History, Historic Furnishing, and Historic Structure Reports
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Historic Furnishing Study

A. Parade Ground and Bastions

For purposes of this study the parade ground includes not only the square of the fort, but the four bastions as well. In order to describe the appearance of this extensive part of the fort's exterior surface, an attempt should be made to locate the large guns, the sentry boxes, the flagpole and its flag (or flags), the whipping post, wells, woodpiles, haystacks, wagons, sleighs, animal life. and any other object, short of buildings, existing on the fort's surface, particularly during the siege.

1. Guns

In addition to the buildings within the fort, cannon were perhaps the most conspicuous objects. Although the fort had been constructed with as many as 35 embrasures to receive an equal number of cannon (6 to each of the 4 bastions, 2 to each of the 4 curtains, and 3 in the ravelin), there never were that many fixed, because cannon were always extremely difficult to acquire in the Northern Department. [1]

Although there is some doubt as to whether all four bastions were completed at the time of the siege, there is every reason to believe that all four bastions were manned at the beginning of the battle. Hence, Willett records that 1 captain, 3 lieutenants, 4 sergeants, 1 drummer, and 80 privates were to man the bastions in case of an alarm—1 officer, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal, and 20 privates to a bastion. [2] If there was a total of 80 privates to man the bastions—20 to a bastion—then there had to be 4 bastions manned. The captain, who was the fourth officer, in addition to commanding the whole detachment, also assumed charge of one of the bastions. The orders issued at this time also directed that in case of alarm the whole garrison was to turn out immediately and assume their posts as follows:

Major Bedlams Detachment to man the S. E. Bastion and adjacent Curtain, Captains Aorson and Jansen to man the S. W. Bastion, Capt. Benshousen and Tiebout to man the N.W. Bastion Captains Dewitt Swartout and Bleeker to man the N. E. Bastion. Capt. Greggs Company to repair on the Parade till further Orders. [3]

Even if a fourth bastion had not been completed, [4] the evidence is fairly conclusive that there were probably cannon on all four bastions. There might have been a difference, however, in the type of carriages employed in the unfinished bastion. Whereas the three completed bastions probably had stationary carriages mounted on platforms, the unfinished one might have had cannon mounted on movable carriages.

Although several documents record the number and types of large guns at Fort Stanwick, there is one that, because of its timeliness, is of great importance. This document, dated August 23, 1777, immediately after the siege was lifted, records that "mortars formerly the Enemys, and all the Cannon from the Bastions amounting in the whole to 13" were fired as a salute to General Benedict Arnold and his troops upon their arrival at the fort. [5]

The same source noted that in the early days of the siege "Two Cannon from the S W Bastion loaded with Grape Shott [sic] were Fired at the Barnes [sic] to drive of[f] the Enemys Indians that might have been Sculking [sic] About." [6] This indicates that there were at least two cannon on the southwest bastion.

Six months after the siege had been lifted, Fort Stanwix reported in its ordnance returns three 9-pounders, four 6-pounders, and four 3-pounders—a total of 11 cannon in addition to four 4-2/5 caliber mortar Royals. [7]

A contemporary map of Fort Stanwix depicts the southwest bastion with 3 cannon, the northwest bastion with 4 cannon, the northeast bastion with 3 cannon, and the southeast bastion with 4 cannon—a total of 14 guns. [8] This map appears to be in conflict with other contemporary sources. The two ordnance returns of March and May 1778 show 11 cannon, whereas the de Fleury map delineates 14. It should be noted, however, that the ordnance returns were prepared from seven to nine months after the siege, while de Fleury's map, though prepared sometime after the siege (possibly 1778), was actually depicting the situation as it was during the siege, albeit from memory. Nevertheless, the map comes closest to corroborating Colbraith's journal.

In 1780 orders were issued directing that a "Brass Field Piece" be placed in the center of the parade ground opposite the main gate. [9] The implication is that the gun had been at another location within the fort. Thus, while it was customary in most forts to place the brass field cannon in the center of the parade ground facing the sally port, it would appear that at Fort Stanwix the practice was to place it at other points within the fort. From this it can be assumed that the same practice of moving the field piece could have prevailed during the siege. In view of the cannon shortage, it is difficult to conceive of this one cannon being stationed in the center of the parade ground at the time of the siege, when it could have served a more active role on a bastion, curtain, or ravelin. It may be that this cannon was employed on the unfinished bastion where embrasures were yet to be constructed.

The precise size of cannon during the siege is difficult to determine in the absence of more timely documentation. It is known, however, that just before the siege there were only small cannon. The returns of ordances of March and May 1778 reveal that there were 3-pounders, 6-pounders, and 9-pounders. It is very likely that the 13 or 14 guns that were at the fort during the siege were not bigger.

To place the guns in their exact locations is also difficult without more precise documentation. The de Fleury map does show that 11 guns were distributed among the four bastions. The other two or three were probably near the curtains or ravelin of the fort. The three or four mortars that were at the fort during the siege may have filled in the more critical gaps along the curtains.

Most of the cannon were stationary, their carriages constructed of oak and iron. They were probably painted black with the cannon resting on a platform. The cannon balls were mounted on the ground in a pyramidal shape alongside the cannon. The cannon balls, including the powder kegs, might have been covered with oilcloth when not in use to protect them from the weather. Artillery equipment needed to operate the cannon. much of which is listed in Chapter II, also remained in readiness alongside the cannon.

2. Sentry Boxes

There are several early references to sentry boxes at Fort Stanwix. A statement by the engineer in 1777 indicates that he had sentry boxes constructed, [10] although he did not say how many or where they were built. An order in May 1778 directs the "Superintendent of the Engineers Department" to see that all sentry boxes were in good order and fixed so that they could not be blown down. [11] Once again, there is no hint of the number or the location of such structures, although one might infer from this last reference that they might have been located in areas subject to strong winds.

The first reference to the number of sentry boxes appears in January 1781, although indirectly, in an entry in an orderly book. It read as follows.

A watch Coate [sic] will be furnished for Each Sentry Box on the Basteens [sic] for which the Corpl of the Guard is to be Accountable. [12]

This statement infers that there were at least four sentry boxes, one on each bastion, but sentry boxes may also have been located in other areas, as for example adjacent to the guardhouse, at the entrance to the sally port, or even at the entrance to the headquarters. There is evidence that guards and sentries were posted at these locations. [13] A drawing on a powder horn belonging to James Wilson, depicting Fort Stanwix in 1779-80, while Wilson was stationed there, shows five sentry boxes—one on each of the bastions and one in front of the entrance to the main gate. [14] According to this very crude illustration, the sentry boxes were located at the extreme points of the bastions.

