Thursday, March 31


In the event you haven't noticed, we research and write a LOT, there's always something new to discover on the Acasta website. You can find specific content by following the labels at the bottoms of each day's posts, or by clicking on the links below. Let us know what your favorite stuff is:

200th - Posts with this label are posts that have to do with the 200th anniversary of some event that took place during the War of 1812. Either with the Acasta herself, or the war in general. Want to know what was happening on a particular date? Here you go.

Apple - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's carpenter Mr. Jas. Apple.

Baptiste - Posts with this label are either written BY or about the Acasta Surgeon's Mate.

Book Review - These posts take a look at books written about Naval subjects of interest.

Capt Freymann - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Captain Robert Freymann

Capt Hurlbut -  Posts with this label are either written BY or about Captain Tom Hurlbut, friend to the Acasta.

Capture - Information regarding historical captures made by the Acasta during her service.

CFNA- Posts related to the organization known as Crown Forces North America (CFNA).

Event Invite - These posts are invitations to the general public to attend specific historic events. A great way to figure out where the Acasta crew will be during the year!

History - Posts involving the REAL history of HMS Acasta or her crew

HMS Bounty - Articles or images concerning this particular vessel.

HMS Victory - Articles or images concerning this particular vessel.

Hollybrass - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta crew member Samuel Hollybrass, a generally unpleasant sort of fellow.

Images - This label is given to any post that is picture heavy. Looking for lots of awesome War of 1812 or Royal Navy recreation pictures? Look no further! The Acasta has been gifted with some amazing photography over the years from a variety of sources.

In The News - Historical news articles that make mention of the Acasta or her crew.

Jane Austen Festival - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Jane Austen Festival that is held every July in Louisville, KY.

Letter Writing - Posts relating to writing letters that look to be from the period portrayed by HMS Acasta. Great help if you wish to participate in the Mail Packet project.

LIST This label is given to the series of reenactor list, Ways to improve, the best and worst things about the hobby, stupid questions asked by the public and so forth.

Lt Ramsey - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Second Lieutenant Michael Ramsey.

Lt. Hamilton - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's First Lieutenant Jim Hamilton.

Lt. Tumbusch - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's Third Lieutenant Tom Tumbusch.

Master & Commander - Posts that have to do with the Aubrey-Maturin series of books by author Patrick O'Brian or the 2003 movie.

Mail Packet - This label will involve letters (real or digital) sent or received by Acasta crew. It also occasionally has to do with a call to readers for letters, a fun project for authors and historians alike!

Medical Journal - These posts have to do with entries in the Surgeon's log book. Some are transcriptions from log books of the period, some are fictional.

Miscellany - A grab bag of odds and ends posts that couldn't really be labeled anything else.

Mission 1 - All posts pertain to the Acasta's first play test of the "Spy Game", a first person activity played between teams at Mississinewa 1812.

Mission 2 - A writing exercise by members of the crew involving the 1813 chase of the US vessel, 'Young Teazer'

Mission 3 - These posts involve the Doctor's special assignment to take part in a mock Naval assault at Niagara on the Lake.

Mission 4 - The Acastas go ashore at the Fair at New Boston in an attempt to catch a spy, and the Doctor gets engaged!

Mission X - All posts related to the Doctor's covert mission to France.

Mississinewa 1812 - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Mississinewa 1812 event that is held every October in Marion, IN.

Music - Music or lyrics (or both) to old period songs.

New Boston - Given to any post that has to do with the annual Fair at New Boston event that is held every Labor Day Weekend near Springfield, Ohio.

Press Gang - Content and images from the Acasta's Press Ganging activities at events.

Real Crew - Posts with this label are either written by or about REAL historical members of the crew of the Acasta between 1797-1815.

Red Box - Content and images having to do with the "Red Box' game.

Signal Flags - These posts involve images and information having to do with this means of communication during the War of 1812. Sometimes they even involve fun messages to be decoded!

Tall Ship - Posts with this label contain information about or images of tall ships.

The Doctor - Posts with this label are either written BY or about Acasta ship's surgeon Albert Roberts

Toasts - information pertaining to the Daily Royal Naval Toasts given at dinner.

Vassermann - Posts with this label are either written BY or about the Surgeon's personal servant James Vassermann.

Video - Any post with a video or a link to a video in it can be found here.

Wedding - These image heavy posts are all about the Doctor's 1813 style wedding.

Wednesday, March 30

From the Doctor's Desktop

Select on images for greater detail.

I have spent nearly an hour in the reading and answering of my correspondence.

Tuesday, March 29

A quick way to take Grease out of Woollen Cloth

"Get a piece of brown paper, make it very wet, and take a red hot coal, roll it in the paper, and keep it dabbing on the spot; when the paper grows dry take another piece and another hot cinder, and keep dabbing the spot till it is out; then brush it and the spot will disappear."

