Thursday, June 25

A 'Sailor's Progress'

A very 'Hogarth-ian' series of photos taken in the basement of the circa 1760 William Brown House (and Tavern). Special thanks to Kyle Dalton and the Historic London Town and Gardens site for holding the Shore Party event and allowing us to make use of their facilities.

Plate One in which our Sailors are enjoying a few innocent diversions whilst ashore.

Plate Two where our Sailors have gotten into their cups and are joined by a third fellow who falls fast asleep.

Plate Three wherein our Sailors do a bit more imbibing, pipes are broken and chamberpots upturn'd.

Plate Four where our Sailor's are TOTALLY not picking that guy's pockets.

Plate Five after a hard afternoon of drinking and being generally up to no good while ashore, our Sailors take a well deserved rest.

Tuesday, June 23

Aboard L'Hermione

The Acastas got the VIP treatment when they arrived to greet the Hermione in Alexandria, VA. last week. The sole American crewman, Adam Hodges had us aboard several times for tours and photo ops. It was great fun, special thanks to everyone in Alexandria for their hospitality!

Apple, Hollybrass and Fritz on the Gundeck.

Equiping the boarding party.

Friday, June 12

Another letter home from Baptiste

Dearest Marie, 

   Time still moves so slowly on this endless blockaid, and always I find myself thinking of you and the boys. I have no real news since last I have written, so tonight I will tell you of one of our officers.        

Lutenant Ramsey is a young man that women find handsom. He is what the English call a Fire Eater- meaning that he never shows fear and is always eagar to engage in some dangerous task. He is our second Lutenant, meaning that he is behind only the Captain and Lutentant Hamilton in command of the ship. 

  At times in both Halifax and Bermuda he has come the cockpits they have there, but it seems he is more interested in wagering than in the actual contest between the birds. In Bermuda he once one handsomly on a bird I recommended.

Once in Halifax there was need for us to press more men because we had lost a number to sickness. Two gangs were made for this, one under Lutentant Ramsey and the other under Lutentant Tumbush. I was with Lutentant Ramsey's gang. As soon as we were set out he tells us that he wishes to beat the number of men brought in by Lutentant Tumbush and that should we do so there is a shilling in it for each of us. This we did and true to his word he gave a shilling to each man of the gang.

Also in Halifax he did me what I felt was a great honor- he asked me to be his second in a duel. The second is a fellow who checks to the pistols priming and such for one of dulers. Most often only gentlemen are involved in duels, but sometimes I think some officers believe me to be better bred than I am. Perhaps it is because I do not speak as vulgarly as most of the English sailors. I learned later that it was a matter he needed to keep a secret from the other officers and the Captain, for they would not have approved and it could have gone hard for him had the Captain learned of it.

So we met in a hidden meadow on the appointed day at dawn, which I now understand is the acustomed time for duels. His oponent was a thin fellow who looked like a merchant. I never learned what the disagrement was between them. A few other Acasta sailors were there as well, I thought perhaps Lutentant Ramsey had them come to carry him away if he were hurt or killed. An older gentleman asked each if there was no other way for them to settle their differences, to which they both said no. We then loaded the pistols and took a distance. The older man stood to one side and held a handkerchef. He said that when he released it they were free to give fire when it touched the ground. The thin fellow fired right away and I saw the ball strike the ground in front of Lutentant Ramsey.  The Lutentant then took aim- at which the thin fellow took a step back and the older gentleman told him "stand your ground Sir"- and when the lutentant fired the thin fellow exclaimed - "I am killed!"- and fell dead away.

As it was he was not killed but only swooned, and his friends soon brought him back around well enough. Lutentant Ramsey's  ball had ruined his coat and waistcoat, cutting across the chest and taking a button off each. The older gentleman then asked them if they now had satisfaction- which is to say did they no longer wish to kill one another- to which they agreed. Joshua Wilson, who was one of the Acastas there told me later that Lutentant Ramsey could have easily killed the man, as he is a deadly shot. Apparently he wanted only to shame him.