The sentry boxes were probably very plainly furnished with few comforts for the soldier performing sentry duty. There was one item, however, furnished each sentry box—a watch coat to be used by soldiers on sentry duty—although the evidence may not be contemporary with the siege. A watch coat was a fairly common item employed throughout the Northern Department where the climate was extremely cold.

3. Wells and Water Barrels

A reference from a contemporary account leaves some idea as to how the garrison got its water. Written midway in the siege, this account says that:

This Day the Enemy having Observed that we brought water from the Creek altered its Course so that it became dry. This would have done us much Damage had we not been able to open two wells in the Garrison which with one We had already proved a Sufficient Supply. [15]

It is obvious from this account that before the siege the garrison obtained its water from the creek. In anticipation of what actually happened, the garrison wisely constructed two wells. The very same day that Colbraith recorded this event in his journal, orders were issued to keep barrels constantly filled with water, presumably not only for drinking but for cooking and washing. [16]

Undoubtedly there were three wells at the time of the siege, but their manner of construction and location cannot be precisely determined on the basis of written evidence. An original bank note issued by the Bank of Rome, Rome, New York, in 1832 depicts an oversimplified Fort Stanwix, with a blockhouse and a magazine, and with one well near the center of the north casemate. [17] Judging from this very simplified version. this evidence cannot be taken as the last word.

Mr. John Luzader may have the answer to the other part of the question, that is, the wells' construction. He says that

While it would be easy to generalize, we can be safe in assuming that the wells mentioned in documents relating to the fort referred to relatively shallow ones, perhaps lined, at least near the top, with local stone and capped by a wooden pump. Pumps were relatively easy to construct and were capable of a steadier supply of water in case of fire or other emergency. If a pump was not used, the well was equipped with a windlass and well-box. In connection with the lining, there were occasions when, in the absence of adequate stone, barrels were employed. [18]

The wording in the directive of August 11, 1777, clearly suggests that barrels filled with water were used extensively at the fort. These were located as close as possible to sites where groups congregated, inside or outside of buildings. There were probably one on each of the bastions, one or two inside the guardhouse, one in the storeroom, one in the headquarters, one or two in each of the barracks and casemates, and some located around the ramparts of the fort.

4. Whipping Post

Punishment at Fort Stanwix took many forms—confinement, running the gauntlet, performing heavy duty with their legs bound with blocks and chains, and flogging. Aside from confinement, flogging was perhaps the most common form of punishment. There are several references to flogging at the whipping post in contemporary accounts. Unfortunately, no mention is made of such punishment during the siege, maybe because flogging was done on the parade ground in the presence of a formal review of the garrison, and the siege did not permit this. Instead, men punished for a violation were confined.

Because flogging took place in full view of the garrison, the whipping post was probably in the center of the parade ground. There is no historical evidence showing the whipping post's appearance, but one document related to Fort Stanwix notes that

4 [men] were brought in and sentenced by the Lieut. Col. to stand 1 hour stripped and tied altogether at the whipping post, which was immediately put in execution. [19]

From this account it can be concluded that the whipping post was constructed to facilitate the whipping of at least four men at one time. Mr. Orville W. Carroll has researched the details of a whipping post and may therefore have the solution. [20]

5. Woodpiles and Haystacks

Firewood for cooking and heating and hay for feeding livestock were two important items frequently mentioned at Fort Stanwix. In January 1777, General Schuyler, very much aware of the cold winters at Fort Stanwix, ordered the deputy quartermaster general "to take Measures for providing" the garrison with firewood. [21] Fatigue parties, at least before and after the siege, were always getting firewood in great quantities. The following will give some idea as to how fatigue parties worked: the officers who commanded these details daily divided their men into three groups— the first to cut trees, the second to split logs with wedges, [22] and the third to pile the wood. At one time, men assigned to cut wood were given orders that each man was to cut at least 1-1/2 cords of wood a day, and "Whoever is found Deficient of that Quantity Shall be Mult [sic] of their whole pay from the time they first began to Cutt." [23]

Even while the siege was underway, fatigue parties were sent out in the middle of the night to bring in firewood, sometimes in great quantities. [24] The distance they went could not have been very far for obvious reasons, and moreover it was sound policy to clear the ground around the fort of trees as much as possible. [25]

The trees around the fort were of several kinds. The swamp on the southwest side of the fort consisted largely of pine and white cedar. There were also white pines in the swamp on the east side of the fort. The rest of the woods surrounding the fort consisted of elm, beech, rock maple, birch, poplar, and a few wild cherries. [26]

There is considerable evidence to show that after the wood was cut, it was driven by wagon or sleigh, depending on the time of the year, to the fort. [27] There is no historical evidence, however, to indicate whether the wood was piled inside or outside the fort. It can be concluded that during the siege there probably existed one or more wood piles centrally located within the fort, because, as with water, the garrison had to make sure it would be continually supplied with this important provision. In this respect it may be of interest to note that in November 1780 the quartermaster sergeant was directed to distribute firewood every other day "to Enable him to Make a Beginning for a Magazine," and because the weather was moderate, a small quantity of wood was sufficient for each room. [28] Although this source is dated well after the siege, it provides sufficient evidence that a magazine for firewood was probably nothing new inside the fort. It is fairly reasonable to suppose that one or more woodpiles were probably placed close enough to the buildings to make firewood easily available.

Hay, like firewood and water, needed to be on the inside of the fort in sufficient quantities to feed the horses. This was especially true during the siege. However, there are several references to hay stacked outside the fort during and after the siege. This was logical because haystacks would have taken up too much room on the parade ground. In an entry of August 3, 1777, Colbraith recorded in his journal that on that afternoon the enemy carried off some hay from a field near the fort. Again on August 10, 1777, he recorded that around 3 o'clock that afternoon the enemy was seen running across a field adjoining the fort and setting fire to some haystacks. In still another entry of August 4, 1777, Colbraith noted that on that night a party from the garrison was sent out to bring back 27 stacks of hay, which were then placed in the "trench" (probably the ditch), setting a house and barn on fire so that the enemy could not use them to its advantage.

