Period Vocabulary & Slang. List
of words and slang words in use during the Revolutionary War
period alone with definitions.
Slang: Used in Camp or in the Field
an officer who acts as military assistant to a more senior
Bess: A soldier's fire-lock (musket). "To hug Brown Bess"
is to carry a fire-lock, or serve as a private soldier.
A cut or curtailed dog, disabled from chasing game. Figuratively
used to signify a surly fellow.
Burgundy: Porter (wine).
Small beer, brandy, and sugar.
A discharge from a number of firearms, fired simultaneously
or in rapid succession. A rapid outburst or barrage: a fusillade
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.
Rum and water. "Groggy" or "Groggified" is to be drunk.
Arms: To stack firearms on the ground.
To steal. "My shirt was worn so I headed out of camp to hook
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.
Tar: A sailor.
A British soldier, from the color of his clothes (Red).
A blockhead or stupid fellow, also a double-headed, or bar-shot
Weed: Hemp. Used as rope in the time period.
A thick soup. Rod: A measurement of width, 16.5 feet is a
Usually means to breakout or depart.
Unfriendly, crabby, grumpy. Used to describe someone of that
nature: "Major Williams was a surly fellow."
A sutler or victualer is a civilian who sells provisions to
an army in the field, in camp or in quarters.
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.
Local Militia. Volunteer soldiers formed to protect townships.
The foremost position in an army or fleet advancing into battle.
Slang: Used in Everyday Life
A heavy steel faced iron block.
Trousers ending above the knee.
Transforming a message into secret code via math.
18-21-14 = R-U-N
An acute infectious disease of the small intestine, caused
by the bacterium Vibrio Cholerae.
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.
One that drives cattle or sheep to market.
The act of looking or searching for food or provisions.
A rapid outburst or barrage: a fusillade of insults.
A hard biscuit or bread made with only flour and water.
Any of various units of volume or capacity ranging from 63
to 140 gallons.
Beef: Long slices or strips of beef dried in the sun or near
Cake: Cornmeal bread usually shaped into a flat cake and baked
or fried on a griddle.
Tight, form-fitting trousers that extend from the waist to
Unpartitioned room overlooking another room.
1. A fire shovel; 2. A bed of straw
A Roman Catholic
The cutting blade of a plow.
The general public; the masses. A population.
Unit of money- equivalent to twenty shillings sterling
Horn: Where you kept your gun powder
A piece of paper representing or acknowledging value, such
as a receipt or certificate, given in lieu of currency.
To catch or fish with a net.
Aversion to work or exertion; laziness.
A coin worth one twentieth of a pound.
A house roof made with a plant material (such as straw).
Available at the History of Redding Website:
War Research mostly Connecticut information but an excellent
American Revolution Sites Connecticut Society of the
Sons of the American Revolution (SAR)
the Revolution Occurred- a very good timeline of events
that led to the colonist revolt, what happenned during it
and how our nation was formed.
of the Revolutionary War- Awesome resource showing you
dates, locations and winners and losers.
of the Revolutionary War
Money and Inflation
and Death Aboard British Prison Ships
of Prisoners who died on British Prison Ships
George, 1732-1799. The writings of George Washington
from the original manuscript sources: Volume 13 Electronic
Text Center, University of Virginia Library
Complete General Orders of George Washington October
2, 1778 to 1780
and the Revolution The Revolution split some denominations,
notably the Church of England, whose ministers were bound
by oath to support the King, and the Quakers, who were traditionally