Again, my love, I have written myself out. Writing in English still tires me. The rumor is that the war will end soon. I wish it so with all my heart, that I may be back with you and the boys, 

Ever your loving husband, 

Thursday, June 11

Seven Shillings!

Another video taken of an Acasta enjoying a letter from the Mail Packet last year…

Wednesday, June 10

The Black Spot

Last year when the guys got their letters from the Mail Packet, I decided to shoot video so that those of you that participated in the project could enjoy the Acastas reading them! Here is my favorite by far!

Thursday, June 4

Mail Packet Project 2015

Open Call to ALL Reenactors, 
Historians and Creative Writers!

The Royal Navy reenacting group that represents HMS Acasta usually attends the Jane Austen Festival in July of every year. 

One of the things that we've done with your help, is deliver a 'mail packet' full of letters to the various Acasta members. This is a project that we have undertaken in the past with awesome results.

THIS YEAR, the group that holds that festival is hosting the huge Annual General Meeting for the national organization, so there's NO Jane Austen Festival in 2015. Never fear, they assure us that the Festival will be back on in July 2016.

So, we're moving the Mail Packet project back a little so that the letters are delivered to the Acastas at the Fair at New Boston that is to be held Sept 5-6, 2015.

This is where YOU come in!

Anyone who would like to submit a period correct letter to add to the packet is encouraged to do so! We'd love to have your contribution, however large or small! Anything added to the packet will help to enhance the historical experience for not only the Acastas who receive them, but for the public who will attend the Fair at New Boston as well.

Another alteration this year that was requested by several of you was that we needed to have some biographical information on the recipients of the letters so that the writers would know a little bit more about who they're writing to.

We have several of the character biographies written so far, here are some examples of those:

Jean Baptiste Girard, Surgeon’s Mate- A well traveled old Creole who has usually worked in some medical capacity on merchant ships. He has been impressed onto the HMS Acasta, but is not unhappy there. In his time Baptiste has traveled through both the East and West Indies and spent six years among the Igorots of the Spanish Philippines when a Spanish privateer (on which he was a prisoner) was shipwrecked there. During the French revolution a Captain who he admired and respected was guillotined, cementing his philosophy as a Monarchist.  His wife Marie is Igrot; she is currently living in Louisiana on the plantation of Messr. Francois Rochambeau. They have young twin boys.

Early in his career Baptiste learned that he could make extra money by collecting curiosities from his travels to sell to educated gentlemen. His non-formal education in natural history and things medical still allows him to believe many superstitions in both fields.

Samuel Hollybrass, Able Seaman- The bulk of Hollybrass's teen and adult life has been spent at sea. Hollybrass has followed Captain Freymann for years from ship to ship, sometimes to Freymann's dismay. A competent leader of men without the learning or refinement to be an officer. A well meaning, if gruff old seaman with no family back home that he knows of.

Hollybrass is enthusiastic and lusty, but tends to do poorly with the ladies given his general appearance and lack of hygiene. 

Josh Wilson, Able Seaman- Born in Virginia, Josh was the son of American Patriots. He apprenticed with a sail maker before taking to sea. Josh voluntarily enlisted in the British Navy to fight Napoleon Bonaparte because he saw him as a usurper and an enemy of America's French allies and believed that if Napoleon should take England, nothing would stop him from looking across the Atlantic to the new formed United States. The allure of prize money also helped to seal the deal. Josh is married to a teacher still residing in Virginia.

James Vassermann, Surgeon's servant- The dapper young personal servant to the ship's surgeon, Vassermann is also mute. He reads and writes well, generally making himself understood through a combination of gestures, looks and a little book and pencil he carries in his waistcoat pocket. Regardless of being of lower birth, he very slender and handsome, making him very popular with the ladies ashore.

Some examples of things that we got in 2014 as part of the project:

Lt Ramsey got a love letter from Germany with candy in it.

Captain Freymann got a letter from a surveyor about his property back in England and a map of said property.

Midshipman Hamilton got a letter from a worried Aunt with a hand knitted scarf in it.

Baptiste got a letter with a black spot in it from an anonymous 'former shipmate'.