One month after the siege Willett referred to a party of men collecting hay "which lies in the fields" and having it properly stacked for use of the garrison. [29]

Evidence of haystacks outside the fort is conclusive. Nevertheless the situation being what it was—the fort under siege and several horses and possibly other animals confined inside—logic would have dictated that haystacks should have been stored on the inside. Some attempt must have been made either prior to or during the siege to keep enough hay inside the fort. At least one sizeable haystack must have been close to where the horses stood.

6. Temporary Storage of Provisions and Ammunition

From time to time the parade ground became the temporary storage place for provisions and ammunition. Ammunition and equipment employed in the firing of a cannon were located next to each gun, where they could be quickly reached. In order to protect the exposed ammunition and powder, they were sometimes covered by oil-cloths. [30]

A most unusual event occurred on August 9, 1777. Colbraith tells us that on "This Day the [Colonel] ordered all the Provisions to be brought upon the Parade for fear of the Shells Setting Fire to the Barracks and thereby destroying it . . ." [31] How long the provisions remained on the parade ground is not known, but apparently the practice was not an unusual one. Several months later Willett records a similar incident:

Garrison being destitute of proper Stores for the provisions, Lieut Tapp is to see, that a Number of spars are provided and Laid along the Parade in Order to Roll the Beef and Pork upon, which are to be Cover'd with Boards in the best manner possible, until proper stores are provided for that purpose. The Adjutant will Supply him with a Sufficient Number of Men for this Business. [32]

How often such incidents happened is hard to say. It is not too difficult to envision in the midst of the siege, when the fort was so congested, a parade ground covered with provisions, arms, and ammunition sometimes in complete disorder.

7. Wagons and Sleighs

In a previous section, it was explained how horses were used at Fort Stanwix chiefly for pulling wagons and sleighs loaded with supplies. Colonel Gansevoort felt it necessary to request two horses for himself and his staff in the event of a "sudden emergency." [33] Willett wrote several years after the siege that there were seven wagons with horses in the fort during the battle. [34] Wagons and sleighs were used extensively for bringing in firewood and hay gathered from the surrounding woods and fields. They were also used extensively for bringing in supplies brought up by bateaux on the Mohawk River. In one instance horses and wagons were sent as far as Oriskany—some 20 miles—to pick up hay. [35]

Sleighs were used when snow prevented the use of wagons. [36] Frequently sleighs, which brought up supplies from the east when the river was unnavigable, were temporarily housed at the fort, adding to the congestion. These sleighs were immediately put to use by the garrison in bringing in firewood. In February 1781 a caravan of 50 sleighs arrived at the fort, and these were quickly employed for the next few weeks in carrying wood for the garrison. [37]

Records reveal that before and after the siege, horses and wagons as well as cows were kept inside the fort. In September 1777 the Officer in charge of the guard was ordered to see that no horses or cattle "are Suffered to go in the Ditch." [38]

Of far greater interest is a later directive issued to the Officer in charge of the guard to see that "all the Slays [sic], Horses & Cows are turn'd out of the Garrison, before the Gates are shut as they are a Nusance [sic] to the Garrison." [39] One can interpret this to mean that up to this time horses, cows, and wagons were kept inside the fort. It can also be concluded after reviewing the evidence that horses, cows, and wagons were kept outside as well as inside the fort, depending on circumstances and the whims of those in command. Logic certainly dictated that during the siege they would have been kept inside the fort.

8. Tents

There is no historical evidence that tents were used inside the fort during the siege. There is considerable evidence, however, indicating they were used before and after the siege. There are several references to the use of "markees" in late 1776. Ebeneezer Elmer, a member of the 3 New Jersey Continentals, records that he retired to "Colo. Whites Markee & to Rest." Several weeks later he again recorded with some resentment, that he was "obliged to lye in the Tents along with the men whilst the [his commanding officer] in quietude sleeps etc. in House." [40] Several days later Elmer was still sleeping in a markee, and he noted that as many as 51 men were "employed in getting & Halling [sic] Shingles & Wood etc—Besides the Artificers & Sawyers [sic] Lodged in the Markee with the Serjiants [sic] etc as Usual." [41]

In 1780 orders were issued to "Collect the tents and put them in Store." This can be interpreted to mean that tents had probably been used from time to time within the fort, although these tents may also have been used after a long march.

There was always a shortage of sleeping quarters in 1776, and General Schuyler was deeply concerned about the approaching winter. [42] On the other hand, as long as the weather was relatively mild, as during the summer months when the siege took place, tents could readily be used. Moreover, the 700 or more people at the fort during the siege were too many for permanent facilities to absorb, and tents were the best substitute. In the several references to crowding in the barracks at Fort Ticonderoga, General Schuyler made a strong plea to Congress for more tents to relieve the congestion. [43]

9. Necessary

Historical evidence clearly indicates the existence of a necessary outside the fort's ramparts and elevated above the ditch. [44] Of greater interest to this study is that some evidence reveals the existence of at least one additional necessary within the fort. The question is whether or not this necessary existed at the time of the siege. A reference dated September 17, 1777, notes that the quartermaster was directed "to have another Necessary built within the Fort to be set about directly." He was to consult with Major Hubble, the engineer, concerning the best place to have it erected. [45] A directive issued only 3 days later cautioned the garrison "not to make use of the Necessary House within the Fort in the Day Time. The one in the Ditch being designated for that Purpose." [46]

A quick consideration of this statement might lead one to the hasty conclusion that the necessary the men were prohibited from using in the daytime was the one referred to in the directive of September 17. But upon more serious reflection it would seem unlikely that the necessary ordered to be built on September 17 would have been completed in 3 days. It would seem more likely that a necessary had already existed in the fort before September 17—probably during the siege—and that a second one had been ordered.

A garrison consisting of about 700 men during the siege could not rely solely on the necessary elevated above the ditch, particularly when that necessary was exposed to enemy fire. Moreover it is known that there were women who sought refuge within the fort. Considering these circumstances, therefore, it is more likely that at least two necessarys existed at the time of the siege—one elevated above the ditch and a second within the fort. Having experienced difficulties during the siege because of inadequate facilities, those who commanded the garrison may have given orders after the siege to construct a third necessary (a second one inside the fort).

