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, September 29, 2016

“Several of us dress’d in woman’s clothes”

At the end of September 1780, Lt. Enos Reeves (1753-1807) and his company of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment were in Haverstraw, New York, on the Hudson River.

They didn’t have much to do. On 4 October Reeves wrote to a fellow officer about what they had done to keep themselves amused:
We make ourselves very Merry at this place and as there is but few of the inhabitants worthy our notice we enjoy ourselves without them.

The evening of the 29 ultimo [i.e., 29 September] several of us dress’d in woman’s clothes and had a genteel Country Dance—spent the evening in great glee.

The 30 all our officers with one from each of the other Regts dined elegantly together, and spent the day pleasantly—in the evening had a dance.

The 2 instant made a visit to see the officers of Colonel [Oliver] Spencer’s Regt—cross’d the River to Verplank’s Point, from there proceeded down and got most excellent Peaches. Several large droves of Cattle cross’d the River, while we were there—a boat overset and three or four of the cattle lost.

On the evening of the 3, we had a genteel Family Dance at a Major Meurys. Some young Ladies of his relations being there on a visit—we spent the evening, (and as it rained) the most of the night in our amusement.

We are fixing our encampment and tents as if we were to take Quarters here for the Winter—as building chimneys to the tents &c.
One supposes all the practice dancing within the regiments on 29-30 September prepared the young officers for the “genteel Family Dance” on 3 October.

Reeves’s letterbook was published in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography in 1896.

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