Burnt a hole in the doctor's old wool breechis, wen I forgot bout the coal. I got a tong thrashing something feerc for it. I dint unnerstand haff the things he said anyhows, so it don't bother me none. Nows I need to find a scrap for a pach.

 From the book: "The Servant's Directory, Improved" or "House Keeper's Companion; Wherein the duties of the Chamber-maid, Nursery-maid, House-maid, Laundry-maid, Scullion or Undercook, are fully and distinctly explained. To which is added, Cookery and Pickling sufficient to qualify a person to act as THOROUGH SERVANT in any family."

Monday, March 28

Are you a Reenactor?

The ACASTA is looking for quality reenactors
to portray English sailors circa 1800-1812

Our organization seeks to educate via a series of first person activities designed to demonstrate the real lives of sailors as they go about their business etc. Landing Parties, Surveying Crews, Recruitment Drives, Press Gangs, Shore Leave... these are but a few of the activities that our crew will undertake whilst encamped at an event. 

Be sure to read the ABOUT US page

If these sound like a good fit for you, then you may have what it takes to be an Acasta! Email Albert Roberts today to find out more about joining the crew at:

Thursday, March 24


WE rejoice to learn that the contagious fever which prevailed in the Imperial Russian Fleet, in the River Medway, has been completely subdued; and that, upon the consequent reduction of the medical establishment, under the superintendence of Doctor Dickson, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have been pleased to testify their approbation, by expressing their favourable opinion of the professional exertions, and merits, of the British medical officers employed on that occasion. Almost all those so employed, together with the attendants upon the sick, have been attacked with fever; the consequences of which proved fatal to Mr. Alexander Torbitt, surgeon, and to Mr. John Temple, assistant-surgeon.

While we justly lament the honourable fate of the warrior, we would not withhold the feelings of commiseration which are due to those who suffer in the hazardous discharge of a most arduous and painful course of duty, that of opposing the ravages of a malignant disease.

We understand that government, with a laudable attention to the interests of humanity, has directed some French prisoners, who volunteered their attendance upon the sick, to be liberated.

From: Page 48 & 49 of The Naval Chronicle, for 1813; VOL. XXX. (From July to December.)

Tuesday, March 22

To wash thread & cotton stockings

Nelson's stockings
"Give them two lathers and a boil, blueing the water well; wash them out of the boil, but don't rince them; then turn the wrong side outwards, and fold them very smooth and even, laying them one upon another, and a weight on them to press them smooth; let them lie a quarter of an hour, then hang them up to dry, and when quite so, roll them up tight, but don't iron them, and they will look quite new."

I wersh the demmed rite one every day. The doctor don't remember to take off his left shew until an hour or more after the rite. His nose is pres'd into a demmed book all the time. They don't wear strait.

From the book: "The Servant's Directory, Improved" or "House Keeper's Companion; Wherein the duties of the Chamber-maid, Nursery-maid, House-maid, Laundry-maid, Scullion or Undercook, are fully and distinctly explained. To which is added, Cookery and Pickling sufficient to qualify a person to act as THOROUGH SERVANT in any family."

Monday, March 21

How to be a 'Dirty Sailor'

A rare image of the author on watch aboard l'Hermione by Dan Calbick
By Adam H.L.

The following thoughts are reflections on my use of 1780s clothing aboard the recreated frigate Hermione during its maiden voyage to America in 2015, and the effect it had on the period wardrobe I used throughout. While the ship itself combined historical function with modern features (for instance, linen sails and modern toilets), my French maritime clothing was made entirely in a c. 1780 period manner, from documented materials and based on over a year of research (which is currently ongoing). 

While I will never pretend that my experience was in any way entirely analogous to that of someone 236 years ago, at the same time I had the unique opportunity to use my recreated material culture in its proper environment (eg. furling sails aloft in hand-made 1776-documented reproduction footwear), and to do so for an extended period (essentially 7 months, 24/7). While I would highly encourage anyone to do the same volunteering or working aboard a Tall Ship or maritime history site, for those obliged to remain on land, substitutes can be found to make one’s clothing more representative of historical life at sea. 

Therefore, I’d offer the following thoughts to those who recreate the world of mariners in the Age of Sail or anyone interested in the finer points of costuming working clothing from the 18th century. 

BEFORE & AFTER images taken two years apart. 

1) Any garments used for daily tasks aboard ship will become heavily stained, but only in particular areas. 

Some tasks, like painting, tarring or caulking, are more obviously dirty than others, but simpler tasks too, such as daily cleaning or even eating can similarly mar one’s clothing. Workwear like aprons, sailor’s trousers/petticoat breeches can help limit this, or simple adjustments like rolling up one’s sleeves or wearing a cap to cover one’s hair. But again, stains can come from unexpected sources; for example, hauling on recently-tarred lines which ‘sweat’ when under strain, or sitting down on fresh paint at night. 