The Bosun Mr. Cullen got a letter from a former shipmate inviting him to join him in a business venture back in England.

The Ship's Chaplain got a solicitation letter from a company that manufactures mourning candies.

Need some ideas for what to write? Try one of these:

Letter from a friend or colleague back home. 
(But none from immediate 'family' this year if you please. Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Nieces & Nephews are fine, but none from Mothers, Fathers, children.)
A bill or request for payment.
An overdue payment of debt.
A letter carrying news of the war(s)

Or, use the link below to see some other types of period letters:

The Complete Letter Writer...

Wondering what a period letter looks like? Here are some beautiful examples:

Contact me to find out where to send your finished letter… or questions, or for any other additional information.

Finshed letters will need to be to ME by the first of August so that they can find their way into the Mail Packet!

Start thinking about what you'd like to contribute this year, and HAVE FUN!

Wednesday, June 3

Monday, June 1

A letter home from Baptiste

Dearest Marie, 

    The blockaid drags on and you are never far from my thoughts. I think my English writing as become very good now, ask Mr Clarke if he does not think it is so. I have no real news, so I will tell you of religion and our Chaplain. 

    Our Captain seems like a devout enough fellow, but he is not what the English call a Blue Light Captain. That means a Captain so devout that he will have a fellow flogged for cursing or something similar. Other Captains are much to the other way, they carry no Chaplain and read the men the articles of war each week. These are the rules by which the English govern their sailors. I have already heard them more that I care to- for any offense it seems a fellow can be put to death.

We have a Chaplain, Reverend Griswold, and I like him very well. Each day he makes a visit among the sick and injured, offering them encouragement. He often writes letters for the men and I do not know that I have ever seen him chastise one for his misdeeds. I will tell you how he goes about correcting them.

The Rev. Mr. Griswold
A sailor named Bill Holder had talked loud and long of the girls in Bermuda- he had been there before- and all the things he would do when we wintered there. The closer we came the more he spoke of it. At last when we are  in port he and his tie mate are waiting for the ship's boat to return, as they are in the next lot to have liberty. The Reverend Griswold come up and puts his hand on his shoulder "Bill" he says" I'm sure there is a packet heading back to England from here. Anytime you wish I will help you to write a letter, I know you must miss your wife and daughters terrible fierce". As soon as the reverend goes Bill takes some coins from his pocket and gives them to his mate "you go kick up Bobs a dyin for me Willie, I need to go cypher out what to write to Mary and the girls" he says. If he ever went ashore in Bermuda  I never new of it. 

When they have a service the Catholics abord, and there are more than you would suppose with the Irish, and the few Spaniards and Portugese, go to an other part of the ship. Some say a few rosarys, but mostly we would just talk among ourselves.

One day when he was visiting the sick the Reverend says "Mr Baptiste I would like to invite you to attend our devine service on the marrow".  I asked did he not think this was improper, since I was a Catholic.  He says " No, if you would just refrain from making the sign of the cross- so that none would be offended- I would very much appreciate if you would attend". So I have gone that day and every time since. I find if I cross myself quickly after a prayer none seem to notice. Sometimes the Reverend will read a sermon from some other Reverend, but most often he speaks his own words. I have learned a great deal about prodestants. They believe they may pray directly to God without the intercession of a Priest, Saint or Reverend. This seems strange to me for a people who would never even think to speak to the Captain unless summoned or spoken to first- and how much greater is God that the Captain- and yet they may call for his attention as they wish?

This also seems to me very much like the ideas shouted by those in France before the Terror- that none should be held above another and such- before they murdered everyone more learned and wealthy than themselves. I wish I could talk about this with someone, but of course there is none that I could. My friend Apple perhaps. 

Yesterday the Reverend says to me "Mr Baptiste I appreciate that you have been so regular in attending divine services" and I say that I find them very interesting- which is true. He says to me "Seeing  you there each time reminds me to pray for your conversion" he says this with a smile, so I think he means it for a jest. As I said I like him very well.

I have now written my self out for the moment. I pray that this war will end and I will be with you and the boys soon, 

Ever your faithful husband,