Frequently Asked Questions
Are you hot in all of those clothes?
Did you notice that although I’m wearing wool stockings, cotton “breeches” (pants), a long sleeve cotton “blouse” (shirt), a wool “waistcoat” (vest), a wool coat, a neck stock (neck scarf) and a hat on a summers day, I am not drowning in my own sweat? In fact, I appear no hotter than someone with a T-shirt on. Actually it’s not as bad as it looks. I feel the heat but it’s not overly oppressive. My clothes are made of natural fibers (cotton and wool) which “breathe,” that is, they allow the air to pass through due to their loose weave. What happens is, as I sweat the cotton absorbs the perspiration. The wool in turn wicks (pulls) the sweat from the cotton. As the air passes through the material the moisture is evaporated give a bit of a cooling effect. By the end of a couple of hours the shirt and vest is saturated but I continue to be reasonable comfortable, as long as there is not a lot of effort being exerted.
Tell us about your clothes.
My hat — Not all hats were the tri-corner type. Being a teamster or wagoneer I had to carry my shade with me when I traveled. My hat has a broad edge to keep the sun and rain out of my face. The left side is cocked up so I can carry a gun or things that are long over my left shoulder. On the the cocked up side you will see a “cockade.” Sometimes it’s a ribbon that lets others identify you and what side you are on, sometimes it is decoration, sometimes it just keeps the hat cocked up. The white and red feathers are also more than mere fashion. Feathers in the military were use to identify what group you were with or what function you performed. For example, some artillery units used a black and white feather as its symbol; others used a red feather for artillery, a yellow for cavalry, and a blue for infantry. The white feather is my writing quill (pen). I carry a “pen knife” to make a feather into a pen.
My neck stock - This triangular piece of cloth has many uses. I keep my neck warm by rolling it up and tying it around my neck. I can use it to wipe my mouth, as a sweat band, a sling or a bandage. I am told the scouts still wear it.
Were all blacks poor and enslaved?
All Blacks were not poor and enslaved. Edward “Ned” Hector is a free black man with the legal rights of any free man during his time. He is one of many free blacks. There are more free blacks in Pennsylvania than any of the other 13 colonies. The Quakers setting their slaves free is a big factor in this. Many free blacks group together to form black communities, like ones near Hanging Rock in Conshohocken where Ned comes from, and Log Town south of the Brandywine Battlefield. As a teamster, Ned might have a better than average education. He would need a good level of reading, writing, and ciphering (basic mathematics) skills for his job. Although he would be able to make a good living, teamsters would not be the most cultured of men.
One of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia is a black man named James Forten
On what side did most people of color fight on?
Blacks fought on the British side as well as American. About 3-5 thousand people of color would fight for the Americans, 7-10 thousand people of color for the British.
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