J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Bureaucracy at Brandywine

On Sunday, 16 August, the Brandywine Battlefield Park will host a special program titled “Red Tape and the Revolution,” presented by Bob Sullivan. He’ll discuss the forms and paperwork used during the American Revolution. Both the Continental and British armies tried to keep detailed records of their personnel, supplies, ordnance, money, and other important material. Sometimes they used printed forms, and other times officers and sergeants were simply supposed to follow a common model.

Sullivan Press publishes reproductions of various period documents for reenactors, including this collection suitable for a regimental sergeant in the Continental Army.
Other kits cover the British army bureaucracy and colonial civilian life.

Being adept at writing, like Joseph White, appears to have been a good way to rise out of the ranks to the equivalent of company clerk. Soldiers who were illiterate, such as Mathew Kilroy, were stuck at the level of private.

Sullivan’s program, which is free and open to the public, begins at 2:00 P.M. The Brandywine Battlefield Park is just off U.S. Route 1 about a mile south of U.S. Route 202. It’s administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (which, as a government agency, is under a lot of fiscal pressure now), and supported by the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates.

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