Living History re-enactors spent most of the weekend at the Indenhofen Farmstead in Skippack, where some of General George Washington’s troops camped out briefly before and after losing the Battle of Germantown. Timothy Mitchell of Manayunk in Philadelphia was there, commanding a unit of the Sixth Pennsylvania Regiment. He says some units in the Continental Army were poorly equipped, and General Washington often referred to them as naked.
“Naked in the 18th Century meant something completely different than what we refer to today. Naked today is without clothes on. Naked in the 18th century was not being dressed properly, so not having a coat on in the 18th century is considered being undressed.”
He says the British troops were known as the redcoats for a reason.
“That particular red, known as Cochineal Red, is made from the Cochineal Bug, which is very, very expensive. It was one of the most expensive colors to produce at that time period, so not only did the British have it, they said to the world, ‘We’re going to put it on the poorest of our citizens and our soldiers and we’re going to show the world that we clothe even our soldiers in the most expensive colors and fabrics.’”
Mitchell says the British people never thought of the American Revolution as a big deal. It was just a little skirmish in one of the many colonies. Private Robert Bendesky of North Wales was there in a uniform his wife made for him.
“A very nice linen shirt, a waistcoat, which is this vest-like garment that I’m wearing, and also my breeches, the linen pants. At that time linen was the common fabric. Cotton was extremely expensive.”
A few thousand of George Washington’s soldiers camped out in Skippack in 1777, but he says the general himself was not there.
“The generals were usually either in one of the finer houses or a nearby inn, which is why whenever you do some historical travel you’ll see a sign on a building that says ‘George Washington Slept Here,’ it’s because the troops were moving through that area and Washington chose one of the finer places to stay.”
Bendesky says he likes learning about history and sharing what he learns with others, but he also likes living unplugged for a while and replacing the flickering TV screen with a flickering campfire.