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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Thursday, June 06, 2013

Respranging Gen. Braddock’s Sash

The Summer 2013 issue of Spin-Off magazine offers an article by Carol James about her work recreating a sash that the dying general Edward Braddock reportedly gave to his volunteer aide, George Washington, in 1755. The sash is made from silk with a weaving technique called sprang.

The recreation sash is shown here, courtesy of the Cuyahoga Spinners Guild. Mount Vernon displays a photograph of the original.

James’s blog offers several entries about the sash as a work-in-progress, including a test of whether such a sash could actually carry a wounded man.

A sash was a standard part of the uniform of an army officer in the British Empire during the mid-1700s. In 1772 Washington had Charles Willson Peale paint him with a sash over one shoulder. Around the same time Gen. Thomas Gage wore his sash around his waist, as shown here. Other portraits of British officers show both styles.

Here’s an example of an American sash reportedly worn by Thomas Wheat (1723-1822) and now owned by the Charlestown Historical Society.

I decided to look into the history of the Braddock sash. It turns out to involve four generals and every major American war from the Seven Years’/French & Indian War through the Civil War (at least). But, like the sash itself, there are a lot of holes in it.

TOMORROW: The Braddock sash goes to the White House.

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