10. Flagpole and Flags

The location of the flagpole in 1777 has been established as being at the tip of the salient angle of the southwest bastion. For a description of its appearance reference to the architectural data section of the Fort Stanwix historic structure report must be made. [47]

The question of which flag flew over Fort Stanwix during the siege is a controversial one. The proponents of the traditional account are very strong in their conviction that the flag was the official standard of the United States, and consequently the first official standard to fly in battle. Historian John F. Luzader of the National Park Service has taken the opposite view. His study of the flag at Fort Stanwix is so exhaustive that it is fruitless to carry the research further. It seems that Mr. Luzader's research—both that which appears in The Construction and Military History of Fort Stanwix and in his typewritten manuscript "The 'Stars and Stripes' at Fort Stanwix: A Summary of The Evidence"—establishes beyond any doubt that the flag which flew during the siege was not the official standard of the United States. Instead, a "locally made version of the Grand Union" flew over Fort Stanwix. [48]

B. Bombproofs

The interpretive prospectus proposes to refurnish only three of the four bombproofs at Fort Stanwix: the southwest, southeast, and northwest ones. Hence, this section is only concerned with the furnishings of these three structures.

During the years of their existence, the bombproofs were used for many different purposes—sometimes for brief intervals, at other times for more extensive periods. An attempt will be made to establish the more permanent uses made of the bombproofs, particularly during the siege.

1. Southwest Bombproof

Historical evidence has proven that there were at least two structures both inside and outside the fort that were used for hospitals, although perhaps not simultaneously. One hospital that is clearly identifiable in records existed outside the fort and was marked "Hospital" on the "Gansevoort Map of Fort Stanwix." [49] There are several references to a hospital in manuscripts practically up to the time of the siege. An entry in the journal kept by Ebeneezer Elmer refers to a visit he made to the "old lousy hospital, which represents such a scene of wretchedness that one could hardly bear to behold the abject souls therein confined." [50] Another manuscript speaks of a sergeant "being sick in the barracks and being carried to the hospital and there remaining sick for some time and being somewhat recovered of sickness was returned to his barracks being still unfit for duty." [51]

There seems little doubt that the hospital referred to in these manuscripts was the hospital located outside of the fort. Yet, there is also evidence of a hospital inside the fort at the time of the siege. During the battle one officer reported that a "woman was wounded with a shell last Night was brought to bed in our [southwest] Bombproof [giving birth to] a Daughter." [52] It would seem that before the siege the hospital outside the fort was used. When it became impossible to use this facility during the fighting, a place inside the fort—the southwest bombproof—was used to handle the sick and wounded.

Consistent with the practice of employing the bombproofs to serve several purposes, the southwest bombproof was also used to store official papers and provisions. In the midst of the siege, and thus while the southwest bombproof was being used as a hospital, it was felt necessary to store valuable papers in this bombproof for their protection against shell fire. The order directing this read:

all the public papers and money in the hands of Mr. Hansen, and the papers in the hands of Mr. Van Vechten belonging to the paymaster to be lodged in the bombproofs in the southwest bastion. [53]

The amount of room used for these records is hard to say, but it is obvious that the bombproof served two purposes.

If the southwest bombproof was largely a hospital, what did it look like? First of all, it had to contain beds and bedding for the sick and wounded, similar perhaps to those in the barracks. The mattresses, or "sacks" as they were sometimes called, held straw "for the Sick to lay on," and whenever a sick person died or was discharged from the hospital, the sack with all its straw would be burned. [54]

In addition to beds and bedding, the hospital probably contained a doctor's bench and an operating table. There were also medicine chests containing drugs and supplies. Medical kits, containing scissors, scalpels, drugs, needles, suture materials, scales and weights, and mortar and leg splints, as well as an operating kit, containing forceps, bullet extractor, retractors, and amputating knives, might also have been found in the hospital. Other significant items that probably appeared in the hospital were a barrel of water, firewood, and pails. [55]

There is a very interesting document, which although not directly related to Fort Stanwix, nevertheless gives some idea of the furnishings of a post hospital. This document consists of an inventory of supplies belonging to the general hospital at Albany in 1777. Because of the documents' timeliness and the geographic location it concerns, a very convincing argument can be made for the hospital furnishings employed at Fort Stanwix, but perhaps with one reservation. Because Fort Stanwix was a frontier fort, it probably did not possess all the items on this inventory, which contained: [56]

178blankets in wards; 40 in store
70bed tucks in wards; 94 in store
195pillows in store
41bed gowns
51caps in store
324wooden bowls;
4water buckets;
3rugs in store
54camp kettles; 18 in wards
19chamber pots
1branding iron
1box of soap
15gallons of rum
15gallons of wine
15gallons of molasses

67in the wards
13in the wards


Indian meal


Chocolate and sugar were important items in a hospital, and at Fort Ticonderoga the doctor ordered them for the sick and "Such other suitable Regimens as may be on the ground & one half the Beef, or other Meat." [57]

One last question concerning the furnishings of the southwest bombproof should be resolved and that is the source of heat the hospital needed for its sick. Unlike the freestanding structures or casemates in the fort, the bombproofs had no chimneys for fireplaces. How then did the hospital get its heat? The answer might well have been an iron stove, although there is no mention of one at Fort Stanwix. Iron stoves were employed throughout the Northern Department, although it was a difficult item to acquire. In November 1776 General Schuyler made a strong plea for 50 stoves for barracks in his department. [58]

2. Northwest Bombproof

Historical and archelogical evidence indicates the magazine was placed in the northwest bombproof after the Americans reoccupied the fort in 1776. [59] Like its location, we know little about the appearance of the powder magazine when the fort was occupied by the Americans. As a place of storage it was probably simply furnished. Fortunately an early map, is available, albeit drawn during the British occupation, which clearly depicts the shelving employed in the powder magazine. Shelves were off to one side of the bombproof, and they were sufficient to hold 2.000 barrels of powder. [60]

The rest of the magazine must have contained various ordnance stores. A document dated August 19, 1777, lists a number of different ordnance pieces in the Northern Department, besides powder. which might have been stored in the magazine at Fort Stanwix. They are: [61]

bars of lead for musket balls
bullet molds
large powder horns for priming cannon, with belts, bits, priming wires
post fires
tubes for 3, 4. and 6-pounders
3-pound flannel cartridges
4-pound flannel cartridges
6-pound flannel cartridges
paper cartridges for 4-pounders
paper cartridges for 6-pounders
paper cartridges for 3-pounders
scissors for the laboratory
molds for buckshot
paint brushes of different sizes
sheep skins for covering spunges
gun flints
grape shot for quilting cannon
Spanish brown paint
oil cloth for covering ammunition

