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Exploring Period Vocabulary & Slang. List of words and slang words in use during the Revolutionary War period alone with definitions.

Period Slang: Used in Camp or in the Field

Adjutant: an officer who acts as military assistant to a more senior officer.

Beetle-Headed: Dull, Stupid.

Brown Bess: A soldier's fire-lock (musket). "To hug Brown Bess" is to carry a fire-lock, or serve as a private soldier.

Chicken-Hearted: Fearful, cowardly.

Cur: A cut or curtailed dog, disabled from chasing game. Figuratively used to signify a surly fellow.

English Burgundy: Porter (wine).

Flip: Small beer, brandy, and sugar.

Fusillade: A discharge from a number of firearms, fired simultaneously or in rapid succession. A rapid outburst or barrage: a fusillade of insults.

Gill: One gill is equal to 1/2 cup of liquid. Soldiers were allowed a gill of Rum per day when on fatigue, and at no other time.

Grog: Rum and water. "Groggy" or "Groggified" is to be drunk.

Ground Arms: To stack firearms on the ground.

Hook: To steal. "My shirt was worn so I headed out of camp to hook one."

Huzza: Said to have been originally the cry of the huzzars or Hungarian light horse; but now the national shout of the English, both civil and military; to give three cheers being to huzza thrice.

Jack Tar: A sailor.

Lobster(Back): A British soldier, from the color of his clothes (Red).

Loggerhead: A blockhead or stupid fellow, also a double-headed, or bar-shot of iron.

Neck Weed: Hemp. Used as rope in the time period.

Pottage: A thick soup. Rod: A measurement of width, 16.5 feet is a rod.

Sallied: Usually means to breakout or depart.

Scaly: Mean, sordid.

Surly: Unfriendly, crabby, grumpy. Used to describe someone of that nature: "Major Williams was a surly fellow."

Sutler: A sutler or victualer is a civilian who sells provisions to an army in the field, in camp or in quarters.

Tattoo: A beat of the drum, or signal for soldiers to go to their quarters, and a direction to the *sutlers to close the tap. * A sutler or victualer is a civilian who sells provisions to an army in the field, in camp or in quarters.

Trainband: Local Militia. Volunteer soldiers formed to protect townships.

Vanguard: The foremost position in an army or fleet advancing into battle.

Period Slang: Used in Everyday Life

Anvil: A heavy steel faced iron block.

Breeches: Trousers ending above the knee.

Ciphering: Transforming a message into secret code via math.
18-21-14 = R-U-N

Cholera: An acute infectious disease of the small intestine, caused by the bacterium Vibrio Cholerae.

Commissary Notes: A Commissary is a store or market for military personnel, so a Commissary Note is a certificate given in lieu of currency for use in the store.

Drover: One that drives cattle or sheep to market.

Forage: The act of looking or searching for food or provisions.

Fusillade: A rapid outburst or barrage: a fusillade of insults.

Hardtack: A hard biscuit or bread made with only flour and water.

Hogshead: Any of various units of volume or capacity ranging from 63 to 140 gallons.

Hundredweight: 100 pounds.

Jerked Beef: Long slices or strips of beef dried in the sun or near a fire.

Johnny Cake: Cornmeal bread usually shaped into a flat cake and baked or fried on a griddle.

Leggings: Tight, form-fitting trousers that extend from the waist to the ankles.

Loft: Unpartitioned room overlooking another room.

Pallet: 1. A fire shovel; 2. A bed of straw

Papist: A Roman Catholic

Plowshare: The cutting blade of a plow.

Populace: The general public; the masses. A population.

Pound: Unit of money- equivalent to twenty shillings sterling

Powder Horn: Where you kept your gun powder

Scrip: A piece of paper representing or acknowledging value, such as a receipt or certificate, given in lieu of currency.

Seining: To catch or fish with a net.

Sloth: Aversion to work or exertion; laziness.

Shilling: A coin worth one twentieth of a pound.

Thatch: A house roof made with a plant material (such as straw).

Resources Available at the History of Redding Website:

Resources Available Online:




Putnam Memorial State Park- This is where Sam Meeker was encamped during the winter of 1778-79. This is the same camp Tim describes when he attempts to free Sam from the stockade.

Keeler Tavern Museum- Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Keeler Tavern Museum has been a farmhouse, tavern, stagecoach stop, post office, hotel for travelers and a private residence. The Meeker Family Tavern was very similar and thus Keeler Tavern gives a glimpse at the way Tim, Sam, Life and Suzanne lived and worked.

Putnam's Cottage / Knapp's Tavern Museum- Putnam's Cottage is intimately connected to the Revolutionary war, having housed General Putnam and hosted General Washington for lunch. The house has long been associated with General Israel Putnam and his heroic escape from the British during the Revolutionary War. General Putnam was Sam Meeker's General in the novel.

Compo Beach- The British landed on this beach in 1777. From here they marched north through Redding where they halted for several hours before their attack on Danbury Connecticut's military depot. Tim describes their visit in the novel.





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