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Tim Whiting Writes to John Fisher, West Point: Rope, Oars and Weary Feet, May 9, 1779

Letter from Tim Whiting to Fisher regarding his weary feet

Letter from Tim Whiting to Fisher regarding his weary feet

Other, USMA_Whiting_Fisher
 
Document Description
Tim Whiting writes to John Fisher from West Point requesting rope and batteaux oars. He also describes having weary feet and wishes for a horse, May 9, 1779.
 
Transcription
West Point May 9th, 1779
Dr. Sir,
I wish you would be kind enough to send me, for the use of this post, two Coiles of Rope, one two inch, and the other inch & a half, or near that size – also one Hundred Oars sutable for Batteaux.
I am, Dr Sir, your Very
Humble Servt.
Tim Whiting
 
P.S. Forgive me if I offend in Obliging you to think on last fast day, which I spent in prayer while my weary feet marched the way from New Borough to West Point. But All the invocations of a mind Repleat with ardant Wishes for a Horse could not obtain one—Therefore I was obliged to serve the public at the Expence of my (since) weary Limbs.
T.W.
 
 
Questions
Summarize the main idea of this letter.
Write two conclusions you can draw about soldiers of the American Revolution based on the information in this letter.
What struggles did soldiers of the American Revolution face?
 
Historical Challenges
Research the role of ‘batteaux’ during the American Revolution.
 
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science – Research what rope was made of during the American Revolutionary era and the uses of different diameters of rope.
 
Art – Create a model of a bateaux or diarama.
 
 
Resources
Bateaux and “Battoe Men”:  An American Colonial Response to the Problem of Logistics in Mountain Warfare
http://dmna.ny.gov/historic/articles/bateau.htm
Diversity of the Revolutionary Soldiers:  Valley Forge Encampment
http://www.nps.gov/history/logcabin/html/vf4.html
 
Outfitting a Revolutionary War Soldier
http://ncpedia.org/history/usrevolution/soldiers
 

 

Historical Context
Military records for the American Revolution come from three main sources:  state veterans’ lists which date to the early 19th century, federal veterans’ pension applications dating to 1832, and the records of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Consequently it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of American soldiers who fought during the American Revolution.  Approximately 175,000 men served as soldiers, including five thousand free black men and slaves. 
Colonial militias and the Continental Army constituted the two main branches of military service.  Colonial militias generally required service of every male between the ages of 16 and 60.  There were exceptions made for clergy and college students, among others, but the colonial militias provided the largest force of soldiers during the war.  Militiamen were able to live at home most of the time during the war and were generally only called into action when there were battles in their home regions.  As the war progressed, many militiamen, concerned about their families and farms were reluctant to sign on for long periods of service.  Some, including General George Washington, believed that militiamen were less disciplined, hardened, and professional than soldiers should be.  Despite concerns, the militias served an important role in the Revolutionary War.  In June of 1775, the Continental Congress established a standing professional army, the American Continental Army.  Continental soldiers enlisted for terms of service ranging from one year initially to longer enlistments later in the war.  On average, Continental soldiers were younger, under 20 years of age, and poorer than their militia counterparts.  The middle and upper classes generally avoided service in the Continental Army by paying substitutes to enlist for them.  Baron Von Steuben helped bring discipline and skills to the Continental Army and it became an effective fighting force.  For some soldiers, even the harsh discipline and lack of resources of Army life were preferable to their lives at home.  Although often delayed, soldiers of the Continental Army at least received pay.  As the war progressed, many colonial governments drafted men to serve in the militia or the Continental Army.
Soldiers had to endure harsh conditions during the war.  They were often not given enough clothing or food and medical care was minimal.  Many soldiers died of disease.  The harsh conditions and brutality of battle prompted many soldiers to desert. 
 
 
Essential Question
What were some of the conditions faced by soldiers in the American Revolution and how did they respond to them?
 
 
Check for Understanding
Write a letter from a soldier to a parent or loved one describing the soldier’s daily life and fears.