Another document originating in the Northern Department provides additional information on what might have been stored in the powder magazine. Paint, apparently, was used to identify specific ordnance items. Thus such paints as were "ground . . . of the proper colour for painting Cannon carriage . . . Spanish Brown for Painting the Boxes which Contains the Cannons Cartridges in the Laboratory, & 1/2 of white Lead for painting & numbering those Boxes to lay them on" were ordered. [62]

3. Southeast Bombproof (Bakehouse)

Like the northwest bombproof, there is practically no written evidence to indicate what the southeast bombproof was used for. It is known. however, that it was once the powder magazine used by the British, which by 1764 had fallen into ruin. A bakehouse was built in its place, and although it is not known exactly when, it is certain that it existed in the southeast bombproof at the time of the siege. Archeological studies conducted in 1965 and 1971 show beyond any doubt that the bakehouse was located there. [63]

There are several references to a bakehouse and bakers at Fort Stanwix. One document refers to the baking of bread. Baking bread was probably a sizeable function since there were at least three bakers at one time. [64] A later document noted that a soldier was tried by a court-martial for taking ovenwood for his own private use while pretending he was taking it to the bakehouse. [65]

The bakehouse was probably simply furnished. Besides a brick oven sufficiently large to supply bread for as many as 700 people during the siege, it must have contained barrels of flour, pails of water, tables for rolling dough, benches, candles, brooms, scales, weights, and other equipment and supplies essential for baking bread.

C. Guardhouse

A new guardhouse was constructed around April 1777. [66] The guardhouse appears frequently in contemporary accounts and maps. [67]

The new guardhouse consisted of two sections: one for the confinement of prisoners, and the other, a lean-to, for housing the main guard. The section used for confining prisoners consisted of two rooms separated by a partition in which a central fireplace stood to heat both rooms. [68] The two rooms together measured 16 by 20 feet, and probably housed several prisoners. One document referred to two prisoners, and another referred to a court-martial that was to take place for "all the prisoners in the guardhouse." [69]

There is little historical evidence to indicate what the guardhouse furnishings looked like. Thus many conclusions are conjectural and are based upon the little information extracted from archeological studies and historical documents. The main guardroom, or place of confinement, was probably simply furnished, containing the barest of necessities. Since most confinements were brief, prisoners had few clothes with them. Probably the only clothing they had were fatigues.

The two fireplaces had andirons, tongs, trammels, and a kettle hung over a fire. A frying pan and the usual eating utensils (fork, spoon, possibly knife, dish, and cup) made up a prisoner's eating equipment. Simple bunks or cribs, containing two men to a bed, and chamber pots made up the furniture. In all probability, the bedding may have consisted of only a blanket without sacks, straw, or bolsters. The rooms probably had no tables or benches. In short, they contained few comforts.

The guardroom, which housed the guard while on duty, was perhaps no more lavishly furnished than the prisoners' room, although one might expect more comforts. Since it was only a temporary quarter for the soldier, one could hardly expect to find the furnishings normally seen in a permanent quarter like the barracks. Arms, possibly muskets, were no doubt stored in this room in some sort of gunrack. Besides guns there were blocks and chains stored here. The block consisted of a piece of heavy wood, two feet long by six inches in diameter. The block was chained to the legs of the prisoner to prevent his escape when on a work detail. [70]

In addition to the normal equipment found in a fireplace (that is, andirons, tongs, trammels, shovels, and pail) and some eating utensils, there were also bunks, possibly each holding two men. Unlike those used by the prisoners, however, these bunks may have had straw for mattresses, or maybe even sacks, blankets, and bolsters. One document contains a reference to an officer sleeping on a "Bench in the Guard Room" at Johnstown, New York. The following morning the same officer noted that he arose from "my Bench Bed as much refreshed as [though] I had Slept on a Bed of [downfeathers] in a King's Palace." [71] A "bench" and a "bench bed" are probably the same as the bunks or cribs found in barracks.

The guardhouse at Fort Stanwix, particularly the room occupied by the guard, was also used to post general orders, garrison orders, and instructions of a general nature. Marinus Willett noted this practice at a number of posts to which he was assigned. In Fishkill, New York, he noted that general orders "are to be placed in the Main Gaurd Room, And Officers are hereby Requested to have all their Men acquainted with it." [72] Because all soldiers went on guard duty, all could see the orders. At a later date, while at Fort Constitution and just before leaving for Fort Stanwix, Willett issued strict orders prohibiting anyone from "tearing down any Orders that may be placed up in any Guard House." [73] These orders were probably hung by a nail on the inside of the room occupied by the guard.

D. Headquarters

A headquarters building at Fort Stanwix is clearly established in six contemporary drawings made between 1777 and 1781, and in one or two drawings made much later from memory. Moreover there are at least two references in documents to the word "headquarters." [74] Much of what can be determined concerning the arrangement of rooms and furnishings must be conjectural.

Architect Orville Carroll of the National Park Service, after studying the features of this building, has concluded that it was divided into four rooms of equal size. One room was for the commander, another room was occupied by the second in command, a third was a dining room doubling as a staff room, and a fourth was occupied by two staff officers. A lean-to room was used either for a woodshed or an officer's privy, or both, or for lodging an orderly, or finally, for the storage of supplies for the staff officers. [75]

The commander's room, Colonel Gansevoort's, was probably neatly furnished with a writing table, two or three chairs, and a bed bunk of the type used by officers. [76] His bedding was probably complete, consisting of a sack, blankets, and bolster. Colonel Gansevoort would also have had personal items received from home. Two of these items were a silver spoon and campstool, which his mother had sent to him. [77] Other objects lying about his room may have been items that his family had requested of him from time to time. At one point his mother had requested "Oswego Oil" and his brother wanted beaver fur to make a hat. [78] Colonel Gansevoort may have had these items in his room waiting to be shipped.

His fireplace probably had the usual tools, for example, andirons, tongs, trammels, a shovel, and a broom. Several pieces of firewood would probably have been piled next to the fireplace.

Usually high-ranking officers had their own personal chests containing liquors and wines. Pegs on which to hang clothing, a sword, a holster, and other accouterments must have adorned the walls, perhaps close to his bunk.

It is not certain whether Colonel Gansevoort smoked, but if he did, clay pipes would have been found on his table or above his fireplace. One, or possibly two, candesticks on his table provided light. Several pieces of writing paper, quills, and inkwell would also be found on his table.

