Monday, June 26

Last Call for the Mail!

FINAL Call to ALL Reenactors, 
Historians and Creative Writers!

The Royal Navy reenacting group that represents HMS Acasta will be attending the Jane Austen Festival in July of this year. One of the things that I'd like to be able to do 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 is where YOU come in, but HURRY! ALL submissions must be received by July 8th to be included.

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 Festival as well.

At last year's event, the Mail Packet was a huge hit with the Acastas and the public alike. Mr. Midshipman Raley delivered the packet to the Captain about mid-day on Saturday and the letters were passed out.

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

Letter from a friend or colleague back home. 
(But none from 'family' this year if you please, last year we had to leave a letter out because Mr. Raley got TWO letters from his 'mother')
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 end of June so that they can find their way into the Mail Packet! But remember, all submissions need to be received by July 8th so that they can be included.

Don't know WHO to write to? Here's the lot of Acastas who are usually to be found at the festival: 

So pick up your pen and paper and get writing, and HAVE FUN!

Wednesday, June 21

This Year's Special Guest!

We are pleased to announce our secret SPECIAL GUEST who you may also interested in writing to as part of the Mail Packet Project… Admiral Lord NELSON! He got some letters last year and was very excited and we’d like to include him again this year.

Our only rule is that etters to Lord Nelson should not be from his wife Fanny, or Lady Hamilton (as we will have Lady Hamilton with us and that would be weird).

Remember, letters need to be in to me by the first weekend in July for them to be processed and placed into the packet for delivery. If you have any questions about what might be appropriate for Lord Nelson, feel free to contact me via the Royal Navy Doctor Facebook page, or via my email at:

Tuesday, June 20

Mail Packet Addition

The fine box of letters from the writing class!
The letters for the sailors are beginning to roll in from you, our readers! I received a box full of letters from Melissa Alexander just the other day. Melissa taught a period letter writing class, and the assignment she gave her students was to pick and Acasta from the list of those that planned to attend the Jane Austen Festival in July and write a period letter to them.

But ONE sailor in particular got left off the list of attendees and now he’s woefully short of period correspondence! One of our newest fellows Mr. Johnson, as seen above.

Nathaniel Johnson was born in August of 1770 in Cawsand in south eastern Cornwall. He was the first son of three children to his parents Theodore and Melissa. His father was a priest for the Rame parish of which Cawsand was a part. Growing up near the sea and overlooking Plymouth sound and Rame Head, Nathaniel saw ships entering and leaving the bay while at home and  traveling with his father to the parish church in the hamlet of Rame. Theodore intended for Nathaniel to enter into the Lord’s work when his time came, however Nathaniel had a different calling in his heart. Listless and not ready to settle,  Nathaniel signed onto the Busbridge in 1784. The East Indiaman was headed to the Cape of Good Hope, then onwards to Calcutta and these seemed as good a place as any to start his adventure. The next few years were spent in the service of the East India Company making several voyages between England and India. In Plymouth, after returning from one such voyage in 1793, he heard of the hostilities with France. Caught up in the fervour of war, he left the East India Company to join the Royal Navy. Nathaniel was rated as an ordinary seaman on board the 24 gun sixth rate HMS Squirrel in 1794 and departed England for convoy duty in the West Indies. When the peace with France was settled in 1802 Nathaniel was paid off and left the service. Thankfully, the peace did not last long and Nathaniel found himself in Guernsey in 1803 where he was signed on board the HMS Acasta.

Letters need to be in to me by the first weekend in July for them to be processed and placed into the packet for delivery. Email me for my address at:

Friday, June 9

Friday's Toast

A calm, clear day today. Captain Frymann and the Captains of the other ships on the blockade had the Midshipmen practicing their signal flags for the majority of the afternoon. No sooner would a series of flags be hoisted then the boys would all have out their glasses, eagerly looking for the reply. All manner of mock orders were sent to and fro. 

An uneventful day at sea, followed by an equally uneventful dinner in the Wardroom. After the loyal toast, Lt. Hamilton gave the traditional Friday toast. We all drank with great gusto! We all enjoyed the possibility of prize money, and with several of our officers, the more 'willing foes' the better. 

Thursday, June 8

Rules to Observe in Roasting:

In the first place, take great care the spit be very clean; and be sure to clean it with nothing but sand and water. Wash it clean, and wipe it with a dry cloth; for oil, brick dust, and such things, will spoil your meat.

For Pork: Pork must be well done. To every pound allow a quarter of an hour: for example; a joint of twelve pounds weight three hours, and so on; if it be a thin piece of that weight two hours will roast it. You may baste with fine nice dripping. Be sure your fire be very good and brisk; but don't lay your meat too near the fire, for fear of burning or scorching.

"We gots a few porkers when in Bermooda. The Doctor is always fond of a good swine to sup on. Ifn it lasts a week, I will be color'd surprised."

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."

Tuesday, June 6

Ship's Bisket

Special thanks to Matthew Cullen for pointing this series out to me.

Monday, June 5

Food at Sea

Mess Deck aboard HMS Trincomalee
The standard allotment of food for sailors for the week is as follows: 

4 pounds of salt beef 
2 pounds of salt pork 
2 pints of pease 
3 pints of oatmeal 
6 ounces of butter 
12 ounces of cheese 

There is also a daily allotment of a pound of bread (generally in the form of Ship's Bisket) and a gallon of beer (or some other type of alcohol depending upon the availability). Other variations include once a week flour, suet (beef fat) and currants or raisins being issued so a "duff" can be made as prevention against scurvy.

Thursday, June 1

Young Gentlemen Playing at Cards

I shoot quite a good deal of footage at historical events. This footage is from the Christmastide event at Locust Grove, KY. I taught the young men how to play One and Thirty and they ran with it in first person!