If you have to recreate this theatrically, think of where you wipe your hands when they’re filthy (I do across my thighs), where the stains themselves appear (for instance, on the knees from kneeling when caulking, or on the cuffs where the shirt is exposed), or in what manner (for instance, a paint-brush may flick liquid onto clothing, whiles lines aloft drip down onto deck). 

2) Period stains and smells are often the first thing people notice in interacting with you. 

Visitor’s most immediate reaction when coming aboard was to the various mixes of tar coating the standing rigging and woodwork. In talking to me, people often began also with a similar comment noting both this and the sweet acrid smell of tobacco smoke impregnating my clothing and hair, even when I wasn’t actively smoking. These subtle details are where authenticity really shines and where anachronisms are most glaring (for instance, modern cigarettes have an entirely different odor). And other scents, whether related to food, grooming, cleaning, or fighting (eg. sweat, black powder, modern shampoo) equally apply. When giving programs on the dock in my work clothing, I knew I had to balance my unkempt appearance, (meaning visitors even thought I was a homeless man smoking crack, a unbathed Smurf, or alternately a visitor from a rural Balkan village), but the sense of smell was also one of the strongest ‘hooks’ I had in engaging any visitor for further conversation.

3) Clothing made of natural materials wear out and need constant maintenance. 

For instance, while the heavily fulled woolen cloth of a ‘bearskin’ overcoat may be incredibly durable, the linen stitches binding its panels together will rot more quickly when exposed to water, sunlight, and the strains of use. Similarly, since shirts are the most heavily used and laundered garments, they require constant oversight to make sure that stress points haven’t appeared or seams come undone. The toes and feet of stockings similarly require daily repair, and darning them actually became a great public demo to speak about daily life once our ship began touring up the East Coast. Similarly, shoes were incredibly worn by both work on deck (like washing every morning), and climbing aloft (where ratlines popped stitching, and chafed the uppers). Garments also generally faded in color over time when exposed to weather and sunlight, something which only struck me when I saw before-and-after comparison pictures of one of my jackets. While rips and patches are a standard trope of costuming which I would caution anyone against adding artificially (think ‘distressed jeans’), perhaps instead, consider using one’s historical clothing in any other genre of physical work, such as yardwork, or hiking. There is no substitute for the understanding and experience of ‘wearing in’ one’s clothing, but a compromise can clearly be struck.

4) Keeping a shore-going ‘clean’ outfit is immensely rewarding, as is daily variation in accessories. 


After weeks at sea spent working in the same general outfit, there was nothing quite like digging into the bottom of my calf-skin sea-bag, and retrieving my set of off-duty clothing for days and nights where I had time off. Being able to add variety and personal flair on these occasions was astonishingly fun; buckles and hat-bands to headwear, queue rosettes to dressed hair, nicer sleeve-buttons to white linens, un-faded handkerchiefs and waistcoats, plus the ever-present sailor’s stick all became genuine treats that brought a surge of confidence to my nights out with friends in new cities. Obviously this level of detail requires a ‘critical mass’ in building up one’s stock of reproduction material culture, as well-as a strongly-defined interpretive context, but I found this type of social detail to be absolutely fascinating, and one of the richest rewards of my entire time aboard l’Hermione.


For any further questions or comments, please post below, or contact Adam H.L. @:

A special thanks from the members of the Acasta to Adam for sharing this article with us and for letting us participate in his amazing experience just a little bit when we went to visit aboard l'Hermione!

Thursday, March 17

From the Medical Journal

John Randall, 
place of taken ill [?]; 

sick or hurt: 
Poisoned by the sting of a scorpion or centipede occasioning the most violent symptoms and almost a complete paralysis, the consequence was a tumor on the part affected, which I opened and discharged a great quantity of fetid matter, I have seen several cases of this kind, and when they complain early enough, have relieved every symptoms by the application of rum to the part, but in this case the virus had penetrated too far, as the nervous system was evidently affected therefore no success could be expected, by external application; 

taken ill on 26 February
discharged 19 March to duty
Originally Recorded by: Mr. Thomas Tappen, Surgeon, HMS Arab, 1799-1800
Text from

Tuesday, March 15

Cleaning the Doctor's Linen

To take all sorts of spots out of linen:
"Hold the linen where the spot is, round a silver or stone mug containing boiling water; cut a lemon in four, and rub the spot well with it; this will take it out entirely.  Or when it happens in the middle of summer, and the sun is very hot, soap the spots on both sides, and hang it in the sun till bone-dry and they will come out; but mind that you soap the linen all over; and it will make it white; or rubbed well with the juice of sorrel, will take out the spots; making the juice hot, and dipping the linen where the spot is,will take it out; or salt and vinegar will do, rubbing it well, and squeezing it out; or take sharp vinegar in a tin , or earthen pipkin, boil it, and as it is over the fire, dip in the spot and nip it out; if not dip it in again till it is perfectly out; then rub it well with soap, dry it by the fire or sun, and wash it out."