The room occupied by the second in command, Lt. Col. Marinus Willett, would not have been too different from the first. In addition his famous orderly book might be seen on the table, where he made entries from time to time.

The third room—the dining room—might have been furnished with items present on that auspicious occasion when the British submitted their surrender terms to the garrison. There is an excellent account of this event in Willett's "Narrative".

The afternoon of the next day, the chimade and the appearance of a white flag, was followed by a request that Colonel Butler, who commanded the Indians, with two other officers, might enter the fort, with a message to the Commanding Officer. Permission having been granted, they were conducted blindfolded into the fort, and received by Colonel Gansevoort in his dining room. The windows of the room were shut and candles lighted; the table also was spread with crackers, cheese and wine. Three chairs placed at one end of the table, were occupied by Colonel Butler and the other two officers who had come with them; at the other end, Colonel Gansevoort. Colonel Mellon and Colonel Willett were seated. Seats were also placed around the table for as many officers as could be accommodated, while the rest of the room was nearly filled with the other officers of the garrison indiscriminately; it being desirable that the officers in general, should be witness to all that might take place. [79]

There can be little doubt that this meeting took place in the headquarters, because it was the most logical place for a meeting of such importance. The dining room could be in no other place but the headquarters.

Based upon the account given by Willett, it can be assumed that in the dining room was a large table surrounded by chairs. On the table were candlesticks, writing paper, quills and inkwells, crackers, cheese, wine, and glasses. The room might have had a rug, although this kind of luxury may not have existed at a frontier fort like Fort Stanwix. A dining room would have contained dishes, utensils, and glasses, as well as servers. These were probably stored in a cupboard somewhere in the room, although shelves might have served the same purpose.

The fireplace, meanwhile, would have contained the usual tools, including a large brass kettle hanging over the fire. Firewood would be piled alongside the fireplace in addition to a pail, shovel, and broom.

The fourth room, which was probably occupied by staff officers, was perhaps not too different from the first two, except that there were two of nearly everything—two beds, two tables, at least two chairs, etc. Each table would have had a candlestick, writing paper, quill, and inkwell.

In January 1777 General Schuyler gave commissions to members of Colonel Elmore's regiment, one of whom was the adjutant and the other the quartermaster. [80] A contemporary publication outlining military instructions for soldiers during the Revolution describes official books kept by the adjutant and quartermaster of a post. It instructs the adjutant to keep a "regimental book wherein should be entered the name and rank of every officer, the date of his commission, and the time he joined the regiment, etc." Finally, it states that the quartermaster "is to make out all returns for camp equipage, arms accountrements, ammunition, provisions, and forage, and receive and distribute them to the regiment taking the necessary vouchers for the delivery, and entering all receipts and deliveries in a book kept by him for that purpose." [81]

Such books were probably kept by staff officers at Fort Stanwix, and could therefore be found in this room. The regimental book would have been on the adjutant's table, and the book kept by the quartermaster would have been on his table.

Each officer would have had a bed bunk with such bedding as a sack, blanket, and bolsters. Next to his bunk on the wall would have been pegs for hanging clothing, swords, and accounterments. The fireplace would have had the usual tools plus a pail, shovel, broom, and firewood next to it. Personal items would probably be seen every where. Clay pipes, for example, would be found on tables or over fireplaces.

The furnishings of the lean-to must depend upon what the room was used for. If it was used for storage, then it would have contained firewood and supplies of various kinds. It might also contain a privy for the commander and his staff. Because it had no fireplace, it is unlikely that this room would have housed an orderly, unless it had an iron stove.

E. East Barracks

According to early documents and recent archeological studies, the east barracks measured approximately 20 by 120 feet. From the architectural features of the structure, Mr. Carroll has been able to conclude that the building contained seven rooms in addition to a hallway about 4 feet wide which divided the structure into almost two equal parts. [82] Due to the absence of written and archeological evidence, it is not possible to determine the size of each room. The sizes must therefore be conjectural, but since both officers and enlisted men occupied these rooms, it may be logical to assume that because the enlisted men made up by far the largest number, they probably occupied the larger rooms. In any case, the difference may not have been too great. All seven rooms must have varied anywhere from 20 by 19.3 feet to 20 by 14.5 feet, assuming the existence of a 4-foot-wide hall. The interior walls of each room contained a fireplace.

Like the sizes of the rooms, the number of beds occupied by enlisted men must be conjectural. It is very likely that because of the crowded conditions of the fort during the siege, there were not enough beds or bunks for everyone. Consequently some people may have slept on the floors of the barrack when not sleeping in tents on the parade ground. Several months after the siege, complaints were heard that the garrison had never been supplied with sufficient beds. [83]

The bunks that were in the enlisted men's rooms would hold two men. They were lined up against and parallel to the walls of the room. This arrangement was adopted from the time that the fort was first constructed. Straw or sacks, but probably the former, made up the mattresses for the enlisted men. During the siege, sacks may have been a luxury, which only officers could afford. Because hay was the simplest form of mattress, it was an object sorely needed; however, it was not always available in sufficient quantities to serve both the personal needs of the men, and as food for livestock. The result was that at one point orders were given to the quartermaster to maintain a strict account of the hay by not permitting it to fall into the hands of anyone without his approval. [84]

The rest of the bedding consisted of bolsters and blankets, but like sacks, even these were in short supply.

The fireplaces in the enlisted men's rooms probably contained the barest of necessities, since just before the siege there were serious shortages of tools. General Schuyler directed the quartermaster general in Albany to supply, without further delay, Fort Stanwix and other posts in the Northern Department with "Fire Wood & Barrack Utensils, such as pails, Tongs, Shovels, Trammels, axes & kettles." [85]

Other supplies may have also been authorized for enlisted men's rooms at Fort Stanwix. In 1768 each room occupied by provincial troops in South Carolina was allowed 1 pot, 1 frying pan, 1 ladle, 1 flesh fork, 1 trivet or pot hook, 1 pair of dog-irons, 1 shovel, 1 pair of tongs, 1 broom, 1 tub or box to carry out dirt, 1 long table, 2 forms, 2 platters, 2 bowls, 12 trenchers, 2 pitchers, 2 mugs, 1 hatchet, 1 candlestick, 2 chamber pots, a rack for arms, and wooden pegs to hang knapsacks, haversacks, and clothing. Every two men were to be given 1 bedstead, 1 bed, 1 bolster, 3 blankets, and a reasonable amount of firewood, candles, beer, pepper, salt, and vinegar. [86]

