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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Friday, January 25, 2008

Capt. Moses Brown and the Beverly Company

Boston 1775 reader Tom Macy sent a link to his handy online edition of the orderly book of Capt. Moses Brown of Beverly from January to May 1776. Brown’s company was part of the 14th Continental Regiment, stationed in Beverly to guard the first American privateers’ wharfs, supplies, and captured vessels.

Here’s what the regiment’s commander, Col. John Glover (shown here), issued as general orders on this date in 1776:

It is Coll’s Orders that the Captains see that the Soldiers under their Command be disciplined [i.e., trained] twice a day at least, and that they keep their Arms clean and fit for Use, also to divide them into Messes of Six Men each, and to visit their Barracks three times a week & order them to be swept clean, and that the Soldiers keep themselves Neat & Clean, shave once a Week at least – as their Health & Reputation much depends on this, it’s expected this Order is punctually obeyed.

And it is further ordered and directed that the Non-Commissnd Officers & Soldiers attend divine Service at the house of publick Worship, and that no one will presume to go to the house of God in an indecent rude or disorderly manner, or behave so while their, on penalty of being punished therefore agreeable to the Nature of his Offence, and in order to encourage and stimulate the Soldiers, Commissioned Officers will set the Example by going themselves.
Macy’s annotations explain the location of the barracks, the nearest meeting-house, and the local ministers who were paid as chaplains. He also wisely writes, “There must be a good story behind the order that no one should behave ‘in an indecent rude or disorderly manner’ at church.” Almost every time someone writes a rule against certain behavior, we can assume that someone else has been behaving in just that way. Likewise, some officers had probably not been setting the example the colonel wanted.

The website also includes Brown’s breakdown of his company by age, height, home town, and whether they brought their own muskets. Almost all these soldiers came from Beverly, so they were serving in their home town. One, Esop Hales, was African-American, confirming that Glover’s regiment was integrated.

Capt. Brown’s orderly book is on display with his sword at the Beverly Historical Society.

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