He don't lissen to my advise about keeping his linens out the blood.

From the book: "The Servant's Directory, Improved" or "House Keeper's Companion; Wherein the duties of the Chamber-maid, Nursery-maid, House-maid, Laundry-maid, Scullion or Undercook, are fully and distinctly explained. To which is added, Cookery and Pickling sufficient to qualify a person to act as THOROUGH SERVANT in any family."

Friday, March 11

In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents

In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents 
by Bernard Hevuelmans

a book review by Tony Gerard

Bernard Hevuelmans led an interesting life. Born to Belgian parents living in France, he was a professional jazz singer, an explorer and above all a scientist. He is considered the "father of cryptozoology", but don't be put off by that label. Unlike the pop culture promoters of bigfoot, chupacabra and other monsters, Hevuelmans was a scientist. He had a doctorate in Zoology from the university of Brussels and was a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London. His contention was that if the local people of an area had stories and legends of an animal seemingly unknown to science there might be a basis in truth behind those stories.

In the Wake of the Sea Serpents is an exhaustive tome. One chapter is devoted to the Giant Squid, but the rest all focus on unknown sea creature reports which could be considered sea serpents. Hevuelmans gathered all the sea serpent sightings he could find up to 1965 and analyzed each. After winnowing out those he considered hoaxes and misidentifications of known creatures he found that the majority of the rest fell into a limited number of descriptive types. He speculates on the existence of seven different types of scientifically unknown sea creatures the majority of which are mammals.

This is not a book of hair raising stories. Many accounts are rather dry. Typical is the ship’s log of the General Coole on  August 1, 1786. In the Atlantic northeast of the Azores it reports - " A large snake passed the ship; it appeared to be 16 or 18 feet in length and 3 or 4 feet in circumference, the back of a light ash-colour and the belly thereof yellow".

The book can sometimes become tedious because it is such a thoroughly sober and objective discussion of the phenomenon, but I personally found it fascinating. Plenty of yarn material for Acastas here! No other book has examined sea serpents in such detail. Published in French in 1965, the English edition was published in 1968.  Although it has not been reprinted I found several hardcover copies available for under $30.

sea serpent sighting of the HMS Daedalus in 1847

Wednesday, March 9

From the Medical Library


When a continual, remitting, or intermitting fever is accompanied with a frequent or copious evacuation of bile, cither by vomit or stool, the fever is denominated bilious. In Britain the bilious fever generally makes its appearance about the end of summer, and ceases towards the approach of winter. It is most frequent and fatal in warm countries, especially where the soil is marshy, and when great rains are succeeded by sultry heats. Persons who work without doors, lie in camps, or who are exposed to the night air, are most liable to this kind of fever.

If there are symptoms of inflammation at the beginning of this fever, it will be necessary to bleed, and to put the patient upon the cool diluting regimen recommended in the inflammatory fever. The saline draught may likewise be frequently administered, and the patient's body kept open by clysters or mild purgatives. But if the fever should remit or intermit, bleeding will seldom be necessary. In this case a vomit may be administered, and, if the body be bound, a gentle purge; after which the Peruvian bark will generally complete the cure.

*In the year 1774, during winter, a very bad species of this fever prevailed in Edinburgh. It raged chiefly among young people. The eruption was generally accompanied with a quinsey, and the inflamnatory symptoms were so blended with others of a putrid nature, as to render the treatment of the disease very difficult. Many of the patients, towards the decline of the fever, were afflicted with large swellings of the submaxillary glands, and not a few had a suppuration in one or both ears.

In case of a violent looseness, the patient must be supported with chicken broth, jellies of hartshorn, and the like; and he may use the white decoction for his ordinary drink. If a bloody flux should accompany this fever, it must be treated in the manner recommended under the article Dysentery.
When there is a burning heat, and the patient does not sweat, that evacuation may be promoted by giving him, three or four times a day, a tablespoonful of Mindererus's spirits mixed in a cup of his ordinary drink.

If the bilious fever be attended with the nervous, malignant, or putrid symptoms, which is sometimes the cafe, the patient must be treated in the same manner as directed under these diseases.

After this fever, proper care is necessary to prevent a relapse. For this purpose the patient, especially towards the end of autumn, ought to continue the use of the Peruvian bark for some time after he is well. He should likewise abstain from all trashy fruits, new liquors, and every kind of flatulent aliment.

Tuesday, March 8

Images of life at sea

Click to enlarge.
I shall challenge you my fair Acastas, to capture 'images of your life aboard our little ship'. The above is my first entry, my latest letter from Capt. Freymann. My papers sit atop my little folding Spinet desk where I do a great deal of my work.