In 1776 the New York Provincial Congress authorized for its enlisted men's rooms almost similar items. For each room containing 20 men, it allowed 10 cribs, 10 bedcases, 10 bolsters "to be filled with straw every 3 months," 2 iron pots (probably chamber pots), 2 trammels, 1 pair of tongs, 1 wood axe, 1 iron candlestick, 1 table, 2 benches, and 1 bucket. In addition each room was supplied with three-eights of a cord of wood each week between October 1 and April 1. For the five weeks preceding October 1 and the 5 weeks following April 1, three-sixteenths of a cord of wood was to be supplied each week. For the remaining 16 weeks of the year, only one-eighth of a cord was to be supplied each week. [87]

In 1775 and 1776 New York's Committee of Safety delivered the following furniture and equipment: [88]

85-1/4cords of wood
a quantity of lanterns
249-1/2pounds of candles
650bails of straw

A return of barrack furniture in 1767 at such posts as Oswegatchie and Fort William Augustus listed such items as beds, bolsters, blankets, berths, tables, forms, dog irons, tongs, fire shovels, candle sticks, iron pots, and rugs. [89]

It is apparent from the foregoing discussion that whether the authorization of supplies originated in South Carolina or in New York, the furnishings allowed the enlisted men's barracks were similar. Because of shortages, these items were not always present in each enlisted men's room.

As close to the time of the siege as June 15, 1777, Colonel Gansevoort complained to General Schuyler about how destitute his garrison was of cooking utensils. The men, he said, were frequently obliged to wait for their meals because they had to share equipment. So much improvising was going on that he attributed to the unsanitary practices in cooking the high number of men being sick. [90] A shortage of pails in barracks prompted the commander of the fort to order cedar pails made. [91]

Chamber pots were common items in Army barracks and other areas where men slept. However, there was a shortage of these pots at Fort Stanwix, and the few that existed were probably in the officers' quarters. Finding themselves without such essentials, and the necessarys being too inconveniently located, enlisted men relieved themselves in various parts of the fort. Although the men were warned that if caught they would be severely punished, the practice continued for several months. The quartermaster sergeant was finally instructed to have "Tubs placed at the Several Corners of the Barracks for the Men to make Water in which are to be Emptied and Washed every Morning." [92]

Shortages of many items frequently led soldiers to improvise. It has already been demonstrated how a shortage of cooking utensils led some to cook their meals in unsanitary ways. At huts uncovered in the Washington Heights section of New York City it was found that soldiers employed barrel hoops for holding kettles in fireplaces. [93] This practice might well have been prevalent at Fort Stanwix.

Gunracks, like other conveniences, were probably not common at Fort Stanwix, and in many cases muskets were stacked in a pyramidal fashion in various parts of the room. The enlisted man had few items of clothing, and the few he had were probably hung on pegs just above his bunk. Unlike officers, the enlisted man had few personal items that could make life a little more bearable.

Of some interest, particularly since it was issued at the height of the siege, was an order to the quartermaster to have barrels constantly filled with water. [94] This water was used for drinking, washing, and fighting fires, and the barrels were placed at various locations, wherever people slept or congregated. They may have been seen on the parade ground and bastions as well as in barracks, casemates, and bombproofs. A local place for such a barrel in the east barracks would have been in the hall, where it was centrally located and quickly reached.

The four officers' rooms in the barracks represented a more orderly appearance than the rooms occupied by the enlisted men. There was little crowding in these rooms, even at the height of the siege. At most there were probably three or four officers assigned to each room. A summary of a few contemporary accounts will give us some general idea of the number of officers quartered in each room. On October 17, 1776, Dr. Ebeneezer Elmer records in his journal that Captain Walker and his subalterns lodged in the room that he and another officer occupied. The following day Elmer notes that Captain Walker "liveth with us in the Room [that] we have all along occupied." [95] It is obvious from these accounts that only two officers were permanently quartered in one room, while Captain Walker and his subordinates were only temporarily quartered in the same room.

In a much later document one officer records that soon after his arrival at Fort Stanwix he "drew for the Rooms and Lieut Hyatt and I drew No. 1 on the Left of the North Side of the Fort." [96]

One week later the following appeared, again establishing beyond doubt that there were two officers to a room in 1780:

the Duty being so Very heavy in the Garrison the Commandant is Reduced to the Necessity to Direct that Wherever there is two officers in A Room together; one visitor must be Detailed in his proper [tour] to do Duty only on Couvering [sic] parties. [97]

While the written evidence may be strong in establishing that there were two officers to a room at Fort Stanwix before and after the siege, the crowded conditions of the post during the siege made it very likely that there were three and sometimes four officers in one room. Even with an increased number of officers during the siege, the rooms presented a much more orderly appearance than the enlisted men's rooms. Moreover, if any of the more scarce items of furniture were available. it is certain that the officers got them.

In 1776 the New York Provincial Congress had each officer's room furnished with one pair of andirons, one pair of tongs, one table, two chairs. and one candlestick. In addition, it allotted the same amount of firewood to officers as it had to the enlisted men. [98]

Officers usually enjoyed greater conveniences than the enlisted man. They probably slept on single bunks, and in most instances their mattresses consisted of sacks, with bolsters and blankets available. One chamber pot was provided for each room. The tables contained writing paper, quills, and ink-wells, as well as candlesticks. Clay pipes might be seen on tables or hanging above the fireplaces. In addition to the usual fireplace tools and cooking and eating utensils, officers frequently kept personal items. Chests containing liquor and wine were probably among these personal items. There are several references to parties and gatherings among officers in their rooms, which attest to the abundant use of alcohol beverages. One such reference notes that:

After they had concluded the Business Laid before them being a number of Colts among them; they began upon Drinking wine which they Continued Successfully till about Ten o'Clock at Night. With a good Creature many of them got very Happy upon [which] appointing Capts. Dickinson & Potter & Major Barber Sachins [sic] they Knocked up an Indian Dance at [which] they yelled much . . . [99]

One month later the same person reported that "At Evening Colo. White & Dr. Dunham came into our Room Drank & Conversed." [100] Another officer in later years reported a "Frolick [sic] at our Room" on Christmas Day. [101] The same officer, at the New Year's Day dinner which he and at least 10 others attended, noted that several toasts were given. [102]

Other personal items kept in the officers' rooms were beaver, otter, martin, and deer skins—articles usually purchased from the Indians. In January 1777 John Hansen, the quartermaster at Fort Stanwix, complained to General Schuyler that he had been unsuccessful in getting Colonel Elmer

to stop his officers and men from buying anything from the Indians. He at last . . . put a Notice on the Front gate which I think has never been adhered to. The men in the Sight of their officers daily carrying them in their rooms & buying of them at a much larger price. . . . In several of the Officers Rooms you will find Beaver, Otters, Martins, Deer Skins etc. [103]

Buying from the Indians and indeed from sutlers was certainly not prevalent during the siege, but there can be little doubt that the practice had been carried on up to the time of the siege and that therefore many of these items may have still been in their rooms.

