them in 1747, and they were worn here in North America by their grenadiers. They arrived in North America in 1756. The cloth mitres were embroidered and bore a GR and the running horse at the bottom within a bordered area symbolizing the German Hanover where King George hailed from. The background color of the mitre would be the regimental facings for each regiment. They were stiffened with whalebone or buckram. These would have been the appropriate type for both the 35th and 60th Regiments of Foot.

Q - At that period, was a truce flag normally white or red?

Well to be honest I guess it would depend on which side would use it. At Fort William Henry, as documented by my friend Ian Steele, in his Betrayals, Bougainville was sent to the fort with a red flag, as the French flag had a white ground. In actuality, while many think the French flag had either a white or blue background with the three yellow fluer-de-lis, it really was simply a white banner with no other emblems or symbols. So for a Frenchman to wave a white flag would be interpreted as one waving his colors. In fact, the following year in 1758, at the attack on Ticonderoga, the French waved a British or red flag from the breastworks and lured the British in close and then delivered a devastating volley into them as they thought the French were signalling surrender.

The British probably would have used a white flag, but I would have to try to remember an instance if you wanted some evidence beyond this.

Q - What WAS the proper type of sword for a British officer to carry?

As to the proper sword for Major Heyward, it really should not have been the type he carried. In the skirmish he carried what is commonly known as a hanger, and this weapon is more appropriate for an enlisted man to carry like a grenadier. It would be far more appropriate for him to have carried what is termed a small sword, such as the two I illustrated on my web site. These were the type an officer would carry and would constitute a private purchase.

Regarding the ... fusil and bayonet ... There is more than ample evidence that officers carried fusils with bayonets, and Hervey Smythe's painting of General James Wolfe at Quebec clearly shows him with one. I, myself, carry an original fusil and bayonet when reenacting. They are likewise illustrated on my web site.

Some Other Notes Of Interest:

The ... death of officers caused by short fused mortar rounds .... The only case I can immediately think of involves the death of General John Prideaux at the siege of Fort Niagara in 1759.He was the commander of the British expedition to take the fort, and on 20 July, in the night, was walking through the trenches and walked in front of a coehorn mortar as the gunner fired it. While some historians have reported the shell exploded prematurely upon leaving the muzzle of the mortar, the contemporary evidence indicates the round took off the back of his head as it left the muzzle on its way to target.

As to the letter from Brigadier General Daniel Webb (the script refers to a Jerome Webb???) to Lt. Col. George Monro, in reality it was not Webb who signed the letter in question at all, but George Bartman, his Aide de Camp. It actually read:

"The General thought proper to give you this Intelligence, that in case he should be so unfortunate from the delays of the Militia not to have it in his power to give you timely assistance, you might be able to make the best Terms were left in your power."

I would suggest that in the part about the death of Monro in the movie script, you make a note back to the biographical section on the site as to his actual cause of death for those who may not know of its existence in the interest of historical context. (See: COLONEL MONRO ... The Scotsman)

Also, it might be worthy of consideration to note that there was no ambush on the road in the woods as shown in movie and no waterway for an escape by canoe as shown either.

It is interesting that Heyward is scripted as an officer of the 1st Royal Regiment of Foot sent to the Lake George theater. In fact, the 1st Regiment was here in North America and came over with the 35th. However, they were in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1757 and 1758, and participants in the attack on Louisbourg. They were not sent to the Lake George front until l759 as a unit in Major General Jeffery Amherst's army to attack Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point.The uniform detail for an officer of the 1st Royal Regiment would have been a red coat with blue facings designating its royal warrant. The same would be true for the 60th as it was the Royal American Regiment (or 62nd as it was first known when raised). This is not a blue black, however, but a blue. And the lace for an officer of the 1st Regiment of Foot would be gold.

The script has General Webb serving gin. Gin would not have normally been the drink of the officer class, and was a much lower class drink. The most popular drinks would have been port and madeira in that order, and also punches and clarets.

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Back To: THE SCRIPT & THE MATTER OF HISTORICAL ACCURACY

On To: HISTORY & THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS ... Seeing Through the Distant Haze

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