Swords, holsters, accounterments, and various objects of clothing were probably hung on pegs within the rooms.

Archeologists Lee Hanson and Dick Hsu of the National Park Service have concluded in their studies that there were four cellars under the east barracks. [104] There is only one piece of historical evidence that shows provisions were stored in barracks. On August 9, 1777, Colonel Gansevoort "ordered all the provisions to be brought upon the parade for fear of shells setting fire to the barracks and destroying it." [105] Whether he was speaking about the east barracks or west barracks is not clear. Nor is it clear in what part of the barracks the provisions were stored; however, the cool cellars were the most logical place for storing provisions. Messrs. Hanson and Hsu have reported finding charred oats and wheat in one cellar of the west barracks—evidence that it was used extensively as a granary. [106] It might well be that the cellars in the east barracks were also used for storing provisions.

The containers in which the provisions were packed have been discussed at some length in an earlier chapter, and it would be redundant to describe them here. Suffice it to say that most provisions stored in cellars were packed in one kind or size of container or another. One final word should be said about these containers. At Fort George in the Northern Department, it was customary to paint the word "Stores" on all barrels. [107] It may be that a similar procedure was employed at Fort Stanwix.

Archeologists have found the remains of several cannon balls, mortar bombs, cannister shot, and flints in the cellars of the east barracks, an indication that the cellars may also have been used as a magazine or laboratory. [108]

F. Casemates

According to an early definition, a casemate was a "work made under the rampart, like a cellar or cave with loop-holes, to place guns in it." [109] Before the Revolution, however, this concept was modified so that the casemate became primarily either a soldiers' quarters or a place for storing provisions and ordnance. [110] The casemates at Fort Stanwix conformed to this principal.

The interpretive prospectus proposes to furnish two rooms (on the west side) of the north casemate as officers' quarters, the whole southeast casemate as enlisted men's quarters, and about one third of the west casemate as enlisted men's quarters.

1. North Casemate (Officer's Quarters)

There is no written evidence that shows the number of rooms in the north casemate; however, archeological studies have indicated that there were six fireplaces equally spaced, which leads to the conclusion that there were probably six rooms of equal size. [111] Both the artifacts that were uncovered and the evidence of one document indicate that this casemate was used as an officer's quarters. A diary notes in 1780 that its owner "drew for the Rooms and Lieut. Hyatt and I drew No. 1 on the Left of the North Side of the Fort." [112] Undoubtedly this room was the one on the left of the north casemate.

The furnishings of these rooms were essentially the same as those in the officers' rooms of the east barracks, with single bunks or beds, and sacks to give the officer extra comfort. Occasionally, the arrangement of an officer's room may have been improvised during the siege because of the increase in people. Some officers may have simply slept on loose straw on the floor, since there were not enough cribs. At least one chamber pot could be found in each room.

A table was in the middle of the room with at least two chairs or campstools around it. The table held a candlestick, inkwell, and quill. There were the usual cooking and eating utensils to be seen. Junior officers may have had the cheaper variety of utensils, whereas senior officers might boast of something better. The latter might have had porcelain dishes. Rum and wine bottles could also be seen on these tables, if not an occasional liquor chest.

The fireplaces contained the usual assortment of tools and accessories such as andirons, tongs, trammels, kettle, firewood, pail, and shovel. Clothing as well as weapons and accounterments were hung on pegs near the bunks. Finally, personal items such as clay pipes and skins of various sorts could be seen on tables, bunks, stools, and fireplaces.

2. Southeast and West Casemates (Enlisted Men's Quarters)

Life in the casemates for the enlisted men may have been a little more severe than in a barracks, but the furnishings were essentially the same. At the time of the siege there were probably more men assigned to a room than normally, without sufficient beds, bedding, utensils, and dishes to take care of everyone's needs. Field beds, two to a crib, were lined up against and parallel to the walls.

The casemates were designed to house 400 men, and the sizes of the east and north casemates were approximately 20 feet deep by 132 feet long (measured from center to center lengthwise.) [113] We also know that the three rooms in the west casemate were of equal size, which made the north room (the room to be furnished) about 20 by 44 feet. A room of this size probably had about 20 cribs around its four walls, holding two men to a crib, or a total of 40 men. During the siege this number may have been higher, with people sleeping on the floor.

The southeast casemate was 58 by 60 feet. [114] This casemate had two rooms utilizing a double fireplace. The two rooms in the southeast casemate together had about 50 cribs, sleeping 100 men.

Bedding was probably similar to that of the enlisted men's quarters in the barracks; those more fortunate than others had sacks, the rest had only straw. Blankets and bolsters may have been insufficient in number for everyone during the siege. The room in the west casemate probably had one table surrounded by benches, and since the southeast casemate was divided into two areas by a double fireplace, there were two tables, one for each area. Benches also surrounded these tables. Each table had a candlestick as well as eating utensils, dishes, cups, and bottles.

The few clothes the enlisted men had, as well as their accounterments, were hung on pegs when ever available, but some clothing may also have lain on bunks. Personal items were few, but whatever was available was kept out of sight for fear it might be stolen.

Gunracks might have been located in these areas, but more often than not muskets were stacked in pyramidal fashion in various parts of the room. Chamber pots may have been rare items in enlisted men's quarters, although an occasional one might be found.

Fireplaces contained the usual tools, firewood, and cooking utensils. Although large kettles may have hung over the fire, frying pans, when not in use, were hung on the wall above the fireplace.

All in all, the rooms occupied by enlisted men, especially during the siege, presented a chaotic and disorderly scene.

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Last Updated: 26-Dec-2008